It’s a Christmas miracle! All my Australia posts at once and I even promise to have the USA/Canada posts up in the New Year too so how about that. And now on with the story.
My flight to Sydney was at 7am which obviously meant getting up at hideous o’clock to catch the shuttle to the airport so the night before I got my bags all ready, set my alarm and snuggled down into bed at about 7pm. A couple of minutes before my alarm was due to go off I got up having not slept a wink all night, got my things together and headed off to catch the shuttle to the airport. My usual paranoia seemed to have tripled and in making sure I didn’t get there too late and miss my flight I ended up having to sit around in the entrance for about an hour before I could check in but I eventually got checked in, had breakfast, met the guy below and then had second breakfast (well when in Middle Earth…) and got on the plane.
The flight was about 3 hours, positively short compared to my two flights out to New Zealand and I had a brief nap after being serenaded to sleep by Bon Jovi (sadly only on my little TV not actually in the plane with me) but soon enough I was landing in Sydney. After dropping my bags off at the hostel I headed into the sunshine and found myself down by the harbour and the Botanic Gardens. I spent quite a lot of time there over the week wandering or lying in the sun reading and just generally being wary of the giant birds that were everywhere (ugly fellows but more on them in another post).
On one of my days in Sydney I went down to Darling Harbour and came across the Chinese Garden Friendship which was a lovely place to spend an hour or so and have a bite to eat. It was quite a strange place in that it was really peaceful and tranquil and Chinese but it was surrounded by skyscrapers and signs of the city.
From there I carried on to where I’d been planning on going, the Australian National Maritime Museum. It was a really interesting place even though I didn’t actually end up seeing anything in the museum itself because as well as the main building they also have a number of historic vessels moored in the harbour that you can wander round and it was on these that I spent my time. First up was a replica of HMB Endeavour, the ship James Cook discovered New Zealand and Australia in during the second half of the 18th Century.
Next up it was onto HMAS Vampire, Australia’s last big gun ship which was in use in the Australian Navy from 1959 to 1986.
And from there it was onto HMAS Onlsow, a submarine, which was decommissioned in 1999 and which you can also see in the photo above.
At some point while I was wandering round these I started following this British family with a couple of teenage kids and I think more than one of the volunteer guides thought I was one of their kids as well. We did share a few awkward glances but no-one addressed the fact that I’d briefly joined their family, and then at the end we parted ways and I never saw them again.
The other thing that needs to be mentioned about Darling Harbour is a restaurant called Pancakes on the Rocks which, as you may have guessed, serves pancakes and crepes and things like that. They do also serve savoury meals but who cares about them when you can have something like this?
This was called ‘The Ultimate’ and was so incredibly yummy but so sweet and filling that I couldn’t actually finish it even though it doesn’t actually look like that much. It was two crepes full of cream cheese and sultanas with berry sauce and ice-cream and I am now craving it again.
One of my daily wanderings led me to The Rocks which is down by the Harbour Bridge and is the oldest part of Sydney. It was a lovely place to wander round with its’ old buildings and narrow streets and every weekend they have a huge market there which I came across. I love looking round markets like that and could have easily come away with all sorts of things but I restrained myself. One of the things I nearly almost bought was a painting. I came across this artist who was doing these spray paint paintings and it was so cleverly done and they were really good. He’d start out with a blank page and just create it and it would look like random colours to begin with but by the time he’d finished, and it didn’t take long, it would be this wonderful fantasyesque picture. Being un-arty myself it’s hard to explain but if you search on YouTube for spray paint art you can see people doing it and see what I mean. But sadly I didn’t get one as I wasn’t sure if it would survive the trip home.
I stayed in a lovely hostel which was nice and convenient for all the sightseeing and had a very tasty café connected to it. The kitchens/common areas floor had lots of random little nooks for sitting and chilling/hiding in. And yes I did need to hide sometimes because there were quite a few groups of high school kids on trips staying there throughout the time I was there and unfortunately the kids always seemed to be hyped up and running around and screaming but apart from that it was nice.
This isn’t the last of Sydney but for now it’s time to move on and from Sydney I decided to head up the coast for a bit spending a few days each at Newcastle and Byron Bay. It was during this week that I came to the conclusion that, as I suspected, I’m not really a beachy sort of person. Both places were nice but nothing special and I was perfectly happy to move on from them both.