Thursday, 12 June 2014

NSW Trip Day 19 - Sydney

We spent a quiet morning in the cabin, playing with Barbie and lego and iPods etc. Caitlin rode her scooter for a while – this caravan park has lots of hills so she’s practicing riding at speed and then stopping at the bottom. Our plan for the day was to go to Observatory Hill and then maybe Darling Harbour. I remembered that I also wanted to go to Chinatown to see if I could get a new bottle of herbs that I ran out of last week, so we decided to go straight to Chinatown to have lunch.

We set off and got to the city all right, then became bamboozled and cranky at the no right turns and one way streets around Chinatown, and we couldn’t seem to find a way to get close enough. I gave up and suggested we go straight to Observatory Hill and have a snack there, and come back for lunch later (I was also concerned that the blue sky was turning into thick grey clouds, so I wanted to do the outdoor stuff first). So we made our way (with still a little bit of frustration, I had forgotten how crazy it is to navigate Sydney streets in a car) up to Observatory Hill and climbed up to the park. I’ve always found this a beautiful spot with its large trees and views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the wharfs and the harbour, but it is more especially exciting now as its one of the frequent settings for Caitlin’s favourite show, Dance Academy. We ran around under the trees and on the grass where the characters often hang out, and Caitlin and Millie danced in the rotunda where Tara dances in several scenes. It was exciting even walking around the streets nearby, to think that all the actors had walked around there too. After a snack and a play and lots of photos, we walked down to the foreshore and prowled around the wharf buildings where a lot more of the show is filmed. Sydney Dance Company does operate out of one of the buildings there, although it looks like the next wharf over is the one they use for the show. It was cool just walking out on the wharves, even without the Dance Academy association. On the way back in we saw a guy who had just speared a fish which was interesting given the kids’ recent first experience with fishing.

Observatory Hill
Caitlin dancing in the rotunda where Tara dances
Caitlin in front of the Dance Academy building
We decided to skip Chinatown and just go to Darling Harbour. The first carpark we went into cost $30 for the first hour, so we came straight back out of there. We ended up in the Darling Harbour carpark right next to the Sydney Entertainment Centre, which is right across the road from Chinatown, so figured we actually could go with our original plan and have (a now very late) lunch there. The first place we saw was a food court called Eating World, which we all thought was a definite choice as the place to go. We got 3 dishes between us, all cooked fresh, and all amazingly tasty. It helped everyone calm down and feel much happier, we’d all been a bit past it by the time we got there. Once I’d finished eating I went exploring to find my herbs. I found a chinese beauty shop that sold health products, and asked if they sold herbs (and showed them my empty bottle) – they said no, but directed me to the nearest Chinese Herbal Shop. I found it easily thanks to their directions, and was able to get a new bottle – hopefully having the herbs again will help with my energy and anxiety levels (which have been flagging and peaking a little bit, respectively).

Lunch in Chinatown - Honey Chicken in the shape of the kids' initials (and Caitlin ate that entire plate of pork and noodles herself!)

From Chinatown we walked up to Darling Harbour, playing near or on several of the water features on the way. Halfway there we found a magnificent playground, one of the best I’ve seen, so we stopped for a play. There were amazing climbing features and big wide slides – the biggest one was designed so that the kids kind of rock climbed and/or used a rope to climb up to the top. There was a flying fox and swings – my favourite bit was the water play area which had streams of water running between man made rocks, with gates that you could swing or lift up to divert or trap the water – Caitlin and I had a quick play before we left, I’d love to go back and spend hours there!
Water features at Darling Harbour

We reached the water at Darling Harbour just as it was starting to get dark, so we saw all the lights reflected in the water, it was beautiful. We went up to the shopping area (Caitlin really wanted to check it out) and had a bit of a browse then bought Danish ice cream and sat on the steps overlooking the water. Caitlin and I popped back in briefly to buy a birthday present for a friend.

We headed back to the car, rather tired, and when we got there I realized I’d lost my water bottle somewhere – feeling a bit sad about that as I’ve had it over 5 years and I really loved it. From there we drove to my brother’s place in Balmain (which is the reason we took the car into the city rather than public transport, as we needed to get to Balmain and then home to Dural afterwards). He lives in an apartment overlooking the ferry terminal and where the tugboats dock, with a view of the top half of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – a great location. We had a lovely baked dinner, and great company from P and C.  The lamb we ate was from C’s parent’s farm and was delicious and tender. We played Chinese Whispers with hilarious results and some of us met C’s very shy cat (a beautiful Burmese Blue who hid under the pillows as soon as we arrived). P showed us (LiAM in particular) their video of when they went snorkeling with whale sharks and we shared travel stories and other news.

Back to our cabin quite late and crashed straight away – feeling a little sad that in the morning we’ll pack up and begin our 2 day journey home. 

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