23.02.2016 - 29.02.2016
It's a 14 hour flight from Santiago to Sydney. It sounds like it could be horrendous but I felt like the time flew by (pun only partially intended), partly due to flying with Quantas.
I'm not sure whether my visit to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights the previous day had affected me, but I watched an excellent but pretty serious collection of films - Suffragette, Straight Outta Compton and Pitch Perfect 2. Each to their own struggle for justice, equality, and opportunity.
The flight to Sydney arrived later than planned but eventually I got to my hostel in Kings Cross. I had booked my hostel rather last minute so many of the most popular hostels were full. Some people on the shuttle bus cringed when I said where I was staying as apparently the area has a reputation, not unlike the reputation of old of Kings Cross in London. However, this was a reasonably priced hostel, near a station, with plenty of backpackers around. I really felt safe there.
It's amazing how many people asked me where I had stopped from Santiago to Sydney. I referred them all to google maps. If you just looked it up, you'll see that there isn't a whole lot between the two cities, and ocean doesn't often make a good stop off point.
Anyway, I made friends with some girls at breakfast and we ended up spending the next few days together. Two Canadians, an American and a fellow Brit just hanging around Sydney. We started with the free walking tour which is always a good way to get acquainted with a city. This was my first glimpse of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
That afternoon, despite the fairly intense heat, I decided to wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens and back to the hostel. As I was in Sydney, being all shiny and modern and the most London like city I'd been in in 6 months, so it was an enjoyable refuge from the towering CBD.
The next day we visited Manly Beach, heading over on the ferry to a beautiful beach. Now I'm not normally one to ogle, but I must say Manly Beach contained the highest concentration of highly attractive human beings I have ever seen. Maybe it's because everyone was simply having a great day, happiness and beauty are fairly closely related I reckon.
That afternoon I tried to meet up with Sean and Lizzie from my Peru tour. I did not have an Australian SIM card at this point, which meant our meeting was not as smooth as it could've been. What do I mean by this? I mean I ended up sitting in McDonalds, buying a Coke I didn't want as I felt like I ought to get something in exchange for using their free wifi. Maybe the only free working wifi in Sydney.
I did eventually find them, although it looked unlikely, after a public Facebook plea for help! And it was lovely! Meeting people is one of the great things about travelling and it's a rare treat to be able to reconnect with those people, on the other side of the world, so soon after you've met them.
The next day, the girls from the hostel and I went to the famous Bondi beach. I was expecting a bigger beach...we didn't go on the nicest day, so it was pretty empty, but imagine it's beaut on s good day. We were going to do the Bondi to Coogee walk, but got distracted by some pretty badass waves and a rock pool. For some reason I wasn't up for getting right up amongst the waves, so I shivered from the side, but very much enjoyed the looks of surprise, horror, then joy on everyone's faces every single time a wave broke.
The next day, we bid adieu to our Canadian friends and so the three of us spent a delightful morning and afternoon wandering around Sydney markets, eating good food and listening to live music. Instead of doing the Climb over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is extortionate, we went up one of the towers, and had amazing views from there.
On Sunday's, all travel maxes out at $2.50, including the train to the blue mountains. So two of us made our way, and purchased the hop on hop off bus ticket for the key sights.
I'd say Sydney grew on me as I got used to being in Australia. Travelling here is different, I met more Brits on my first day in Sydney than I had in 4 months in South America, that was a bit of a shock to the system! People were living in the hostel. As in they'd been there a month already. Now I know it's cheaper than a flat, which can also be tricky when you don't have job security, but really I do wish the hostel had separated those living there more long term from the short stayers. People had there stuff spread so widely I had to move their 'wardrobe' to access a locker. One lad was a little upset by this, you know as I was invading his space...in a public hostel.
Anyway, I met fun people, I liked the city, and I felt ready to move on to the next stop on my Aussie adventure in the Red Centre, which was absolutely nothing like Sydney.