2 days before Christmas had my off day from work and with only a few free days left in Sydney I knew I had to do something productive. With the weather being average...a bit windy with several clouds I thought it was a great day to bid farewell to my favorite Sydney beach...Manly. Im not sure if ill ever have the opportunity to go back there so I wanted to make sure I went there one last time. It had been almost a month seen I had visited there. So I hopped on the ferry and took in some great views of the city skyline/harbour and arrived in Manly within 25 minutes. I strolled the corso for about 30 minutes, got lunch and hit the beach for the next 4 hours.
The waves were real small but knew this going into the day as I checked the surf report, but nonetheless there were a few sets that provided some great body surfing. When i wasn't in the water I caught up on the latest aussie news and read part of my travel books, of course while glancing at some of the great looking women along the beach. On a similar note, topless tanning is pretty popular here in Australia, must be from the influx of european travelers here in town.
My day in Manly was great and relaxing, and although the sun wasn't fully out I still had a great beach day and will definitely miss the sights and sounds of Manly beach.
After returning from Manly, my roomate Nigel and I decided to go to the Sydney soccer (football) game. While watching the game I realized that this was a great aussie culture experience...one of my first. I enjoyed the chants, team support and game atmosphere. Soccer isn't too popular here and the 40,000 capacity stadium was pretty empty, i would imagine the same amount of people that attend US soccer games. They played the Central Coast Mariners and won 1-0.
The next day was Christmas Eve. Didn't do much in the day except plan more of my trip, (final details/tour bookings will be done by the New Year hopefully)
That night Nigel and I were originally going to follow thru on our mission to try our first Kangaroo Pizza, but we got word that day that this hotel was putting on a free christmas eve buffet. The kangaroo pizza immediatly was postponed. We headed there with a few people from the old hostel. The "free" buffet was not totally free as you had to purchase a drink with your meal, but by that time in the night after already a few drinks, one or 2 more drinks were only gonna help the cause. The meal was suprisingly great, one of the best meals I've had yet. The meal was All you Can Eat which was a great deal for the price of a drink. There was some delicious turkey, ham, polenta, ceasar salad, potato sald...etc. It truly was a great meal.
After the buffet we headed to Darling Harbour to catch some Christmas carols by the tree and xmas eve fireworks.
I don't think I have ever seen fireworks on Christmas Eve but I was definitely a fan. Although it was a very very short 5 minute display it was jam packed with fireworks and were synchronized amazingly with some great Christmas songs, including Hallelujah, Carol of the Bells and closed with Santa Clause is Coming to Town. If anything, it definitely set the vibe for New Years Eve fireworks...gonna be great
After Darling Harbour we searched for some open bottleshops to continue drinks but failed, was pretty stuffed from the all you can eat buffet anyway. We ended up walking thru the city to see the other tree and more light projected buildings. You may recall the town hall projections I posted up a few weeks ago. These buildings were parliament buildings and the New South Wales Library.
After that we headed back to the apartment, shared a box of goon and opened up my Panetone that I bought that day, a true italian Christmas tradition, it was so great and definitely felt in Christmas spirit while enjoying it.
Christmas morning came in a hurry. It came without any presents under the tree but without losing sight on the real meaning of Christmas I headed to church for the 1030 mass. There I met up with my German friend and coworker Timo and his german friends. The service was pretty good, but it was super hot inside the huge, beautiful cathedral. The choir was definitely the downside of service as they did not sing many of the typical great Christmas church songs (was real bummed about "Silent Night" not being played). Anyway, all in all a good service and was out by a little after 12 (longer than preferred).
St. Mary's Cathedral
Timo and I in front of the Cathedral
At 3 oclock I started work and working Christmas couldn't have been any better. It ended up raining on Christmas and the popular thing to do is go and have a barbie on the beach with friends. When I asked my friends how their Christmas on the beach was, they all said miserable. Meanwhile I worked 7 hours and got paid around 41 dollars an hour. To top that, the chefs prepared us a great Christmas dinner, the notable food included a great tasty macaroni salad, salmon, turkey and cranberry, and free soft drinks. (yes, it was better than your average airline food) I had the best of both worlds on Christmas. I made great money, had a great dinner, and worked with some great coworkers (including Timo and the other German backpacker girl)
After work we decided to celebrate Christmas evening with a few boxes of goon. I headed over to Timo's apartment and drank with 4 german girls. It was raining still so going out looked unlikely. I learned that Christmas in Germany is celebrated on the 24th with the 25th, and 26th being post Christmas days but still time for family. Christmas night with the germans was real fun, with the highlight being Timo being upset about Hungry Jack's (Burger King) being closed and him not being able to get a soft serve chocolate dipped ice cream cone. He was so frustrated he threw his elbow back and broke the sliding glass door behind him. After a few rounds of drinks and the sudden occurence of broken glass all the girls and I started laughing hysterically, leaving Timo in disbelief of what just happened and seeing his just earned christmas day pay go down the drain. Oh man it was great.
Well anyway, it wasn't the traditional Christmas for me but it sure was a good one under the circumstances. A few skype calls with the family made me feel right at home.
Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.
2010 is 4 days away...can't wait for the celebration, however it is currently supposed to rain here...BRUTAL
Take care everyone...see you in the New Year
Over and Out