Friday, August 8, 2008

Cold, Wet and fun Blue Mountains!

Day 3 in Sydney

Blue Mountain Tour with Sydney Wilderness Tours

The day started off great except Warren's cold started and I thought I might get one too. We started out at 7 am and came downstairs to see a small turqoise tour bus. Tish our wonderful tour guide was right on time for our pickup in from of the apartment and greeted us and set the pace of the day.

We had one more pickup but the person was a no show…so it was the Canucks - Team Canada and the Brits - Team Yorkshire - 6 of us including Tish for the day! We were off for a grand old day.

We had to drive over the Sydney harbor bridge and enjoyed the great view as we circled below first and then up on the bridge (left hand side).

Through some tunnels and onto the Featherdale Park - an Australian Animal park. We were concerned about the weather but were pleasantly surprised by how great the weather and the visit to Featherdale was. There were few people there as we arrived before the park opened and were excited to practically have the place to ourselves. We even got to see the Joey poking out from his mother’s pouch! We all got to pet a koala and Warren got to see a Tasmanian Devil!

The weather turned as we left the park and went to our first lookout. Tish made it work! She was awesome in preparing us for the colder weather etc. and she took us to a cool cave where people actually lived in the depression at this first lookout.

It was really windy and cold but the views were as spectacular! As the winds were, getting close to the edge of the gorge was exciting to say the least as the winds were about 45-60 km/h . Warren was brave and wanted to get the best view so he crouched down to lower his center of gravity and get a good shot….we have a picture of him close the edge.

Next stop a Freezing cold windy walk to see the "Three Sisters" - as seen below. We lasted long enough to take a picture then ran back to the warmth. Tish then helped us decide what rides at Scenic World we wanted to do. We were concerned it would be too cold to do them, but Tish assured us that they would be ok. She was right!

First we took a cable car along the canyon, then the cable car ride as it was so windy they should have called it the sway ride but it was fun never the less. Trish met us on the other side and took us to the steepest incline ride in the world! - It had a dropcable car ride where the drop is at a 55 degree angle….doesn’t sound like much but you start off lying down and end up standing up.
We took a quick tour of the mining area at the bottom of the ride and the queued up for the cable car ride backup. A quick wander through the gift shop and we were off to lunch. We were really ready for lunch! We were starving!

Lunch was at the Wentworth Country Club where we feasted on fish and chips, Chicken wings, salad, pasta, wine soda, and apple crisp for desert. The restaurant had a great view overlooking their golf course but by this time it had started to rain heavily and we didn’t go back outside! We decided to wander around the shops in the town of Leure and then drive back to the Sydney Olympic Park. Warren had a long nap was interrupted buy a stop at a UGG boot outlet - Melanie and Montana bought comfy slippers and back on the road - I started to feel a cold really come on!

The tour ended off with a trip around the Sydney Olympic park where we got to look at pillars of the 45,000 volunteers that made the games such a success. We even found a "Melanie Bishop" on one of the poles.

Tish said her good byes and we boarded the ferry back to the Rocks area and Circular Quay in the CBD. We got a fantastic view of the bridge at night, even thought the weather was bad the boat ride was warm and comfortable. Montana and I went to the front of the boat OUTSIDE and it wasn’t too bad windwise We has a much better view, Warren joined us for the last 10 minutes. The view of Sydney at night it was great, Montana figured out the night mode on the camera to make our evening pictures that much more special.

Tish was a great tour guide and kept us informed throughout the tour. I would definitely recommend Sydney Wilderness Tours to anyone wanting to see the Blue Mountains - We loved them as Tish made it work even though the weather was poor we had a great day!

Tomorrow - onto Melbourne!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Entering the Matrix - Day 2 Sydney

Ok – I know – I am late in sharing our adventures in both Sydney, Melbourne and we have already had 2 days in Port Douglas – My only excuses are – we are having lots of fun and Warren and I caught horrible colds – so most of our energy is going to enjoying our trip!

So where was I – Oh yeah – Second day in Sydney

Matrix Tour – at 10 am we met up with Janice from Sydney Movie Tours.

We contacted Janice before we arrived in Sydney and asked her to do a specialized tour of the Matrix as it was filmed in Sydney and Warren is the biggest Matrix Fan! So it was perfect! Wow what a tour! Janice was great! She brought a DVD player and showed us the scenes first then showed us the spots. We walked for what seemed like miles and got to see some amazing spots! We even got to “act out” the scene in front of the waterfall with the “Girl in the Red Dress” on Martin Place.

Fountain where the "girl in the red dress walks by"

This is the building that Neo tried to jump out of in the beginning but failed to and got arrested in the beginning of the movie.

Mr Quack is pretending to the the black cat in the "deja vu" scene - where Neo sees the Black Cat twice and Trinity says "Oh no they changed something in the Matrix!"

We ended up at the Sydney hospital and rubbed the Boar's nose for good luck!

After the tour we ended up at the Rocks area, and had lunch at a hotel. This was one of the first places we felt a bit of misplaced prejudice. – food was good – service was rough. But Montana got to try her first Aussie Meat Pie – mmmmm yum!

Here is a Video I put together of our Matrix tour:

Next we took at taxi back to Paddy Market (the proper market was on today – like a flea market of sorts). Montana was in heaven! She bought a sweatshirt and a scarf! We looked for UGG boots and enjoyed the time. Warren got a little bored so he decided to go to the casino that was nearby. Montana and I got some girl time and ice cream and sat down by the harbor at Darling Harbor. It was fun. We then walked up to Pitt Street Pedestrian Mall for some shopping. We met Warren back at the Apartment and Warren had great news! He won some money at the casino and we all decided that we wanted a nice dinner out. We both saw the same place for dinner and suggested it at the same time! It was a great seafood restaurant in Darling Harbor called Jordans. (We have since learned that Jordan's has closed their doors - we are sad to hear that!) We walked over and had a discussion on whether or not the pedestrian bridge over the harbour moved for boats. Well I didn’t think it did as the monorail went over it – Warren thought it did. Well as he decided maybe I was right, the horn blew as we were walking over it and everyone made a mad dash! We couldn’t believe it. Apparently it does move but not often – only once a day max and we were talking to a guy who lived in an apartment overlooking the bridge and he said he has never seen it move! It was freaky and really cool to watch! We had a great dinner, Montana had steak and Warren and I had fish. My first taste of Barramundi since I arrived back in Australia! YUM!
We sat outside and wished that Toronto had a harbour like this to enjoy!

Back to our cold apartment to sleep!

Tomorrow our day tour to the Blue Mountains!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Travelling Down Under

Wow! What an awesome few days! A couple of colds, and cold weather but still an amazing time.

It is 6:47 am in Toronto on Sunday Morning and 8:47 pm on Sunday evening in Melbourne Australia (where we are right now). This is the furthest south Warren or Montana have ever been!

Arriving in Sydney

Our Jetstar flight was pretty great. We were in their "Star Class" and sat in the first row so we had lots of room. The flight was about 10 1/2 hours and we left at 9:30 am on Monday and arrived at 4 pm on Tuesday afternoon. That always freaks me out.

We could feel the cold as soon as the jetway was opened. It sure was winter. Now by no means is it like winter in Canada, but when you just came from Hawaii it is cold! We got our luggage and we looked for the taxi stand - it turned out to be a taxi rank - not stand and it cost about $50.

We stayed in a 2 bedroom serviced apartment - Meriton Pitt Street Serviced Apartments - it was perfect for what we needed, except for one major thing. The thermostat. Apparently the council or whoever approved the building permits for this building, stated that the thermostat had to shut itself off every 3 hours. No matter what. Now in the summer this may not be such a big deal, but we soon learned how bad the winds and cold could be - we were ALWAYS cold in the apartment. Warren was up several times in the night turning it back on again.

As for jet lag - we did ok - I was usually first to bed by 8-9 pm and then Warren and Montana would follow. We would be up anywhere between 4 am and 7 am - which did great for communicating with people back home as this was the end of their work day. It also gave us more of a day.

That first night we were tired and hungry, so it was off to a local pizza and italian joint. Then back to unpack and crash.

The first morning we were up early, so we set off for the Opera House and Harbour Bridge at about 7:30 am. It was cold, but it was also quiet! We got to enjoy it almost to ourselves. There were only a few tourists, and lots of picture opp's.

The day started to warm up and we then we jumped on the double decker hop on hop off bus. We used the bus to see alot of the city. It was amazing, Every time we went to get on it the bus was there for us. We never had to wait.

We took the bus around to Darling Harbor and decided to get off there. We loved Darling Harbor - this is where the Chinese Gardens, the Sydney Convention Center (where the Sydney International Boat Show was on), the Sydney Aquarium and lots of shops and restaurants.

Warren wanted to see the Chinese Gardens, so this was our first stop. We had so much fun here! We came across a little shop in the gardens that rented costumes so you could take pictures in the gardens as Chinese Emperors or princesses. So Warren and Montana got dressed up and we took a ton of pictures! It was so much fun. Before you knew Montana and I were fighting Matrix
style kung fu in the middle of the gardens!

We then went to find Paddy's Markets. It turned out the markets were not on that day - however the mall was open. So off for another adventure. The food court was all Asian Food - so Montana introduced me to Pho - an Asian soup - it was yummy. Montana and I decided that each day on our trip we were to have an adventure! - This was one of them for me!

Next we decided to get back on the bus and continue on the tour. We jumped off at Kings Cross and found a little British Lolly Shop - mmmmm Choclate Eclair candies~

20 minutes later back on the bus to the Australian Museum stop and a short walk across High Park to the shopping area. Checked out the Coach store - some prices were TWICE as much as home! It was surreal! Overall we are finding prices higher than home, keeping in mind that the VAT is in the price already - things are still quite more expensive.

That night we were tired so we found a burger joint and went back to the apartment and ate dinner and caught up on Big Brother - Warren my genius husband worked out an Internet solution so we could watch our TIVO from anywhere in the world!

Off to bed at about 9 pm!

Next Day - Matrix tour!

Stay tuned and please post your comments! We love to hear them!