Just spent four lovely days in Sydney, my final stop in Australia.
The flight there from Darwin was a real beauty, setting off as it did at 1:40am and getting in to Sydney 8.00am via Brisbane. The change of timezone also meant I lost half an hour on the way so all in all I didn't get a whole lot of sleep. From there I was going to be staying with friends (Luke and Katrina) who I had met in West Australia for a few days.
Having successfully negotiated my way across Sydney to where they lived we headed back across Sydney to go for a coastal walk. En route we had been discussing whales and dolphins and mid conversation we spotted a pod of dolphins in Botany Bay. This was made all the more amazing because it was the first time Luke and Katrina had ever seen them in the bay!
Once we arrived in Coogee we walked along the coastline to the renowned Bondai Beach with a stop-off for fish and chips along the way. I don't know what I expected of Bondai but on viewing it I got the impression of a nice but uninspiring beach. I'm told that on NY Day you can't move on the beach for barbeques and drunken revellers, quite a sight I can imagine! Along the way there were a good number of joggers and exercise stations. I considered doing a few reps but felt I shouldn't show up the Sydneysiders who work so hard on their bodies!
That evening we headed into Sydney to meet another girl from our West Australia trip and her friend and we had Chinese. Afterwards we went for a drink at the Opera Bar, situated next to the Opera House and opposite the Harbour Bridge. The owners are on an absolute goldmine! Touristy as the two landmarks are it was really cool to see them and I feel I did very well to keep my emotions in check! They looked especially impressive at night.
From there we had a quick look around the harbour including a short stop to enjoy an awesome drum player with a dreadlocked beard, seriously considering growing one myself! After we said goodbye to Hannah and her friend it was back to theirs for the England game. Katrina made it for about two minutes, Luke ten minutes and I made it to half-time! I woke again after 85 minutes and quickly got the impression we were a man short. After a bit of investigation I discovered, to my delight, that it was Wayne Rooney who had seen red! As inevitable as the outcome was it was still a stressful experience from there and the only solace was that I had a queen-sized bed, rather than an 8-bed drom, to look forward to.
After the flight night and the late footy night I grabbed a well earned lie in. When I awoke it was to find out that Luke and Katrina had been invited out on a friends boat and I was welcome to join them. This wasn't a scenario I've had to deal with in my life to date so very bravely took the decision to take up the invitation. I then had to endure a very tough afternoon of biscuits and cheese, red wine and chocolate! And all with a view of the Sydney skyscape and the airport runaway in the background! You'll have to excuse me going on about it but it won't be happening again anytime soon!
After a lovely weekend it was back to the real world and a backpackers in central Sydney on Monday. From there I went to check out a few of the sites including the Bridge and Opera House by day, the Botannical Gardens and the Art Gallery of NSW. The last of which I was tricked into going to by the lure of a photography exhibition which didn't actually start till three days later! To my great surprise, and the surprise of anyone who has ever been to an art gallery with me, I ended up spending nearly an hour and a half in it. This isn't to say I am any sort of conoisseur as my reasons for liking certain pictures over others was that they were particularly 'quirky', 'funny' or 'moody'! An art reviewer for the layman, maybe there is a niche for me.
That evening I went to have food at the harbour and was approached by a pair of Korean girls, who went by the English names Kathy and Angela, who wanted me to talk to them so they could learn English. They thought I was a 'handsome boy' so, realising they were women of taste, agreed. To say thank you they wanted to treat me to food and we went to McDonalds (their choice!) and I had 6 McNuggets! That has taken its rightful place at the very top of all the dates I have ever been on!
On my final day in Sydney I met up with an old school friend and we spent the afternoon at a lovely place called Darling Harbour. It was also a very productive afternoon as we are travelling the world in opposite directions and were able to swap tips and advice for our future travels. That evening I packed everything and set my alarm for 5am in readyness to finally say goodbye to Australia.
The following morning, after checking in to my flight for Christchurch NZ I watched the rest of the World Cup semi-final in a cafe. As the game was going on I saw a couple of familiar faces by the cafe. The reason I recognised them was because they were members of the Australian rugby union team. In the queue to board I was surrounded by them and they seemed like a nice bunch of guys. But if they had tried to push in front of me I wouldn't have been responsible for my actions!
Having arrived in Christchurch I now have just over a month of travelling left and then I'll be home to England at the start of August. I'm looking forward to catching up with people when I get back.