Thursday, 26 January 2012

A holiday is as good as a change...

Yes, I know I have that ass about, but funnily enough it is also plausible!

This morning I woke my children at an ungodly hour and packed the three of us off to Sydney for a three day short break. The main purpose for the trip is to see the Harry Potter exhibit at the Powerhouse Museum (which we are doing tomorrow - woohoo!)

But it just happened to coincide with the public holiday for Australia Day, so here we are on our first day on arguably the biggest public holiday of the year. Other days may still be holidays, but not many of them get hundreds of thousands of people into the City for a big party to celebrate this great nation we are all part of.

The city was awash with Aussie flags of all varieties, shirts, boardies, hat, brollies, stickers, tattoos - everywhere you look there was the familiar red, white and blue. Smiling faces everywhere and to be honest, not a single display of bad behaviour all day. Although that could be 'cos we were in a controlled area predominantly made up of families.

Anyway, I digress. We arrived at 9.30am and after checking into our digs for the next two nights, set out to check out the city. I might add for those of you who know Sydney, we are staying in Haymarket, right in the middle of Chinatown, just a short walk to the theatre district, Darling Harbour and the CBD.

And so to my first little revelation. Now don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer in "you get what you pay for". Our room is a cosy (read cramped) little three room with a queen bed for me and bunks for the kids. It's neat, tidy and was within my price range given its proximity to everything I wanted to be close to.

So when we get into the room and the kids marvel about how cool it is, I realise that we really don't stay in a lot of places like this! They are so used to camping that a room with a fan, air con, our own ensuite and a fridge with milk in it for coffee is pretty schmick. I guess I won't have to worry too much about pretentiousness from them anytime soon (at least when it comes to accommodation).

So onto our adventures. We walked the length of George Street right down to Circular Quay. I marvelled at the bridge and the OH, thinking that they would be as compelled as I was. Not so much it turns out. Hayden was more excited to see Luna Park's familiar smile across the harbour, and Jordan being the fashionista was bedazzled by the display of native animals made out of Louis Vitton merchandise in their shopfront!

Anyway, we agreed to ferry across to Taronga Zoo and wile away a few hours looking at the animals. It was a great decision, and even the intermittent showers didn't bring down our spirits as we reacquainted ourselves with a few old friends and made some new ones. Favourites are still the elephants, gorillas and chimps, closely followed by meerkats (my personal fave) and fishing cats. I love that we all three allowed ourselves to truly enjoy the time at the zoo. I was particularly proud of the kids who probably walked the equivalent of 15-20km today, without a word of complaint. In fact I probably whined more than them.

They also proved to be much more tolerant and patient when it came to poor behaviour, until finally Jordan had enough and let off a little bit of steam. I mean there are only so many times that you can allow a fellow tourist elbow you aside before you finally lose it. Especially when you are 13 and the offender a grown woman. But Jordan did it in a nice way, just walking away and grumbling to me. Very unlike her passive aggressive mother who would have stubbornly stood her ground and elbowed back!

Another moment of pride - well two actually - from my boy today. Normally painfully shy, I asked him to help his sister with her rail pass and he had to ask a station attendant for help. He really didn't want to, but did it for her anyway. Might not sound like much to you, but to those of us who know him, it was a massive achievement. Second one was watching the fireworks. Hayden has never liked loud noises, so the thought of a big display was nerve racking for him. Nevertheless he came along for the display and totally enjoyed it, even turning to me at one point to note that he had not put his fingers in his ears the whole time. Again, sounds simple, but I know the effort that it took.

And finally before I lay my head down for a well earned rest, a big thumbs up to Sydney's transport customer service officers. First of all bought three tickets to get from airport to city. Attendant noticed and said didn't need two for kids, and refunded my money. When I asked where I could buy multi tickets she explained if I had bought all of them together I would have saved more. So she sent me off to the ticket counter with instructions to get it rectified.

Now $100 might seem a lot to pay for three days worth of travel, but the airport transfer itself costs $70 for the three of us. With our trip to Taronga (another $26) and then the ride to Darling Harbour (another $20), it has paid for itself. If our plans pan out tomorrow there will be a trip to Paddington and then a return trip to Bondi on that tab too. Worth every cent!

Now it's off to bed, but not without recognising the amazing efforts of my husband in our absence. Today he ran his first half marathon in 1.50 and change. Well done Bren - wish we were there to cheer you on, but also wish you were hear to enjoy the Sydney experience with us.