We arrived in Sydney way too early in the morning but were greeted by John with the warmest reception ever. It was so nice to see such a friendly and familiar face waiting in the terminal for us--and he even gave us a copy of the Lonely Planet for Eastern Australia! We spent the first day doing laundry, food shopping, watching TV and Deanna cooked her first post-Indonesian and Thai cooking school dinner (Indonesian satay-inspired meatloaf with a curry gravy and Pad Thai noodles mmmmmm).
The next day we woke up so refreshed and set out to explore the downtown area. We walked around Hyde Park, past the ANZAC memorial, St. Mary's Cathedral (at right) and on to the Botanic Gardens, full of flying foxes (aka HUGE bats) and a great view of the opera house with the Harbor Bridge at sunset. It was breathtaking! Enjoy some pictures below (the last one shows how the sail designs of the opera house were taken from one sphere).
The next day John (and his lovely girlfriend Christine) drove us out to the Blue Mountains for some great scenery. We spent a few hours around the Three Sisters Rocks (below left), took the world's steepest funicular (though I'm sure Valaparaiso, Chile, might take offense to that claim) down the old coal miner's canyon and a great sky tram back up. We finished off the day at a lodge watching the sunset sitting beside a fireplace and drinking delicious Australian wine. A perfect day...
We finished off the weekend with an incredible meal at the Sydney fish market--aka fresh sushi heaven. Deanna and I split half a kilo of tuna and salmon, which were cut fresh in front of us (at left) from that morning's catch. It yielded about 60 pieces total and we were stuffed all day! John and Christine went to town on the heaping plate of mixed grilled/fried seafood "for two," which really could feed several families.
We worked off some of the calories from that epic meal with a great hike around Bondi Beach, watching the surfers ride some crazy waves on a beautiful winter's afternoon.
We're up in Cairns now, about to head back to Sydney to start a mini road trip to Coff's Harbor. We're a bit behind in blogging (as we rented an underwater camera for our three scuba dives on the Great Barrier Reef) so stay tuned for a few more posts coming soon.