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Bronte Beach

Approaching 100 degrees at Bronte Beach

Sigh. My grandmother always tells me the end of one good thing is the beginning of another, but I can’t help but be kind of bummed that our guest of honor left us yesterday to head back to Boston. Crazily enough, she just landed a couple hours ago after a long stopover in LA en route from Sydney. Hope the traveling was smooth, Home Slice!

Needless to say, we had a fantastic 10-day visit. The weather wasn’t always perfect (as luck would have it, our designated beach day was cloudy and cold, wtf mate?!), but we had plenty of sunshine and 75-degree temps, and just as I suspected the best part of all was just having Beege here to laugh and appreciate some of Sydney’s most ridiculous aspects. She was a total pro in terms of adjusting to the jet lag, although the hubs and I both found that we were incredibly worn out and overtired at the end of each day, I guess because we did so much more running around than usual.

Particularly early on, Beege and I did A LOT of walking, basically covering Sydney from every direction on foot. Then on day 3 we took a hike out in the Blue Mountains. Therefore, one of the jokes of the trip became that I was running “Kate’s boot camp” (aka Biggest Loser Sydney). Whatevs, Bridget totally agreed with me that there are no fat people here. Here are some photo highlights from Beege’s fantastic visit. In case you can’t tell, we decided early on that it would be HILARIOUS to give thumbs-up in every picture (or at least those where we didn’t have a drink in hand):

Day 1: Beege arrived at 7am and after the all-important post-flight shower, we grabbed flat whites and breakfast (Turkish toast, very Aussie!) at Blip. Then we took a walk around our neighborhood and meandered our way down Oxford Street in Paddo and Queen Street in Woollahra. Understandably, Beege just kind of wanted to keep moving, because the minute you stop you realize how freaking worn out you are. We ended up grabbing a pint at the Lord Dudley Hotel. It’s a very charming English pub-style place (and was totally filled with old people), yet Beege noticed a “needle exchange” bin in the bathroom. I’ve never noticed anything like that before, but she spotted them in other public restrooms around Sydney. I can see it in King’s Cross, but yuppieville Woollahra? If anyone has info about this, please feel free to enlighten me in the comments.

After that we took a train from Edgecliff to the CBD, grabbing lunch at one of the city’s many awesome food courts and eating outside in the Domain. Then we took one of my favorite trails,  Mrs. Macquarie’s Bushland Walk, along Woolloomooloo Bay and ended up at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, which to this point is my favorite vantage point in the city. Check this out, so pretty:

Mrs Maquaries chair

Day 2: We walked through the other side of the Botanic Gardens (making sure to freak out Beege, a total bird phobe, by walking underneath the flying foxes) and then on to the Opera House. After that we headed up through the CBD to Hyde Park, where we ate lunch at the Sydney Food and Wine Fair. It was kind of crowded, but there were lots of free wine tastings, a company giving out free loaves of bread, and even free samples from Ben & Jerry’s, which just came to Australia (not that they bothered to bring their frozen yogurt, but whatever, I’m not bitter). I had some Malaysian food, Beege and the hubs had sausage rolls, and we had some awesome cocktails from a bar on Oxford Street whose name temporarily escapes me. I just remember that vanilla stoli and passionfruit were involved:

SIFF

The cocktail was called the Booty Call, and we both enjoyed it thoroughly

After recharging at lunch we strolled down through Chinatown to Paddy’s Markets, which I always hear is a must-visit for cheap souvenirs. At first we didn’t even notice the ground floor (the part with hundreds of schlock-filled souvenir stalls) and took the escalator up to the second floor. Basically the rest of the building is a semi-cheap shopping mall, although the food court is filled with a bunch of really good Asian places and multiple bubble tea options. After that we headed down to Darling Harbour and walked along the water. At that point we all realized that our legs were about to fall off and we all felt kind of sunstroked, so we cabbed it home to have some guacamole on the balcony and pass out for a couple hours. This kind of became our late-afternoon routine. We topped off the day with dinner at our fave Thai takeaway spot, Eat Thai.

Day 3: After a bit of a lie-in, we drove two hours out to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains to see the 3 Sisters and attempt to hike Dardenelle’s Pass. As aforementioned, I have a bit of an issue with heights – particularly cliffs/open spaces – and it took about four steps down the 3 Sisters’ famous “Giant Stairway” to realize it was a no-go. Under different circumstances I might have been able to handle it, but it was really crowded, and certain people seemed to have no problem rushing down the steps (even though they’re crazy narrow and very clearly need to be single-file) and pushing into other people. The hubs was kind of pissed, but Beege and I just weren’t feeling it.

3 sisters

Check out my sweet farmer tan

Fortunately there are other trails around that don’t involve the “Staircase to Death” (as Beege called it), which was a relief since I clearly dressed like a sloppy hiker and made an enormous bag of GORP in preparation, and it would’ve been a shame for all that to go to waste. We ended up taking the Echo Point to Leura Cascades trail, which is lovely, scenic, and mostly shady. There are a few ups and downs, but it pretty much goes along the clifftop so it never gets too steep. We saw lots of cool birds, had some nice views of the Bridal Veil & Leura waterfalls, and enjoyed partaking in the trail’s many benches.

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Beege in the rainforest near Leura Cascades

It took us about 90 minutes to walk the trail, but it was extremely hot and getting late so we decided to take a bus back (as the Echo Point trailhead made it clear there was a return trolley at the end of the trail). What it didn’t specify was that the trolley was one of those mega-pricey all-day tourist things that costs $20/person. No thank you! There was also a bus stop nearby so we decided to take our chances with that. Turns out that, too, was one of those all-day, hop-on-hop-off explorer bus things, but fortunately the driver was nice and let us tag along for five bucks each. So fyi, unless you want to shell out it’s a lot easier just to hike the round trip.

We were all so exhausted from that hike (or more accurately, being outside in the hot sun) that I can’t really remember the drive back or what we did for dinner that night. That’s really saying something, because I rarely forget a meal! I’m going to end this post for now, TBC tomorrow with a recap of Sculpture by the Sea, 100 degree weather, and a racing luncheon for the Melbourne Cup. Damn, I’m getting so tired just recalling all the stuff that we did; I still can’t believe Beege managed to overcome the jet lag and was such a trooper. Did I mention I miss her company so much already?

 

 

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