I soon discovered why the flights were cheap...gates are labelled with velcro flashcards as opposed to an electronic screen and we were delayed! But holiday cheer is not easily eradicated so we waited in the tin shack.
We arrived in Sydney and the sun was shining. We had decided to stay at the YHA at The Rocks as had been advised it was a good base in a great location and we were very pleased with it. Simple but clean and hotel accommodation is so pricey in Sydney. We had private en suite rooms with views of the Opera House. The hostel itself is not too backpackery with lots of families and guests of all ages. It has a great rooftop terrace with a great view of the Opera House.
We had a great time in Sydney and the weather was beautiful. Day 1 consisted of a tour of the Opera House, lunch at Pancake on the Rocks which was yum and dinner was at the Lowenbrau brewery where we entertained by an energetic oompah band, feasted on a huge platter of meat and watch a little Chinese girl win a beer drinking competition and then tackle a litre more at her seat!
On day 2 we had breakfast at the YHA ($6 for toast, cereal and a drink) and then headed over to Manly where we enjoyed the beach and walked to Shelly Beach too. Lunch was at a local microbrewery, 4 Pines, and we also had a walk round the Botanical Gardens watching the cockatoos and peering at the flying foxes hanging upside down in the trees. It was beginning to turn to dusk so a few were flexing their wings and beginning to rouse from sleep. The evening was spent at the Opera Bar.
Our last day in Sydney was spent at the fish market where we enjoyed very fresh sashimi and some time in the Chinese Garden where we dressed up in traditional costume. I wasn't keen on Steve's facial hair although we agreed that his natural squinty eyes added to the overall look! The rest of the day was spent relaxing at Darling Harbour enjoing the warmth before Tiger Airways jetted us back to Melbourne with a two hour delay and no apology.
On the Tiger Airways subject, I don't think we'd choose to travel with them again although admittedly their prices are always appealing but the inconvenience with a higher potential of delays and cancelled flights just don't make it worthwhile. The flight itself was fine although the lack of apology for the delays (both ways) was noted and didn't sit well with me. In addition, the arrivals part of the airport in Melbourne is literally a shack with a corrugated tin roof and concrete floor. Hold luggage is just thrown on this metal stand which doesn't have a conveyor belt, for people to collect and the exit is through one of those tall, vertical turnstiles which you see in movie scenes at prison entrances or some 60s factory!
It was great to see them at home in Sydney and loving their lives here and to talk about life in Australia. Even better to hear some good ole Yorkshire accents! I'm looking forward to the next reunion and that next time there will be even more of us. We hope to see them in Melbourne perhaps for Melbourne Cup and hopefully, we'll get to see them all in Sydney again.
In summary, we had a great time in Sydney. It's a fun place to visit and Steve and I found some great bars and restaurants we'd definitely like to spend more time in. Having said that, it is a lot more sprawling and busier than Melbourne which is easier to navigate so for now, I'm glad our Australia home is Melbourne. The more I get used to Sydney though may tip that balance so we shall see!