Sydney…New Year’s And Beyond

After a very long drive from Melbourne, we finally arrived in Sydney at about 4pm. It was all a bit of a manic rush as we only had half an hour until our hire car was due to be dropped off. We parked in an alleyway, chucked our stuff out of the car and me, Vicky and Rosa watched as Matt and Rachel sped off in search of Thrifty Car Rental. Rosa went off to find her hostel and Vicky and I went to check in to our’s, the lovely Wake Up, and soon enough we were all settled in our 4 bed dorm, ready and waiting for fun times in Sydney!

That evening we met up with Vicky’s friend Matt (a different Matt, she met him on a project in Madagascar… I’ll call him Mad Matt), who’s living and working in Sydney for the next 6 months, and he took us to Chinatown to get some dinner before heading back to the hostel for a few drinks in their own ‘Side Bar’ before bed…it had been a long day!

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The next day, our first full day in Sydney, and New Years Eve, started early, as we met up with Matt’s (original Matt, Vicky’s boyfriend…I’ll call him Matt 1) friend Tom who’s travelling and has been in Sydney for a few weeks already. He took us on a tour of the city, showing us Darling Harbour, The Rocks, Circular Quay and Harbour Bridge. We walked all the way across the bridge and then all the way back again, before going across the city and back to our hostel. After a few hours just chilling we met up with Mad Matt again, got some food from the supermarket and headed out to Millers Point (right next to Harbour Bridge), where we had tickets to a NYE event, Barangaroo. We found a spot for our group, settled down with our picnic and awaited 2012. And the fireworks were definitely worth the wait. It was maybe the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen…absolutely incredible. And we had one of the best views going. It was an excellent way to spend New Years, and a great start to our stay in Sydney.

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New Years Day was spent doing pretty much nothing, except for paying a lot to use the hostel computers, sorting all our visa forms (Rosa and I have our visa interview at the US Embassy next week so that we can work at camp again this summer), and booking ourselves into various hostels up the coast.

The next day, however, we were up and raring to go fairly early and soon enough we were on the ferry to Manly, a packed yet gorgeous little beach town about half an hour’s ferry ride away from the city. We lay on the beach for a while before two of our friends from camp, Bulmer and Jen, and Bulmer’s friend Scott turned up to meet us. It was awesome to see them and to catch up, reminiscing and getting all the gossip from camp that we didn’t hear at the time! It was an awesome day spent at the beach, but soon enough it was time to go back to the city and grab some food for dinner. Unfortunately Rachel and I didn’t have the foresight to check if our hostel had an oven before we decided to buy a pizza, so we found ourselves wandering the streets at about 10pm in search of some food. McDonald’s found, and a slight panic about ‘losing’ Vicky over, we devoured our dinner and headed to bed.

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On our fourth full day in Sydney we decided to head to the famous Botanical Gardens, which are definitely renowned for a reason…it was absolutely beautiful. The sun was out, the flowers were in bloom, the bats were sleeping (seriously, there are hundreds of them around the gardens, all hanging upside down from the trees), and we even got to be part of (well ok, watch from a distance) a wedding that was happening on the lawns in front of the Harbour Bridge. After pounding around for a few hours, we went for a wander around before heading over to the Sydney Opera House and getting that classic photograph standing in front of it! To be honest I wasn’t really all that impressed…while it is big and stunning when it catches the light, the building is also petty dirty and not really all that (in my opinion anyway). After this it was a long walk back to our hostel, where soon enough we found ourselves in the downstairs bar doing their weekly quiz. Unfortunately we didn’t win (although we did climb our way from last place to 3rd), but it did give us a chance to catch up with our lovely friend Shannon from SE Asia who is also currently living in Sydney.

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Yesterday it was time for another outing, and so it was off to the Sydney Aquarium for some fun times watching all the little (and very big) fish, crabs, jellyfish, dugongs, sting rays and sharks, just to name a few. It was my first experience at an Aquarium, and it was definitely a good one, and one I’ll be repeating soon enough I’m sure! We left the aquarium and headed to Mad Matt’s apartment building to go swimming in the pool and sit in the jacuzzi…ahhh this is the life.

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So here we are. Today. This morning we met up with Rachel’s friend Alicia and she took us to her favourite beach, Bronte beach, just down the coast from the famous Bondi. Its a beautiful place, and even has a bogey hole (a sea-water swimming pool cut naturally from the rocks). After lying there in the burning hot sunshine (and obviously getting a bit burnt in the process) for a couple of hours we figured it was time to head home. After showering and after-sunning to the max we went out to Mad Matt’s apartment for some pizza, free wifi and games.

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More of Sydney to come soon…I’m here for another week so I’m sure there’ll be a lot more tales to tell!

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