Sydney

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The Opera House and Harbour Bridge in Sydney have to be the most iconic sites I think I’ve seen on this trip. More than the Great Wall, St Basil’s Cathedral or the Hong Kong skyline, there is nothing that tells you ‘Welcome to Australia!’ quite like that view. In glorious sunshine, we spent our first day gawping at these constructions, wandering around the Botanic Gardens, meandering through the New South Wales Art Museum, and finishing up with street food in The Rocks for dinner. This was an auspicious first day. I have to say, I absolutely fell in love with the place.
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If anything, this got even better the next day. We took the bus to Bondi beach and did the Bondi-Coogee clifftop walk. This is a 7km walk across beaches, up over hills and with stunning views down the eastern coast of Australia in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Walking past lovely art deco houses, a variety of beaches (7 in all), past a bowls club and a cemetary in the sunshine and sea breeze is a fantastic experience.
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The next couple of days we took in excursions to the Blue Mountains and Manly. The Blue Mountains is a couple hours on the train west of Sydney. The mountains are so called because of the blue haze in the air from the evaporated eucalyptus gum suspended in the air. Manly is a lovely little suburb a short ferry-ride across Sydney harbour, with a huge stretch of beach filled with surfers and volleyball players.
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Sadly it was a bit grey in Manly – and this continued through to Christmas Day. In fact, it ended up raining all day, which was NOT what we’d been expecting for our summer Christmas! Despite the poor weather, we braved Sydney Zoo (Amy picked up a jumper on the way!) to see some other animals unimpressed by the weather, and some enthusiastic seals. I think this was as excited as Amy has been since the Nerpanarium in Lake Baikal. She turned to me halfway through the show, commenting that she’d just been waving at a seal. I think she felt like this was something she should be ashamed of, but it was tough to get past the joy on her face!

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This animal is called a 'Bongo' and is awesome

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'Hi Amy!' 'Hi Seal!'

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Afterwards we gave up on our idea of a beach Christmas and had our picnic back at the flat we were staying at. There we interspersed food, wine and skypeing with relatives with the rather more Christmassy pasttimes of watching ‘Die Hard’ and ‘The Avengers’. The next day we took our leave of Sydney (which was sunny again after it’s unfairly grey Christmas) and headed to Melbourne.
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