Sydney, part 2 - June 6
Now we couldn't leave Sydney without visiting the world famous Bondi beach. We didn't have the greatest weather throughout the week with a few cold and rainy days, so we were excited to get to the beach on the first sunny day. We also wanted to use the local transit system to get a taste of the everyday life, so we took the subway train to Bondi Junction and than boarded a jam-packed bus to the beach.
Gawain. who is a born and raised Aussie, informed us that the rail system was pretty bad, he even jokingly referred it as being worse than a third world country. Now we didn't think it could be 'that bad' considering Sydney had the olympics in 2000, but he wasn't far off. It's amazing how dilapidated the rail system had already become after only 10 years, the trains were pretty beat up and almost every window had been vandalized with kids scratching profanities into them. We also noticed that public transit in Sydney was very expensive (or "dear" as the Aussies say). It cost us $16 dollars roundtrip for the two of us! Sydney is the first of three Olympic hosting cities that we will visit on our journey, so it was quite interesting to see the 'aftermath of the big show'.
Richard told us that in the summer Bondi Beach is THE place to be. Heck, they've even made a popular television show about this famous beach. Gawain showed us pictures of the bustling, crowded beach during the summer and it looked like a competely different beach from the one we visited. We spent the afternoon watching the surfers and walking along the clifftops of the popular oceanside Pacific Trail from Bondi to Coogee. The waterfront views were spectacular and it was great breathing in the crisp, salty South Pacific air.
It was nice having Richard and Gawain as locals showing us the city and give us insight into the 'Aussie lifestyle.' For example, we learned that the well known Yellow Tail, Wyndham Estates and Wolf Blass red wines are not reviewed highly by locals. They are considered the 'cheap wine' made in mass quantities strictly for export. Let's just say you would be looked at funny bringing those bottles to a party. "You just don't drink Yellow Tail down here", says Gawain. This was interesting to us because we love those wines in Vancouver! I guess we've just got different tastes in the north because all three of those wines are quite popular and viewed as a good Australian wines.
With Gawain's guidance, we also learned how to properly eat the Australian chocolates Tim Tams, a tradition similar to how Americans eat Oreo's in a special way. Vegemite is also everywhere and everyone seems to love it, we still can't seem to figure out why though? We tried it once and never again, apparently it's an aquired taste.
Cameron couldn't leave Oz without trying Kangaroo meat so we picked some up at the Woolworth's grocery store and had a big feast one evening . It's a somewhat gammy meat and definitely has a distinct taste. Good, but not the best option of meat. A couple more differences we noticed while traveling in Australia is that a Red pepper is called a capsicum. And there are no taxes, instead everything is included in the sale price, which means you actually know what the total will be...brilliant! Now get on it Canada.
Swine flu was starting to become a massive pandemic while we were in Australia. We had experienced the beginning of the outbreak while in NZ, but thought that it had been controlled and really didn't hear about it again for a couple weeks. However, enroute to Sydney the outbreak took off in Australia, with Melbourne being hit particularily hard. Our original plan was to visit Melbourne (Aussies don't prounce the "R" so it sounds like Melbine when they pronounce it), but unforunately time and money prevented us from making the trek down south. We've heard it is a fantastic city not to be missed, I guess next time?!
On our last night in town, Richard and Gawain wanted to take us out to see the Sydney nightlife. They took us to an area opposite to Kings Cross called Victoria Street. A vibrant, swanky area that is frequented by locals and often overlooked by tourists. We dined at a fantastic little tapas restaurant on its streetside patio, it felt like we were back in Beunos Aires. We drank delicious red wine and over indulged in several tasty dishes. The Victoria Street strip reminded us of a combination of Hamilton Street in Yaletown, 4th Street in Kits, and Water Street in Gastown. It had been a long time since we've eaten that well and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute. After dinner we headed out to a more colourful part of Sydney for a couple more drinks (comparable to Granville and Davie) before eating delicious gelato to finish the entertaining night out. Thanks for the great night and your gracious hospitality Richard and Gawain!
The next morning we said goodbye to Richard and Gawain and hit the airport, yet again. Next destination, the hot and sunny islands of the Philippines!