Monday, 24 March 2014

Sydney: Vacationing with kids during Hubby's business trip

This is the first time we (me+kids aged 2 and 5) are travelling with my spouse on his business trip. I realized that this is an entirely different ball game. I have to manage/engage the kids for the whole day and wait for the evening for my husband to come back so that I could have some respite ;)

I loved Sydney. We spent 7 days there and here is what I did.

Hotel selection: As usual I pored over 100's of reviews to select 'Raddisson'. It was in a perfect location - close to bus stops, train station, convenience stores, super markets. I had got a good hotel-deal in and it fit  into our budget.
A good friend suggested which had great apartments listed, unfortunately my trip was very last minute decision and I couldn't secure any good places.

Flight: It was a 8 long hours flight and I had booked a day flight. But blog after blog I was reading how parents glided over the trip in a night flight. I was quite scared on how it would go, but lucky me. There were a lots of empty seats and was quite comfortable. I had filled my daughter's cabin suitcase with puzzles and toys and they were handy.
Regulation on food stuff that can be taken into Australia is pretty strict and I had fully studied their website and bought some ready-to-eat indian curries. I planned to buy rice and dal locally if my kids needed it.

By the way, we had a lost luggage this time.. somebody had taken our bag and left theirs! Thank God I got the kid's bag intact... anyways after many flights, we do forget our first travel tips: 1) Packing one set of clothes in cabin luggage is safe 2) Tie a ribbon to identify our bags! Lesson learnt is its good to follow the tips 'always'.

For the Moms who vacation while on Spouse's business trip:

My tips:
1) Research research research...get an understanding of you hotel's location. Do your part in choosing what suits you well. A kitchenette will be really helpful... if not a microwave, a toaster or just a friendly hotel kitchen can help us a long way.

2) Take it really easy on the itinerary. You will not be on time, accept it.. and keep it simple.

3) There is no way you can get away being stuck indoors the whole day. Take the kids for a stroll if nothing else works out. A new place each time will be good.

4) Check out for any local parks. It might not be on a tourist list, but check what locals do to entertain their children. You might not be able to check off an item in your "to-see", but at least you will have happy kids.

5) It is my husband's nightmare that I will lose my elder one. Booo! But there is a real chance of it happening. Keep one eye on each child always! Make your child repeat your hotel's name over and over again.
I saw one TV show with a great idea of having a bead bracelet with your local phone number for the kid.

6) Avoid over crowded places, swimming pools if both kids are not good swimmers yet.. in short avoid places where you will not be able to comfortably handle the kids single-hand.

7) Carry some finger food, in case there are no good eateries.

8) Love the time alone with kids in a new setting. Its vacation and let the kids lead you!

The Night we landed, ordered food from the room service. Slept well.

Day 1:
Had to wait ("waste") the whole morning because me and my hubby had nothing to wear. Thankfully the airlines passed our baggage late in the day.

We then did Manly beach. Bought our 'My Multi Zone 3' cards (very cost effective) which gives 7 days unlimited travel in public transport.
We had "Pavlova" - a heavenly 'Aussie/NZ' dessert.
Took a scenic ferry route to Manly beach. Water was COLD but children had loads of fun.
Children (mostly my son) had started to crave rice by then :(
Found an Indian restaurant "Ashiana" very close to the beach and fed the hungry stomachs.

Day 2:

Three sisters and the Jamison Valley
Being a weekend, it was my hubby's day off and we went to the 'Blue Mountains'. I suggest to stay overnight at this place if you have time. In our case we dint and we could not imagine exploring any caves or doing bushwalks with our 2year old. So, the next best option was "Scenic world" for us. We did the steepest railway ride (my kids loved it), skyway, cable way and appreciated the beautiful Jamison Valley. Some part of it resembled the Grand Canyons. My son by this time was on a "I will eat Indian only" kind of a mood, so again we had our lunch in one of the indian restaurants (they are plenty of them all over).

Steepest railways in the world...Do you see the train?

Day 3
Today was the rest day, so strolled around the city. Went to Hyde park (there was a family carnival going on then) and kids did some bouncy castle jumps. Then we went to St. Mary's cathedral (Wow.. is the word... there was a mass going on and it felt so peaceful). Correction - peaceful it would have been if I dint have children tugging at my dress, or if I dint have to worry about maintaining the silence inside the place! Dream on..!

Had ice creams, watched the world pass by, did some window shopping and ended the day feeling contend.

Day 4
Hubby was off to work and we started a relaxed day. I took the kids to Darling Harbor water play area and let them play to their heart's content. I had packed some pasta I made in the Hotel kitchenette. I really enjoyed this time with the kids.

Day 5
Being in Australia and not seeing Kangaroos? Nay! Off to Featherdale's - an completely Australian animal's park. Total total fun! My kids were up and close with Wallabies.. they seemed to be more receptive. The kangaroo's were lying down and were not bothered by us. So were the Koala bears... they were soooo furrrry! There so many new animals that I saw... did you know that Dingo is a dog that does not bark? I din't.. Next time when I play "Name Place Animal Thing" I will have a bit more choices for Animals!

Day 6
Time alone again - we went off on our own to the Australian Museum. They had a children's play area.. which was educative. The best was the Tyrannosaurus exhibition. I saw loads of fossils and was very informative..wish the kids let me spend more time 'reading' the information there. The audio visuals/Computer graphics were just great! Just realized that my elder one has started to warm towards Museum ... hurray!

When hubby was back we strolled to the Darling harbour and had a Pizza/Pasta dinner.

Day 7
Shopping alone with Children need not be a nightmare.... they seem to be ok as long as we are shopping for them !!! :S
Went to a souvenir shop and browsed and browsed... now a days guess I have become too thick skinned to keep wondering if my kids are a bother for the shop. As long as they don't break anything I am fine... and I am happy to find a shop with no other customers... Sales people are usually happy to baby sit and let me browse at peace.
Went for a closer look of opera house and had a relaxed evening with the whole family.

One point to remember is that most attractions and malls close by 5 pm in Sydney. After that all that is open are the pubs and restaurants... so its parks and other open areas for us parents of young kids.

Sydney was not on my "To-visit" list.. I was little worried that we were channeling our money on a trip that I was not so keen about... but I fell in love with Sydney... what a vibrant place. Seven days were so little to do any justice to Sydney... Hey hubby, when is your next business trip to Sydney? ;)

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