Category Archives: Sydney

Just one more week

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I’ve only got one more week in Sydney — one more week!

To make the most of it, I figure I better get out there and see everything I previously thought I’d have heaps of time to do. This includes visiting new neighborhoods, shopping for souvenirs and going to as many gigs as monetarily possible.

What I love about Sydney, it should be noted, is its endless dedication to free entertainment. There have been events all month for the Chinese New Year, and Saturday I finally made it down to Darling Harbour to watch the dragon boat races. It’s a serious rowing sport, and teams ranged from senior citizen clubs to school teams. Even better, the $60 Bondi Lifesaving Club sweatshirt I wanted was on sale for $20 in Darling Harbour. Looks like the year of the Rat will be a lucky one!

Sunday brought Sydney the annual Tropfest — billed as the world’s largest short film festival in the world. Some 150,000 people participate in every state capital around Australia, and the judging panel this year included Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts. It’s all free (take that Tribeca), and it’s a fantastic day. Karen and I bought picnic stuffs from Woolie’s and set up our feast in the park. We spent the day lounging around, eating, drinking and watching 16 extraordinary short films about murder, mouse racing, young love, sharks and more. In the end, Marry Me, a short film about what we do for love, even when we’re young, won the big prize: a trip to LA to meet with industry big-wigs. Karen and I also made a date — Tropfest NY will be held October 11 in Battery Park.

On tap this week; making the most out of Sydney:

Souvenir shopping at Paddy’s Market

The Essential Tour of the Opera House

Pubs and markets in Balmain (a cool nabe in the North)

A gala dinner with Briyah Tues night

Rocky Horror Picture show opening night

Dan Deacon at the Oxford Arts Factory

Pics and more (VDay, Tropfest, etc.) on Flickr.com/photos/sillyrobin 

So Long, Farewell, Auf…nope, not trying that one.

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Mick, my BBQ host Sunday!

Well, Nomalita is off on her next adventure, leaving Daniel and I once again in the throes of public transportation.

Sydney was a welcome homecoming. Briyah and the other housemates welcomed me back to 30 Great Buckingham with open arms, and once again am I blessed with a room, a couch, a full-on kitchen and unlimited internet.

But it has been a week of goodbyes. Daniel and I bid farewell to the van on a gloomy Wednesday, now one week ago. I bid farewell to Daniel Sunday, only a few days later. He was off to the Sapphire Coast to spend a week at the beach, while I’d be staying in Sydney soaking up the city life. I never thought it was possible, but I have reached my beach saturation point. Though the exceptional beaches of Sydney are minutes away, I’m perfectly content to hit the rooftop pool (compliments of Briyah’s former housemate’s former apartment key, if you can grasp that), lounge in the park and wander the streets. I washed the sand out of my bag, people. I washed the sand out!

So Sydney. Our first night back was spent at Daniel’s friend Fabrice’s in Darlinghurst. We stayed up late playing Texas Hold ‘Em, and I lost — badly. Fortunately it was just with chips, unfortunately I apparently still cannot play poker.

By Thursday, I was truly in “city” mode once more. Briyah and I went to the Opera House to see a caberet show starring the indefatiguable Camille O’Sullivan. A veteran of the infamous Spiegeltent and a chanteuse truly in her own category. Friday I was out on the town in Paddington, Saturday at the movies with my housemate, Sunday at an apt. BBQ in Annandale and Tuesday out to dinner and to see a gig at The Annandale Hotel. (Sidenote: The Annandale was grimy, dirty and smelled like 3-day old fermented puke — I loved it.)

I have a coffee lesson Saturday at a small cafe, and various dinners, events and galas until I leave for Ayers Rock Feb. 26.

Here’s the calendar, as well. Everyone keeps asking me what I’m doing the rest of my time here!

Feb. 13 – Feb. 26: Sydney

Feb. 26 – March 1: Alice Springs/Uluru

March 1 – March 7: Melbourne

March 7 – March 16: Austin, TX, for SXSW

March 16 – ?: NY

“Living” in Sydney

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Hanging at home with my Sydney roomies. Meet Magnus and Natalie! (Again. I met them way back when during Surry Hills festival!)

Yes, I admit it, I’ve been a bit MIA these past two weeks.

In fact,  when I arrived in Sydney, and especially my current home in Surry Hills, I expected I’d be posting more often, not less. After all, I had unlimited internet access. Could I ask for more?

But after a few days I found I actually felt as if I was living in Sydney. I found a job at a travel agency, acquired my own room and six lovely housemates and set about making plans with my friends in Sydney. I was no longer a backpacker — I met up for drinks with Kiwi Daniel and Karen, both serious Sydney-siders by now, and went to shows and dinners with Briyah, my friend and new housemate. I haven’t met anyone new, other than friends of friends. It’s as if I’d moved here; making a life with the people I know, creating work opportunities and spending, yes, countless hours on the Internet checking gossip columns. Just like home, right?

So what would I write about on my travel blog? I suppose I could have documented my grocery shopping trips, my nights spent chilling at home with my new roommates, my beautiful morning kayaking on Sydney Harbor, my double feature at the movies (Enchanted, Darjeeling Limited – both great!), but it felt to me like that wasn’t necessarily travel — it was living.  Which, you know, is kind of boring! Excpet not, because I’m in Sydney going to the beach while I should be working at home. Yeah, I know, I should have blogged. Anyway!

But New Years, New Years, well, that’s far from boring. Right? Especially if it’s spent partying on Bondi Beach. For basically as long as I’ve had this trip planned, I’ve wanted to go to Bondi to see Groove Armada for New Year’s Eve. Tickets were sold out, so I checked Ebay, Craigslist and the Aussie Craigslist, Gumtree. Over $200, all of them. In Cairns, I almost bought a ticket from Scottish Louie for $200, but held out. And finally, after all that and all other plans falling through, I bought a ticket for $150 at 1 p.m. New Year’s Eve. Amazing! I met up with Reaghan and Chris, my lovely Boston friends (thanks J!) and we watched the 9 p.m. fireworks, hitched a ride to Bondi and proceeded to have a ridiculous night. Then I lost Chris, lost Reaghan and made it home on my own by 3 a.m. A night I’ll never forget…well, from what I can remember 😉

And now, my dear readers, the drought is over — my brother Jeff, his girlfriend Crystal and I will be hopping in the World Nomads ambassador van January 7, and I will be blogging my little bum off on a very regular basis for a full month. First stop Melbourne!

The one and only: Bondi Beach

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It amazes me that some travelers do not read the paper. I understand if you’re in a foreign-language speaking country and you literally cannot understand the paper, but if you’re English-speaking, then: hello!?! Of course you read the paper. So, I knew, though many others did not, that Thursday would be the perfect day to go to the beach. Some others went on windy Monday, or chilly Tuesday, but I waited ’til the red hit 80 degrees Thursday, and I was off.

Gorgeous beach; beautiful, blue-green clear water; soft white sand; little red-roofed houses dotting the hillside — I cannot believe this exists right outside a huge metropolis. It’s unbelievable. I can see why people never leave.

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Urban Jungle: ART

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There’s a festival going on in Sydney right now called “Art and About.” Basically, the whole city has turned into one big art installation, and it’s fantastic. There are art bulletins on the lampposts all over the city, temporary art spaces hidden in little laneways, bars with live music and Djs that magically open and appear in other little laneways (Bulletin Bar, below), and a huge “Sydney Life” exhibit featuring huge canvas photos all down the middle of Hyde Park. My favorite is “Tree,” what our cities are in danger of becoming.

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The portraits at night. 

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Bulletin Bar at night. Part of the “Live Lanes” exhibit. 

I <3 Sydney

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It’s surreal. Sitting on my bed here at Base Backpackers on Kent Street. Surrounded by my 6 roommates, all moving about, whispering in various languages about their plans for the day. It’s still dark in here at 11 a.m. — after all, it’s still a Sunday.

For a taste:

Jennie: Sydneysider pictured earlier; sleeps to my right; loves to put toy snakes in my bed.
Karen: Irish lass who sleeps to my left; cannot decide where and when she wants to travel. But, we think we’ve got it down: January, to Western and Northern Australia. Woohoo!
Alex (I think) and Robert: New Swedes who popped in yesterday. My first non-Commonwealth roomies, yay!
Alice: Shy Asian girl up to the right; I don’t know where she’s from. Haven’t talked to her much, but seems nice. Took a liking to Karen.
Alex:
Over in front of me, by the door; pretty girl who texts a lot and likes clubbing — perhaps this is why we haven’t said more than, “Hey.” English accent….don’t know much more than that.

It’s funny, remembering how it felt to walk into this place with Tarina. We looked at each other, basically freaked out about being “alone” and went out with our tour-mates. The thing is, you are never alone here. Never, never, never! Actually, this will probably, at some point, get quite annoying. But for now, it’s great. There are always new friends coming to stay, it’s almost like a game. Every day Jennie will come home from work and go, “Did we get anyone new!?”

Of course the hostel has got nights planned every day of the week, so it’s easy to meet people there in the bar next door, or even down at breakfast. I’ve met Nathan, Jen, Daniel, Nick, Paul, Brian, Cass, Lara, etc. etc. etc. just “having a wander” or a bite around here.

So, I’m sure everyone wants to know, what have you been DOING in Sydney???

Don’t worry folks, I’ve been a good little tourist. I have:

—Walked across the Harbour Bridge (with Brit Tom)
—Been inside the Opera House (with Briyah for a function)
—Gone to exhibits at the Library of New South Wales, NSW Parliament, Hyde Park and the Barracks Museum. (With Karen.)
—Gone for a long run along the harbour in the Botanical Gardens. Gorgeous.
—Seen Joel Madden DJ a club. (With Steve, thanks Em!)
—Attended a day-long music festival in Surry Hills. (With, uh, everyone! Felt like I was at Lolla again!! Fabulous)
—Sat in a café for three hours on just one mocha latte.
—Wandered around the Queen Victoria Building (a huge mall in the center of town, across from my hostel). While inside, attempted to weigh myself on a scale in the bathroom department. No dice — it said I was 22 KG (40 lbs). SIGH.
—Jumped in the waves at Bondi Beach. (Did NOT get sunburned, woohoo!)

All in all, it’s been amazing. I love this city, and have already booked my entire trip out of here because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t leave. Already I’m getting yelled at for missing another big music festival next weekend.

So I’m off, because I have to go, otherwise I never will. Monday and Tuesday I’ll be up in the Blue Mountains (at a gorgeous 5 star YHA hostel, I can’t wait to show you guys), Wednesday back here, then Thursday I’m off to surf camp, then Byron Bay and up, up, up.

I’ve already booked a 3-day camping trip (you sleep on the beach!) in Fraser Island, a sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands, a four-day scuba course at the idyllic Magnetic Island and a rainforest jaunt up to Cape Tribulation. It sounds like a dream, and I’m sure it pretty much will be.

Now I’m off to book my flight back down to Sydney from Cairns, so I’ll be ready and waiting for my dad to get here so we can do NZ! Even as I’m writing this, it barely seems real. Who gets to do this stuff all at once, really? It’s amazing how many Europeans are here versus Americans. As a people, we really just don’t travel. I think it’s really sad. It’s totally normal to do a career break and go backpacking for the rest of the world. Everyone is in their mid-20s, I’ve even met a few early 30s travelers. It just seems crazy to me that more Americans don’t do it.

Anyway, it’s amazing to be able to just live life doing only what you want to be doing, only focusing on making yourself happy. It’s liberating. No work, no responsibilities, just fun all the time. I highly recommend it 🙂