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Published: October 11th 2010
I spent a good chunk of the day finishing up computer work, packing, cleaning and getting everything ready to leave. In the afternoon Daniele and I headed to the beach for a bit of fresh air. We made some odd concoction of potatos, onions and other veggies for dinner and settled in front of the tv for a movie. It was a nice relaxing last night.
I’m flying out today! I spent the morning cleaning up and doing a bit of last minute computer work with Daniele before he and I headed to the airport. It was raining a bit, but luckily that didn’t hold my flight back. After checking in, I went through the security, which is just one conveyor and one x ray machine. I prepared for what I normally have to do, taking my shoes off, my jacket etc. The people working there looked at me as if I was crazy and I realized that because this is such a small airport, they don’t care as much. I took a seat, and as I was at least a half hour early I settled in and prepared to wait. The airport was nice and cool
coming from hot humid Yeppoon. As I sat, I overheard a few conversations and the people used the typical Rockhampton slang, shortening all of the words then ending them with y. Across from me sat a young family and I watched them for a bit because they had a young girl, just barely able to walk that they let wander the gate area. It struck me because an American mother would be way to paranoid to let that happen! When our plane arrived, we walked across the tarmac to the airplane. How strange!
I am pretty excited about Sydney, and can’t wait for a bit of time to wander the city. Anna, whom I met in the Whitsundays and I have been talking since she left, and when I told her of my situation (leaving Rocky with no real place to go) she offered her room to me. She will be out in Shark Bay for a while visiting friends and said that I am more than welcome to stay at her place. The girl is a saint! Upon arriving in Sydney, I hopped a bus and headed for her small apartment in a suburb of Sydney called Coogee.
She gave me her roommates cell number, and I am meeting him at their place and he said he would be more than happy to show me a bit of the town before I wander by myself for the week that I will be staying. Shortly after arriving, he took me into the heart of Coogee for some grocery shopping, then we got a burger at a local burger joint and wandered the town for a bit. He’s a real nice guy, going out of his way to help me out and we stayed up for a while talking. Surprisingly enough he is from Maine (small world) and is a photovoltaic engineer studying at the local Uni for another year or so. He has been to many different countries throughout Africa and the Middle East, so he had some good stories. Greg also said that if I didn’t have plans for my week here, I was more than welcome to tag along with him as he already had different plans for a few nights of the week. After a while I turned in with a mental checklist of having to finish my flight preparations and New Zealand visa and immigration
stuff before the end of the week.
I woke up a bit late on my first day in Sydney, but got ready to go walk the city. Greg showed me where to get a bus pass, so I grabbed one of those, grabbed my bus map and headed towards the Opera house for the day. It started off as a really gross day, windy and pretty cloudy, but as the day went on it got warmer and nicer. I arrived in a place called Circular Quay and walked the 10 minutes to the opera house. From a distance it is really nice looking, but as I got closer I got to see just how cool it really is. It seems that it is built entirely of bricks of some sort, with a gold colored mortor in between. It is three buildings actually, not just one like I thought it was. I really wished I could see the inside, I can’t imagine what it would look like. After walking the base of the Opera house, I wandered through the adjacent botanical gardens. The gardens were very pretty, with different trees, groups of plants and and different sculptures. For the
first few hours of my wanderings I noticed that not only were mostly tourists out, but they all wanted pictures of themselves in front of different things. Tons of people would ask each other to take pictures of them, or they would offer to take pictures of each other. I fell into the later category quite often cause you see these people struggle to try and take pics of themselves, though I did have someone take my picture once.
After going all the way through the gardens, I hopped a bus to Watson Bay. The Watson bay area is much richer but still very nice. It is farther out of the main city and you can really see the difference. All along the coast are cliffs that drop steeply to the sea. Watson bay is the South side of the entrance to the harbor, and on the north side there are also more cliffs. After wandering up and down the coast for a bit, I hopped on the bus again and went home. The Sydney bus system is amazing, and although I really don’t understand it fully yet, you can take the bus from anywhere to anywhere without much
of a hassel.
Right now I am staying in a place called Coogee (pronounced Cudgee). It is real close to the University of New South Wales and is mostly a place for backpackers and students. Back at the house I made myself some late lunch, and when Greg got back from Uni he offered to take me to play some pool with his friends. Although I sucked miserably I had a good time, and got to meet some really nice people. One of his friends showed me some pictures of his trip to New Zealand and it got me really excited for when I head out!
Today I plan on meeting up with my friend Missy from highschool. Her boyfriend goes to Uni around here, and she is down visiting for a few months. We caught up on old stuff, talked about being American in Sydney, Australia in general and so much more. Like me, she is really impressed with Sydney and Australia in general. Luckily for us, the day was gorgeous, so we sat and talked for a few hours while sitting on the beach then wandered the strip and got smoothies ☺ She tells me
that the beach at Coogee is mostly made up of local Australians and Americans. You can point out the few Eueropeans by their tiny amount of clothing, but she said they mostly go to Bondi beach, which is just a bit north. As is, it is school vacation, so tons of younger kids were out at the beach, laying in the sun, talking and having a good time with each other.
Back at the house I tried out Daniele’s risotto recipe on Greg, which he said was great! That night he had been invited to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a talk and different exhibits on environmental work today. He exhibits were really cool, dealing with photography, movies and sculptures pertaining to deforestation, trash in the ocean, pollution and other environmental issues. One exhibit struck me the most because it was a movie on some sort of toxic sludge in the Indo-Pacific region. The movie switched from footage of people living in squalor in camps and tents, so large crews with giant machinery pulling toxic looking substances from the earth. It switched back to one woman screaming and crying, asking for help, begging the filmer to show the
movie to the government and help her and her people escape the situation they were in. It was really heartbreaking.
After we finished with the exhibits, there was an open discussion downstairs, and everyone headed down there for drinks. I met another group of Greg’s friends and we stood chatting for about an hour or so before heading out for a bit of food and to wander the city. We walked around the Opera house, which looked absolutely gorgeous at night. His friends are a real funny crew, so we had a great few laughs before each of us hopping on our respective busses and heading home.
Today I decided to spice things up for a bit and went on a bit of a self guided walking tour. Missy had told me about a path that led from Coogee to Bondi beach, explaining that it was real pretty, though real long. I set off in mid morning and was lucky to his some really nice weather. The walk was gorgeous, and the seaside had the same type of cliffs as up in Watson Bay. Every now and again the cliffs would dip in and a small but
gorgeous beach would pop out of no where. It was still early morning, so a few locals were still sunbathing on the rocks or surfing in the water. However, once it got closer to noon tourists started to pack the pathway. Until then, joggers, walkers, dogs, friends and just about everyone else in town seemed to be out walking. At one spot where I could see Bondi beach off in the distance a large group of surfers had gathered at a local beachy spot and I sat and watched them ride waves for a while. There were also younger guys on boogie boards, body surfing out there with them. It was realy cool to see and after a while I could pick the newbies apart from the real surfbums. Once I started to approach Bondi it started to sprinkle a bit, but I had worked up a bit of heat from the walk so it felt real nice. At Bondi I could see that even the weather wasn’t keeping people away from the beach.
Bondi is one of the most famous beaches in Sydney, in all of Australia for all I know. It is usually packed from sunrise to
sunset, with tourists, students, locals and just about anyone else looking for a bit of sun, crazy waves and sand. I wasn’t up for the crowd though, so I headed in the general direction of a place called Bondi junction. Even though I had my map I got pretty lost, which I didn’t mind. I just headed in what I thought was the general direction, wandering up and down different streets. I saw some really cool stuff and eventually got myself into a more residential area. At one point I noticed a small painters shop and looked in the door to see huge paintings of classic American cars. The best part? He had two HUGE paintings of classic mini’s hanging from the wall. They were absolutel gorgeous and must be local cars because they had some surfboards lying next to them and were parked in front of some gorgeous looking beach. Bondi Junction is a large shopping type area, with cheap stores, venders and all sorts of things. I wandered up and down the streets for a bit before hopping the bus back to Bondi beach and walking back. While walking the pat back I came across a guy in
a wheelchair wheeling himself UP a hill. He had a gorgeous tribal like tattoo on his arm and I stopped to comment on it and asked what it was. He said he got it done in Sydney and that it was a Maori (New Zealand form of Indian) depiction of a sea monster. He introduced himself as a Kiwi and when I said I would be heading to Whangarei within the next week he laughed and told me that it is actually pronounced as Fangarei. I thought that was such an odd thing, but decided he knew much better than I did and after saying our goodbyes I finished my walk home.
Back at the house I had some lunch, took a cat nap and did a bit of paperwork. Greg was back from Uni, as were the other two roommates, Keenan and Joana, a couple from Ireland. We all talked a bit, had some dinner then settled down for a bit of tv before bed.
I woke up a bit late this morning, and as it was really overcast and cold I wasn’t motivated to do much. I ran some errands, did paperwork (my visa went
though successfully!), responded to emails and did a few more things inside. Yesterday at Bondi junction I bought myself a few books for when I get to New Zealand. I decided it would be a good idea to head to the beach and read for a bit, relaxing by the water, but after an hour of sitting in freezing wind, with no sun and sand blowing in my eyes I headed home again. Back at the house I did another chunk of paperwork, and when Greg came back from Uni he and I headed to a comedy show being put on in the entertainment district of Sydney. The money raised from the show would go to benefit a local organization that worked to keep kids off of the streets, getting them into housing, drug and alcohol rehab programs and back into school. There were six or so acts to the show, and although most were hilarious, a few were lack luster. We chatted it up with different people that were attending for different reasons and had a great time though. I met two guys who were local surf teachers and they gave me their contact info and told me that
when I head back to Sydney, if ever, I have to look them up for some lessons. It’s funny, it seems that no matter where I go or what I do in Sydney I meet really great people. This is going to make it awful hard for when I actually have to leave for New Zealand!
I slept a bit later today, which was real nice. Yesterday Greg and I decided that now that some local shops are carrying Ben and Jerry’s ice cream we needed to get ourselves some. While he headed to uni, I grabbed some, then headed off towards an area of the city called The Rocks. The Rocks reminds me of Boston a bit. It is the structurally old area of Sydney, with many of the older brick and stone buildings still remaining. I ducked down alleys and thin streets for a while, finding different cafés, small resteraunts and other goodies. At one point I came out underneath the large Sydney bridge, and stopped to stare for a bit. On the opposite side of the water sits Luna park, a decent sized amusement park, with rides and a huge ferris wheel. I followed the
coast down to darling harbor where I walked along the warf people watching for a bit. The architecture there is very new, with exposed beams, different building materials and little fountains and sculptures everywhere. I found something called Paddy’s Market which is a huge bazaar located indoors. I tried to find some rhyme and reason in there, but after getting lost so many times I had to find a way out. An hour later, after hitting up the free National Nautical Museum I met up with Greg, we had lunch on the warf and then wandered some more.
I know I say wander a lot, but that is actually what I do. I like to investigate and see things that others don’t normally see. Like for instance, the painters shop while walking to Bondi Junction, or a sign on the ground that day that said Beware of Pedestrians (which im sure should have been written the other way around?). Every now and again I will take turns on little streets that look like they will lead me no where, but I figure might have something cool to look at. I have already amazed Greg with the different things I
see that he has never seen before. For example, at the grocery store that he goes to all the time is a bakery. A smal sign above the bakery says ‘baykary’, something I noticed the first day there, yet Greg says he has never seen. Stuff like that interest me, it’s interesting to see another side of a city.
After a while of wandering, we hopped on the ferry from Darling Harbor to Circular Quay. It took us a bit of investigative work (aka walking through different stores looking for ferry tickets) to finally find someone that knew you could buy the tickets on the ferry. The ferry ride was quite nice though, and as it was almost sundown, we got a nice view of the Opera House, bridge and Harbor at that time of day. Back on dry land, we hopped a bus to uni, where Greg picked up his backpack from a friends house. We then got burritos and some desert and headed home for a few movies. It was a real nice last day in the city and I know I will really miss it. While talking Greg said that this is the only city he
has ever been in that he really could stay in. Although I need a bit more green and outdoors myself It is very nice. There is always something to do, something to see and people to meet. The different parts of the city all have distinct cultures and vibes and the mix of travelers, tourists and locals keep it ever changing. It’s a real young city, with young professionals, and students, the bars always full and streets always busy. However, when you need to get away, you can head to Coogee, or Bondi, or even walk the gardens for a change. I only hope that when I am done with New Zealand I can maybe stop in at Sydney again, if I get lucky that is.
Also, tonight marks my last night in Australia. I definitely had some good times here. From when I first arrived and spent a few weeks in the Whitsundays (the palm beach of Australia), to the boat cruise around the Whitsundays, meeting Anna and diving in some gorgeous locations. I remember hanging our and having laughs with Guido, Katarina and Daniele, eating and learning to cook some amazing meals, and most of all the
animals. Lorikeets, cockatoos and other tropical birds, the koala and kangaroos at the different zoos and most of all the dolphins! Who could forget the dolphins, the whole reason I am here. Being in a love hate relationship with the snubfin and humpback ( who I know I will miss), seeing the different activities from play to rest to forage, coming across the dead humpback dolphin calf and then being so close to the humpbacks during whale season. It was such an amazing few months and I know I will remember so much for a long time. However, I have talked to so many people during my stay in Australia, and never have I heard a bad word about New Zealand. I have been dreaming about Orca since I first watched Free Willy, all of those years ago and I cannot WAIT to spend my time working in Whangarei ☺
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