My plan from Byron was to go on to Melbourne but the bus journey would have been too long. I therefore stopped in Sydney for a night. Due to the bus timings I actually had 2 full days there which was great for sight-seeing.
I stayed in the popular backpacker district of Kings Cross. It was certainly a daze to be back in a large city. The amount of people and lights were an assult on the senses. My first task was to try and sort out getting my tax back from working. Just like the UK it was convoluted, so I left it to an agency to sort and who knows whether I will receive it or not.
With this completed I set off wandering about the city and soon found myself by the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. I knew that I wanted to see some opera before I left so headed towards the Opera House. From the pictures I have seen of the house it always appears smooth and white. Close up however, it was an off white, beige and cream made up of small triangular tiles. It did give it a slight dirty look! I headed in and was surprised by the amount of concrete inside.
I spent some time with the box office discussing price tickets and discovered an unpublicised deal, where if I bought a tour of the Opera House (which I was going to do anyway) I could get one of the best seats in the house for $55, a saving of $200! It also meant that this was cheaper than any other tickets so I took advantage of it and booked a seat for my last night in Australia a week later.
I took the tour straight away and it was great to see inside the other parts of the theatre. The House itself was a little bit different to how I imagined. It closely resembled the Crucible in Sheffield, with large chunks of concrete and hideously bright, garish carpets. One carpet was bright purple and as a result Pavaroti refused to perform in the Opera House as he believed it brought bad luck. It almost appeared to be caught in the 70's, even though it was going through renovation.
I wandered back to my hostel through the Botanical Gardens which were beautiful. The sky line of the city was a great backdrop, contrasting nature with man.
The next day, I walked with a friend from the hostel from Kings Cross to Bondi Beach. It was great to get out of the tourist areas and see suburban Sydney. It was very quaint and the architecture was mid 40's-50's. Again very American in feel. The walk took about 2 hours but it was good to stretch the legs. I do not know what i expected from Bondi but perhaps a large beach, very cosmopolitan in style with cafes and shops. Reality was very different. It was a small beach with old style shops and like a run-down English sea-side town. There were plenty of surfers though, even with a cold breeze. Unfortunately it was too cold to go in the sea and get rescued by the Bondi Lifeguards!
A little bit disappointed with Bondi, we followed the coastal walk down to Coogee Beach. The rocks were carved in unusual ways and we passed plenty of other beaches that looked more attractive than Bondi. The colour of the ocean was amazing, changing from the turquoise to dark blue very quickly. The view was stunning, even when we walked past a graveyard on the edge of the coast. It was huge!
First impressions of Sydney were not amazing. Luckily I was to return and have this changed but before that was Melbourne.