G’day, mates! I just cringed at myself for typing that, I hope you’re happy now.
Ok, so I never did write that post about packing. Oh, well. Who wants to read about packing, anyway? All you need to know is… I forgot the bloody sheep! Well, forgot isn’t the right word. Poor Marty the sheep (we settled on Marty as the name, as you may have guessed) fell out of my bag during one of the (many) attempts to repack it with things actually in a sensible position. Having spent most of the weekend and Monday morning trying NOT to think about the fact that I was soon to leave the house and not return for a LONG time, I only realised that Marty had done a runner while we were on the way to the airport. Cue major stress, emptying my bag in the car trying to find him, and subsequently leaving my headphones in the car… luckily, I’d packed spares and they weren’t expensive ones! As you may have guessed, this means that Marty hasn’t joined me in Sydney. He is, however, being sent baa-siness class (or sheeped freight, depending which pun you prefer) to meet me in Christchurch. Yes, I did get my mum to post him to me. You’re welcome.
In case you didn’t guess already, I made it to Sydney without much drama. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t manage to get any sleep on either of the flights, but I managed to refrain from murdering anyone during my first day in Australia. Win! It’s times like this that I’m grateful to be travelling alone. 5 hours sleep on Sunday night to keep me going to what was about 8am Wednesday morning UK time would test any friendship. Jet lag appears to have turned me into an early bird – I was up and about at 6am yesterday and this morning. I don’t really expect this to be a lasting development, but it is somewhat amusing now that I don’t have a job to get up for. It might have something to do with the stinking cold I developed over the course of Sunday and Monday, still lingering despite my best efforts. I’m one of those people who seems to sleep even less when I’m ill.
To welcome me to the Southern Hemisphere, the weather was beautifully sunny and a warm 30°c. I say warm for the benefit of you lot (looking at you, Chiara and Enrica!) – to me, in February that’s classed as “hot, but not quite the fiery pits of hell.” Still, it was a nice change from the miserable February weather in the UK (kudos to Storm Doris for waiting until after I’d left the country!) and it made my photos look good. I’m certainly very glad I didn’t come out here any earlier, I don’t think I could have coped with anything hotter (I will take your Mediterranean complexions and raise you prickly heat and my dad’s skin tone. There’s peaches and cream, and then there’s us – strawberries and milk is probably the best way to describe it!). Don’t ask me if I have a tan yet – 1) it’s been three days; 2) I’m wearing factor ridiculous suncream; 3) have you seen how white I am?!
Exhaustion and heat aside, I still managed to get in some touristy activities on Wednesday before crashing into bed at 7pm. I walked what felt like miles (I just plotted it on Google Maps, and apparently it was 7km) on a very roundabout route to Sydney Opera house via Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. SOH and the Harbour Bridge are just as impressive in person as they appear in pictures. Sometimes, I find that famous landmarks aren’t actually all that impressive in “real life”, this was not one of those times.
After all that walking, I was pretty tired so decided to take the tourist bus tour (you know the big red buses you get in all major cities these days – that bus). This also doubled as sunbathing, because I like to multitask 😛 Here are some “fun facts” I learnt from the commentary:
- Rum hospitals are so named because the people running the hospitals were able to import (I forget the exact amount but it was a LOT) rum, which was the currency of the time in many colonies, tax-free as payment for their services.
- The State Library of New South Wales holds William Bligh’s logbook of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Bligh was later appointed Governor of New South Wales, before he was deposed following the Rum Rebellion. He is also an ancestor of the current Australian Prime Minister
- Francis Greenway, considered Australia’s first architect, designed more than 40 buildings in Sydney (including the oldest church in the city and Hyde Park Barracks). He used to appear on the AU$10 note, making him (probably) the only convicted forger to appear on a bank note.
- The Australian Museum currently has a large exhibit about spiders. I’ll be giving that one a miss!
- There is a heritage-protected (similar to UK listed status) Coca-Cola advertisement in King’s Cross. This is also apparently the red light district (bonus fact: we passed a Thai Massage parlour called Thai Me Up. I laughed).
- Sydney Fish Market is huge! It’s the largest one in the southern hemisphere, and the 2nd largest in the world according to the tour. That reliable source, Wikipedia, says that it is actually the 3rd largest after Tsukiji market in Tokyo and La Nueva Viga market in Mexico City.
- Ok, ok, I’ll stop now…
Thursday was beach day! I took the second leg of the tourist bus out to Bondi beach, then did the Bondi-Coogee coastal walk. According to the leaflet, the main part of the walk is Bondi-Bronte, but then the Bronte-Coogee section is “another 15 minutes”. This is a big, fat, lie. The Bronte-Coogee section seemed to take me almost as long again as the first section! Granted, this is partly due to the massive detour through the enormous Waverley Cemetery due to repair work on the coastal path (walking through a cemetery on a cliff, strange experience). The coastal walk will definitely be one of the main highlights of my visit to Sydney. The views are spectacular, and I had my audiobook to keep me company. One small thing – I probably shouldn’t have done it in flipflops after not wearing flipflops for ages. Oh, my feet hurt today! Thank you, trainers, for being there for me when I need you.
Today, I’ve had a more restful day. I’ve just put it in Maps, and apparently have walked 8.5km so far. Actually not that restful! I breakfasted at The Rocks Cafe on the recommendation of my sister. I can confirm that almost 6 years later, the food is still awesome. Seriously considering going there again tomorrow, too, although I’ve just received another recommendation, so we shall see where I end up.
After breakfast, I had an amble through the Botanical Gardens over to Mrs Macquarie’s Point (for that must-do picture of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge together), then back along the coastal path to the Opera House and round to the Museum of Contemporary Art (it’s FREEEEE!). I always find modern art museums a bit odd. Some of the pieces are genuinely fantastic, others make me wonder why I’ve not decided to become an artist and get rich. There was a video that was just 60 minutes of four people laughing whilst wearing dunce caps. Each to their own! Had a wander round the Rocks Foodie’s Market and stopped for lunch before starting the walk back down Pitt St to the hostel. I’ve since had a very relaxing afternoon sat outside in on the patio of the hostel cafe soaking up some sun and reading the book I refused to leave at home.
I have one more full day in Sydney before flying to New Zealand on Sunday, but I’m not sure what I’ll be doing tomorrow. My original plan had been to make time for a day trip to the Blue Mountains while I’m here, but after giving it some serious thought, I decided that I didn’t really want to do the 4-hour round trip on the train and spend the day there by myself. If I ever come back to Sydney, it will be top of the list, but not this time. Maybe I’ll go in search of one of the 6 Antill-related street names I’ve found on Google Maps instead!
This is a (very) long post, and definitely isn’t my best writing, but I wanted to keep you posted on how things are going. I will no doubt have more of my usual rambling anecdotes that read less like a list of “I did this, then I did that” once the jetlag and the cold have finally buggered off!
Next time: Final musings on Sydney, first impressions of New Zealand.