Christmas in Sydney

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas and this year, 2017, we are going home! We can’t wait to wrap up in oversized winter coats and snuggle our feet into slipper socks. But last Christmas, Australia gave us it’s heart. This blog nearly went into the trash as Australia was so loved by my keyboard, my fingers were starting to drop off! I want to tell you about Sydney. I could tell you about Melbourne, Byron Bay, Wilson’s Prom and a whole lot more of wonderful places we went, but I must save these for another day and help my RSI. So, grab a cuppa, or a schooner, and listen up because Sydney, put simply, is amazing!

Australia was so very far down our wish list of places we wanted to visit while living in Bangkok, but after a stormy October half term in Phuket our phones were out looking for the next place to go that would guarantee sunshine. I was just messing around on SkyScanner, laughing about the very silly idea of going to Australia for Christmas when my phone screen flashed the digits 350. “No?” said Will (insert the low northern tones of Will’s voice.) “You’re telling me that it’s gonna cost me £350 to fly to Australia? Return?” “Yes” I said, feeling so chuffed with my research and the change in Will’s voice. He has been against going there for years. This new sound to his dulcet tones seemed promising though. Anyway, things went from there and a week later we had booked flights, with less than six weeks to plan our trip and MY GOD it was hard to plan.

Some things to know about Australia…

  1. Booking is essential. Everyone knows that I love a detailed itinerary, but this was the next level. Pretty much EVERYWHERE seemed booked up.
  2. It’s bloody expensive (compared to Thailand)

After throwing the guide book on the floor after a few weeks of research and getting absolutely nowhere, shouting “I already hate Australia”, we changed plans to make it work. Here’s what we got up to in our three weeks there, which we were finally able to call our honeymoon.

We flew AIR ASIA to Kuala Lumpur, then onto Sydney. It wasn’t bad, as it was an overnight flight, so we slept. But there was no entertainment, no blankets and no free booze. I had to rent my little blanket for £5 and it wasn’t even that cosy. Will’s shoulder was the best option.

Arriving in Sydney we ate, naturally. Just look at those portions! They are a bit different to a Thai lunch, hey? We then stocked up on wine, which was like visiting a gold mine. Prosecco, red, white… we grabbed the lot after being rationed for so long. Then fish and chips on the beach. We were in heaven.

On a side note, I was obsessed with this bird. I didn’t even know what it was until I looked it up- cockatoo! As the days went by, however, they made me cross because they are noisy, greedy and try to steal everyone’s food. I dislike food stealers, even though I make Will share everything he eats.

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This is Manly. A short bus ride away from where we were staying at a family friends apartment in Dee Why (thanks Rob!) Dee Why is a really cool place. Great beach, cafes, restaurants and sea air! Some very tall girls were playing volleyball in Manly and they made me feel like I could finally fit in, as in Thailand I’m just big old ‘big size’. Also the coffee was great. So was the beer, served as ‘schooners’, something that us Brits will never get used to.

Why are we wearing jumpers? It was actually 19 degrees here. Anyone else would be sad about this, but coming from 32 degrees and high humidity this was the best feeling ever. I even bought the hoodie in the picture. Three layers, and I was still chilly.

Wise words of the day:

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The last time I saw Sydney Opera House was in ‘Finding Nemo’, so seeing it in real life was a very exciting moment for us. We took the ferry from Manly to Sydney harbour, which is well worth the trip for the views alone. Walking up to the Opera House was even better. It really is an amazing piece of architecture.

Here it is in all it’s grandeur, under blue skies just a few hours later.  The bridge is also very beautiful, but we didn’t climb it, unlike my father in law Kevin Hart, who has. It costs around £150 to do this and we had to make our money go a long way over three weeks.

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Here are a few more pictures of the city that are worth a visit. Darling harbour, Martin Place and Bondi/Coogee beaches of course. We really enjoyed Bondi- people watching and happy hour at a beach-side bar.

Three days in Australia and we had already eaten like pigs, so we thought we would go inland on day four for a run around a local lake. This was possibly the best run in the world, even though it was five miles and we are both severely out of training. However, we did it! We celebrated our health with a banana, and a drive to Palm Beach, where Home and Away was filmed.

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Home and awaaaaaaaaay!

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Looking back, this was a truly stunning beach; barely a soul there, expect from the kite surfers who were clearly showing off. We had a little sleep on the beach after our picnic of home made sandwiches in a little cool bag and this is what I had to look at when I woke from my slumber… silly, old sandy-face.

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A couple of hours out of Sydney reside the beautiful blue mountains. We decided to visit on a day when the sky was completely blue and, apart from getting a bit of vertigo, it was a fun day with spectacular views to behold and some fun ‘rides’ to explore, like the steepest train in the world. Trust me, it was so steep. I held on for dear life, whilst Will videoed my face going down, my seat adjusted to the ‘cliffhanger’ position. So supportive!

This is where I am picking up the blog… ten months later. As you have already began to imagine, Sydney really is fantastic. Reading it back, I already want to visit again! The food and coffee alone has got me salivating. If you are a Brit reading this you’re probably thinking “those pictures don’t look very Christmassy” and in some ways you are right. We are used to the cold, the log fires and box sets at Christmas time, not sunshine, sun and t shirts. It was a very odd feeling, I must say. The Australian’s embrace Christmas just as much as us though, trust me. The fireworks at Darling Harbour is just one example.

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The shop displays in a little town, Leura, just outside of the Blue Mountains made us feel all festive too, and we purchased some glorious scented candles to take back to Bangkok. Leura is a quaint, quirky and cool town and very much reminded me of Nailsworth where I used to live.

Here is Martin Place with it’s lights all ready, and around the corner was a gigantic Christmas tree with actors dressed as Angels giving everyone snowflakes. I wanted a picture but, cough cough, I was too shy!

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To put our English slant on Christmas, a trip to the big Woolworths (yes, Woolworths) supermarket was in order. Starting with an almost croissant, and my God don’t the Aussies do these well, and a peruse around the prawns. The queue for the prawns was so long, but we stocked up on chicken, vegetables and gravy!

Christmas eve was spent feasting, as well as sipping on festive wine at the Opera House Bar ‘O Bar’. Unfortunately it rained, but it was still lovely to sit outside on Christmas eve right underneath a breathtaking world landmark. If you look carefully you can see the umbrellas of O bar in the second picture. Good job they had them, hey?

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So what does everyone do on Christmas day? Go to the beach of course! We went back and forth deciding which beach to go to, but we found out that many beaches have banned alcohol. We settled for the local beach in Dee Why, and it would seem that everyone else did too. Our morning run confirmed this. We passed many families setting up their gazebos at 9am, marking their territory for the festivities.

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Like a normal Christmas at home, we opened up our presents including our matching watches and a very special souvenir. His name is Cedric.

By 11am we had packed our cool bag full of treats and a nice, cool bottle of prosecco. Looking like complete idiots, we strolled towards the beach in our Christmas jumpers. These were essential to feeling ‘at home’. Needless to say, these were whipped off within minutes when we began to sweat in the 30 degree sunshine. It was worth it for the pictures alone.

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The rest of the day was spent eating, sunbathing to some tunes on our newly purchased ‘cube’ speakers and playing in the sea. There was a real sense of community on the beach. We are used to our Christmases at home with our family, but here in Sydney everyone was together, celebrating a wonderful time of the year. Our Christmas day ended with phone calls to family and a nice roast dinner at 9pm, as this was the only time we could eat it.

On Boxing day we waved goodbye to Sydney in our camper van, ready for the next part of our adventure. If only we could have stayed longer. But you know what this means? We will have to go back someday.

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Off to the Great Ocean Road we go… Goodbye Sydney!

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