We came into Sydney from the Blue Mountains and it was a bit of a nightmare trying to find Robs hostel. First of all it was rush hour so there were hundreds of cars which was pretty alien to us as we had spent the last month on long straight and empty roads! Secondly we ended up paying the toll charge twice as we drove straight through the city and out again, but atleast we crossed the harbour bridge by night! Arriving at Robs hostel, we cooked up some food and spent the last night in the van. It was an emotional time. We said goodbye to Wile Coyote in the morning and set off for the city centre.
My mate charlotte from home had flown out to meet me and is going to travel the next 3 weeks with me so my first priority was to find her. We met up and then headed straight out of the centre to a suburb where we were to stay with a family friend. We arrived and had a warm welcome and I was certainly happy to have some household luxuries again and a warm shower! We spent our first afternoon wandering the city centre as well as scratching out heads over what we were gonna do for the next 3 weeks and what our route would be. Dinner back at Robyn's (our family friend) was amazing, my first real home cooked meal in 4months!
Our second day in Sydney was really where it all started and we began with a ferry ride into town which afforded amazing views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. We spent most of the morning gazing at the views and it felt really wierd to be looking at the Opera house for real when we've seen it on TV all our lives. After numerous photos we took a wander through the rocks, which was the historical part of Sydney and where the first British colony was set up. It was strange to have a small, quiet and quaint part to the city in and amongst all of the huge sykscrapers and hotels. Charlotte went off to book our planned tours up while I went off to climb the Harbour bridge! I had been given it as a leaving present from my work and it was an awesome present. After a patronising safety talk, we climbed up through the inside of the bridge and walked out along a mesh grill where we looked straight down to the ocean below. After a steady one hour climb we reached the summit and looked out to the city, the harbour and the ocean beyond and it was an amazing sight! Definitely one of the highlights of my trip so far! We were thinking about going out somewhere in the evening but the idea of another home cooked meal lured us back home!
Our third day was spent out at Manly Beach which is a suburb of Sydney about a half hour ferry ride away. We met up with Dan who had been couchsurfing and spent a few hours on the beach, pleased to have some sun as the other few days had been cloudy. We couldn't unfortunately tempt charlotte into the water as she feared sharks and jellyfish, but then again we didn't swim cause it was too cold so it was all good. After some lunch on the beach, Charlotte and I set out on a scenic 3 hour walk through surburbia and into bushland before finally re-emerging back into civilisation. At times it felt so strange to be in the heart of Sydney, yet in a completely remote area with wildlife all around! That evening, after a bit of fish and chips down by the harbour, (the view doesn't wear off!) we treated ourselves to a night at the opera, although we did feel out of place turning up in trainers and walking gear amongst all the well dressed folk. There was no dress code though so we took full advantage and booked standing spaces only to be moved into some free $100 seats! The show itself was amazing as you would guess but the inside of the opera house was nothing special at all. It felt more like a school hall.
After a nice long lie in (I was still adjusting to a real bed) we spent most of the day just relaxing before meeting Dan again in the afternoon and going to watch his mates band perform in Kings Cross, the nightlife hub of Sydney. There band was great, really made me miss my drum kit back home! Shame the other two bands were awful and after finding out about 50cent ice creams at McDonalds, we made a move to get the last bus back home.
We were up early the next morning and raring to go as Robin had promised us a day out on Sydney Harbour in the yacht that they own! Thinking we would be reclining in leather seats sipping champagne under the harbour bridge, we were quite wrong us a we turned up to find a yacht no bigger than my renault clio. We were excited at the prospect of doing some real sailing nonetheless and boarded the boat carrying our essential items of cheese and beer. We set sail and the first thing Charlotte and I noticed was that there's no real fence around the boat to stop you falling in, we just gripped on tight. We felt like we were in everyones way as the 3 sailers shouted out technical words to eachother in order to steer the boat. We didn't realise how much the boat tips from side to side, it felt as though it was going to capsize but never did. The view of the harbour once again was stunning, even better from a smaller boat. We went right under the bridge, past the opera house and down the the other end of the harbour, which only took about half an hour as we were sailing down wind. Once at the other end, the fun all began. We narrowly missed about 5 other sailing boats, although according to Robin it wasn't a narrow miss, but the best part was when we had a man over board!! It was a rare occurance that we were lucky to witness apparently as Ben slid underneath the feeble fencing and into the water fully clothed! It all happened in a flash and I don't think he'll live it down for a long while! The second part was when we ran-aground on some shallow rocks and the guys had to jump into the water and push the boat off the rocks, with the help of a pull from a tug boat! It was a stressful sail but hilarious afterwards as we took 3 hours to sailing back up the harbour, zig-zaging into the wind as we went. Charlotte and I even took controls of the boat! Back at home, we were treated to a feast and had fresh shrimp for starters followed by a great Aussie Barbie! We were dropped off that evening at the bus station and caught an overnight bus to Melbourne.
Sydney was a great city, it was strange for me to be in such a huge Australian city as all the other cities down the coast are pretty tiny compared! We both said that it has a similar feel to London about it, but just a lot smaller and not as characteristic. Sydney does have a great harbour though as well as some really nice beaches! The view of the harbour which we saw on many occasions never got tiring and it was great to have seen it from the top of the bridge as well as from the bottom on the yacht! it was great to catch an opera as well and dine on some Aussie fish and chips which were really good! Shame we had to the leave the home cooked meals though and move on to Melbourne!