Blogging from 30,000ft? Why not! My mission is to get up to date before I leave New Zealand, so the flight there is as good a place to start as any right?
So, with Christmas done and in the bag I had New Year to look forward to. Not just any New Year, but a Sydney Harbour New Year. Arguably the most iconic place on earth to celebrate it.
The time spent between Christmas and New Year up on ‘the cross’, as the locals affectionately refer to it, was just one big party. The place never stops and so, consequently neither do you! I was regularly getting to bed at 5am and later but, because I’m old I never slept in much past 9am either. Mum and Dad used to tell me off for ‘burning the candle at both ends’. Well, I think I even burned the middle during this week!
Most of the time was spent with Koen, and probably the best place we found was World Bar. One night in particular we had a great system going. We were sitting outside on a bench and people would come out for some fresh air or a ciggie (whichever was their want!) and join us at the bench. It was such a simple and easy way of chatting to people. Eventually, we named it the ‘magic chair’ and anyone who sat down got hit with some English/Dutch banter whether they were boy or girl. There was one particular girl, only about 21 or so who was intrigued to learn about Holland. She had no idea where it was, although she DID know that they wear clogs there ALL the time! She asked Koen ‘do they have night clubs in Holland’? Bless!
Koen played his cards right though, and the magic chair produced a Princess. Literally, her name was Princess and love was in the air! 1-0 to Holland.
Mixed in with the clubbing, we also managed to get a game of football! It was sooooo good to have a kick about. The hostel I was staying at (Jackaroo) play another hostel called Blue Parrot once a week. I got involved and also managed to get Koen a game even though he was staying at another place. Football in 30c+ is different, I setup camp at the heart of the defence and tried to do as little running as possible (some might say no change!).
We also watched Tron at the World’s largest IMAX 3D Cinema down at Darling Harbour, paying almost $30 in the process for the pleasure!. Add to that a one day ‘Surfari’ at Boat Harbour, Sydney and it’s fair to say me and the Dutchman had quite an eventful week leading up to New Years Eve.
Another special night during my Sydney stay was spent with the Palmers. I used to work with Darren at Duravit in the UK before he packed up his troubles and jetted off for a new life in Aus, with Nicola (the Wife!) and two kids Libby who is 8 now and Sam who is 4 (I think I got the ages right!). We had been in touch via the magical medium of facebook and arranged to meet up for a meal. Darren also made a fantastical suggestion that we go to see The Ashes as the fifth test was due to take place at the Sydney Cricket Ground during my stay.
It was nice to see a familiar face and I had a really nice meal out at Darling Harbour (posh fish and chips!) which is something that would certainly not have been part of my budget. Darren and Nicola treated me which was awesome, and I’m very grateful! Not only was it great company, but it was also great to get some delicious food and not have to battle my way through a kitchen full of hungry backpackers to make it! We made plans for The Ashes on Jan 5th and I was also invited to stay at Palmers Palace after the game, which was cool. Dangerously, a bit of a plan forming for the next few weeks!
In amongst all these happenings, Mr Iain Strachan and his lovely wife Rozzo had boarded a plane bound for the United States of Americaaaaa. After a short stay stateside they were heading down under as part of their delayed honeymoon and were due to arrive just before New Years eve. Proper exciting as we had arranged a while ago to meet up at Sydney Harbour for the big party. I couldnae wait!!
So, to the main event. I started the day by going to the barbers, haha!! First time in probably 5 years. The first, and last as at $22 a go that’s certainly not in the budget. I also got him to trim my beard just to get my money’s worth. I kinda liked that tho, he did a good job of it!
I met up with Iain down at Circular Quay (proper exciting, lots of back slapping and man hugging!!) and we headed for the bar.
Now, Australia is a place that I understood to be famous for drinking and partying amongst other things. I was pretty sure they could give us Brits a run for our money when it comes to beer drinking. Seems I was mistaken! They have some of the most strict drinking laws I have come across. It also seems that, rather than having an issue with drink driving, the primary concern of the Government for its citizens safety lies in the arena of drink WALKING. It appears our Aussie cousins have difficulty with this normally highly entertaining after-effect of one too many sherberts.
Anyway, as a result of all these laws Sydney Harbour was declared an alcohol free zone from around 4pm on New Years eve. Completely. Once you passed through security (seriously!?) into the Harbour then that was that as far as getting on the beers was concerned. Cleverly (!), we did some olympic power drinking before passing through the gates so the first few hours we were good to go! Koen also met up with us for the party. Once inside we realised there was myriad ways of smuggling some grog in but in all the excitement I didn’t think about it. I’ll know for next time 😉
As part of the ‘festivities’ I printed out a sign so we could take some ‘funny’ pics in front of some of the amazing scenery. This started off fine, but quickly descended into just trying to get into as many tourist pics as we could. It when down well as the whole place was in party mode, although there was one security guard jobsworth in particular who wasn’t feeling the vibe! She threatened to confiscate the camera if we took her photo, HUMBUG!
From this point, we took the train over the famous Harbour Bridge to meet up with Rozz who had set up camp with the rest of her family over on the North shore. On the way to our ‘camp’ I spotted a bar serving beer, at first I thought it was a mirage! I raced over a green and into the bar and ordered 3 beers – beauty! It was only when I came out and sat down with the lads that we realised we’d gatecrashed an Indian Wedding!! The people there were really friendly though and found it funny, but they did ask us to move from the family table though to finish our beers!
We got to Rozz a little later than advertised (I’ll take the blame!) and settled in for the duration. It was around about 9pm I think when we got there so we still had some time to go, and not very much to do! But the time seemed to go by really quickly. There is an early display for the children so that Parents can head off before the masses and get their kids safely home to bed, so that also helped break up the time until midnight. But, with everyone in the same boat the party atmosphere is brilliant and everyone was chatting. I got talking to a guy next to me, Mark, who Iain believed to be gay. Iain is clearly better as spotting this kind of thing than I am. I’m not sure he was gay, he even shared his Rose wine with me. What?? Koen had the brie and crackers (and an apple?) so we were really living it up by this point!
And so, to midnight. I will let the pictures do the talking, along with the fact that Sydney reportedly spend around $7m on this event. You can tell!
Hello 2011, please be nice!