Our final evening started with a cultural visit to the Australian Museum of Contemporary Art – we are divided as to whether or not we enjoyed it!! John would have liked to spend more time viewing and understanding exhibits, Matt wanted to mooch round the shop and watch the skateboarding video, Kim wanted her dinner! This was followed by a mad rush back to the Nike shop for a running shirt for Matt before finally sitting down for dinner overlooking the harbour. We fly to Cairns tomorrow for the next stage of our adventure – David Todd Memorial Run, Kuranda sky rail, Barrier Reef and Daintree River here we come!! Just to put your minds at ease, it is only Matt doing the running……
Bondi or Newquay?
Difficult to tell the difference. Bondi doesn’t seem to have drunks, Newquay definitely has the better beach. Everyone told us that Manly was better and we’d have to agree. We came to see the winter festival and ice skating on the beach, a long way to go before it could compete with ice skating at Somerset House. We’d been at bondi half an hour before Matt found the skate park and a couple of people doing tricks on BMX’s. 2 hours later, we were still there. I hope Matt appreciates the sacrifice made by 2 very bored parents who didn’t whine once!! The highlight for John was seeing a shop that sold Hunter wellies rather than Uggs.
We caught the bus back to the city . Kim and Matt chose to explore the shops while John went to Darling Harbour by ferry. if we’d looked at the map, we’d have realises how near the shops were to Darling and we could have spent the afternoon together!!
Another tick in a box
Yesterday ended with a walk across the bridge. Fantastic views and an interesting conversation with a bored Bridge Security Guard halfway across. We were unable to continue our walk until Matt had correctly guessed the year the bridge opened and we’d promised to visit the Westfield Centre at Parramatta. John looked horrified at the thought and we didn’t have the heart to say it’s Bondi today!! The evening finished back in the hotel, cheering on Bradley Wiggins. We can’t have him beaten by The Aussie, Cadel Evans!
Finally, and much to Matt’s delight, someone has said g’day to us!!
We’re now officially backpackers, our tour today started outside the Youth Hostel! We’re sure that makes us all young and hip. Anyway, it was early start for our Hunter Valley Tour with Sam and Kangariffic. First stop was morning tea at a wildlife sanctuary and a cuddle with koalas and kangaroos before a chocolate tasting. We have remortgaged to fund Matt and John’s purchases. Then it was our first ’boutique’ wine tasting over looking vineyards with Roos hopping through it. Next we were treated to a cheese tasting before our final wine tasting of the day. Fabulous wine and views as well as meeting some lovely people. Our journey home was via a brewery and beer tasting. Fantastic day with a small group of people from USA, Canada and Singapore. Kangarriffic mate!!
Go Wiggins Go!!
As Murray, Hamilton and Button all failed to deliver, we Stayed up late last night to watch the Tour de France and are supporting Bradley. We started the day in a little cafe for breakfast which was very cosmopolitan and we could easily get used to the lifestyle. This morning was spent on a 3 hour guided, walking tour of Sydney, led by Ross from ‘i’m free’ (Ken and Jacky would be proud of us). We saw far more of Sydney than we would have done if left to our own devices and learned a lot about it’s history and where to go free of charge. The Queen Victoria Building and the underground passages were a particular highlight for us. This afternoon we went our seperate ways!! John and Matt went out to the Olympic site while Kim explored the Botanic Gardens. Matt particularly wanted to see the skate park, More gate crashing from John as they made their way to the 17th floor of the Novotel to get the best view across the site. Meanwhile, back in the Botanic Gardens, Kim enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the trees and round Farm Covee. The wildlife is so different and it was a relief to see a moorhen – at least Kim knew what that was! John is sick of the sight of Ugg boots and wonders if Australia makes anything else. It’s also a bit disconcerting when everyone says how cold it is and they’re wrapped in scarves. They’d never survive in the UK!
The Opera House and Manly Beach
Last night, John’s sense of adventure had us gate crashing the Opera House and listening to a Bob Dylan tribute concert in the lobby. Matt and I were mortified for all of 5 minutes before relishing the experience. So much for a quiet night in with the tv! This morning we treated ourselves to the bizarre expereince of breakfast in a Germen Biergarten which for some strange reason was celebrating christmas in July.
After that it was the ferry round to Manly to see Australian surf dudes in action. We wish Newquay was like this – lovely long beach, nice shops to browse around and not a single drunk in sight! John learned his first Australian word (sunnies instead of sunglasses) and has been using it all day. A lovely afternoon was spent along the seafront. All the locals under the age of 30 seem to get about on small skateboards or scooters, Matt is trying to work out if he can get one back home in his suitcase. Despite the sunshine, the sea was too cold for us but not the locals! Matt, with his experience of 5 Cornish surfing lessons, was able to advise us how the surfers were going wrong by catching the waves to early!We had our first glimpse of local wildlife today, seagulls with red feet (cute), parrots (noisy), spiders (big and scary)
Arrived early this morning after a long sleepless night. Despite this Qantas is better than BA- John Lewis rather than Tesco!! Very proud of ourselves- we caught a train into Sydney and found the hotel all by ourselves. We had breakfast in The Rocks and explored the street market before Matt and Kim succumbed to sleep. We were a fantastic addition to the hotel lobby as our room wasn’t ready! John went exploring and has become our unofficial tour guide. Beer is like a fizzy light ale and the Australians are big supporters of NFL which looks like rugby for wimps. We’ve had dinner overlooking the harbour and the weather is ideal- warm and sunny but nowhere near as hot as HK, thank goodness. We shall walk off our dinner by going round to the Opera House and then back to the hotel to watch Wimbledon and the Grand Prix!
Time to leave Hong Kong
Our time in HK is at an end and we’re making the most of our last few minutes in this amazing hotel while waiting for our shuttle to the airport. It’s sooooo hot and sunny here!
Last night we ate in the chinese restaurant in the hotel, lovely food but we’re still not quite sure what abalone is! This was followed by a walk along the harbour front. What was supposed to be a gentle stroll turned into a long trek into the main shopping area in Kowloon in very warm, humid conditions. The views across the harbour at night were spectacular and well worth all the blisters and sore feet.
We had an early start and, ahead of the crowds, took the tram up to The Peak. Fantastic views across the whole of the island. We made our way back on The Star Ferry after spending time in the biggest Apple store ever and deciding that we’re really not shoppers. Hong Kong is definitely for shoppers! We returned to the hotel with a sigh of releif, it really is too hot for us, and the afternoon’s been spent relaxing by the pool. We shall miss the luxury and hospitality…..
Hong Kong at last!
Finally arrived in HK after a long flight. We can understand why people would want to upgrade!! Not too sure about whether the plane will make it back intact as it lost all electrical power on landing, at least we won’t be on board.
Transfer to the hotel was well worth the extra cost as we were able to sit back in an air conditoned coach and see the sights without having to worry about finding our destination.
The Harbour Grand Hotel certainly lives up to its name with fantastic views across the harbour to Hong Kong Island. We can’t take credit for the picture but that is the view from our room! We’re on floor 18, Kim and Matt have never been this high before and as it’s our first visit to HK we have been given VIP membership of the Harbour Club, so this is being written with a bottle of complimentary chilled white wine while Kim and Matt graze the free buffet before we go out and eat. Complimentary afternoon tea on arrival was the best welcome we’ve ever had and much appreciated after the eleven hour flight. In fact we may not leave the comfort of this fabulous place, having spent the afternoon on the roof terrace soaking up the atmosphere by the pool.
On our way
Arrived at Heathrow with hours to spare, thank you to Dad for the taxi service. We’ve survived our first dilemma. The flight’s over subscribed and we’ve just turned down €900 to fly later tonight!! Anyone who’s name is Ken will never forgive us! It took us a while to turn it down, there is only so much time you can spend at Heathrow and we may never see Hong Kong again. John’s just pointed out how many shoes I could have bought but there’s no turning back now. The next challenge is keeping Matt out of the DutyFree shops!!
New kitchen or Australia?
A frequent conversation, usually with a glass of wine, but the decision is made and we are off on our travels on Thursday.