7th Jun 2012 - 23rd Jun 2012 Arriving back in Sydney we put adverts up on Gumtree and posters on hostel notice boards to try sell the van. Within the day we had phone calls asking to view the van. The first couple who viewed it put in an offer and we sold it to them after bargaining them for another few days (as the hostels can end up being expensive). We were sad to see our home of 4 months go but the fat wad of cash and the prospect of going to the toilet whenever, helped the matter.
Before we sold the van we made it across the harbour to Manly, where we watched the surfers before heading on up to Palm Beach, more commonly known as Summer Bay from 'Home and Away', took a short stroll on the sand before finding a well deserved (cold) shower.
Didn't get to see Alf Stewart that day which was a shame. But we did meet him later in the week when we went to Madam Tussauds which has recently opened. We came face to face with lots of famous faces including Aussie favourites Nicole Kidman, Kylie and Dannii Minogue, the late Heath Ledger, Harold Bishop, Rolf Harris and even Crocodile Dundee. We also got up close and personal with Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe, Oprah and Einstein. Shan got to squeeze Angelina's bum (to which my mums called it "Shangelina"). We sat in Obama's office and finally took part in the Queens Jubilee celebrations by posing with the Queen herself!
Luckily we were also just in time for 'Vivid Sydney'. Where for one week in winter, Circular Quay comes to life with a celebration of lights, art and colour. The skyscrapers were illuminated in a range of colours, and the Opera House dazzled in vibrant light projections. Circular Quay itself was great- there was light boxes and colourful booths and a giant chandelier which appeared to be suspended in the nights sky.
We went to The Rocks for a sauerkraut and then climbed the stairs to the pathway on the bridge where we took hundreds of photos of the 'sails' lit up in a range of different colour spectrums and shapes. A main feature of this years festival was a German art and dance group which were projected onto the Opera House, therefore we didn't see as many of the amazing colours we had seen photos of from previous years, but it was still really cool. We walked amongst the massive crowds and felt like tourists, in a city we once took for granted living and working.
So we had expected to pay about $60 a night between us but the YHA were doing an offer of a 10 night package for $23 each, so we signed up for that, only to then be told we couldn't stay in the same hostel for the whole duration, but it worked out to our advantage as I had wanted to stay at the new Harbour YHA in The Rocks facing Circular Quay (but they charge something like $41 per night normally). So after a few good nights in the Railway YHA we (I) downsized our mass of bags and got rid of lots of perfectly good clothes and books, and our roomy let us borrow his luggage scales and we are somehow, very surprisingly almost on our baggage allowance quota. So took a taxi (as you do) (but don't know why as we know the roads better than these foreigners, everywhere in Australia has had ridiculously bad taxi drivers) to YHA Harbour which is built on and around an archeological site from the first settlers, so it's interesting, and the dorms had en suite,but most fantastically amazing of all- the roof terrace which stares straight in the face of both the Opera House and The Harbour Bridge. We were so excited that we Skyped home to show our spell-bounded families! When I first stepped out on the terrace I felt like it was my first time setting my eyes on these world famous icons and it made it all the better looking at the skyscraper hotels next to us knowing people were getting the same view as us but paying a zillion times more than us.
The weather had been atrocious when we first arrived with a storm hanging over a lot of Oz. (129mm of rain fell within Sydney in 2 days- normally the month of June only gets 133mm). But then the weather picked up and even though it's winter it was still hotter than the UK (after their little heat wave). So we made the most of the weather by going on a jet boat ride on the harbour and getting soaking wet. The jet boat ride was actually my Christmas present from Blue (so happy Xmas and thanks work). The jet boat was the same idea as the one we done in Queenstown (which was also free), we got splashed and drenched, we done 360 degree spins whilst travelling at over 85km an hour, the main difference being the scenery- we got great views of the CBD, opera house and bridge as we whizzed on by.
Also as a Christmas present from work we received a harbour cruise on the famous Captain Cook cruises. So we went on yet another boat and took in the familiar atmosphere and surroundings, took even more photos and stopped off at Watson's Bay for chips and tried to spot whales but unfortunately didn't see any, but least we'd seen them last year.
I also met up with a lovely friend of mine, Natalie. We had worked together in Harrods for a few months and now Natalie is on her working holiday, it was great to catch up and swap stories. We had headed to The Ivy for drinks, the ivy is one of the top bars in Sydney, nestled in amongst skyscrapers and a fair height up itself it was lovely.
We went to the pub to watch the Origin- Queensland v NSW, even after living in Sydney we still see ourselves as QLD supporters - but they lost. More successful was wakening up at 4am to go watch the Euros and see England through to the quarter finals! (we'll miss next game cause we'll be on our flight home). After our lovely meal at Fish at The Rocks for my birthday we decided to go to its neighbour Curry at The Rocks. It was really delicious, also went back for some home brewed ale at the Lord Nelson pub at The Rocks. Stopping on the way back to the hostel to capture some amazing scenes of Sydney from the other side of the bridge at The Rocks.
Shannon was a perfect boyfriend and treated me in our final days, I finally got a pair of Ugg boots that I'd been harping on about and wowee they are so comfy and warm, well i suppose anything is after wearing flip flops or i should say 'thongs' for the past 13 months. We also went to the cinema to see 'Snow White and the Huntsman' which we really enjoyed, and I got my fix of popcorn!
We had a few boring but important tasks still to do such as file for our tax returns, which will hopefully give us over $1000 each back! Also as we are going back the glamorous way we needed to check if we needed Chinese transit visas, the consulate said ask the airline and the airline said ask the consulate as no one knew! In the end we took the advice (and name) of someone from Air China's office and didn't get a visa. (So fingers crossed)
Then it was time- it was the 24th June and time to leave Australia....