...S.Y.D.N.E.Y...


21st Sep 2011 - 28th Sep 2011 - It was so worth the 6 hour straight drive when we got our first glimpse of Sydney. We turned off the highway and were straight onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge! It was amazing and we were so excited. We drove across and parked at Circular Quay, took a walk and were amazed at how breathtaking both the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House were. We drove back across the bridge and parked in north Sydney and made sure we had views of the harbour bridge. When we woke in middle of night we would have a sneak peek at what was out of our window.

Whilst we still had the van we went to view some houses we had seen on Gumtree.com.au and some were really bad- over expensive and small, or over expensive and too far out the way but quite nice. We started to panic thinking there wasn't anything. We even viewed a place that had a partition wall in the living area separating what would be our 'bedroom'. So when it was time to give the van back we booked into a hostel. We were glad to give the van back because the parking in Sydney is an absolute nightmare. Every street is a paid meter but they charge up to $7 an hour to park and the roads are so busy chances of getting a space are slim anyway. Shannon read that Sydney is the 4th most expensive place to park in the world. We checked into the YHA Railway Square hostel near George street so was in a good handy location. We chose the cheaper option of sharing with 4 others in a dorm. And my prudish self actually liked the idea, this hostel is big and nice and has changed my perception of hostels, there's a seating area and a tv room where we have watched movies and got excited over the sights of the Singapore grand prix. We need to change rooms though in a few days and are going to sleep in one of the famous sleeper trains which beds 8. We have also been to see more places on foot and we found a few really good ones. And we are going to sign the papers tonight on one. Which is great- it is big, good location, and has pool, sauna and gym facilities, all for less or same price as the other dingy ones we seen.

Sightseeing- we have been out for meals and drinks to pubs in George street, watched the Broncos and the rugby world cup. We went to the 'Hyde Park Barracks Museum' which is the Convict Museum in Queens Square, Macquarie street. The convict museum is the site where the British convicts were housed when they first came to Australia in 1819 to house, clothe and feed convict men and boys. Later women were brought over in 1848 the main dormitory held newly arrived female immigrants while a handful of government agencies made use of surrounding buildings in 1862, separate wards for destitute women were added upstairs and the Barracks became known as the Hyde Park Asylum. Then later the building became a court until it was turned into a museum in the 1970s. We found the museum very interesting as these were the first people to live in Australia and shape it, except the Aborigines of course. We learnt two very interesting facts- 1st, most convicts were sent to Australia after committing only petty thefts such as pick pocketing. 2nd fact- when restoration for the museum was taking place rats played a significant part. There remains were found under the floor boards and they were examined, it showed what clothes had been worn during that era because the rats nibbled on clothing and used it as bedding, they also found scrap food the rats ate such as oysters and chicken bones. Also between the floorboards bibles and rosary beads, pins, buttons, coins, combs, even toe nails, which are all now on display. We got 20% off our admission by using a very handy booklet called 'What's on Sydney'.

We also have been a walk to Circular Quay where we walked around the Opera House, had a drink in the opera bar, which overlooked both the iconic landmarks and just in time for the sunsetting. We seen climbers on a tour of the bridge, something we will definitely be doing.

We took a long but enjoyable walk to Darling Harbour and walked around Cockle Bay Wharf and Harbourside. We decided to go to the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe. Had a nice expensive meal then walked back to the hostel.

Oh and just a quick note to say tonight we met Hugh Jackman!!! (of X-men and Australia fame) We heard the film premiere of ''Real Steel'' was on at event cinemas in George street just a 5 minute walk away so we went to have a look. We ended up inside the cinema next to the red carpet. We seen some famous people but most were Australian so didn't know them, but we seen someone from Home and Away, someone from Dancing with the Stars and Brian Macfadden! Brian looks better in real life than I expected, and his new hot girlfriend was with him. And some girl almost outshone Hugh by wearing a see through skirt with her undies on show. Hugh Jackman the main actor of Real Steel walked the red carpet talking to reporters before coming up to the crowd. We got his autograph and Shan took a photo of me and Hugh! He put his arm round me and asked how I was, I didn't know what to say to him apart from thanks. Shan was disappointed because the female lead actress Evangeline Lily wasn't there, which was a shame.

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