With just over 24 hours in Sydney we wanted the kids to see as many of the major attractions as we could squeeze in. We are an active family - this is what 24 hours in Sydney looked like for us.
7:30am wake up
As the weather was going to be hot we decided to get up and going early. Everyone dressed in sneakers and sports gear we slapped on the sunscreen and hats and headed out nice and early.
Stop One: The Sunrise Set
An early morning in Sydney would not be complete without a walk by the Channel 7 studio to try and get yourself on the morning Sunrise show. We headed for Martins Place and hung around the glass viewing area until we got a wave from Andrew O’Keefe and the kids got a wave in on the National TV show. Half an hour later our phone received messages from those at home that had seen us. Check!
Stop Two: Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens in Sydney are expanse and tranquil. The park was abundant, the strong floral smells smacked you in the face as you entered the gates and the garden beds were immaculately kept with an array of various plants and flowers. The contrast between the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle streets to the green and lush of the gardens is worth a visit. Albeit for us a quick run through to stop three.
Stop Three: Macquarie’s Chair
Of all the visits to Sydney I had never made it to this point and I was glad we had taken the time to do so this morning. The views that you get which take in the Opera House and Harbour are well worth the visit. However I was disappointed that there was no actual “Chair” - that is a hoax! We had to google to make sure we were in the right spot due to the absence of a chair.
Am I the only one that thought there was supposed to be a chair there?
Stop Four: Opera House
Our jogging (well kids are walking and complaining a little by now!) path then took us back along the water edge around to the Opera House.
A few sets of stair runs for the adults to get our cardio in for the day and some great photo opportunities.
We continued to follow the path along the edge taking us up through Circular Quay and around to view the cruise ship docked in port for the day.
Stop Five: Pancakes at the Rocks
The only way Miss 7 would continue to walk/jog was based on the promise of pancakes. This place did not disappoint. A 4-stack of pancakes for $9.95 was pretty good value for breakfast in this part of town.
Stop Six: Harbour Bridge
Following our late breakfast stop we continued our walk around the water to take photos under the Harbour Bridge and wave to those taking the climb. We had wanted to recreate a photo we had taken of Master 10 when he was just 6-months old on his first visit to Sydney, however set-up for New Years Eve had the lawns cordoned off. It is still a great perspective to stand under the bridge and take her all in.
Stop Seven: Ferry Ride
When in Sydney you have to get out on the water. We wanted to head to China Town so chose to take a Ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour. A single trip ticket for the family of four cost $20.60 and took us on about a 30-minute water ride with a stop at Luna Park and some great photo opportunities of the Bridge and Opera House along the way.
Stop Eight: Darling Harbour
We then strolled through Darling Harbour to take in the atmosphere and grabbed a cool drink whilst the kids tried out the flying fox and rope course at the Darling Harbour playground. This was a popular location offering welcome relief from the lunch time sun and humid Sydney weather for the toddlers that could strip down and splash in the water park.
Stop Nine: China Town
A short stroll from Darling Harbour and we were in China Town. We walked the main street and grabbed a steamed pork bun taking in the authentic flavours of the locals. Sydney has a strong Asian influence and China Town depicts this well.
Stop Ten: REST
Our morning run turned into an epic five hour adventure. We headed back to the hotel to take advantage of the air conditioning and free wi-fi to catch a movie and recoup from the morning’s adventures. We were staying in the CBD in the thick of the shopping district so the parents tag teamed a few hours of shopping while the kids relaxed.
Stop Eleven: Hyde Park
Walking shoes back on we headed towards the SCG via Hyde Park. This park in the centre of the CBD offers plenty of lawn space to picnic and relax, large trees for shade and some interesting memorials and statues to take in.
Stop Twelve: Oxford Street
Our path then took us along Oxford Street where the coloured rainbow symbol is proudly displayed on shop fronts and bars. The kids really did not understand the significance of the area they were just interested in the butter chicken and naan on offer at the Indian restaurant we tried.
Stop Thirteen: Sydney Cricket Ground
Our epic day was capped off by a visit to the SCG where we took in all the atmosphere of 30,000 people attending the Big Bash Cricket: Sydney Sixers V Perth Scorchers. We clapped and cheered and joined in the Mexican wave with the lively crowd enjoying a great summer night of cricket at the stadium. We paid a ridiculous $6.20 for a bucket of hot chips but that is what you expect from stadium concessions - it is part of the experience.
We worked our way out of the crowds and managed to grab a taxi on Oxford Street before getting back to the hotel around 11pm. What an epic day in Sydney! How do you think we went?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
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Baseball is as quintessential American as Hershey chocolate and Disneyland. If you are heading stateside during baseball season you would be doing yourself a disservice if you passed up the opportunity to flavour this National Sport.
Itchy Feet Family have been fortunate enough to visit a few Stadiums in the USA, somehow our trips always coincide with the baseball season.
From the infamous Yankee Stadium in New York, Nationals Park in DC, Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Marlins Park in Miami and Petco Park in San Diego we have always tried to catch a game wherever possible. Even if you can’t catch a game you can normally do a behind the scenes tour of the park which is always interesting as well.
Even if you don’t care much for the sport, the atmosphere and entertainment is just as much a treat. Baseball can be a long game with nine innings to get through, so for those that are not sports fanatics the in-between entertainment comes as welcome relief.
Our most recent US visit in June 2016 found us in downtown Houston, the home of the Houston Astros who just happened to have a Friday night game on whilst we were in town.
Whilst we did not have the best seats in the house - our AUD $120 worth of tickets for a family of four seemed a reasonable investment for a night out in a foreign city. Of course once in the gates the prices of concessions was ridiculous - but you expect that from sporting arenas all over the world. And you just can't experience an American Baseball game without an overpriced hotdog and a box of Cracker Jacks!
The park is located in the CBD so we were able to walk to and from the game from our hotel which was really convenient and allowed us to get amongst the fans on their commute.
Every baseball park has it’s own unique features - here were our Top Three Highlights when the Houston Astros played Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park Houston.
1. Getting A Haircut
Yes you read it right, for a minimum donation of $10 you could get a mens hair cut right there at the stadium overlooking the field. The hairdressers were volunteers for a charity, all the money from the cuts going to support a worthy cause - the tip to the hairdresser for her time.
This was a novel experience that our son just could not pass up - he had one of the best seats in the house whilst getting a much needed new hair-do!
2. Watching The STeam Train
Houston’s Stadium was built on the location of a railway station, in remembrance of that era a railway was built as part of the left-side of the field. Every time a Houston player scores a home run, or wins the game, the train moves along the track and gives the crowd a toot!
The train is a really unique and quirky feature of the stadium that adds flavour and entertainment to the visit, even if you are not into baseball.
3. Open Air Game
This stadium has a retractable roof. Once the 9th innings was complete, the roof rolled back to reveal the night sky.
Possibly because it was a Friday night game, the crown were then treated to a tribute concert to Prince who had just recently passed, followed by an awesome fireworks display.
Have you ever attended a baseball game in the US? What was your highlight of the stadium you visited?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Other blogs you may be interested in:
- Ya'll Come Back Soon - Our Visit to Dixie Dude Ranch
- Look Out Zimmer Frames, Zip Lines are Coming Through - Adventure Cruising
- Getting Dirty In Vietnam - Visit to the Nha Trang Mud Baths
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The Itchy Feet Family love to cruise. Our next getaway will be on a 12 night cruise out of Sydney to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Cruising can be a fantastic family holiday. You can switch off the phone and the wifi, unplug and spend some quality time recharging and reconnecting with your family.
As a family we find cruising provides a great balance of family time and adult time with the onboard kids club providing a great option for that balance.
If you are thinking of, or are a family that are about to head on your first cruise, here are five helpful tips to help yo with your cruise holiday.
1. PAck a Lanyard
All cruise passengers must carry a cruise card. The card is used for all purchases on board as well as identification when you board or depart the ship. The easiest way to carry the card is with a lanyard around your neck. Of course you can buy one when you get onboard, they are the hottest seller on day one, but if you have some at home bring one along.
2. Register for kids club
If you have children that will be utilising the kids club, make it a priority to find the kids club and register your kids as soon as you board. Generally kids clubs do not open until the first day after departure but are open for you to view the facility, meet the staff and complete the necessary paperwork.
The first morning at kids club I have always found to be a bit of a nightmare so getting that paperwork done the day before helps streamline the first morning drop off process.
3. Photograph your daily schedule
Each night you will receive a ship newsletter in your cabin outlining the activities and events onboard for the next day. If you don’t want to carry a piece of paper around all day and you are already carrying your phone as your camera, simply take a photograph of the schedule so you can refer to it at any time.
4. Don’t hold back on luggage
I always overpack on cruise holidays - because I can. Unlike airlines, cruise ships are very generous with their luggage allowance and there is always plenty of storage in your cabin to unpack when you get there. Empty suitcases can generally be stored under your bed in your cabin. Pack plenty of options for your theme nights and get into the spirit of what is happening onboard.
5. Yes to hair iron - no to clothes iron
Portable clothes irons are not allowed in cabins, they are a fire danger. The ship will have a passenger laundry with ironing facilities if you need them. However hair irons are allowed! I know…..
What are your top tips for cruising? We would love for you to share them with us, leave a comment below.
Penny - ITCHY FEET FAMILY
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On a two-week cruise through Asia a highlight of our stop in Vietnam was a day tour to the infamous battle fields of Long Tan. In 2016 we remember the battle 50 years on and many travellers have paid their respects, our visit that much more special as we happened to visit at the same time as a Veteran who had actually been there on those fateful days.
There is something to be said about experiential learning, this day happened to be one of those rare moments that our whole family will remember forever. Standing at the memorial site, in the middle of an otherwise baron field, with an old Vet retelling his memories of the battle sent shivers up our spine that I still recall today as I am writing this blog.
Fifty years ago (18 August 1966) during the Vietnam war, the Battle took place in the rubber plantation fields near Long Tan, South Vietnam. Reportedly 18 Australians lost their lives, and more than 200 Viet Cong, in what was one of the worst battles Australian troops experienced during that war.
Today, a memorial stands in the middle of the field to remember the fallen Australian soldiers and the courageous battle they fought when the odds were so stacked against them. Visitors pay their respects at the site and remember the courage and bravery of the Australians who battled.
Upon arrival at the site on our tour our guide recited her facts and figures about the battle. The stories and incidents that led to the memorial we stood upon in itself made us aware that we were visiting a sacred site. The cross that stands there today at one point was “borrowed” to mark the grave of a local villager, leaving the memorial just a barren field.
After a minute’s silence however, from the corner of the field, we could hear an old digger telling his recounts of the battle. It was then that we realised just how special our visit was.
The Vet told of the conditions the soldiers endured, the mud they laid in and the proximity to which they were to the enemy. All of which was spine chilling and incomprehensible to a modern day Australian family who had never had to even fathom such challenges.
To remember our fallen soldiers is something we all should do, to be privileged to visit the site on the same day as a digger was something else.
When we left the memorial site we visited a village school that has been funded by Australians. It was great to see that at the site of such tragedy Australians have left a positive mark on the province that caused tragedy to so many.
If you have a chance to visit the site whilst the soldiers are still here to retell their story, I encourage you to do so. Fifty years on we realise that the soldiers that were there at the Battle will not walk with us for too many years more.
Lest We Forget.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
If you are interested in travelling Vietnam, you may also want to read our blog Getting Dirty in Vietnam where we visit a mud bath in Nha Trang.