Experience has taught us that the best way to adjust to the time zones is to force ourselves right into the swing of things and forget about naps - no matter how exhausted we are, no matter how early our flight arrived (6.30am!). We keep the whip cracking, run the kids ragged all day, and then we tend to all fall into a heap for a solid twelve-hour sleep that first heavenly night.
After arriving, we caught a taxi to our hotel in the CBD and were lucky enough to be able to check into our room super early. After refreshing ourselves, and before the girls had a chance to fall asleep, we made our way to Circular Quay. The plan was to catch a ferry to Manly so that we could spend the afternoon with a couple of close friends. Manly holds a special place in my heart, as it was the school holiday destination of choice when I was a child. My grandma would take me on the ferry, we'd buy hot chips and ice cream, and sit on the beach. I've wanted to take my own kids there since forever but ran out of time during our visit last year, so we made sure it was top of the list this time.
After a hot (40ºC) afternoon, we returned to the city and wound up at Hyde Park - just a short stroll from our hotel. There was an incredible public art installation with over three hundred mirrors. It was getting dark, and we were knackered but we found it hard to leave. We eventually dragged ourselves back to the hotel, fell into bed, closed our eyes, and suddenly it was morning. I love those kinds of deep sleeps.
After that huge sleep, we needed to get some bureaucratic stuff sorted (US visas renewed) and once that was tackled, we wandered around with some good old Sydney coffee. See all that sandstone on those buildings below? I miss seeing that. I used to work only a block away, and always loved walking around these parts.
On a whim, we took the girls to the Sydney Aquarium. We were lucky enough to see a platypus swimming around (as opposed to the usual hiding out they do) and to this day, the Faery has not stopped talking about it. The girls were also pretty enamoured with this dugong.
After a bit of a late afternoon rest in our hotel room, we headed back to Hyde Park for some dinner at the Night Noodle Markets (Lobster Pad Thai for me!), and another visit to the mirror installation.
We briefly met up at the park with an old friend, and during the crazy sunset light, I took myself off for a little time out and photo-taking mission. I'm not eloquent to express it properly, but the hustle and bustle of Sydney - especially on a spring evening - is one of my happy places. Having said that... Sydney? I don't miss your traffic. It's gnarly, and not in a cool way. Near the end of our trip, we needed to drive from my best friend's home to my brother's home, and what should have been a forty-five minute drive turned into two hours. Not cool, Sydney. Not cool.
I'm so glad we were able to have this time together - just us as a unit of four - before the busy family obligations kicked in. Also, we weren't to know it then, but a massively stressful shadow would soon hang over our trip when Miss Pie's passport's location became unknown for a week (courtesy of the US Consulate). We could have done without that!
After our quick break in Sydney, our next stop was Canberra for my sister-in-law's wedding... but more on that some other time.