Sydney: It's criminal not to visit!

Don't worry, you no longer have to commit a crime to get to visit Sydney! Whilst Sydney has certainly increased in size since Arthur Phillip - commodore of the First Fleet, and first Governor of New South Wales - landed there in 1788, it's now a lot quicker to get there! Over 90,000 passengers travel through Sydney Airport every day, which is conveniently located just 9km from the city.

But, once you're there, what can you do? The answer to that is what can't you do - Sydney, after all, is internationally renowned and one of the world's most multicultural cities. This Sydney guide gives you a taste of how Sydney lives up to its well-deserved reputation.

When you think of Sydney, chances are you'll immediately think of the Opera House. But, you don't just have to be an Opera fan to explore what's inside. The Sydney Opera House is a multi-purpose venue and plays hosts to a wide range of excellent entertainment, from the Bangarra Dance Theatre's Fire - A Retrospective, to the Sydney Symphony. Though, of course, you can also catch a Gilbert & Sullivan, if you want!

To get a sense of Sydney, what better way than to climb the bridge for breath-taking panoramic views. Yes, that's right, the Bridge Climb allows you to see Sydney from a whole new height, a height of 134m to be precise! Or, if you truly have a head for heights, head up another 130m to see the spectacular view from the Sydney Tower.

After the breath-taking views, a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens will bring you back down to earth! It's the site of the first farm in Australia, set up by ... Governor Arthur Phillip! Make sure you visit Arthur's statue in the Gardens, as well as the Palace Rose Garden. If you prefer your nature a little wilder, head to Sydney Wildlife World or the world-famous Taronga Zoo.

Did you know, it used to be illegal to bathe in the ocean during daylight? It was considered too indecent! Thankfully, the law was changed, so feel safe you're not commiting any crimes when you take a trip down to Bondi Beach - Sydney's most famous beach. Try the north side of the beach if you're new to surfing, the rip is much more gentler than the south side.

As surfing burns a lot of calories, food will be on your mind. If you're feeling fancy, stick on a Willow dress (if you're a girl!) and head to Tetsuya's, one of Sydney's top restaurants. Alternatively, if you've embraced the mellow attitude of Bondi and are feeling casual, pop to one of the many farmers' markets and rustle up a scintillating dish to delight your taste buds! Or, you could always just throw a steak on the barbie!

Finally, Sydney nightlife. Don't let the word 'hotel' confuse you; in Australia this denotes a drinking establishment! The Argyle Hotel, Landsdowne Hotel and the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel are popular venues, but just ask any Sydneysider where the hot spots are - they'll be sure to tell you the best places to dance the night away!

Sydney is a fantastic place with lots to see, do and enjoy. And remember, if you decide to visit, they do let you back out of the country nowadays! ;p I hope you've enjoyed The Awesome Tour of Sydney - let me know what your favourite parts were (refresh your memory here) - and keep your fingers crossed that I get to see all of Sydney's delights in the flesh soon! If I do, please buy a raffle ticket and you too might get to enjoy the fabbity prize (and donate money to charity at the same time), or if you fancy booking a trip, check out STA Travel. Hooroo!

What would YOU do in Sydney?

Oops. Turns out I'm not done with the #sendmetosydney challenges just yet, though this is *definitely* the last one!

We want you to put to use everything you’ve learnt and assume the role of Awesome Tour Guide. We’d like you to create a visitor’s guide for Sydney; it could be a city guide or a guide to a specific location, attraction or event, using knowledge gained from the last 5 Challenges for inspiration.

Check out the summary of the Tour so far here, and for additional inspiration for the Guide, see these links:

* Try Paddle Surfing
* Visit the Bondi Icebergs Club* Cuddle a Koala at the Sanctuary
* Enjoy pub fare and ale at the Lord Nelson
* Or look at these other Sydney highlights and events.

So, is there anywhere in particular anyone would like me to feature? {^_^} Please, please get involved - it's the last challenge, and you could make all the difference and seal my win merely by suggesting some places for me and letting me know which of my challenge entries is your favourite! -x-

Challenge 5: Making wishes come true

The 5th and final Sydney challenge deadline is today and my task was to turn my attention to Sydney culture and nightlife and run my very own Sydney-themed event. As I was in Turkey, I must confess I've not had the time to organise an event. However, something about the challenge e-mail caught my eye:

We will provide you with £200 to do it... the only rule is that the £200 is used responsibly.

Now, this got me thinking. From the very start of this challenge, I've always kept in the back of mind that I should be thinking like an Australian. So, I researched into Australian culture and found out that:

Australians are among the hardest-working people in the world with some of the longest working hours in the developed world.

Another common perception of Australians is that they are informal, open and direct and say what they mean. They are also seen as people who believe in the principle of giving people a fair go and standing up for their mates, the disadvantaged and the underdog.

Reading this made me think it wouldn't be very Australian to enjoy a £200 party, especially considering if I win I'll get a trip to Oz. So, I will be donating the £200 (AU $385) event money to the Australian branch of Make-A-Wish.

The key mission of the charity is to grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions, these vary per child but could be a trip to Disneyland or Australia's Gold Coast. The child might want to meet their favourite celebrity, or perhaps they want to go on a shopping spree. Whatever it is, Make-A-Wish makes their wish come true.

I feel this is a much better utilisation of the money, but also a very Australian thing to do, and if I win, I'll also be raffling off the community tickets for charity. I'll let you know what the outcome is!

Not so much a Turkish delight

I'm back from my recent holiday to Turkey with mixed feelings. Whilst out there, the weather was lovely (though not as hot as when I was in Jordan and Egypt in May), but the attitude of local people - read, local men - made the holiday not be the Turkish delight it should have been.

I hate being negative, but I've travelled to many different countries across the globe and never once come close to the level of hassle, rudeness and general feelings of unease experienced in Turkey. I'll probably only ever return there to go to Istanbul, but I suggest if you're female and travelling with female friends, you avoid Turkish coastal resorts... unless you want to be plagued, that is.

Putting the negatives aside, I'll tell you about the delights! We went on a cruise down the Dalyan Delta and I amazingly got to see one of the endangered loggerhead turtles. They will be nesting on İztuzu Beach in a few weeks (pictured top left), and they are HUGE! Naturally, the boat chorused "aww" when she popped her head up. I know she was a she because the sex of a turtle is dependent upon temperature - it was female weather!

The cruise also took us to the Sultaniye mud and sulphur baths. The mud was disgustingly squelchy, the sulphur pool smelly, but both have benefits - they supposingly cure ailments and make you look ten years younger! Nope, I can't say I look fourteen!

The cruise also took us past the tombs of Lycia. Carved into the cliff-side is the resting place of the Kings of Kaunos:

We were actually based in the resort of Ölüdeniz on the Aegean Coast though, staying here.

Ölüdeniz is renowned world-wide for being where you can paraglide off the 1,975 m high Babadag Mountain. Of course, I did it! ;p

OK, I didn't but, as you can see from the above photo, the paragliders really do land anywhere... that's not exactly restful when you're on the beach and you have people yelling at you to move so they can land! Meep!

All-in-all, it's a nice enough place scenery-wise, but I wouldn't class it as a must-visit destination - unless you're a paragliding fanatic, that is.

Still, looking on the bright side, I have a nice tan! {^_^}

September - October 2009 Reads:

Continuing on from January - April Reads and May - August Reads, I will be updating this post with what I've read between September - October.

[B] indicates a brand new read
[R] a re-read
[RR] a re-re-read!

156. Priceless - Olivia Darling [B]
157. Secrets - Freya North [B]
158. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernières [B]
159. The Devil's Star - Jo Nesbø [B]
160. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett [RR]
161. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling [RR]
162. We Are Family - Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees [B]
163. Trading Up - Candace Bushnell [B]
164. Exes Anonymous - Lauren Henderson [B]
165. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons [B]
166. Sepulchre - Kate Mosse [B]
167. The White Queen - Philippa Gregory [B]
168. Labyrinth - Kate Mosse [B]
169. The Mozart Conspiracy - Scott Mariani [B]
170. The Heretic's Treasure - Scott Mariani [B]
171. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys [B]
172. First Term at Malory Towers - Enid Blyton [RR]
173. The Awakening - LJ Smith [B]
174. The Struggle - LJ Smith [B]
175. Chasing Daisy - Paige Toon [B]
176. The Fury - L J Smith [B]
177. Dark Reunion - L J Smith [B]
178. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde [B]
179. Bad Kitty - Michele Jaffe [B]
180. The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown [B]
181. Second Form at Malory Towers - Enid Blyton [RR]
182. Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris [B]
183. Dead as a Doornail - Charlaine Harris [B]
184. The Last Testament - Sam Bourne [B]
185. Johnny Be Good - Paige Toon [B]
186. Third Year at Malory Towers - Enid Blyton [RR]
187. The Sister Diaries - Karen Quinn [B]
188. Love Lies - Adele Parks [B]
189. My Brother is an Only Child - Antonio Pennacchi [B]
190. Definitely Dead - Charlaine Harris [B]
191. All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris [B]
192. From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris [B]
193. The Alchemist's Secret - Scott Mariani [B]
194. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid [B]
195. Love Letters of Great Men - Ursula Doyle (Ed) [B]
196. The Road - Cormac McCarthy [B]
197. I Heart New York - Lindsey Kelk [B]
198. Secret Vampire - L J Smith [B]
199. Daughters of Darkness - L J Smith [B]
200. Enchantress - L J Smith [B]
201. Backwards in High Heels - T. Kindersley & S. Vine [B]
202. The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford [B]
203. Bookends - Jane Green [R]
204. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley [R]
205. The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks [B]
206. Moth Smoke - Mohsin Hamid [B]
207. Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris [B]
208. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell [B]
209. Grave Sight - Charlaine Harris [B]
210. Lucy in the Sky - Paige Toon [B]
211. The Pact - Jodi Picoult [B]
212. Burial - Neil Cross [B]
213. The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway [B]
214. Unsticky - Sarra Manning [B]
215. Knots & Crosses - Ian Rankin [B]
216. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - Stieg Larsson [B]
217. Emma - Jane Austen [B]
218. Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding [RR]
219. The WAG's Diary - Alison Kervin [R]
220. Casino Royale - Ian Fleming [B]
221. Live and Let Die - Ian Fleming [B]
222. Moonraker - Ian Fleming [B]
223. Diamonds Are Forever - Ian Fleming [B]
224. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini [B]
225. From Russia with Love - Ian Fleming [B]
226. Dr No - Ian Fleming [B]
227. The Secret Island - Enid Blyton [RR]
228. Goldfinger - Ian Fleming [B]
229. The Myth of Sisyphus - Albert Camus [R]
230. The Diving Bell & the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby [B]
231. Country Pursuits - Jo Carnegie [R]
232. Naked Truths - Jo Carnegie [B]
233. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini [B]
234. Heiresses - Lulu Taylor [B]
235. A WAG Abroad - Alison Kervin [B]
236. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee [B]
237. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
238. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
239. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
240. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
241. Frenemies - Megan Crane [B]
242. I Am Legend - Richard Matheson [B]
243. Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates [B]
244. Guilty Pleasures - Tasmina Perry [B]
245. The Reader - Bernhard Schlink [B]
246. 24 Hours London - Marsha Moore [B]
247. The Prophecy - Chris Kuzneski [B]
248. Crash - JG Ballard [B]
249. Blah Blah Black Sheep - Maggie Gibson [B]

In September and October I read 94 books! 78 of those were brand new reads, 5 were second reads, and there were 11 books I've read several times before. Given I've had an absolute book binge in September and October, you can find November and December's reads here - the target is 300 books read in 2009!!


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