Tuesday, January 22, 2013


First things first.  This was the view from our hotel in Sydney:

And do you know which hotel provides such an amazing view?  Ho-tel, mo-tel Holiday Inn!

I'm going to come out of the closet and proclaim my love for Holiday Inns right here, right now.  We always stayed in them growing up (in the big city: Fargo, North Dakota) and it had the deepest pool of any hotel I'd ever seen (9 feet deep!) so the seed of my love of Holiday Inn was planted early.  I lost my first tooth at a Holiday Inn.  Fond memories.

We stayed in one in Edinburgh when we returned there for graduation, and I chose it solely because it was near our old apartment, and I couldn't fathom staying anywhere else than where I used to live.  It blew me away, it was a great hotel in Edinburgh.  Holiday Inn 4 LYFE!

This kick ass view is from the rooftop, which also features a rooftop pool.  $200 a night adds up quickly, but if you're looking for a reasonably-priced-for-Sydney place to stay smack dab in the center of town I recommend the Holiday Inn Old Sydney.

The first day we got to Sydney (Christmas Day) the weather sucked.  It was pouring rain and quite cold.  Cold I can deal with, but wet socks plus cold?  No, thank you.  It sucked.  So we spent our first evening holed up indoors staying dry, drinking beer and eating two (count 'em two) dinners.  We didn't get any usable pictures of Darling Harbour because we were scared our camera would drown, but it was a really awesome area.  Had I seen it in the sunlight I suspect I would like it even more than the Sydney Harbour.

Thankfully the day after Christmas (Boxing Day to you crazy Commonwealth countries) the weather cleared up, just in time for our planned day of beaching.  We started off by taking a 40-minute bus ride to Bondi Beach:

Which was legit not worth the cramped standing-room-only bus ride.  I've heard nothing but blah things about Bondi, however I've only heard amazing things about the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.  My advice to future travelers is only bother to go to Bondi if you have the time and energy to do this (or a similar) coastal walk.  We just gawked at washed up jelly fish, old men working on their fitness and MILFs.

Everything that Bondi lacks, Manly Beach more than makes up for.  I stupidly didn't get a panoramic picture of the beach, but trust me, as far as areas of interest are concerned, Manly is far superior.

Martin and I have this ridiculously annoying knack for getting lost and winding up in the totally wrong/boring part of town, which of course happened in Manly.  Pro tip: Once you land in Manly with the ferry walk straight from it with the terminal at your back.  In that direction you'll hit the promenade and beach, and you can find Ben & Jerry's brownie sundaes, $5 beers and African food like we did.  Manly is awesome, and to get there you have to take a ferry through Sydney Harbour.  It's super scenic, especially at dusk (so you can save yourself the expenditure of taking a harbour cruise).

The next day we went out of the city and in to the Blue Mountains.  In theory we could have rented a car and done this ourselves, but in my old age I've realized that's just not how I roll.  I want to find a good tour company, fork over my money, and kick back to enjoy the scenery, which is exactly what we did.

We learned about Aboriginal history and culture and went to a "wildlife park" (somehow different from a zoo) where we saw native wildlife like koalas, kangaroos, dingoes, crocodiles and a gigantic, murderous bird I had never heard of before moving here, a cassowary.

This thing can and will kill you by ripping open your torso with their gigantic, sharp claws and ramming you with the sharp bone on the top of their head.  This continent is killer, man.  Literally.  So many things are lethal.

The next day we had to catch our flight to Hong Kong, and with business lounge access (I still need to tell you the story of why Cathay Pacific is the best airline ever) we wanted to get there in plenty of time so we could enjoy the fruits of the high life.  And believe you me, the high life looks good on me!

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