22nd April 2013 13:30
Sydney! This was the milestone. Finally get to see my friends Ollie and Emma, over Christmas and New Year, and spend some time in just one place for a little while! It's funny how normal it can start to seem flitting from place to place after a while. A stop-off in one place is definitely what was needed.
I arrived late at night, after a thirteen hour bus ride from Byron Bay. I'll just say there are definitely nicer ways of spending that amount of time... and in the darkness I almost missed the official sign welcoming me to the city, a dimly lit Opera House in the middle of the harbour! Welcome to Sydney!
It was great to see Ollie and Emma again after such a long time. Of course a visit to a drinking establishment was in order, to celebrate my arrival without any significant damage to my person.
One of Emma's first comments on seeing me was "Luke, you're so brown!". I'm usually a fetching shade of pasty white, so hearing this was quite a novelty! The sunny weather obviously agrees with me. It's not like we get that much of it in the UK. I left the country and to punish the rest of you for letting me leave, mother nature sent rain.... and lots of it. However, while sunny weather agrees with me, 41 degree heat certainly doesn't.
I seriously think I melted a bit. You know how on a very hot day you usually welcome a nice cooling, refreshing breeze? On that occasion even the wind was hot. It was like someone had opened the oven door and blasted a wall of heat at your face. That day had us running for cover to the nearest building with an aircon unit, where we didn't move for quite some time. It just may have been a public house.... I forget.
The following couple of weeks thankfully weren't so hot, but it was still great weather for the many things we had planned while I was there. One of the first places we visited was Cockatoo Island, which used to be a naval dockyard and shipbuilding facility. There are still lots of cool abandoned industrial machines and warehouses to explore, and I loved taking photos there.
Another short ferry ride from the main harbour lies Manly, a very popular seaside location which draws a huge number of people on hot, sunny days. Although we did briefly sit on the beach and enjoy the sun for a while, our main objective here was to visit The Lord Nelson and Four Pines breweries. We spent the rest of the day there getting acquainted with the delicious craft beers on offer! You may notice a theme here... it's just a shame that while the beer at these places is extremely good, it's not quite sold at Southeast Asian prices! Our (or rather, my) amusement for the day came about as Ollie was walking around the ferry on our way there. The strap on his flip flop (thong, if you're Australian) literally fell apart, meaning he had to walk around barefoot like a hobo until we found a shop that sold suitable replacements. It was a hot day, which also meant hot pavements... Ollie nearly running when crossing the road to get to some shade did thoroughly amuse me, especially after my ordeal on the sand on Fraser Island!
The Blue Mountains (confusingly enough) are not actually blue. The name lies in the appearance given by the blue mist that is emitted by the millions of Eucalyptus trees in the area on hot days. This gives a faint blue appearance to the mountains from a distance, hence the name. Whatever the reason, the view was quite wonderful, and as with most of my photos, cannot truly be depicted in print. It is always far more spectacular in person.
I also spotted a woman sporting the latest fashion in sun protection...
ondi beach is famous worldwide, but I’d had a recommendation to visit a beach slightly further along the coast which was a little less crowded. Regardless, you can easily walk between the two (and lots of other small coves and beaches) along a scenic coastal track to get to where you want to be. The beaches we tried were Bronte and Tamarama. These were certainly quieter than Bondi itself, and were a nice way to spend an afternoon. The water was very rough though, you had to keep your wits about you or you would quickly get dunked by a huge wave!
Keen to save money where I could (but only if I thought it wouldn’t detract from the experience), I opted not to do the climb over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, instead paying a fraction of the price to get to the top of one of the pylons. The view from the top of here was still perfectly good, and you have the added benefit of being able to take your camera. On the bridge climb they don’t let you, but are quite happy to take photos for you to purchase at the end of the walk!
As you will no doubt all understand, a man has to eat. Consequently, there were one or two visits to one or two different restaurants to eat one or two tasty meals. Actually I’ll try and blame Ollie here, as he kept on recommending new places to go... I’m the innocent man here! The very best place we went to, without a shadow of a doubt, was Churrascos. This was a brazilian barbecue place where you have a small disc on the table, green on one side, red on the other. When you turn this to green, the food begins – and it doesn’t stop until you turn it back to red! You pay a fixed price for all you can eat, meaty goodness. As soon as the food is cooked, it is brought round all the tables and offered to you all the while your disc is green. We made sure we went on Wednesday rib night... and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Just some of the delights on offer are: Rump Cap with Ginger & Soy, Baby Beef with Churrasco BBQ Sauce, Chicken Thigh Fillet in Honey & Soy Sauce, Lamb Rump marinated in Lemon & Oregano, Pork Belly served with Sea Salt & Fresh Lime, Pork Chorizo... I could go on, were it not for the drool that’s now all over my keyboard.
I left a contented man, barely able to waddle to the kerb to hail a taxi to take us home. I’m not going to lie to you, that night was uncomfortable. Maybe I ate too much? .......nah.
A brief summary of the other places we went to in case you’re ever in Sydney in future: Harry's cafe, very famous and has the photos of hundreds of celebrities having paid a visit to prove it, amazing pie with mushy peas, mash ontop, with a pool of gravy in the middle of the mash! Schnitzel the size of a small planet from Una's! Steak with the most delicious diane sauce from The Botany View, Mad Mex serving heavy, chunky, delicious burritos, smoked salmon and eggs from Newtown cafe, the biggest fried breakfast I’ve ever seen from another cafe in Newtown... I could go on, but I won’t.
The time passed quickly, and before we knew it the wonderful day when santa visits had arrived. This was not just any Christmas, this was a Sydney Christmas with Ollie and Luke reunited, and we were going to do it right. I’m pretty sure we succeeded.
was determined to get photos of the new year fireworks in the harbour as I was in Sydney at that time of year. I spent hours planning an almost military style operation in order to find the best spot possible for photos, and then making sure I was there at the best time to mark out my territory and reserve my spot. I was basically there all day, but I’d come prepared with a huge amount of food and drink, so I was well up for the task. I was made up with the photos I managed to take, so I think it was well worth it!
Staying with Ollie for such a while made me realise what I was missing at home. It’s amazing travelling round on your own but you do start to miss people back home, not to mention the creature comforts you really take for granted without realising! Like, I don’t know... a wardrobe?!
To conclude the post, here's just a selection of random photos from my time in Sydney. Way too much going on here to go into detail with all of them, but they pretty much do all the talking anyway!