Last Stop: Sydney
The final city on our Australia & New Zealand tour was Sydney. We flew from Wellington into Sydney late afternoon, arriving in the evening. After navigating the trains we walked a couple blocks to the apartment we’d rented. Unfortunately we were greeted with bugs in the kitchen and living room! Turned out to be german cockroaches according to the owner. Thankfully we were able to get a hold of him, and since he lived in the same building, he came down and saw exactly what we were talking about (no less than 5 of the nasty little things scurrying around). He offered to get a different apartment ready for us to check into the next day if we wanted and said it was higher floor, nicer amenities, etc. However, we still needed to decide what to do that night. Mind you, at this point it was after 9pm and we were hungry and tired. I may or may not have shed some tears through all this. C quickly started looking for hotels to stay for the evening and likely the rest of the 4 days in Sydney. We were able to find one with good reviews, decent price and run by the same company we’d stayed with in Brisbane. He called, they said they could provide a crib and a room and we quickly left the apartment. Then we waited downstairs for a cab for about 30 minutes. Ugh! While waiting we met a very nice and funny Aussie who told us how he loved the U.S. and couldn’t stand how rude people were in Sydney (got a good chuckle out of that one) then our cab driver was extremely nice and helpful. We arrived to the hotel/apartment and the front desk clerk was amazing. He even pulled out a map to give us tips on where to go and what to see. He did mention to avoid only one area in the city, King’s Cross. Guess where our original apartment was located…?
Despite the rough start and late night, Hannah did great. After a very quick bath we got her down for bed before crashing ourselves. Sadly we were in a great location but the noise from the bars and clubs nearby was pretty loud. The next morning we checked with the front desk to see if we might be able to move to a higher floor and mitigate the sound issues. They told us nothing was available at that time but we could come back around noon and they would have something for us. We decided to go grab breakfast before heading up to repack our things. Long story short, there was some miscommunication, a new room was never put on hold for us and after waiting for quite some time, getting keys to an already occupied room and waiting a bit longer, we finally got a room on the 49th floor. The room was amazing! Completely updated, huge, had a bathtub and a large balcony with great views. Our luck was finally turning in the right direction!
We spent that afternoon walking around the city including Hyde Park, the Queen Victoria Building and Darling Harbor. It reminded us a lot of New York City but a little bit cleaner and not quite so foul smelling. There were a whole lot of people milling about on the streets, shopping, sightseeing and just wandering. I loved the Queen Victoria Building which was built in the late 1800s and has since been restored a filled with shops and restaurants. It houses a beautiful clock in addition to ornate ceilings, neat floors and good shopping!
The next day we decided to get out of the city and board a ferry to Manly Beach. I knew I wanted to visit a beach and this was the easiest to access from the city with good reviews. Despite it being a bit windy on the ferry, we enjoyed great harbor views and it was a pleasant ride. After arriving in Manly we picked up lunch then headed to the waterfront. We walked through a market, around a neighborhood and popped into a couple shops along the way. We watched several surfers trying to catch the ultimate wave (Manly is said to be the birthplace of surfing) but the seas were fairly calm. After walking along the sand for a bit, I suddenly felt a sharp pain on the bottom of my foot. Turns out I stepped on a bee and got stung. It hurt like crazy! C took out the stinger and I rinsed it off in the ocean. It started swelling up and was painful so we walked to a pharmacy to pick up something to treat it and hobbled back to the ferry terminal to get back to the city. We ended up having to wait some time for the ferry so indulged in some gelato to pass the time. Rough, eh? We did get to catch the sun setting behind the Sydney Harbor Bridge on the ferry ride back and it was a gorgeous sight to see. That night we stayed in thanks to my foot.
When traveling, I really enjoy visiting local markets especially farmer’s markets. We couldn’t find a farmer’s market open within close proximity while we were staying in Sydney so we went to The Rocks Market instead featuring handmade goodies ranging from soaps to clothing to toys to jewelry and everything in between. The Rocks is a historic area located at the base of the Harbor Bridge so the setting was quaint as well. It was a great way to spend the morning and we even picked up a kangaroo onesie for Hannah! We worked up an appetite and decided to get lunch and a pint a Sydney’s oldest pub, Fortune of War. Since we had a baby we couldn’t sit in the bar area, but did get a nice table near a window. I even tried a kangaroo burger which was really good.
After lunch, Hannah was tired so we let her nap in the carrier and we walked over to the Opera House to see it up close. It’s interesting in that it is much more beautiful from afar. We wandered around the outside snapping a few pictures of it and the bridge in the distance. Hannah was still asleep so we walked up to Hyde Park. It seemed much closer on the map than it actually was! We popped into St. Mary’s Cathedral which is on the edge of the park. It was the first church we’d stopped in on this trip which is really rare! We usually see one in every city. It was not as ornate as those we’ve seen in Europe, but still very beautiful. With tired feet we walked back to the hotel and called it a day.
For our last day we contemplated several different plans. First thought was going to the beach again, but a different one than Manly. We’d looked into a few different coastal walks, but decided we were just too tired to do one. So then we thought about going to the zoo or aquarium but couldn’t make up our minds. We did make it out of the apartment to get cronuts for breakfast, but they weren’t as good as the one in Hawke’s Bay. Finally by early afternoon we had decided to just relax, wander a little and really just focus on resting and packing for the trip home.
The final morning arrived very early and we grabbed a cab to the airport much earlier than the sun. We got to enjoy the Qantas Business Lounge which had a great breakfast spread then boarded a flight to Brisbane. From Brisbane we boarded our long haul back to the states. The flights were not nearly as smooth as our first ones. It was daytime so Hannah had a really hard time sleeping despite being tired. I’d also left the Boppy in our checked luggage on accident which was what she’d slept several hours on from LAX to Brisbane. C ended up walking several hours with her in the carrier to get her to sleep and allow me a couple hours of sleep. After a big snafu with a hotel we’d reserved in an attempt to allow all of us to sleep during our long layover, we ended up back at the airport with several hours to kill. We tried getting an earlier flight home to no avail so spent several hours in the Admirals club. We each were able to sleep in armchairs and get some food before getting our last flight home.
Although the trip home was tough to say the least, it did nothing to diminish the fantastic adventure we shared. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad we ignored the naysayers, took a leap of faith and did it. We learned some valuable lessons of what to do and not do going forward when traveling with a child, especially an infant. And we learned that seeing your child experience new and exciting things is even better than experiencing them yourself. However, for our next great adventure with Hannah we’re planning somewhere with a shorter flight.