Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guest blogger....on a trip to Sydney with 2 kids!

I would like to welcome my amazing sister-in-law and friend Sarah along to the alittlebird blog; she has kindly offered to guest blog about her recent trip to Sydney with 2 kids under 4...full of great things to do with your kids!

Home is wonderful but every now and then alittlebird just has to fly away for a few days.  Hubby had a conference in Sydney so we packed up the kids and took off in search of new and different things to do. 

At the airport we thought we were in for a day of hell, with our flight delayed (along with everyone else’s) due to fog in Sydney.  We survived with brekkie, a few races around the gates, excursions to ‘feed’ the guide dogs their pocket money, and generally being inquisitive and chatting to frequent fliers. 

People always think it will be traumatic to fly with little ones, but these days, if it even starts, the screaming stops shortly after take-off, because the seat belt light goes off and the dvd players turn on!  It’s quite funny really, Toy Story over here, Wiggles over there, and free DVD exchange between families.  I think the only ones who were really stressed were the childless travellers around us, who were in constant fear that all hell would break loose – but it didn’t.  I had to suppress a giggle when Miss Cranky Pants in front of me informed us that 1 year-old Audrey was kicking her seat ‘really really hard’ and asked us to please make it stop!  “So sorry, so sorry...”  We then refrained from the fun game of removing and replacing magazines in the seat-back pouch ;-)

On the ground in Sydney we had decided to go car-free for the weekend, and found the public transport so much easier than the hassle of BYO car seats or risking cabs without.  Anyway, 3 year-old Elliott loved the adventure of tunnels, lifts and trains to get from A to B.

 So big question was:  what is there for kids to do in Sydney?  Most of the websites I had checked out were pretty useless (alittlebird will be expanding to Sydney in 2011 to solve this :0), and brochures at the hotel were also unhelpful, so we set out on foot and found the Aquarium. 

Mental Note 1:  next time buy the slightly-more-expensive 1 year passes instead of the 1 day ticket, with the added bonus of entry to Wildlife World next door and the Sydney Tower. 

We could have spent all four days at the Aquarium, but spent a few hours checking everything out, walking under sharks, stingrays, turtles etc in the underground tunnel, and touching and feeling things in the touchy-feely tank.  We sat around just watching life in the tanks and had a few amusing moments, one in particular where Audrey crawled along the wall of a tank, and a huge shark followed her path on the other side of the glass.  If only I’d had the sense to pull out the video camera!  A few dollars later Bruce the shark joined us for the rest of the holiday, and he hasn’t been far from reach since.

Day 2 dawned and finally we got the chance to meet some friends’ new bub, then spent the afternoon playing in the awesome Pyrmont Point Park, set on the harbour below the cliffs.  It’s an amazing set up with huge sandpit where the kids can control the flow of the ‘river’ around it, a water fountain play section, plus all the usual swings, slides, and spider-webs.  There was a touch of history as some of the landscaping materials were actually re-used sandstone blocks from a long-gone building.  A cafe on-site kept the coffee pumping and the parents happy, and you have never seen such pristine public toilets, with handy large sinks for washing off grubby kids.  5-star playground all round, and contrary to my expectations in such a posh residential area, all the parents were friendly, kids well-mannered, and the vibe was just amazing. 

Mental Note 2:  Bring at least 3 changes of clothes to this park. 

Bath time was extra-long that day, and due to sheer exhaustion the kids were well-behaved for the outing to dinner with aforementioned friends. 

Mental note 3:  when booking Sydney restaurants, always book number-of-prams as well as number-of-people.  Another day down and another night with lights-out early. 

Mental note 4:  next time book 2-roomed apartment! 

Day three saw us embarking on the ferry for a $2.50 all-day family treat.  Unfortunately it turns out Elliott is susceptible to sea-sickness, so luckily we had started with a short journey and jumped off at the next stop.  On a wander around the rocks markets we meet lovely people and chilled out in the sunshine.  We spent some quality time on the monorail and quite frankly, I don’t know where the day went!  We met Daddy after his conference and Mummy took off to do some serious shopping J

Our last morning was bittersweet, again we don’t know where it went.   DJ’s provided the picnic and the botanical gardens were great for a free ride on a lion (bronze statues).  We took a final adventure on the monorail then headed off for the airport. 

Mental Note 5:  Always read the instructions for public transport. 

We had a bit of hassle when despite the advice of the station guard, we had managed to get on the wrong train, so had to cop a few changes of plan. 

Mental Note 6:  a double pram is not practical for train stations with no lifts. 

We finally hit the airport running and when we arrived at the check-in desk had a whole 30 seconds up our sleeves before the flight closed!  Back on terra firma, we were glad we had done ‘dinner’ on the plane, skipped ‘bath’ and hit ‘bed’ asap.  Despite a couple of minor dramas, the whole weekend was the perfect excuse to turn the phone off and just hang out with the kids.  Next time though, I think I’ll stick to Brisbane and take a few days to be a tourist in my own town.  Who knows what we’ll find?  Who wants to come?

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