Published: February 20th 2011February 9th 2011
As we entered into Australian air space we immediately realised that it was very unlikely we were going to see the sun during our trip. And we had been so excited; February is supposed to be summer in Sydney, and we had been informed by some friends that it was nearly 45 degrees the previous week. The cloud cover was worse than back in the UK- layers and layers of it that sent reverberations through the plane as we ricocheted down towards the runway. We had flown with Aerolineas Argentinas, and to give them their due they weren't half as bad as we had been told. An Aussie behind up kept piping up, whinging to us about not being fed in 11 hours blah blah, but then saying 'well I would have flown Qantas, but they're 1000 dollars more expensive'. Well you get what you pay for dear. Anyway, if 1000 dollars more only gets you an extra free meal, we sure as hell woudn't be paying it. Our next flight is actually with Qantas as we booked it back in the UK as part of a package flight deal, so watch this space. We are quite excited to see what
There was a metro train running directly from the airport to Sydney central which was really convenient but expensive at 15 dollars each (its about 1.5 dollars to the pound right now) but this was still the cheapest way to get into town. We had been stupid enough not to book a hostel- not realising that every young Irishman and his brother is now using Sydney as their base, and despite the fact that there were around 5 or 6 big hostels (big meaning 12 floors, 60 people per floor) just in the centre, we could not find anywhere with space for two. Eventually we found the Maze which was a complete dive, but we managed to secure beds in the same dorm for 26 dollars each. Unfortunately they were fully booked for our first night, so after making a downpayment to secure our booking for the following two nights, we retreated to the West End across the road where Katie was stationed on the 6th floor, and Luke on the 11th. For 29 dollars each the facilities were dreadful- really dirty cringey bathrooms, smelly old musty rooms, but on the plus side the cooking areas were
We showered then decided to head out for a look at our surroundings. We hadn't done a lot of research on Sydney; our visit wasn't planned per se, but more the result of an extended layover. It was raining pretty heavily and we diced with the idea of taking the brolley (yes Luke actually owns one). Nooo you can't take a brolley out in Sydney we thought and trooped into the rain. We were a little shocked at the prices of everything, but we had been made aware before our arrival that the dollar used to be 3 to the pound until the good old GBP dropped in value, so we aren't getting the best value for our money over in Aus. Quickly we realised this was not the type of place we could afford to eat out, but one little pie for $5 couldn't hurt after such a big journey we thought, so we treated ourselves. We spent a little time wandering around Chinatown before deciding to check out the famed harbour, and it has to be said we were quite disappointed. Maybe it was because of the grey sky, but something that definitely was nothing
to do with the weather was the fact that the opera house is situated very near to a suspiciously ugly concrete thing that looked like it had been uprooted from Coventry. It made it very difficult to get a good picture.
After the harbour we were at a bit of a loose end of what to do. We had seen the main thing within 3 hours of arriving. We had wanted to spent a good portion of our time in Sydney sunning ourselves on the famed beaches but with the dull outlook that was looking less and less likely. After a quick visit to the tourist information kiosk we were in possession of a list of the top 10 attractions in Sydney. The only realistic ones on our budget were visiting the harbour, the beach, and one of the many zoos. Other suggestions involved going to see the opera etc. The most famous zoo in Sydney overlooks the harbour and is a very naturistic type of place. The tour officer suggested that it definitely wasn't the best option in the rain so we decided to leave the zoo trip until the following day. In the meantime we decided to
soak up some of the city life, strolling back along Pitt Street all the way to our hostel. In the evening we were so exhausted from both the flight and jet lag that we ended up taking a nap that followed through to the next morning. We didn't even manage to go for the free beer for which we had been given a voucher earlier on.
The next day (very bright and early thanks to jet lag) we were showered and checked out by 9am, a full hour before check out time. We had no plans other than to check into our next hostel, and hope for good weather. Unfortunately from the lobby of the hostel we could see the outllok was bleak and the rain was coming down in sheets this time. Never mind, the transfer to our next hostel went smoothly and we were out in the street by 10am browsing through our tourist guide. We discarded our first idea of taking the open top bus (citysightseeing tour) as we had covered much of the tracks the previous day wandering around the city. Next on the agenda was to go to one of the wildlife places. We
decided on one that wasn't at Central Quay, but somewhere along the way we got distracted in the many shops in Sydney. We popped into STA Travel to check our fight for Singapore, and Luke asked the girl working there where he could get some cheap t-shirts. We ended up looking around for clothes for a few hours before having another cheeky lunch out (justified by the fact that we still hadn't chanced upon a supermarket, we had eaten supernoodles for dinner the previous night, and for breakfast, and where else were we going to get good fish and chips?!) Lunch wasn't too bad at around 6 dollars each and we managed to have a sit down meal. The weather still hadn't perked up, and after weighing up our options decided we would rather go and see a movie as we still hadn't adjusted to the time difference. So off we headed to the cinema, at Broadway, which coincidentally was where we could find a supermarket to stock up on more noodles, and Luke's bargain t-shirts. Broadway was a little outside of the centre, but as we were walking down George Street we chanced upon something amazing- a FREE shuttle
bus, which could take us as far as central. We'd learnt not to look a gifthorse in the mouth so hopped on excitedly, exclaiming loudly to the driver 'is this reaaally free??!!' whilst nosey onlookers eyeballed us.
As it happened the weather started to perk up as we neared Broadway but there was no stopping us now. The beach was a good hour walk back to the bus stop, followed by a 40 minute ride out of town on a local bus. We found the cinema and paid the student price of -don't look (15 dollars each- eeek) to go and see the Black Swan. Whilst waiting for the film we had a good look around some great supermarkets- one that seemed to be a brother of ASDA, and another called BI-LO. We stocked up on sweets, Luke bought himself some t-shirts, then we headed on up to the cinema. During the film an alarm started going off, which resulted in us being given free tickets to see another movie the following day which wasn't bad at all. We trudged back from the cinema all the way back to our hostel and the same thing happened again- we fell
asleep by 9pm. To be fair it wasn't too inconvenient considering that most people in the hostels seemed to be in big groups of girls/boys and the evening entertainment involved chatting each other up. The atmosphere was nothing like the hostels back in South America where everyone was travelling, and the places were smaller, and people wanted to chat. Sydney hostels did it large and many people were living and working the 'East Coast' working in the day and getting wasted on the night.
On our final full day in Sydney a miracle happened- the sun came out. We had decided the previous night that whatever the weather, we were going to see Bondi beach. Someone must have been listening as the sky was blue and the birds were singing (possibly). In order to get to Bondi we had to walk all the way back down to Central Quay (the famous harbour) to buy a prepaid ticket to catch the local bus. As we were there it seemed silly not to go and see the harbour- as we felt last time we didn't give it a fair chance. We wandered along the side of the harbour next to an
entourage who were protecting the rapper Ludacris. There was no hustle and bustle around him, people were just out having a good time, on holiday or on a work break chilling out. It was really nice in the sunshine.
We quickly took the obligatory snaps then rushed to buy our bus tickets fearing we might miss the good weather. For the two of us to take the local bus (think local bus at home) it cost around 8 dollars each. We hopped aboard eagerly awaiting the beach we had watched on TV so many times. And it didn't disappoint. Bondi was beautiful. It wasn't quiet by a long stretch, but it was quiet enough that we didn't have to fight over the turf. The sand was so soft, but the water was a bit cold when we tried to venture in. We spent most of our time watching surfers who were pretty impressive- probably the first time we have seen any good surfing. Eventually we had to tear ourselves away to get back for a shower before our second movie night. As we walked down to Broadway that evening it started to tip it down again, and we were
unprepared. Fortunately the heat dried us a little bit so we weren't drowned rats when we arrived to the cinema. We had decided to see 'No Strings Attached' something a little more lighthearted after all of the drama of Black Swan. As we were watching we saw Ludacris playing a part, which was a bit random considering we had just been moseying down the boardwalk with him earlier that day. Another nice surprise was that we had been given luxury seats. After the cinema we walked back again to the hostel, and in keeping with tradition were in bed by 10pm (a little later this time).
The next morning Katie had a bit of a panic as she realised she had 'misplaced' her hiking shoes that she had bought back in Bolivia for not a cheap price. She remembered that she had left them under the bed at the last hostel so ran across the road with a sob story and the kind receptionist let her back into the room where they were reunited. Panic over we ate a loaf of toast for breakfast (always important to finish what you buy) then sadly threw the rest of the flora
away. We headed into town to run some errands then spent a good hour in the apple shop shamelessly using their free internet to catch up. There is no free wifi in Sydney. You have to buy prepaid cards like phone cards which cost 4 dollars per hour, but charge per 15 minutes which is a bit cheeky. We had even tried to use the local McDonalds internet (come on, we spend enough money there) which didn't seem to work at all. Anyway it wasn't all in vain, we do actually want to buy some apple products, we're not completely disinterested, it's purely a matter of finance. Anyway after wasting another rainy morning we headed to the airport in a little shuttle minivan ready for our entrance into Asia. We didn't feel we had made the best out of the city due to lack of planning, budget and jetlag, so maybe our blog sounds a bit negative, but overall we enjoyed our time in Sydney. However, for now we are now looking forward to discovering another foreign continent.
There are more photos below