March 9th, 2015 - Real Travel Day - Day 205

Peter's POV

Our house in Sydney

Today is the real travel day. If you have not read the blog post from the 8th then you should read it because the rest of this post will not make sense if you don't. 

I woke up and walked over to Cafe on Johnston for my usual french toast and bacon. When we got back home we found Lea making breakfast as usual. We packed up and hurried out the door around 10, grabbed a cab and headed to the airport.

When we got to the airport we made our way to the Virgin desk, again. When we got all checked in and past security we had about about 2 hours to burn in the airport. We spent the beginning of the two hours shopping at the Sunglass Hut looking for a pair for my dad. He found a pair of very cool Ray Bans. After the shopping was over we walked around and found a seat. We spent the next hour on our computers waiting then went and got some lunch. I got a turkish wrap and my sister, dad, and mom got Subway. After lunch we got something that we haven't had since Boise, KRISPY KREME! When we got to our gate we waited for a while then boarded the plane. 

The flight was very cool, for some of it we were flying along the coast and for a little bit of the flight you could see the great barrier reef. When we landed we grabbed a car and drove for an hour from Cairns along the coast to Port Douglas. We are staying at a hotel for the first two days of the visit because our house was booked. When we got to the hotel Lea and I were excited because they had a big pool and a it was on the beach. My parents were not so thrilled, the hotel was very old and out dated, but it would work for two days. 

Lea and I went for a swim while my parents got an appetiser at the bar, then we all went to go get dinner. When we got back to the hotel we were all wiped and fell into bed.  

March 8th, 2015 - Sydney, Australia - Day 204

Today was moving day, or so we thought.  We got up at a reasonable time, had a cup of coffee and once the kids were awake we headed down to the Cafe on Johnston for our last family breakfast at our favorite coffee shop.  

Lea had not been awake for any of our previous visits and so Suzanne had not met her yet.  We insisted she make it for this visit and she agreed.  So we strolled in to a reception as regulars.  Suzanne really has a way of making everyone feeling special.  

We had a great breakfast and said our good-bye’s to COJ and Suzanne.  Once we were back at the apartment we hustled to get packed up and were out the door at 10:00.  We decided to head to the airport even though our flight was not until 2:00 and the cab ride would only take 25 minutes.  We made it there quickly and strolled over to check in without a care in the world.  We were three and a half hours early, or so we thought.  

When we got up to the agent I handed over our passports and waited for her to pull up our reservation.  She looked up at me and asked “your final destination is Cairns?”.

“Yep” I replied, starting to get a little worried. 

“Are you having trouble finding the reservation?” I asked.

“No, the system is just acting up a little bit.” she replied.  This calmed me down - those crazy computers, always making things difficult.  But just for kicks I thought I would pull up the reservation on my phone.  It took me a few seconds to find it and then BOOM - wrong day.  Our flight was not booked until tomorrow.  Then I really started to panic.  We would not have a place to stay for the night.  So I pulled up our AirBnB reservation and BOOM - there is was plain as day - we were not supposed to leave until tomorrow.  In fact everything was booked perfectly, we had just shown up to the airport a day early.  I sheepishly said “oops, we are here a day early”.  The agent was nice and did not make me feel too stupid.  Stacie cracked up, she thought it was the funniest thing ever, the kids were not amused.  They were excited about getting to Port Douglas and another day walking around Sydney was not their idea of a nice ad hoc itinerary change.  However, Stacie set the tone and soon we were all laughing about our mistake.  The funny thing is we all knew our stay in Sydney was 5 nights, but somewhere along the way we had convinced ourselves we were leaving Sunday instead of Monday.  On this trip we have all lost our sense of time.  We frequently ask each other what day of the week it is, we almost never know the date, and usually have very little idea what time it is.  However, we have never been confused about our days of travel.  I guess we really have hit the phase where we are so mellow we don’t take anything too seriously.  

We made it back to the house and threw our packed bags back in our rooms.  The kids needed a little time to decompress after the change, so they went to their rooms.  Stacie and I sat in the lounge and planned the day.  Yesterday we were kicking ourselves that we had not made it to Manly Beach.  We figured serendipity really wanted us to go there, so we decided to make Manly our destination for the day.  

After about an hour’s rest we rustled up the kids and headed back to the bus.  We made our way down to Circular Quay and quickly found the ferry to Manly.  The ferry ride over nice and we were treated to a beautiful view of how Sydney spends their Sunday afternoons - sailing.  Boats were everywhere in the harbor.  Everything from small schooners to Americas Cup contenders.

We got off the boat and wandered through the town.  Manly is a really cute little beach town with tons of really cool restaurants and boutiques.  

We strolled through the town ducking in and out of shops looking for sunglasses for Lea and I.  After trying on about a hundred pairs we found Lea something she loved.  All geared up with new shades we headed down to the beach.  

We played some frisbee and the kids stuck their toes in the water.  After an hour or so on the beach we were all getting hungry so we strolled back down the beach and found a cool restaurant with a view of the water.  We had a nice meal and another good conversation, excited about our upcoming stay in Port Douglas.  We are going to really try to get into the beach vibe up there and Manly had been a great intro.  

We made it back to the house with another ferry and bus trip and hit the sack pretty early because we knew we had a REAL travel day tomorrow. 

March 7th, 2015 - Sydney, Australia - Day 203

Peter's POV 

Today was our last full day in Sydney. When I woke up we headed over to Cafe on Johnston and had our usual food and coffee. When we got back to the house Lea was awake and having breakfast. When everyone was done eating we decided to what was described as the best market in Sydney. The market was like the Boise farmers market, but stuffed into the backyard of a school. We fought our way through the crowd, managing to see all of the vendors before leaving, if we had gone a little later in the day it would have been better because the food looked amazing.  When we got back to the apartment we were all very tired so we decided to delay our outing and get some sleep. 

When we woke up we decided to go to see the Royal Botanical Gardens. When we got down to the gardens we were very impressed, it is almost like a big park with gardens in it.

We walked around the gardens for about 30 minutes then went to go and find a place for an early dinner. We found a place on our phones and started walking there.

At this point I was very hungry, we had a very weird lunch. We ate a quick small snack because we thought we were going out again but then we decided to stay home and I had another bigger lunch, but still nothing substantial. We decided to find a place for dinner and my parents wanted seafood.  We found a place that looked good and was about a 20 min walk away.  

Cool tunnel on the way to the seafood resturant

When we got to the fish place we couldn't find anything that we liked on the menu so we walked down the street to a really loud pub. I was hungry and grumpy and the place did not look fun so we left.  After that we walked around trying to find a place to eat for about an hour and we finally found a Mexican restaurant to eat at - we were all really frustrated at this point.  

We ordered an appetiser but when it came we knew that we couldn't eat at this place. The plate was tiny and SO EXPENSIVE.  We grabbed our check and ran out the door and to the bus stop. At this point we had given up and were heading home to eat at the pizza place next to our house. When we got the pizzas we opened them up to find one meat lovers and one pizza with a bunch of vegetables on it. They had gotten Lea's order wrong, it was good that they got Lea's pizza wrong instead of mine because I would have flipped out, but she just ate it. Our last day was good one, other than not finding a place to eat. On to Port Douglas. 

March 6th, 2015 - Sydney, Australia - Day 202

Our first day in Sydney was a long one and given that we only have 5 days here to explore a big city we knew we were in for another big day today.  Stacie and I woke up early again, had our coffee at home and then went to Cafe on Johnston once it opened at 6:30.  The kids never showed up so had a quiet breakfast and headed back to the apartment.  

Once the kids were up and had eaten we packed up and headed to the bus to go downtown.  Our plan was to run a couple of errands (Stacie needed a new watch battery) and then head down to an area called The Rocks for a market and some lunch.  We completed the errands pretty quickly and then made our way towards The Rocks.  The walk ended up being about 25 minutes to get down there and by the time we arrived at Wok On Inn, our lunch spot, we were all famished.   We ordered our noodles and took a seat in the open air courtyard.  It was another beautiful day in Sydney and when our food arrived we dug in - it was delicious.  

Our lunch spot - complete with musical entertainment

Once lunch was over we strolled through the market.  The rocks is a very cool old warehouse district right next to the harbor. 

Stacie and Lea found a vendor who takes Eucaliptus leaves and pours gold over them to make jewelry.  The results are really cool and they decided to buy them to remember Australia by.

The market was small and mostly food, so we kept moving down towards the harbor.  The kids spotted an ice cream shop so we had to stop for a cone.   

We then walked over to the opera house.  We stopped along the way to get a picture in front of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  

We walked over to the Opera House to have a look.  The place is really very cool and there were lots of people sitting around the base of the house because they have free WiFi.  The kids were beat from walking so much so they decided to lay down for a little nap.

We read some interesting facts and strolled around taking in the views.  Once we got close to the roof we could see it was actually made of ceramic tile -  I was totally surprised.  Not only had I never heard of tile being used for a roof, but certainly not for one of the most famous roofs in the world.  Some things you just have to see with your own eyes, which is one of the major reasons we are on this trip.

One other note - if you ever need to go to the bathroom and you are in Sydney harbor go to the Opera House.  The bathrooms there are the coolest public bathrooms I have ever been to.  Talk about a useless piece of information. 

Once we had finished with the Opera House we were cooked, but Lea is on a mission to find some new sunglasses, so we headed back to George Street to see what we could find.  After a while of looking we gave up and headed home.  We were all really beat by this point so we laid down for a quick nap.  

Afterwards we had a nice eat in pasta meal and a great conversation about the experiences we have been having on the trip.  Our dinner conversations have gotten better and better as the trip progresses and are now something I really look forward to.  

By the time we were done with dinner it was almost 9:00, in other words bed time, tomorrow would be another big day.  

March 5th, 2015 - Sydney, Australia - Day 201

I cannot believe we have been on the road for over 200 days.  This trip has been way more than expected and the fact that we still have 80 days or so left is at the same time exciting and scary.  Stacie and I are talking about home and what we want life to be like more and more and this morning was no different.  

We woke up around 4:30 in the morning because we had gained two hours by traveling to Sydney, so our internal clocks thought it was 6:30.  We made some coffee, did a little planning and then walked down the street about 100 feet to the Cafe on Johnston.  Our AirBnB host recommended it as the best coffee in town, and he was right.  When we walked in we were greeted by a woman we came to find out is the owner - Suzanne.  She was so warm and welcoming and made us feel right at home.  Her passion for her business was infectious, and in a couple of minutes talking to her you could tell she was living her dream and loving life.  It is so fun and inspiring to meet people like this who have jumped off the cliff and found their parachute did in fact open.

We ordered two black coffees and a muffin to split and had a nice long conversation about home and the changes we want to make when we get back.  Then Peter showed up and ordered a nice big plate of French Toast, which was amazing.  We wrapped up, paid and headed back home to find Lea digging into a bowl of cereal.  

We finished up a few things and then got ready for the day.  We planned on doing a hike our host had recommended from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach.  It takes you along the cliffs between 6 different beaches and is about 4 miles long.  We loaded up onto the bus and were off.  The bus ride was about 45 minutes long to get out to Coogee Beach, but it was worth it.  The little town and the beach were perfect.  It is incredible to have a beach like this right in a major city.  The people in the area (and really everywhere in Australia) are the most friendly I have ever met.  Everyone goes out of their way to help you and they are all really interested in your story.  It is an amazing place. 

By the time we made it to the beach we were all starving, so we split up and all got what we wanted from a line of takeaway restaurants right next to the beach.  Stacie and Lea got smoothies, I got Indian and Peter got some Turkish food.  As a side note - Peter has gone from a picky eater to probably the most adventurous eater we have.  He is up for trying almost anything and usually finds that he likes it.  We took our food to a shaded picnic table at the beach. and had a nice picnic.  

The view from our lunch spot

Once we were done with lunch we started our walk to Bondi beach.  The wind had really kicked up and made the walk a little less pleasant than we would have liked, but it was still very pretty.  

A beach this pretty in the city?

We walked up the coast from beach to beach enjoying the views out to sea.  The views inland were not nearly as nice.  This area must have developed in the 60's and 70's because the architecture is blocky and kind of ugly.  Most of the homes and apartment buildings have not been renovated so we found it better to look out to the ocean rather than at the houses.  

Sydney or Hawaii?

We finished the walk at the world famous Bondi beach.  

Bondi Beach

By that point we were all hot and a little tired, but Peter was in need of some new shoes so we headed to a mall to find a Vans shop.  Peter has worn the same pair of Vans every day since we left.  For a $40 pair of shoes, they held up amazingly well.  We found a mall pretty easily and Peter found his new shoes easily.  We had a few other errands to run so we wandered around for a couple hours.  The girls even found a Target - they were in heaven!

Once we were done at the mall we headed back to the house, took a quick shower and walked a couple hundred yards down the street to Made In Italy for a pizza.  By the time we were done with dinner we were all wiped, so we wrapped up the day.  Sydney is another big, but the people and the beaches make it a pretty special place.  

Peter's POV 

Today was our first of five days in Sydney. I woke up to my sister asleep and no one else in the house. I walked out the door and down the street to Cafe on Johnston, my parents were sitting looking at a laptop. I ordered a french toast and it was delicious. After getting breakfast we got some work done and relaxed for a little bit. We decided to do a walk from Cooge Beach to Bondi Beach, it took about 30 minutes on the bus to get down to Cooge Beach. When we got there we were amazed, the beach was so cool. The water was clear and the sand was white, we got some lunch and ate it in the shade right before starting the walk. 

Walking along the coast 

Walking along the coast 

The walk we very cool but very windy, you are walking on the coast the whole time so you are very exposed to the wind. When we finished the walk we figured that we would go shopping for some new clothes and shoes that we needed. We hopped on a bus that was headed toward the city, about half way through the drive we saw a mall that was right next to a bus stop. We hopped off and walked into the mall to see what stores they had. The mall was big and they had Vans which was the store we were trying to get to, they even had a Target. 

Cooge Beach 

Cooge Beach 

Bondi Beach 

Bondi Beach 

I actually don't know how long we shopped for but we got out around 5 and we all exhausted and we still had to find our way home. The Sydney transportation system does not include a lot of underground trains like New York or London, so it is mostly buses. We didn't end up getting home until about 6, we we tired, hungry and sweaty so we decided to go out for dinner. We walked to a Italian restaurant a block away, and got a couple pizzas and some delicious gelato. Great first day in Sydney. 

March 4th, 2015 - Travel Day - Day 200

Peter's POV 

Today is a sad day. Today we leave New Zealand. We all woke up around the same time and got to work like it was a normal day. After working for a little bit we went to go on our famous hike up the Queenstown hill. About half way up the hill there is a big field of cairns, we decided that we would make one because we did this hike so much. 

When we finished we continued up the hill for the last time. When we got to the bottom it was game on, non of us had started packing yet except for Lea. We busted through the packing and said goodbye to Queenstown. We left to go grab some lunch at the best restaurant in Queenstown, Taco Medic, sadly we didn't get to eat there because the food truck is only open for dinner and late night. We ran home, grabbed our bags, and hopped into the car to drive to the airport, because we didn't have a lot of time we decided to go and grab something quick right by the airport. 

At the airport 

At the airport 

We ended up eating at Pita Pit, a company out of Idaho, the food was surprisingly great! We dropped our car off and walked to the airport scarfing down our food. When we got to the baggage drop off counter we were informed that our tickets didn't include bags. We managed to get them to take our bags for a little bit more money, luckily our tickets were cheap. 

We got through security fine and ended up talking to a family from Sri Lanka that were on the way to Sydney to see the cricket world cup. We got on the plane and discovered no one was sitting in the middle seat in between me and my sister. The flight was enjoyable, we watched movies and there was plenty of space. 

The jaw dropping flight in

The jaw dropping flight in

When we got to our apartment we were very happy, it is beautiful, we walked down the street and grabbed some takeaway for dinner in all we had a great day.