I got into Sydney on Monday morning feeling like a lonesome backpacker having left my amazing group in Thailand. I met a few people who were doing the "Fun Down Under" week in Sydney with me and we had an orientation tour through the city on the way to our hostel, seeing the major sites and where to go and what to do, it didn't quite look how I'd imagined it at this point as it was absolutely tipping it down and quite dark but we got dropped off at our hostel "Wake Up" rated something ridiculous like best in the world or something and I unpacked and got settled, feeling more tired than my leg from England to Thailand.
I was sharing a room with two girls doing my weeks programme and then we had one free bed which we were wondering who would be in and in walks Dave, who I'd spent the last four weeks in Thailand with, we knew we'd be in the same hostel, but the same room is quite impressive! So that made me happy, we all grabbed some lunch while we were waiting for the rest of our group who were a little delayed.
Abby (from the Thailand trip) was also flying in on the same day so we waited for her and then met up for the day; it was like a little reunion after only one day. We planned on having a picnic in the park but we got absolutely drenched just walking to the shop so we just went back to the hostel to dry off in the end!
The next day, my programme started, we met at lunch time and our co-ordinator took us to the Centrepoint Tower, where we had lunch at the highest point in Sydney, slowly rotating to catch all the views, it was a huge buffet lunch with the best brownies in the world and it meant we could all get to know each other. It turned out that there's someone from my college in the same group! We'd met each other in the bathroom the night before and both given each other a sly elongated look trying to work out if we knew each other and it turns out my friends know her friends-it's such a small world. Also turned out that two guys from my Geography class in college were in the room next door to me so I had a nice catch up with them on one of the nights. Worcester Sixth Form College was taking over Wake Up Hostel.
After the meal at Centre point the people coming to Oz to work had to go and sort out their taxes and what not so me, Heather and Nikki went to the aquarium in Darling Harbour to look at some big fish! We got absolutely drenched on the way back again and were hoping to see some Ozzy sunshine soon!
In the evening we all went to the bar under our hostel (Side Bar) to do a pub quiz which consisted of all sorts from paper aeroplane contests to problem solving and the winners got a $100 bar tab, which unfortunately wasn't us, but it was good fun anyway. After this we went to "The Gaff" nightclub which was a mixture between backpackers from all over the world and locals so we had a really good night there.
The next day we went to the Spider Zoo, we saw lots of spiders of course, but had our picture taken with a Koala Bear and fed the Kangaroos, a few people got kicked by one of the joeys so I steered clear of that one and went for the mummy with a cute little joey in her pouch, it was really good but we had a crazy man taking our day- everything was a problem and all very rushed for him, when we got there he was like 'forget the kangaroos, keep on walking' and huffed when one of us stopped to look at it (for most of us this was our first time seeing one!) But we were all quite light-hearted and didn't let him spoil our day- crazy man (with a lot of road rage too!)
After the park we had an afternoon of wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, we went to three different wineries and tasted all sorts of wine from syrupy desert wines to wines for breakfast! It was surprisingly good considering I don't really like wine! We slept very well on the bus! We also went to "The Smelly Cheese Factory" and sampled some goats cheeses and then had huuuge portions of gelato, so rich - we all felt very greedy, but it was good.
After getting back from this trip, some of us went for a walk, we sat in Hyde Park for a while and went to see the Opera House and Bridge- did some good sightseeing and the sun was out! So even better!
Me and Dave treated ourselves to an Australian Nandos on the way back and it was great- the portions were huge! In the evening we just went to the Side Bar where there were two particularly good looking Australian guys playing live music so a nice chilled out night.
On Thursday we had our BBQ on the beach day, we got a bus to Coogee beach and it was here it was when it really hit me I was in Australia, it was absolutely beautiful, I felt like I was in the Home and Away set, it was really hot today too, we chilled out with our BBQ and then walked to Bondi Beach stopping at four or five just as beautiful beaches on the way.We saw an "ex' homeless man's house built into the rocks on the cliff with a view over Bondi Beach, pretty good place to choose for your house. We got to Bondi after walking for the afternoon, settled down in the sea etc, then these huge thunderstorm clouds came over us so we decided to try and beat the crowds to the bus and go back to our hostel, it was such a good day. In the evening, we started off at Side Bar, then went to Nevada Palace in Kings X, where we were given about 15-20 jugs of beer for free as our co-ordinator DJ'd (if that's a word) next door and then we went to her club to finish the night off.
A few people woke up a little hungover the next day, right in time for our first surfing lesson! We were picked up from our hostel and taken to one of the beaches Home and Away's filmed on and then had our lesson on Long Reef Beach, they taught us the simple steps then took us right out to the big waves straight away- I have never drunk so much salt water in my life! Wasn't quite the pro by the end of the day and so was a little bit worried about my 5 days of surfing coming up next week! We chilled out in the evening to mend our sore muscles and cooked up in the hostel which was nice, felt very settled and just watched a few films in the common room on the bean bags.
We woke up the next day feeling so sore, all across our arms. We'd had a good work out, today was Taronga Zoo so we caught the ferry across and spent most of the day there, we saw a bird show which was really good, with the backdrop of the harbour and the opera house, it couldn't have been a better position. While we were looking at the platypuses there was an incredible lightning strike so close to us and then for the next hour the best thunderstorm I have ever heard, it was crazy loud, so we took cover to have some lunch.
In the evening we had a party Bus, we were expecting some flash double decker with lights and what not, only to find that it looked like a converted old school bus with graffiti all over the side so we were a bit sceptical, it took us on a pub crawl around about 5 bars and clubs all over Sydney with a free drink inside each, it was a good night, helped by the fact that we had another group join us who were so drunk- dressed as ravers and dancing down the aisle of the bus as there were about 60 of us on a 30 seated bus! We all only made it to the fourth bar just because that was right next to our hostel, but it was a very messy night for some!
On Sunday we had the Harbour cruise, a few people were struggling, a hangover with a rocky boat is not a good combination- we ate lunch on board and had the afternoon to chill out and take in all the sites, it was a very chilled out day and we just spent our last night together in the Side Bar before we all went our different ways- me onto a week's Surf Camp! Good way to start my trip in Oz x x x