"Don't worry about the world ending today. It's already tomorrow in Australia" ~Charles M. Schulz
This is a long one prepare yourselves!
Day 15: June 5
First day in Sydeny! We get off to an early starting munching on the most delicious croissants ever made as we head into the big city. Our train ride to Sydney was a bit long, around 45-50 minutes because we decided to stay out in a bed and breakfast in the suburbs of Sydney, which was very lovely and the people were beyond nice but in hindsight I would have liked to be closer into the city at a hostel or something. Luckily the trains were pretty nice as well. They were double deckered and had changing seats so you could change which was you were facing depending on which way the train was moving it was terribly exciting (small town girl here). We got off the train at central station and decided to make out way to chinatown. Since we left so early Chinatown wasn't quite open yet, but we did find a very strange Korean store that just going deeper and deeper into the ground. It had everything you could have ever imagined in it. So many knick knacks. It was the strangest thing and you wouldn't have known all of that was in there because the store front just looks like a tiny room. Crazy. Since Chinatown was pretty closed up we decided to head to the Chinese friendship gardens (because we're friends now kinda). On our way though we saw people queuing up for something. I said to be group isn't that the X-factor symbol over there? Turns out everybody it was! Yes, I was on the Australian X-factor.
We wandered over to where everybody was standing and an official lady came up to us and was like "You want to watch? It's only about 10 minutes until we let everyone in" and we were like "of course!" So we que up as well. Turns out it wasn't a 10 minute wait but an hour wait until we actually were seated. Once seated we learned how to make TV. On shows like the X-factor they don't actually record your reactions during each singer. They prerecord everything. Strange, right? Before we saw and acts at all they recorded us doing a golf clap, a that was pretty good clap, a loosing our minds clap,a disgusted response, amongst other responses. After we recorded all the response and it was satisfactory then they finally brought out the judges. There were four judges only one of them I actually knew, which was James Blunt (guy who sings "Your beautiful"). The other judges were Guy Sebastian, Dannii Minogue, and Chris Isaak (all of which I spelled wrong the first time). I saw some pretty good acts. The best act I thought the best act was this older woman maybe 45 years old who has four sons and had great cancer. She sang this really inspirational song about taking chances or something, she was just really amazing. There was another act who had this huge following and like half the crowd was there for him. His name was Andrew Lambrou. He was also pretty good, so if he wins the whole thing I was there for his first audition! The episode I think they were filming was day 2 in Sydney so if anyone wants to tune in to X-factor Australia I may be on there.
We couldn't spend all day at the X-factor so we left maybe half way through to explore the rest of Sydney. We started at Darling Harbor and were going to attempt to walk to Circular Quay (pronounced key). Realizing Sydney is way bigger then Adelaide and that walking there would take forever we decided to hop a ferry, which is the best way to get around Sydney. This was actually a great decision because as we were rounding a point there was rainbow right beside the Sydney Opera House! Some of you may have seen the pictures, but it was stunning in real life being the first time seeing the Opera House and to have a rainbow right beside it. I mean just wow.
Once at Circular Quay we stopped for a quick dinner of meat pies and a wee bit of salad. Dinner was a quick affair because we had to get to the Sydney Harbor Bridge so that we could climb it! The bridge climb was definitely a unique experience that I'm glad I took advantage of. While we were in Sydney a big festival called Vivid was happening. Vivid is a light, music, and idea festival. So all of Sydney is lit up in colorful lights at night. Of course we had to climb the bridge at night so that we could see all these magnificent lights! So we climbed the bridge at night, during vivid, and in the rain! Yes in the rain. Those who think it does not rain in Australia. Ye be wrong because it poured. Though it was slightly cold and wet, how many people can say they did that? Not many I'd say. We kept our cheer high by singing old disney tunes to our new Canadian friend Nick who put up with us the whole time. It was a lot of fun and I would recommend it to anyone who ever goes to Sydney and if your worried about it being to strenuous no worries it is so easy with lots of breaks! Stay tuned on Facebook for some thuggin pictures of Katie and me in our climbing suits and complimentary hats!
Our final goal for the first day was to enjoy the light festival from the ground, but unfortunately we were all super tired from the long exciting day. Luckily we had a couple days in Sydney so we decided to go another day.
Day 16: June 6
Another early wake up day! 6:45 AM wake up call to make sure we got to Sydney in time for our tour to the Blue Mountains! We took the long train ride in as the sun was pretty much rising and were picked up the Aarons hotel by our jolly Australian tour guide, who had way too much energy for 8:00 AM and talked incessantly for the next 10 hours but he was a good crack. Once we picked everyone up for the tour we headed to the Nepean River for tea and further check-in. After some tea, which there wasn't tea there was apple and orange juice with some cookies which were actually pretty good we headed off to a mystical place called Scenic World (yes that's what it was called).
Scenic World. Oh what to say about it. It was your typical tourist trap. Its main premise was that it had these skyway and cable cars that flew above the blue mountains (they were so short you hardly saw anything) however it did have some stunning views of the blue mountains and the three sisters rock formation. Scenic world also has the steepest passenger train in the world, which was actually pretty cool. Now the big attraction the three sisters rock formation actually has a really interesting aboriginal dreaming story to go with it, which surprisingly they didn't tell us at scenic world. Our tour guide filled us in though. The dreaming story goes a little like this. A father and his three daughter were out in the forest hunting. The father told his three daughters to stay put because he was going down in to the valley to hunt and it was too dangerous for them to come. He told them not to be to loud because the monster of the valley (I forget what its aboriginal name was) would come up and eat them. The girls agreed that they would be quiet and the father went out to hunt. While the father was out hunting another animal came up to the girls and was threatening them. The girls tried throwing rocks at it to try to get it to go away, which they eventually did but the monster of the valley had heard them. The monster came up and the girls started screaming for there father to help. The father heard their cries and ran to their aid. He tried to use a magical bone to change the monster of the valley into something less scary but he didn't have enough power to change it. He tried over and over again, but it didn't work. He did have enough power to change his three daughters. So he turned them into rocks (hence the rock formation). The monster of the valley was not happy about this so began to come after the father. The father ran down the valley away from the monster. He didn't think he could escape so he decided to turn himself into a bird with the rest of the bones power. Now this bird still exists today I forget what it's called, but it's a ground bird that is constantly scratching the ground scavenging for something. It is said that this bird is the father looking for the bone that he lost when he changed into the bird. I didn't get to actually see the bird while there, which was sad but apparently they're kinda hard to find.
After Scenic World, we had lunch in the town of Leura with our new American friend Michaela. She had been traveling for the last months through Indonesia by herself. She was super cool and made me more excited about traveling by myself, which is actually happening really soon. Next was Blue Mountain National Park. The Blue Mountains actually reminded me a lot of the United States especially in Virginia because we have blue mountains too. It kind of cracked me up because they were so excited about there blue mountains and I have the same thing kinda in my own backyard. They were still very beautiful though and our guide actually explained why they were blue which I've always wondered about the Blue Ridge mountains. These mountains are blue because the oil that is released by the eucalyptus trees reflects the sky making the mountains have a blue appearance. In the national park we went to Wentworth Falls which were beautiful. I wish we could have spent more time there and done a long hike, but we were on a time crunch to see a lot. We also went to Lincoln's Rock which also had stunning views of the mouton range. I really enjoyed this. I love being out in nature instead of the cement world of a city.
After the park we went back to the man made world to see the Olympic Park where the Olympics were obviously held. This was pretty cool thought the blue mountains were cooler though. Not a big sports fan so maybe didn't mean as much to me. The last part of our tour consisted of a ferry ride back to Circular Quay in Sydney. We watched the Opera House and the city light up their lights for Vivid. It was pretty anticlimactic. But I still saw it! We decided to do a fancy dinner that night no the harbor because you know you gotta treat yourself when your in Sydney, Australia! It was quite lovely. I had a yummy lasagne while my mates had kangaroo steak (I don't think I can ever eat kangaroo steak, I love the kangaroos too much). After dinner we walked around to see all the vivid lights and all the activities going on. I got an electronica digeridoo CD, which is really interesting sounding. The most impressive light formation for Vivid was definitely the Contemporary Art Museum but isn't that kind of expected? I have some pretty cool pictures from Vivid that I will load on Facebook later. It was really hard to take pictures though so mainly I just took it all in.
Day 17: June 7
BONDI BEACH DAY!!!! WOOOOO. Today we hit Bondi Beach. One of the top 10 beaches in Australia! Luckily we had a beautiful day of around 70 degrees. Warmest day yet. First we hit the Bondi Market which had local artisan crafts and clothing and everything artsy you could imagine. I got a cat crop top and a hang made recycled dress that is going to be great summer dress for when I get back, all made right there in the Bondi area. I spent a couple hours here debating what I wanted to pay a pretty penny for. It was so cool though didn't realize how much I loved these kind of markets.
After shopping all morning in the Bondi Market I was starved so Katie and I decided to hit a cafe that had been recommended to us by one of the vendors called the Icebergs. I don't really understand why she recommended it because they did not have many things in the way of food, but I guess it did have an incredible view of the beach. So despite the food we decided to stay there just for the view. Our plan was then to go back to Sydney central area to see more of that but we loved Bondi so much we decided to explore some more.
We went on a beach walk called the Coggee beach walk which had great beach views and led to several smaller beaches. After that we went to get gelato at another place a vendor had recommended. This was much better then the first recommendation but can you ever really go wrong with ice cream? I don't think you can unless you ha e left in the freezer for too long and it has ice crystals on it. :P Katie then decided to go swimming in the ocean. It wasn't that crazy of an idea because the water was actually really warm for being winter time. I couldn't commit to getting in though because we still had an 80 minute train ride to get back and I can't stand being awkwardly wet. Before we headed back though we decided to get drinks on the beach. I had a strawberry daiquiri which made it really feel like summer time and Katie had a pina colda (but she didn't get caught in the rain). Haha crack myself up. After our drinks we then took the long train back.
The plan was that once we got back we would do a quick turn around and head back into the city to goo out for the night. But we were so tired and the train ride was so long that we decided that it probably wasn't worth it. So we made a rash decision of heading to the local watering hole in the suburb of Epping, the Epping hotel. What a weird night. It was the strangest crowd at the Epping hotel. There were significantly older people, people slightly older then me, and preteens. And everyone knew each other! It was also open mic night, but legit open mic night not crazy drunks singing. So we're just there sipping our rum and cokes listening to 12 year olds sing. It was a strange experience but again a unique one. A great way to end our short journey to Sydney!
Day 18: June 8