Sydney Day 1 – 28th September 2008
This is the record of my first visit to Sydney. I’d been to the airport many times to change planes for international trips, but had never actually seen the city from the ground. I went with my friend & her younger sister.
Just as I got in the car to go to the airport, the jeans I was wearing split in the crotch. The trip was put on hold momentarily as I ran back into the house and ransacked my bedroom trying to find clean pants with no holes in them.
That solved, I said goodbye to my other half & the dogs again and actually left this time. Got to the airport and met up with my traveling companions. So then began the 1.5hr flight to Sydney. We were all pretty hypo and talkative so we just talked the entire flight there. It’s not often that any of us get to catch up, let alone take a trip together, so we were just all in a really good mood.
We got to Sydney fine, and our bags came out pretty quick. We had decided beforehand that we wanted to take a shuttle bus to the hostel, figuring that is easier with suitcases than lugging it to the trains and what not. We couldn’t find the shuttle bus stop or any signs to buy tickets so we headed towards the train station. However, we saw that the tickets were $14 one way. Which made us go turn around and keep looking for the shuttle bus, considering the hostel we were staying had quoted about $9 for a shuttle bus direct to the door.
Anyway, we made our way back up to the baggage collection areas (I sustained a minor injury which involved an escalator stabbing my leg along the way) and found some guy, who I think was a volunteer guide type of thing. This was around 8.30 or 9am and I’d already been up since 4ish with little sleep, so I probably was getting just a little tired by this point. I asked the guy for the shuttle bus, as it was described on the hostel’s website. He said smile. I was rather confused. Apparently I wasn’t smiling enough for him to answer my question. So I smiled and he said to walk down to the other end of the baggage claim area and there was a desk there that we could buy the shuttle bus tickets at. I appreciate volunteers for what they do, but I didn’t appreciate being told to smile. I would smile when I wasn’t dragging a suitcase around because of no signs.
We got the tickets and found the bus with only a little bit of difficulty. The bus drove us to Sydney and dropped us off opposite our hostel, really quickly and easily. e couldn’t check in until 2pm so we just dropped off our bags in their cage – a place designed for storing bags before/after you check in/out. We asked the guy on reception how to get to Bondi for the markets, and headed off up the street in the direction he pointed. His directions were spot on. We got to the bus stop fine and hung around for about half an hour waiting for a bus. I think there were many other buses, but some were prepaid and we just decided to stick to the bus route he said was the one to get. Not surprisingly, the bus driver didn’t want to accept an interstate university ID as a concession, so I had to pay adult fare. Surprisingly, they wouldn’t let us buy return tickets, only single. Yet to figure out why.
After about half an hour on the bus, we arrived at Bondi. Our first stop was Maccas to eat (budget but not health conscious!), then we wandered the markets. Which we were a bit unimpressed with. It was pretty hot, well above 30 and we were all wearing jeans and kinda just wanted to change, but we walked over to the beach and stood there for a while. None of us actually thought to go on the beach. Probably because we all lived by beaches at home! Still, at least we could say that we had been there. We hung around and took some video and photos then decided to go to Bondi Junction for shopping and air conditioning. We had a good wander around the shops (in and outside of the Bondi Junction Westfield). At that time, the shops had just introduced take-away drinkable yogurt, so we all bought some and relaxed on some couches for a while before continuing shopping.
We then decided to go back to Sydney and try and find our next markets, The Rocks Markets. We caught the train this time, so we found out where Sydney central station was. We also found out that if you buy your ticket from a machine instead of a driver/cashier, you can just select student and get it cheaper (we were legitimate students, after all)!! We checked into the hostel, changed into shorts, and after a lot of walking, we made it up to the rocks, and found ourselves with the first views (apart from on the plane) of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. It was actually really nice to see these two sights in person.
Scale is something that TV and photographs, no matter how good, just can’t represent.
We walked through the rocks markets, thinking everything was really cool and funky looking but that we’d never need to buy any of it. It was nice though. Great place if you’re a souvenir or gift buyer, or love knick-knacks. We found a little pub with a beer garden where we shared some wedges. Seeing as one of us was 16, we have no idea if it was legal to eat lunch there, but none of us were drinking, so we figured we’d be ok. Which we were. Plus it was early enough in the day that no one would check ID.
More walking followed (seeing a trend here?) as we left the pub and wandered around Circular Quay. We were already getting a little tired (due to the early start) so we decided to start walking back to our hostel, which was about 3kms away from Circular Quay, if you trust internet maps. We knew that there were buses, but walking is cheaper, healthier (especially working off a MacDonald’s breakfast and wedges for lunch!) and it really helped us to orient ourselves in the city.
We wandered through Hyde Park on the way back to the hostel and had a look around the outside of St Mary’s Cathederal, where a lot of the World Youth Day stuff happened a few months prior to our visit. The grassy areas were all blocked off there to allow the grass to grow back because hordes of rampageing young Catholics ruined it.
We didn’t do a whole lot for the rest of the day, just flopped on our beds in the hostel and enjoyed not walking. However, we did go out to find dinner – which was surprisingly hard. My compaioners were on a complicated cycle of being vegetarians for some sort of religious reason that I have no understanding of, so we had to find vegetarian food. We ended up paying $20 for two lousy containers of bad vegetarian fried rice. They didn’t even fill the containers up all the way. Dodgy. Quite disappointed how hard it was to find vegetarian food, at least for our budget!
We ate on the floor of our hostel room. Well I did. The other two were smart and sat on a bed. I was on the top bunk (double bed on the bottom) so I was too lazy to climb up. My feet just couldn’t take the extra pressure after all the kilometres of walking we’d done. I needed food to fuel my feet for the climb up the ladder to my bed.