Sydney or The First 24/36/48 Hours

It took investing in a private room for a night for me to sit down and write another post. As I write these lines, I’m in Noosa, Queensland, an upper class touristy town a few hours north of Brisbane. I got here this morning and while I did some exploring as I waited for my room to be ready (I needed a post office and a grocery store anyway), I choose to savour my few hours of solitude to their full extend. The end result is a recap of my first night and day on the Other Side.

I’ve been working on the next post, but as usual, who knows when I’ll find some quiet time again!

* * *

Welcome to the Other Side of the World!

For visual types; Sydney is on the East (right) coast of Australia, between center and South.

For visual types; Sydney is on the East (right) coast of Australia, between center and South.

It had been quite the journey to reach Sydney, but I eventually emerged from customs a little disoriented and very eager for an authentic Australian experience.

How kind of them to put a McDonalds in the international arrivals to lessen cultural shock for us North Americans.

How kind of them to put a McDonalds in the international arrivals to lessen cultural shock for us North Americans.

I didn’t have to look very far, actually. The 17$ price tag on the train into town was a quick introduction. I knew Australia was expensive, but I didn’t occur to me until then just how much.

It seems that at least we’re getting something in return for the payment though. In North America, public transit is usually cheap but dirty, confusing and frustrating. Oh, and the employees tend to range from indifferent to total assholes. In Australia, trains and busses are usually clean, efficient and easy to navigate, staffed with people who range from friendly to super super nice. In return, they only expect you to hand over your lifesavings.

I made it to the hostel easily, thanks to the signs every few steps. I love this about Australia. You’d have to walk around with your eyes closed (or not know how to read, but even then, many signs are assisted by pictograms) to get lost. They say that the US is idiot-proof, but Australia takes idiot proofing to whole new levels.

I was staying at the YHA Railway Square Hostel which is right in Central Station so after the 10 minute train ride, I didn’t even have to leave to find my bed.

The Obligatory First Night Tale

It was as you’d expect. I don’t think it was even jet lag. With jet leg, your body’s just stuck on your home time. After nearly 60 hours of travelling, my body didn’t have a home time to be stuck on. I had no idea what time it. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and when I woke up refreshed, I was ready to start my day!

Except for that all my roomates were sound asleep. I peaked out the window to get an idea of the time, but since my room was adjaced to platform 7, all I could see were artificial lighting a few people waiting for their ride.

It wasn’t until I made my way through the empty hallways (man, people are sure sleeping in!) to the clocks-in-all-timezones wall in reception that I found out the time: 2 am. Dammit. It’s gonna to be a long one.

I explored the hostel, read a bunch of brochures, skimmed through my book and attempted some phone games (YHAs never have free internet, but if I stuck my arm out the window, I could get some of platform 7s reception). I must have dosed off a little bit too. Eventually, the clock moved forward to an appropriate getting up time and I left the hostel in search of food.

Sydney: Exotic Mystery City

By the time I got outside, I was pretty hungry so I went to where I knew I’d find food along with free wi-fi: back to Central Station.

On my way there, I had my first Australian wildlife encounter! A large bird with the strangest beak I’d ever seen. It was all long, skinny and curved. I gaped at the creature, wondering in awe how people could just walk by and not notice it. Not wanting to act like a silly tourist on my first day, I didn’t grab my camera, but I did take a photo of one later on as we fought over my lunch.

Presenting the ibis. They prefer to be in the shade (just like pretty much every other non-tree living being in Australia) so it's tough to get a good photo of them using your phone.

Presenting the ibis. They prefer to be in the shade (just like pretty much every other non-tree living being in Australia) so it’s tough to get a good photo of them using your phone.

From Central Station, I ate a bit, I called Ed to tell him of my adventures thus far, then I wandered out to explore the lovely streets of Sydney.

I didn’t have much time here so I had to be efficient:

THE HARBOUR AND THE OPERAHOUSE!!!!

THE HARBOUR AND THE OPERAHOUSE!!!!

While my cloudy picture of the harbour doesn’t make it look special, I can see why people flock here from all over the world. As far as harbours go, Sydney’s is really, really nice. The view is nice, the shops are nice, the overpriced restaurants are nice and the seagulls stealing people’s lunches are most entertaining. (Or rather, the surprised victims of hungry seagulls are most entertaining. Kinda felt bad for them a little bit though. The stolen hot dogs were probably worth 20$.)

Same harbour, different angle.

Same harbour, different angle.

I stopped for lunch at one of the many harbour restaurants called The Opera House Cafe. Had some overpriced but quite delicious oysters (20$ for 6) and some equally overpriced but delicious fries (10$).

I made it up to the opera house itself just to say I was there. Didn’t go to a show but I might consider it if I go through Sydney again. I’ll have to work very hard when I come home to pay for it, but how often would I get to go to the opera at THE opera house?

Murphy's law of travel: you will always visit famous monuments during their maintenance.

Murphy’s law of travel: you will always visit famous monuments during their maintenance.

After getting a few shots, I continued on to the one thing I usually visit if I only have one day and a tiny budget: the botanic gardens.

Canada 2 and Australia 1 061

Sydney’s gardens gave me the same impression as Sydney itself: majestic, impeccable, exotic and still. Perhaps I just didn’t spend enough time in the city, or I visited on a bad day, but it felt like the few people I came across were tourists like me. I’ll get into it deeper in another post, but later on I would notice a huge contrast with Melbourne’s botanic gardens that were less of a picturesque tourist attraction and more of a lively picnic spot for local families.

Wrapping Up Day 1

I explored the gardens until my feet bled (the succulent garden, in particular had my interest. I love looking at cacti!) and the sun began to set. Too cheap to use public transit, I limped down the main street toward my hostel. I stopped for the worst ramen ever. (I forgot the name of the place, but if you come across an empty chain ramen shop downtown, don’t eat there. Go to the busy ramen place a block down the road. I didn’t eat at that one, but it has to be better. The empty place served one giant noodle – the noodles had all stuck together – and burned my broth.)

The next day was the start of surf camp! Not wanting to oversleep and miss the bus, I crawled into bed and passed out the second I got home. Who cares if it’s 6pm.

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2 Responses to Sydney or The First 24/36/48 Hours

  1. grimmtooth says:

    Your impression of the people of Sydney jibes with mine. Everyone I met there was friendly! I even met up with a group of D&Ders and hung out with them for a weekend’s afternoon gaming session. Of all the places overseas I’ve visited, Sydney stands out as one of the most welcoming to us Yanks.

    You appear to be headed in the general direction of Darwin. It was a moderately sized place with a real small-town flair to it when I visited. If you visit, it’ll be interesting to see if you pick up the same vibe. Second-favorite Australian city, there. 🙂

    • Ophelie says:

      I didn’t really get enough time there to really talk to people, unfortunately. Every time I’m in Sydney, it’s a quick stop. Hoping to squeeze in a few days around the holidays to really experience the city!

      I won’t make it to Darwin on this leg, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to come back. I really want to take the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide, with a stop in Alice Springs.

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