Saturday, 21 September 2013

Semester Break

Monday morning we woke up bright and early ready to head up to Auckland for the night, I think it’s safe to say we all really liked Auckland. It was interesting as well, it’s probably the quietest and least populated city centre I’ve been in yet everyone from Hamilton regularly told us they found Auckland way too crowded and that there were so many people you couldn’t just walk down the street! The hostel we stayed at in Auckland was great, it had a sauna, kitchen area, rooftop balcony, an outdoor hot tub and it was located right in the middle of the city! We couldn’t have picked a better hostel really, especially as the bus stop for the airport was 2 minutes away. Like I said we only spent one day in Auckland and I definitely want to go back, we spent it in coffee shops, window-shopping and people watching in the park outside the university.
I need to give the vegetarian Cesar salad I had a special mention as it was, by far, been the nicest thing I’d eaten since coming to New Zealand.

Tuesday we woke up an ungodly hour (4am), pretty sure we woke up the whole 12bed room we were giggling so much, we caught the airport bus, so far so good, the first problem came when we went to check in and we were asked if any of us has an Australian visa… which none of us did. Cue a mini panic, a quick dash to the information counter to get an online visa and we’re on our way! After a quick breakfast and some shopping (I picked up a waterproof camera).  We all slept most of the plane journey, things once again got a little interesting once we got into the taxi and we realized none of us actually had the address of the hostel (again a mini panic while we all tried to get internet on our phones!) After checking in we realise we’re not really in the best area – there’s a lot of homeless around and quite a few strip bars - there was no mention of how scary the area was in the online reviews! Our first day in Sydney was just spent planning the rest of our time there and getting our bearings.

Wednesday, George has lost his keys, I have a cold, and It’s zoo day. A quick train journey and we’re on the ferry heading over to Tauranga Zoo! We got to enjoy the skysafari, which gave us some lovely views of Sydney’s skyline. We managed to book a koala encounter and got to meet wanda, an incredibly cute koala and get lots of photos with her!
It was a really fun day walking around the zoo in the sunshine, and one of the best bits, I thought, was every so often you’d catch a glimpse of Sydney’s skyline or the harbor from between the trees!

(on the ferry going to the zoo)

Thursday was ‘shopping day’ but we had a very bumpy start when the machine swallowed George’s card! We managed to find a payphone and sort it out eventually but it was eventful morning. I bought some shoes at zara and then we found a posh little café with wrap-around windows and sat down to natter, drink chai tea, and people watch. It was a fun, relaxing day in preparation for tomorrow’s activity – we also appeared on Sydney TV as a presenter approached us to request a song!

Friday was probably the highlight – Blue Mountains. To say I was apprehensive was an understatement, I’m not the trekking sort but Caitlin really wanted to do so we all agreed to book it. After an alarm mishap we woke up with 10minutes to get ready, we ran to the pick up point and had a panicked start to the day – on the plus side it certainly woke us up! We had the most amazing tour guide who spoke a ton of languages and was hilarious, we went on 3 treks and saw the most amazing sites! On the second walk the tour guide stayed in the van as it was cold, wet and very very windy so me Caitlin and George led the group through streams and up mountains and because we were leading we saw a kangaroo in the wild! Friday was exhausting but it was amazing!

(because of our manic start none of us looked our best but that didn't stop us taking lots of photos!)
(I still can't get over how incredibly beautiful the blue mountains are)

 (the three sisters)

(the wild kangaroo just in front of us on the path)

(I love this shot!)
 (a random little stone wall we came across)

 (this part was kinda scary since there was a sheer drop just metres away)
(the first waterfall and beautiful sight of the day)
(I loved how every so often we'd come across something like this steps or a low wall!)
Saturday was sightseeing day, we hopped on an open topped bus that drove around Sydney and if you plugged your earphones in you got a proper tour of the city with lots of interesting facts and landmarks being pointed out. We knew we weren’t going to have time to see everything on this trip as it was only a week and Sydney is pretty big but with the bus tour we ‘saw’ everything even if we didn’t get to explore them. I made sure we were at the Opera house to take photos during ‘golden hour’ (my love of photography coming out there) and we got some beautiful photos in perfect lighting!

me and caitlin at the fountain not too far from the hostel
The three of us and the harbour bridge

(the opera house with the sun setting)
Sunday was our last full day and me and Caitlin caught the ferry over to manly beach and just soaked up the sunshine on the sand after another night out, we strolled along the beach for a while then just sat down and daydreamed while listening to the sea! That evening Isaac (the person who was in sharing our room, from Paris) took us to this bar where you got a free cocktail when you go in and a pizza for only $5, it was an amazing atmosphere and the perfect way to end our time in Sydney!  

the water was colder than expected!
we treated ourselves by going to an expensive promenade restaurant and having the most delicious seafood pasta!
 (trying out my waterproof camera!)
  (my attempt at getting a photo of the skyline on our way back on the ferry)

'Stralia I loved you! I can't wait to go back!

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