September 20, 2007: Sydney!

This is definitely going to be a long one. Sorry its been a few days, everyone knew I was going to sydney and then I got back and had a ton of work to get done so I haven’t had the time to write this all out yet. You should know that the motto of this trip turned out to be “do it all”. Therefore, a lot of additional, random, and unplanned activities took place in an extremely short amount of time. Basically, ryan and I thought we were invincible and that a weeks worth of tourism could be packed into two and a half days.

This is how it went….

We got up early Friday morning and headed to the train station. There was an express train t the airport a little later than we had anticipated to leave but we decided to take it rather than doingthe indirect route. That train was an additional half hour late and we were supposed to fly through the international terminal on the way to sydney. That means you need more time. Well, on our itinerary, enough time was arriving at 8:30 for an 8:55 flight. Let’s just say I was a little “shocked” with the security guard that tried to tell me the plan wasn’t going anywhere (my response being: are you serious? Its going to fly away) and we definitely got our cardio in. Luckily, they were holding the flight because there were a lot of delayed people. It didnt help that I don’t consider deodorant to be a gel or liquid and got stopped because it wasn’t in my regulation ziploc. Mind you, even after opening my bag, I still managed to get through with a larger than regulation bottle of curling spray gel. That says a lot about airport security if you ask. Im thinking, Bush must have made some changes when he flew in for APEC. In anycase, we made it and away we flew. I was really excited when we actually saw the opera house and harbour bridge from the sky. I didnt think we would pass it but, yup, we did. We landed and with our backpacks as our only luggage we hopped on the train to get to our hostel. It’s a good thing our tickets got checked because we sort of went the wrong way. Oops. Its to be expected. However, this extra time in the oppostite direction allowed a contemplation to snow ball into a plan to get to the Blue Mountains that day. It’s a two hour train ride, but as long as we were intensely active when we got there, we could do it all. Plus, since the weekend was going to be so packed, it gave us a little chance to nap and me to study for my nutrition midterm.

Arrival at Blue mountains…the city there is called Katoomba and it was freezing. We hadn’t anticipated being in an environment some 3,000 ft above sea level. We literally ran to this bus station section that had a tour section. We just asked how much we could do in the shortest amount of time. The lady hooked us up with a cab right out side to get us to the scenic walkway asap. We also got a pass that included cable car rides and a ride on the steepest railway car to getus across/up/down the mountains. We saw waterfalls (drank out of one), a coal mining section, some rainforest, the three sisters, and a lot of mountainous region all in less than an hour because the park was closing. We had an awesome local cab driver that got us there and when we asked where to watch the sunset he suggested cliff road. So thats where we walked next. Mind you this involved hiking up a very steep road that wrapped around one of the mountains. It was intense and we found the first lookout point, but we still had time and didnt think it was good enough so we kept walking. Then we found a less touristy lookout that went over this cliff. It was pretty awesome and we added our markings to the rocks (I went uke and added a trizoob). When I was done, of course I lost ryan again, and found him on the other side of the fence literally at the edge of the cliff. After yelling at him, I joined him. It was spectacular. We watched the sun come down. We werent exactly on the right side of the sunset but you could see it lowering behind the mountains. Then because time was limited and it was bloody cold we headed back. However, our cab ride was a little deceiving in length and we made the treck back to the train station by foot. It was basically all uphill and took way longer than we thought but it was well worth it because we had been travelling much of the day, we got to see a lot more of katoomba, and we saw some additional killer views. A bite to eat and a coffee later we were back on the train heading back to the city. The trip went quickly since we planned the coming days. We definitely wanted to experience King’s Cross (where we were staying) so to top off the day we found a pub with live music and just chilled. The night life is pretty popular and pretty club like but that was enough for us.

Saturday…..we got up early and scrambled up what we could from the “breakfast included”. We meant to stop to grab a snack pretty early on but that didn’t really end up happening. We started off the walking tour day by heading a bit south in hopes of finding St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in australia. Turns out one of the maps lied and we found st. john’s cathedral instead and got directions from a local. It was alright though because we were able to do the loop we had wanted to and walked up oxford street. Apparently its like the “it” street. There were definitely a lot of shops, but luckily it was pretty early and there was yet to be a dent in our wallets. This brought us up to Hyde Park. It was really nice. There were a lot of random statues and it’s a pretty municipal area, but the park itself was gorgeous. There was a really beautiful fountain as well. So we continued walking an took a longer than intended detour when we found a virgin records store. Back to the actual itinerary we final walked all the way up to the harbour bridge. Turns out you can’t actually walk on the bridge persay but we found were the pedestrian pathway was. It was pretty awesome. It’s a good thing we decided to walk at least halfway across because there was a perfect lookout point and we paid the fee to walk up one of the pillar type things on the bridge. Thats not like the actual bridge climb but we did get to go up for 10 bucks and get the world of difference in view. I honestly think it was one of if not the best thing we spent money on. Thats when we decided to save time by not going out on the point by the opera house on Saturday since it was on sunday’s agenda as well. We got down off the bridge and walked through the rocks, which is where the first aboriginal civilization was. They had these wicked markets that had such a large variety of items and a lot more artisan type vendors. Then we walked through Circular Quay which is more like the harbour area. Finally we made our way up to the Botanic Gardens before we were allowed to find lunch. There is a point up there that we made it to so that we could get the pictures with the bridge and the opera house in the same shot. After getting lost amongst some pretty flowers we managed to get out of the gardens and to the train station. Because we couldnt find a quick place to eat we got on the train and headed out to Bondi Exchange figuring this would be faster than walking to find food. It was indeed. Somehow we found a fairly decent quicky mexican place which is extremely hard to find in these parts. Even though we were super tired, we decided to walk the half hour out to Bondi Beach and then catch the bus back. It was definitely longer than we expected and there was definitely a mirage involved but we made it. I randomly went to this pathway and after joking around about it, we found ourselves on the icebergs. They are actually rocks and somehow we got into the members only club to use the bathroom and take pictures of bondi beach to say we’d seen it. We had our beach stuff packed but it was pretty chilly and we were a little behind schedule. Instead we thought we’d wander around the icebergs and round the corner to see the sun come down. The bus back was an excellent choice and since dark was approaching we headed to the sydney tower. We had considered dinner in the rotating restaurant but it was definitely beyond the budget. Instead we had the brilliant idea of topping off the day with a view above the city at night with all the lights. It was sweet but I will advise that you cannot really see the opera house from there. Going at night was definitely a good choice though because it gave a totally different perspective. We had a little detour on the train ride home meaning we got off thinking we could transfer a stop earlier (my bad) but it was all for a reason since we got off, turned around and there was a view of the harbour with the opera house all lit up. After 12 hours we made it back to the hostel to change and get a recommendation to find a good hearty pasta dinner in “little Italy”. Oh ya and we did see Chinatown in passing but didnt make it a trip because well, I’ve seen chinatowns and it wasnt on our list of things we really wanted to do. Dinner was delicious and although we wanted to, we didnt exactly stay awake long enough to watch the Wallabies play wales in the rugby world cup. Luckily, we won. Finally sleep.

Sunday….got up (only about 15 minutes late) and set out for Olympic Park. We thought we would get there sooner but while close, we had a bunch of transfers and it took us a while to get there. On one of the platforms though I turned around and say a uke church. I wanted to go converse with some of the older members of my ethnic catagory, but it wasn’t in the timetable. We got to the park and at least saw the highlights. You could definitely spend a day just about everyplace we went but here’s what we accomplished…upon arrival there were these pole type things that had all these commemorative stuff on them. They also had all the olympians names and audio recaps. We were able to walk into the entrance of Telstra Stadium. The thing is huge. Next was my favourite part. We walked to the athletic center and at first thought there was no way to even see in. There was actually an area that people were able to see in and take some pictures. Then there was this gate that said no entry…BUT….it was open and non of the cleaning staff spoke English so they just laughed at Ryan and I as we took pictures running around the track. Yes I was on the olympic track in a completely wrong starting position at the finish line fora picture. It was pretty sweet. We walke to the Aquatic Center but its open for public use and the guy had his manager watching him so we would have had to pay to get in. So we saw it, but not really. At this point we had to get back to the city so it was time to leave but I would say some decent highlights were covered. We made it back to the hostel to change and get everything we needed for the rest of the day so we wouldnt have to be any further behind. After which we headed back to the opera house. We had tickets for the symphony. The thing is they apparently lock you out until intermission and while we were going to run there and do pictures and stuff after we weren’t entirely sure we would have made it on time. We also knew that we were not actually going to stay for both halves of the symphony. We wanted the experience but we had other things to fit in and lets face it we planned on getting bored. Having said that, we started rushing down toward the opera house were looking at each other questioning whether or not we’d be on time and then looking at the view saying how badly we wanted to be taking pictures and then I was just like screw it, we’ll flip the plan. So we slowed our pace a bit and did the photos. This plan actually turned out better because we were able to enter the area surrounding the concert hall (the biggest pointy thingy) because we had tickets and there was no one there since they were all in the theatre. It was so cool. I cant even describe it, it was just such a shock that I was actually there. We did see the second half, got in trouble for trying to take pictures inside the hall, the symphony was actually really good, and this old lady let out the most disgusting burp in the middle of a silence. Ryan thought he must have misheard it since I didnt look at him, but I couldnt since I would have burst out laughing. It was so nasty. The best part is that we got a better discount for being under thirty than the concession price. We took the walk around the outside of the opera house and stopped at a couple of shops. We found the sidewalk café Ryan had heard about, and grabbed a coffee which we enjoyed on the harbour as the good evening lighting came in. We said our farewells to the sydney trademark and walked up George street. We got a little bit more shopping in and I finally found a starbucks with australia mugs. While I have not had a starbucks the whole time I’ve been here (shocking I know) I wanted the mug. Perfectly timed we found a kebab place right by our concert venue. We grabbed food and enjoyed it thoroughly while we waited for doors to open. Yes we went to a concert with starbucks mugs. It was a cool venue though and we got a spot behind the mosh area where no one interfered with our space. The concert itself was awesome and there was no better way to top off the weekend. We saw Dopamine (the opening band) and Bayside and Funeral For A Friend. Seriously awesome. We wound down back at the hostel and finally fell asleep.

We got a lift back to the airport early the next morning and even with some fog delays made it back in time for our important classes. The rest of the week has beent spent everyday all day at school. The only time outside of that, literally, has been at a contemporary class that I took this week and an appearance at Zac’s birthday part. I hope all my tests went well and I got a lot of work finished. Tomorrow morning im heading to the other campus to take barre and then meeting up with kathryn and ryan to check out mt coo-tha. There will be more updates soon and tons of picutres since this week is our midsemester break.

If you got this far, congratulations, that was ridiculously long and terribly boring im sure, but the experience was once in a life time.

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