|Having spent a full day in Sydney, Jon and I can see why so many people feel they could immigrate to Australia. It's a bit like England, but with nicer weather! The culture is comfortably familiar, and very British in many ways, although the people are alarmingly friendly and do things like talk to you in the street, which takes some getting used to, but is actually quite nice! You can get fish and chips, and decent beer, and sit in a pub to drink it. Plus, of course, they drive on the left, which is only civilised... It's great!
Yesterday, after my last post, we did some shopping at Paddington market, then made our way to Circular Quay, had a bite for lunch and caught a harbour tour boat for 2 hours. Sydney harbour really is amazing, and huge! It was a bit chilly on board, but a lovely way to see the city. By the time that was over we were rather knackered - I think the jet-lag caught up with us a bit - so we sauntered back to the hotel, got changed, had a rest and then went out for dinner, at "Sushi-go-round" (somewhat like "Yo!"). After that we wandered the town, looking for the nighlife, and eventually figured it was all back in Darling Harbour, were our hotel was! However, we did find a fabulous pub, the "Hero of Waterloo". The building was made out of huge stone blocks and had big wooden beams, the beer was good (I found a nice amber ale), the barman was Irish (always a good sign in a pub), and the live music was also Irish (much to my joy, although I fear Jon's distress). However, after one drink we were both so tired we decided to head back to bed, for fear of falling asleep in the pub! So we made our way gently back across town.
As I write this we're on the top deck of a double decker train (I never knew such things existed!) speeding across the countryside from Sydney to Katoomba (the main town in the Blue Mountains). On arriving at the station at 10 to 11 we were pleased to discover a train leaving for Katoomba at 11:02. The bad news is that it's the slowest train ever. It stops at literally every station on the way. But we're not in any hurry, so we don't mind. Coming out of Sydney into the countryside makes the place feel much less like England-in-the-sun than it did in the city, because the landscape is so different. We've gone out through the subburbs of Sydney, and are gradually making our way up into the mountains. The train left on time with minimal fuss, is clean, quiet (especially upstairs), and the seats do this amazing thing where you can move the back so each seat can face either backwards or forwards - it's your choice. How very civilised!
Tonight we're staying at "Lillianfels" hotel. Whevener we tell anyone that they go "oooh" a lot - apparently it's the most exclusive resort in the Blue Mountains. I remember it was fairly expensive when we booked, but it didn't seem that over the top... But then things are cheaper over here, so maybe that's why it didn't seem so expensive. Anyway, we've got this afternoon to ourselves, then over night there, then tomorrow we do an organised tour of the Blue Mountains which I'm really looking forward to. That takes us back to Sydney again.
Oh, I finally got the photos sorted out, so pictures of yesterday are now below yesterday's post, and photos of today will appear below here sometime soon. We're suffering from the traditional digital camera snap-happy syndrome, and have already taken hundreds of photos, but I'm just posting a selection of the best here - I'll bore you all with the rest when we get home!