. It was a hot day, the sun was shining and we stopped for a bit of food to fuel us for our walking. Once again it became apparent to us how expensive Oz was going to be, we weren’t expecting dinner for GBP 4 or a room for GBP 8 a night like Thailand but Australia is expensive, really expensive...more expensive than the UK that’s for sure, a can of coke is over GBP 2 for starters! After a bite to eat, we started walking towards the botanical gardens, the streets seemed pretty quiet, people wandering about and enjoying the weather and the weekend. We made it to the gardens which is a beautiful place to wander about, with native plants, trees, flowers and birds, all things that we have become really interested since we started our travels and after wandering around the built up cities, sometimes we are just in need to be surrounded by the calm of nature. As we wandered around stopping to look at the variety of plants, we saw the signs for the Sydney Opera House and made our way to what must be (along with the Harbour Bridge) the most iconic landmark in the city. When the Opera House came into our sights, the clouds had come out which seemed to dull the impact that I think it would have had on us in the sunlight, it was not as impressive as we had expected but maybe that’s due to seeing too many great photo’s of it on bright sunny days with blue skies and blazing sunshine. Nevertheless, it was still great to see and a good 'I’ve been there’ photo opportunity. We stood and watched the figures of people climbing the Harbour bridge until the heavens opened and everyone ran for cover.
By then, we were ready for a spot of dinner so wandered into one of the many restaurants near the harbour, that’s when we first started to notice how fast food seemed to be a real big deal in Sydney. Not that there is McDonalds or Burger Kings everywhere but places disguised as restaurants serving fast, unhealthy food and massive portions of it at that, another thing that we weren’t expecting; I didn’t think it would be so hard to find a salad and I didn’t think we would see so many BIG people
! So our first day in Sydney was a real mixture for us, our expectations of Australia were so high as it is portrayed in the UK as the place to be for a better life, so far we couldn’t see what all the fuss was about but we were jet lagged, it had only been one day, it was raining and we still had our hearts in Asia...a good sleep and we hoped everything would look different.
The next day, we took a walk to Darling Harbour, this was a walk across the city and a great place full of shops, restaurants, Imax cinema, Wildlife park, Aquarium....a nice place to relax and watch the world go by or take in one of the many attractions. We had seen that near Hyde Park (it’s so weird to see Hyde Park, Newcastle, Liverpool etc) which was back towards the King Cross area, the yearly Sydney festival was taking place, we had realised this as when we had walked home the night previous, on big balconies of a very quiet street, lots of people had been playing huge percussion instruments in the dark and rain, that definitely made the walk home less boring and was a bit of a shock on such a quiet street! We decided to have something to eat at Darling Harbour before walking back to check out the rest of the festival which would continue that evening. We were getting used to the fact that Oz would be more expensive by now so had decided to cut down to maybe one main meal a day and snacks to keep us going, not very healthy I know but needs must! We wandered back over to Hyde Park to a hive of activity, lots of people, live soul music, dance music being played to a big screen showing black and white movies and all for free. We took in the great atmosphere along with a beer and really enjoyed ourselves, we particularly enjoyed sitting on the grass watching the dj mix music whilst showing old movie clips, we stayed for a few hours and realised how nice it was to be outside on an evening feeling warm and relaxed with entertainment thrown in too, not many evenings like that can be enjoyed in the UK climate
. We walked home back to Chilli Blue our hostel and spent another night sleeping badly in the hot stuffy room, walking through King Cross is quite an experience, it seems to be a great place for young people to go for nights out but there are lots of weirdo’s wandering about too and it’s pretty normal to see people drinking a pint at 10am and people begging from you when you’re trying to eat your dinner. It’s not so much an unnerving place to be more just a bit grotty in parts but for younger people I can see it’s probably lots of fun.
The next day, we had lots of research and jobs to do, we had already booked Greyhound tickets up the East coast before we started our trip but with all the flash flooding, we were starting to wonder if it was a good idea or even possible to use them. We made our way to central station and the Greyhound offices, they advised us to take our time from Sydney to Brisbane and wait and see about Brisbane to Cairns, it didn’t sound great but we’d just play it by ear. Whilst we were there, we decided to visit the areas of Glebe and Leichardt that we had read up about in the free Sydney guide from the airport, apparently Glebe is a ‘village’ like area with small restaurants and shops and Leichardt is the ‘Little Italy’ of Sydney. We walked and walked and eventually found Glebe after wandering down a few dodgy looking streets, the area was small and pretty nice but nothing really to wow us apart from a few cafes, restaurants and hippy shops
. We carried on making our way towards Leichardt, following the map until we felt that we were walking down streets that we wouldn’t want to walk back down when it was dark, they were very quiet and uninviting so we turned around, we visited Leichardt a few days later when we hire a car and were glad that we hadn’t made the effort, it really wasn’t worth it. Apart from the Harbour areas and city centre of Sydney, a lot of it to us looked quite run down, like the suburb areas of a not so wealthy American state, I don’t know whether our expectations were just too high or if it’s because people come here for the beautiful beaches which we hadn’t made our way to yet but Australia seemed to be disappointing us again and again.
The next day we left our hostel, yippee! We had booked a few days in a hotel on Devere street walking distance away, about GBP 10 a night more than the hostel but it was clean, we had our own bathroom and a fridge and kettle, it wasn’t the Ritz but it was just what we needed. We had been doing a lot of thinking about what to do over the next 5 weeks that we had left in Oz, watching the news, the flash flooding had gotten even worse and now Brisbane was affected. The news was devastating to watch, people were being evicted from their homes, their houses, possessions and lives being left in natures destructive hands
. It would be dangerous for us to even travel to Brisbane now so we decided to change our plans and get a refund on our tickets. We had also decided to take a little road trip to Melbourne via Canberra and then back to Sydney via the coast road. Maybe Sydney just wasn’t for us or perhaps it wasn’t what we were looking for on this trip but we still wanted to explore other parts of Oz with an open mind. We booked a car to hire for 10 days and spent an afternoon picking a few places to stay and booking hostels and hotels ready for our road trip in a few days time, we couldn’t wait to get out on the open road to explore. We had also decided to cut our visit to Australia short, it was costing us a lot of money ($28 to park the car for 2hrs!) and we weren’t falling in love with the country so far, perhaps it was a wrong decision to travel to Australia after Asia and we should have done the trip the other way around, everything just seemed so ‘normal’ here and we were struggling to find the experiences that we were looking for, we were struggling to find anything to wow us. We changed our flights to spend about 3 weeks in Australia in all, still enough time to see some different parts of the country but not so long that we will be wishing our time away. We have decided instead to lengthen our trip to the US and see L.A, Sanfransisco and New York....NEW YORK!!!!!! Late that afternoon, I went back to the hotel and left Rob to visit the Maritime museum and Submarine at Darling Harbour, he really enjoyed himself and was in his element wandering around the historical museum and reading the war stories, I on the other hand had a lazy afternoon and watched TV
The next day we went to the Wildlife Park back at Darling Harbour again, the park was a great place full of insects and animals of Australia, we first wandered around the insect and spider exhibits, the spiders really scared me and I could barely look at some of them, we then went through the snake exhibition and saw some of the most deadliest snakes in the world, this time it was Rob that was a little unnerved! After that we made our way up to the roof to the Koalas, they were amazing, the cutest animals we’d ever seen, all sleepily gripping on to the tree branches, we couldn’t resist paying to go and see them up close for a photo. We were allowed in to go in and see the Koalas, there were about 5 in all and each day you are allowed to stroke a different one. We first had a photo with Sid who decided to wake up and make a groaning noise which is apparently to show that he is the dominant one. Koalas spend most of their day sleeping as their diet of eucalyptus leaves is so low in calories and they use most of the calories digesting the leaves so they have no energy to do anything but sleep so we were lucky to see Sid waking up for a quick nibble. We then were allowed to stroke one of the other Koalas and have more photos, they are fantastic animals and you can’t help but fall in love with them, I wish one of them could be my souvenir from Oz! After that, we saw other indigenous animals to Australia, Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wombats, Kookaburras and lots of others, really interesting and so wonderful to see. We had really enjoyed our day and were glad that we had spent the money, even if it meant we couldn’t eat for the whole day (joking!).
The next day we were leaving Sydney for our road trip, we can’t say that we were sad to leave although we would be back in a week or so.
Let the adventure continue.....
We took the 8 hour fight from Singapore to Sydney and carried with us great memories and experiences of the last few months and with hopes to make many more in the coming months. We landed in Sydney after what seemed to be quite a comfortable flight that had gone quicker than we expected, it was already evening in Oz so we made our way by train to our destination in the Kings Cross area and to our hostel for the beginning of the next part of our adventures. In comparison to the price and standard of hostels we had been staying in in Asia, we quickly realised were getting very little for our money, the room was hot, stuffy and smelled like teenage boys had been rotting in there, the shared bathrooms we don't mind but you’d think people had learnt to flush the toilet by now? Anyway, we got as much sleep as we could that night, our body clocks were a bit messed up but we slept, we slept until 2.30 in the afternoon! After getting ourselves ready and out of our room, we set out to explore, we decided to start walking towards the botanical gardens that should lead us through to the Sydney Opera House