As soon as I arrived at the YHA in Bondi I got a different vibe and people seemed more friendly straight off. I took my bags to my room and the girls already in there (Lotta and Anita) introduced themselves and invited me to join them for a surf day trip the next day which they were just in the process of booking. I declined, as it was late and I didn't know how I would feel or what I wanted to do for my first day in Bondi, but it was really nice to feel so immediately welcomed all the same.
The next day I woke up and went to join my roommates on the rooftop terrace. They were talking about holding a BBQ to try kangaroo meat and sample Aussie wines and I asked to join them. To help out I went to the supermarket to gather some of the ingredients, and then spent the rest of the day at Bondi beach. When the group got back from surfing we started the BBQ, opened the wine and sat down to eat. After we had overindulged a few of us headed to the beach, to watch the waves come in and drink more wine.
On my third day, the Swedish girl Lotta was moving in to an apartment in Bondi with three others from the hostel that I had met at the BBQ the night before. Alas, a new roommate arrived, a German girl called Linda. After a chilled out morning, Linda and I took a walk around Bondi to try to help her get her bearings, before stopping for a beer in the afternoon sunshine, whilst Anita helped the others to move in to their new place. That evening Anita and I got dressed up and made our way over to the new apartment for a sort of flat warming drinks before heading out to Bondi Junction in the evening. We went to The Eastern, a backpacker favourite, and in particular it seemed Brazillians. And also in typical 'funny when you are drunk' style, Anita from Melbourne and I, swapped accents when we boarded the bus, but I can only describe her attempt as similar to Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Anita thought my accent was pretty good, but Casper (yes we made a few friendly ghost jokes) a Brazillian guy who was the friend of one of the girls in the apartment shattered that llusion.
On the fourth day, having lost the morning to sleep, Anita and I walked from Bondi to Bronte along the scenic coastal route to cure our hangover. Then in the evening we went out to eat at a local pizza restaurant and then watched Titanic back at the others' new apartment.
Anita left early the next morning, so I did the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, which included a stop off at Bronte to watch the first swimmers in the Bondi to Bronte swim cross the line, and a wander around Coogee market. I took the bus back to Bondi, but not before I walked around and window shopped in Bondi junction. Then it was back to the hostel to catch up with Linda and go to Bondi market, but when I got back our new roommate had arrived - Laura from San Fransisco. So the three of us headed out, for a wander around, a spot of people watching and a couple of chilled out Sunday Session afternoon bevvies.
Laura had booked a surf lesson for 6.30am the next morning, and after some deliberation I decided to bite the bullet and join her. Even though 6.30am seemed really early it was actually a really good time to go as it was low tide and not too busy - perfect for a newbie like me. And what an amazing time I had! It took me a little while to piece it altogether, and for the first few waves I was just attempted a couple of the steps in the process of getting up rather than going straight to standing. But after a short time I had caught my own wave (whereas the others in the group were catching waves with the help and a little push from the instructors) and managed to stand up. Then that was it, I had been bitten by the surfing bug and wanted to do it again and again and again…
I have never really enjoyed the sea, but surfing was something else, and the stinging water in my eyes, salt water in my mouth, and bubbles up my nose ceased to irritate me. After an hour in the broken waves, the instructors decided to take us out back to try the unbroken waves. And here is where I took my first nosedive! But again after a short time I got the hang of it, and I think being short was an absolute advantage in terms of standing. Perhaps the first and only time in my life that I have found an advantage to it. The only problem now is that I cannot wait to go again (and again). Perhaps I have found myself another expensive hobby?! I felt like I got to grips with it quicker than I even did with skiing. So now snowboarding is also a must.. But for that I shall wait for New Zealand.