Yo Blog Readers,
Are you all ready for the latest adventures of Adi Murphy on his travels? Well I hope you are because this blog has it all cliff hangers, bombshells, tourist information. Well maybe I am over exaggerating a little but I think it may be one of the best blogs I've wrote even though it will be like a mini novel.
Firstly I should tell you I have decided to leave Sydney and booked to leave to my next destination on the 27th May. The destination will be revealed at the end of the blog for dramatic effect even though if you have me on Facebook you probably know where I am right now. So once I booked I started to panic that I had been in Sydney for four months and not really done much with my time. So whilst I was at work I decided to write out a Sydney Bucket List. I split the list into three sections. Beaches, Nights Out and Tourist Attractions. You can see my completed list below.
Harbour Bridge Climb
Wentworth Greyhound Racing
Art Exhibition Opening
Opera House Tour
Fireworks at Darling Harbour
Yeah, I know it's quite a comprehensive list, with many things on there. It would be a massive challenge to get everything done what with having the small matter of work to contend with to. But with some genius planning and a little bit of luck I could get it done, especially as I could group things together and o a couple of things in a day. So the challenge was on. The next day I woke up to glorious sunshine, great opportunity to start off my list with a beach day. The problem was I was slightly hungover and my usual partner in crime Tom was at work. After a few texts I managed to find someone to come with me. It was a South Korean chap called Ali who was an old flat mate in a previous flat. The language barrier was hard to overcome at times but he was a nice genuine guy. So we ended up catching a bus to Maroubra Beach. Now, Maroubra beach was on my list because I had watched a film called Bra Boys which was about a group of surfers who grew up around the Maroubra area and about their various troubles and strifes. So I thought it would be nice to go there seen as though I was fairly close (a 40 minute bus ride) the beach was awesome, it even had a giant Rubix cube at one of the beach. It was bliss chilling in the sun, relaxing and it was free. I started to wonder why I had not done more beach days with my time in Sydney. So after a few hours of lapping up the sun, messing around in the sea and checking out the fine quality of women on the beach we headed back to the city and me feeling satisfied with the start I had made on the list.
The list was soon put on hold though as the inconvenient thing known as work got in the way. But I had good news to look forward to as my good friend Jack Turner who I met in Malia back in 2007 was coming to Australia in a few days. So after a couple of long days gruelling away as a market researcher trying to get the Australian public to participate in several types of surveys it was time to meet Jack. I met Jack at central and it is fair to say he came with quite a bit of personal baggage. So we spent that night getting drunk, catching up and talking about recent events. The next day I was hoping Jack and I could get something ticked off from my list but setting up his bank account and helping him with other essentials took longer than anticipated. So I went to work that evening a little disappointed and feeling a tad behind schedule. Not worry though, karaoke that night lifted my spirits. Me and Jack formed a talented double act called The Arbenals. Now you are probably thinking that is a very strange name, so let me explain what happened. When Jack requested our first song for the evening, the guy asked who he was singing with and that we needed to give ourselves a name. Jack pointed at me, but the karaoke guy thought he was pointing at the chap behind me who had an Arsenal top on, the guy got confused with his S and B's and there you have it The Arbenals were born and we went on to sing Tom Jones's Delilah and Kinky Afro by the Happy Mondays.
So the next day after a hungover shift at work I decided to introduce Jack to one of my travelling companions since my first week in Australia - Goon. After 2 litres of the boxed wine made from Fish guts and fish eggs we headed out for my friend at works birthday - Jonathan NG. We were meant to meet him in a club but we got turned away and told to comeback in an hour as we were too drunk. We weren't despite having the goon. So we made our way back there an hour later to see my friend getting tossed out of the club. He was far too drunk and headed home so me and Jack went to get in the club but got turned away once more, saying that we had been kicked out. After a lengthy discussion with another bouncer they agreed to let us in, but I decided to leave the club before I had even too one foot in the club and metaphorically stick two fingers up at the bouncers who had been harsh with us all night. So from there we ended up meeting Tom who had just finished work and proceeded to the Abercrombie for a few beverages, which ended up with me throwing up in their toilets. We then headed back to the flat and debated issues of the world until the early hours of the morning. Normally this would be ok, but the next day we had planned an early start to go trekking around the Blue Mountains.
So after 6 hours sleep, between us, I got the most with 3 we woke up to go and see the Blue Mountains. I really can't describe how hard it was to wake up and many times I thought about sacking off the day and staying in bed. But we got up and headed to Parramatta, where another one of my work friends Derrie would pick us up and kindly rive us there and be our tour guide for the day. We arrived at Blue Mountains and I was so glad I got up for it. There are some quite astonishing views and sights, as well as a train ride which went down a 52 degree angled slope. The air was so fresh, the waterfall was amazing, though not quite as good as the waterfalls in Asia. But it was a great day. Tom perfectly summed it up with this statement 'Great views, great company, great day.' The only downside to the day was what felt like million steps we had to walk up, though this would be good for my vastly expanding waste line even if it hurt at the time.
Another tick was put on my list the next day. This time it was going to visit the world's largest IMAX cinema screen. I really wanted to take a girl, but I couldn't find anyone suitable so had to make do with Jack. The cinema cost a hefty $31 each but the cinema was brilliant which Jack summed up with "I think this cinema has ruined watching films for me." I suppose I should also let you know what we went to see. It was Iron Man 3 and it was top draw, so watch it if you haven't already.
I was beginning to get on a roll with ticking things off my list and the next night I managed to cross another thing off. This time by visiting The World Bar in King's Cross I had heard so much about. I had been to King's Cross a couple of times but never made The World Bar for a variety of reasons for example forgetting my I.D. (yeah everyone gets asked for I.D. in Australia, not that I am complaining, it is nice when you get to around my age) and the other time it was a massive $20 entry fee. But on a Tuesday night it was free and I had the day off the next day so decided to take Jack up to King's Cross. We started off in the 24 Hour Sports Bar with a casual schooner or two and a few games of pool. We then headed into World Bar and I'm not sure if it was because we wasn't that drunk, we're getting old, or because of Jack's issues back home but we found ourselves most of the time just chatting about life in the quiet room at the side. It was nice though, chilled and we had a bit of a dance before we left and then headed back to the sports bar for another rink and game of pool. I suppose I should brag a bit and let you know that I won 8-1 at pool!
The next day I woke up to the news that Jack was going home. He decided he needed to go home to sort the issues out he had there and to be honest it was probably the right thing to do, it was just a shame and I was gutted for the lad. He still had a couple of days left and that day I had the day off so we went up to Palm Beach, which is the beach where the beach scenes for Home & Away are set. It was near enough a two hour trip there and we then spent the next half an hour walking the coastal line looking for a Summer Bay sign, only to find out that they had took the sign down for renovation and construction works. I was gutted the only reason I wanted to go there was to have my photo took with the sign and make my Sister jealous. We made the most of it anyway, caught some rays, played with the American footy in the sea and on the beach for a fun day out. We got a bite to eat at one of the few local café's around and then headed home. Reflecting on the day we each thought it was a bit far to travel and there wasn't much apart from the beach to see or do. Although the German guy at the café said the walk to the light house was really good and had some spectacular views, unfortunately by the time he told us this we didn't have the time to walk up there. But it was worth going to, just to say I had been to the set of Home and Away even if there was no sign.
The next day after work, Tom and I bidded Jack a fond farewell at central station, had a few drinks and then headed to what was arguably the biggest club in Sydney. The Ivy. The Ivy at weekends usually costs around $40 to get in but on a Thursday it is free. It's a ridiculously nice club, like something you would see in an American Movie. One room had an open roof dance floor where you could see out to the city, and another area was a swimming pool on the roof. Unfortunately I left early as I had work the next day; otherwise I would have been very drunk and bombing in the swimming pool. But I knew I would more than likely return again sometime so all was not lost.
After a successful spell of ticking things of the list I took the next few nights off and caught up on some much needed sleep. However, when Sunday came around I went into full tourist mode again. I woke up early and went to the Opera House, where I had a guided tour. I wanted to do this as I really enjoyed the Royal Albert Hall tour I did on my Dad's Blue Pigeon Trip. The tour was good and I got to find out some interesting things like the tiles on the opera house were triple glazed so the rain water would be enough to clean the building. It is not full on White because of the glare and the roof was built in sections. But it semt to lack something for me and was not a patch on the Royal Albert Hall tour. From the Opera House I made my way to Darling Harbour where I purchased a ticket to visit 11 attractions across Australia for $100. The pass lasted a year and I could go to the places as many times as I wanted. The pass included Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower, Madame Tussauds, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary and the Wildlife Centre, plus other things in Melbourne, Queensland and New Zealand. It was an excellent price especially as a single ticket to just one of the venues mentioned above costs around $35. So I met Tom and made our way to Madame Tussauds. We had a blast having photos took with a range of wax work figures such as The Queen, Rolf Harris, Alfred Hitchcock, Brad Pitt, Alf Stewart, Beyoncé and Shane Warne. They were all so lifelike, well all apart from a very dodgy looking Leonardo Di Caprio. Like I said we both had a great time, the only downer for me was that there was no sign of a Kylie Minogue wax work and me splitting another pair of shorts when I bent down to put my head in Formula One Driver Mark Webber's Helmet. But they were minor blotched on what was otherwise a great time. I then went next door to the Wildlife Centre to see their variety of animals which included a massive crocodile and then I went to Sydney Aquarium. This for me was a little disappointing and I much preferred the Aquarium I went to in Townsville. The Sydney Aquarium was big but full with the same things over and over again. Plus it was really busy and I don't think that helped me at all. On a roll with ticking things off my Sydney Bucket List I decided to go up the 304 meter Sydney Tower. I was taken aback by the views. On a clear day you could see up to 85km, I was lucky and got a clear day and you could see as far as the Blue Mountains. I decided there and then I would do it again at night. I was very proud of my day's work I had eliminated fie things from my list and the day wasn't even over yet. Tom and I had the small matter of attending a Tenacious D gig at Sydney Opera House. I'm sure if you know the bad you will not be surprised that they rocked and were incredible, as was the support from Sasquatch and comedian Daniel Power. As the gig was in a theatre it was really intimated the band had lots of banter with the crowd and it felt like they were playing in the front room. The only surprise for me was that they were a lot larger than I imagined which made me feel ever so slightly better about my expanding waste line. But to sum it up they rocked and it was a great conclusion to a great day!
The next day the plan was to go to the Casino, but after a gruelling day at work me and Tom were not really in the mood to do anything apart from chill and have a film night, where we watched a very funny film called Hot Rod. The next day I went to work a bit subdued that I had missed out on the opportunity to tick something off the list but after looking at the calendar I put together a plan and realised with a bit of luck and the weather being on my side I could do everything. So that night I bounded up Sydney Tower again to check out the city in all its glory at night. It didn't disappoint although in my opinion if you want to go it is better in the day as you could see further and the reflections in the window pane when you take photos were not as bad. But in the evening I did have more time to take a look at the interactive machines which showed you various different attractions and there locations. I was keen to skip over these so I didn't add to my list to dramatically.
The next day I had the day off and decided I could get two things done. It wasn't in my plan, but if I did it would make things a bit more comfortable, so my plan was to visit two beaches in one day, Cronulla Beach and Little Bay. This was made more difficult as they were not close together in fact they were 30km apart. This consisted of a 40 minute train and 50 minute bus. But once I have something in my head I tend to go for it. I woke up a little later than I expected but it didn't deter my plan. It was 21 degrees, a perfect day for the beach, though Australian's think this temperature is cold. They have obviously never been to England before! So I smashed some Weetabix down me and headed off to my first stop Cronulla Beach. I walked along the beach front taking in the view of North Beach and the rock pools and then settled down to read a few more chapters of the book I was reading. It was WLTM by Donal Ruane if you wanted to know. I could have quite easily stayed there all day but I really wanted to see Little bay too. So I had a quick paddle in the sea and made my way back to the train station. The journey went quick thanks to the book, which I finished just before arriving at Central. Well I say I arrived at Central. I thought I had but I had actually got off one stop too early in Redfearn, it didn't matter it was only a short walk to the city and the bus stop from here. I decided to leave my book on the train. I had found the book randomly so I thought it would be right to let someone else have the same privilege. I wanted to leave the note in the book to say keeping passing the book along but unfortunately I had no pen. Maybe I would do this with the next book I read. Finishing the book made my bus journey very tedious though but eventually I arrived and after a 5 minute walk was at Little Bay. It was a nice quaint beach, secluded which I thought would be nice to take a girl for a picnic or have some alone time with a book, unfortunately I had neither. So I took a few snaps, had a paddle and then made my way to the bus stop. The bus was going to be a few minutes yet so I went into a nearby bottle shop to have a browse. I was just about to leave until I saw an offer I couldn't refuse. With every 24 pack of Carlsberg you got an inflatable goal! Who could refuse that, so I made the purchase and returned home, where Tom was impressed with my acquisition. We inflated the goal and then realised we had no ball. The goal fun and games would have to wait as we made plans to go out in the evening as a girl called Daisy who Tom had met in his time at Base Backpackers was leaving Sydney and heading to Perth. So drinks were in order. I had a problem though Tom also wanted me to go and watch the Chelsea vs. Benfica Europa League Final with him at Cheers bar. This was a 4.45 am kick off so if I did both I would get no sleep and that would not be good for work the next day. So I decided I could only do one or the other. So after only a few hours' sleep I got up at 4am and made my way to Cheers Bar for the game. Daisy was also there so I got to say goodbye, she brought us all a shot of tequila and then we had a few beers. I was feeling pretty pissed as I was on my way to work and also really tired. The first few hours went well probably as I was still drunk and was dancing around on the phone. The afternoon however slowed down and I felt like death, the only thing that kept me going was a V energy drink. Tom's picture message of him sleeping also did nothing to help me. It is no surprise that nothing on my Bucket List got ticked off that night as I rested and got some sleep.
The next night after work I was meant to go to an Art Exhibition with Jano and Markus - two German guys who also live in our flat. Now you may be wondering why I wanted to go to an Art Exhibition. So let me explain it is not that I have had a sudden love of Art, the reason is simple - Free Alcohol. I had heard a guy talking at work and he said he was going to an Art Exhibition later where you got free booze, he also said they happened all the time over Sydney. Plus it is free entry, so who would turn down this opportunity! A quick Google search later and I had found a list of gallery openings that were happening that week and one was just a 5 minute walk from our flat. I finished work early and got home and ready all set to go for the nights events. I waited for the Germans but they stood me up. I was very disappointed as they didn't even offer an explanation, though to be fair I didn't ask. Tom was at work, so I just watched a couple of films from my hard drive.
The next day I woke up early and headed to Manly. Manly was a place I had heard nothing but good things about. My Sister's friends Nina and Dean live close to Manly and also an ex work colleague Gary Smith's daughter Elly lives there, so to be fair it was really poor form from me not to have been there sooner. So I made arrangements to meet Elly there that weekend. After a 35 minute ferry ride form the centre I had arrived. The ferry was a very nice ride offering great views of the city, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. I purposely got there a bit earlier than I was meant to meet Elly so I could ticket something off my list and go to the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. Elly had previously given the place a bad review but I went there with an open mind and loved it. It was small and a lot less hectic than the Sydney Aquarium. It also felt more personal. The staff was happy to talk and tell you interesting facts. For example a girl called Clare told me about a turtle called Mertle who was in an accident with a boat. Unfortunately for Mertle her shell never fully recovered so they had to put a weight on the back of Mertle so she could swim properly and not with her arse up in the air. She also told me that the curved glass in the Aquarium reduces the size of the marine wildlife by 20%. And I also learnt that the grey nurse shark is not a man eating shark as its teeth are more like forks so can't eat anything big, but this doesn't stop Clare's Mother worrying about her diving with sharks. Also a baby stingray had just been born and they needed to get this out of the tank before it was eaten by bigger fish. Yeah, I had learnt a lot unlike the Sydney Aquarium. Satisfied with my new found knowledge I went to meet Elly and dazzled her with my facts and stories. She also gave me another fact to add to my repertoire. It was that sharks often go under the Harbour Bridge to mate during mating season. Impressive eh? Elly then gave me the grand tour of Manly showing me many awesome beaches, views at North Head and letting me drive a manual car for the first time in over a year. I let her know after that it took me nine times to pass my driving test or I don't think I would have had the privilege. We went back to hers chilled out and watched some Modern Family which is a great sitcom and waited for her friends to arrive Vicky and Clarice. Tom arrived later and we began to demolish a bottle of Jack Daniels Honey. We made our way to a cool pub I don't remember the name I was far to wasted. We missed the ferry back home so we all kipped at Elly's where we had a couple more drinks and a laugh. The next morning I woke up on the floor, not remembering much about the night before but being nicely reminded by Tom, one of his highlights was my Kez comments. I was meant to be meeting the Germans at Taronga Zoo, but I had woken up to late and would have never made it back in time. I didn't mind though after they let me down on Friday. So I arranged to go to the Zoo with Tom next week and Elly said she might join us also. The rest of the day was spent chilling, watching films and planning my last week in Sydney.
Monday came and it was time to tick two more things off the Sydney Bucket List. The first being Baxter's Whiskey Bar. Tom's love interest Dani told us about this place. She said the staff all have moustaches and it's a very nice place. We decided to investigate this, it was such a hard bar to find, probably took us close to an hour asking several people, but we eventually found the place down an ally. We made our way in and headed down the stairs into what use to be a basement we both didn't know what to expect as we walked in. But I was impressed as I opened the door, the best way for me to describe would be as something of a 50's film, maybe like an American / Italian Mafia place where dodgy deals would happen, maybe strippers, and illegal card gambling. None of this was happening of course, and Dani was right the staff did have some very impressive moustaches. As it was a Whiskey Bar we thought it would be only right to have a Whiskey. We asked the bar tender for his recommendation and he gave us a 14 year old Scottish number called Scalp I think, It was very nice with a bit of Ice even if very pricey. We only stayed for one and then I headed to meet Milan, my Czech roommate at the casino where I turned $25 into $100 on the roulette table. The most astonishing thing for me there was the amount of money people were losing. One Chinese guy next to us must have lost over $1000 in 10 minutes on the roulette table. It was crazy!
The next day I had work so nothing could really be done, but it was ok I had a busy Wednesday in store so was good to chill. Originally I had planned to go to Luna Park Wednesday with Derrie but he found out that it was actually closed and only open Friday, Saturday and Sundays unless there are special occasions. So myself and Derrie decided to do the Bondi to Coogee Beach walk instead. We got to see some breath taking views, and I got some much needed exercise on the one and a half hour walk. That night after weeks of trying I also finally got to an Art Exhibition. In fact I went to two as there were two next door to each other. I had a few cheeky free Magners and witnessed some very peculiar art including male genitals made from balls of wool, faces made from bits of plastic dolls and someone else doing art with masking tape which I'm sure my nephew Jacob could do, probably better to. The exhibition next door was about masks and one did strike me as being pretty cool. It was a mask made from candle wax and made to look like a superhero villain. I liked it and all in all it was good free night. I'd recommend it to any backpacker. With free booze what more do you want? Ok free nibbles if you are being picky.
The next night I wanted to go to Marquee nightclub, but no one was really up for it as they were either at work, had other plans or just generally couldn't be arsed, so I rearranged it for another night as I didn't want to be a sad bloke who went to a club on his own. Friday though was a hectic day, started off with Tom and myself going to Luna Park. Luna Park was like a fair ground for kids, so naturally we loved it, it was $45 to go on all the rides which we thought was a bit pricey so we just decided to pay the $10 for Coney Island where we got to race down slides, get lost in a maze of mirrors and walk across moving floors. We had good fun and we were glad we didn't pay full price as we felt it didn't represent great value, there were only a few other rides one rollercoaster, Ferris wheel and dodgems, plus a couple of others so for us it didn't justify the extra $35. Our next stop was the Greyhound races. It's no secret I love a good night at the dogs and this was no different, the stadium was huge and in Australia they race 8 dogs not 6 and the colours are all different so it took me a while to get my head around things. We made friends with a cashier called Maureen who pretty much helped us bet all night. Apparently a bet called the Qinella is all the rage in Australia. It is like a reverse forecast jus lower stakes and lower odds. It looked like we would be leaving without a win but then me and Tom both pulled out a 1 and 5 Qinella in the last race giving us a hefty $14 each. We may have been slightly down but we had a lot of fun, and thought that would continue to our next destination. Unfortunately Chinese Laundry wasn't as good as I anticipated. It was a club I had heard a lot about so we decided to go. The club was not my style though very grungy with the music going duff duff duff, the other cliental was off their t*** on drugs. We sent no more than two minutes there and decided to get the hell out. The entry fee was also $20, so probably my biggest waste of money in Australia to date, but you live and you learn. And it also meant we'd get more sleep as we had the zoo to attend to the next day.
I do love a good zoo. I am like a kid when it comes to Zoo's and Taronga didn't disappoint me. It is just a short ferry crossing from the city. There is a lot of variety in animals Monkeys, Birds, Big Cats, Reptile House, Aquarium and a surprise attraction for me was how good the Mountain Goats were. How they get up the steep mountains is incredible. They also had great shows including the Seal Shown and the bird show where we almost got knocked out by an owl flying over our head. This was all complimented by an astonishing view of the city that we assume the Giraffes must appreciate too. It wasn't quite Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo, but I don't think any zoo will beat that. But if you have a spare day in Sydney I would definitely recommend going to Taronga Zoo. That night I planned to go to Marquee but tiredness and fatigue kicked in and I gave it a miss opting to do this on my return to Sydney. This left one thing left on my list to do - The Harbour Bridge Climb. I saved this to last deliberately as it was the must do in Sydney, the main attraction; I thought that this would be a fitting finale to the end of this particular era. However it would have to wait as on the Sunday I had arranged a BBQ at Coogee beach where in short I got drunk with friends I had made in Sydney over the past 5 months. So I booked my Bridge Climb for Monday, the day of my departure. The cost is massive, a whopping $218 plus $69 if you want photos. Naturally I did. But it was well worth it. The adrenalin of being that high up and with the views was breath taking. Our guide Joe was also fantastic telling us funny stories, facts such as there are 6 million rivets on the bridge, and talked about how they made the bridge with no harnesses and how they had to catch hot rivets just stood in the middle of the bridge 160meters in the air with just a bucket and one steel beam to stand on. Apparently though only 10,000 rivets were dropped not a bad percentage to say 6 million were installed. He even pointed out where Man United were going to stay when they do their pre-season tour of Australia. It was in a luxury hotel opposite the Opera House which costs a staggering $7,000 a night and it is a 2 night minimum stay. I guess I won't be stopping there for a while. It was an amazing experience and a great way to end my spell in Sydney.
I went home said my goodbyes, It would be the last time I would see Tom until who knows when as he was off to do his farm work in a couple of weeks, so after I said my goodbye's it was time to leave.
Next Stop - South Korea! (If you didn't already know on Facebook)
Take Care and Stay Safe