Study Week Part Two: Sydney Bound

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Let me start off by saying oh boy do I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to blogging! I have been so busy lately with day trips here and there, all of the breaks I have had (study break -spring break, easter, and now anzac day), and papers for classes. I now have some down time to sit down and get back to blogging! Which brings me to my second part of my study break: Sydney!

After being gone to Fraser Island the first half of my break, the second half I would be going to Sydney (April 4th- 7th)! My friend Tashi is from the area and she brought myself and four others along with her back home. It was a great time, and I enjoyed meeting her family. We flew into Sydney early thursday afternoon, her mom came and picked us up. It was exciting to see how excited both Tashi and her mom were to see each other. Her mother then each greeted us with a hug and kisses on the cheek. It was sweet. Her mom was basically our tour guide that day. Informing us where everything was in the city, some cool information about Sydney, ect. From the airport she took us to Bondi Beach – one of my favorite beaches by far. Bondi is a popular beach and the name of the surrounding suburb in Sydney. Many films and tv shows have been filmed there…speaking of tv shows… While wandering the beach and exploring, my friend Lindsey found a cute lifeguard and asked if we could get a photo with him. We talked to him for a while, and eventually Lindsey and him exchanged contact information..little did we know that Trent the lifeguard was Trent Maxwell, a life guard on a popular tv show “Bondi Rescue” – a factual television series about the team of lifeguards who patrol the beach – also a famous lifeguard. We couldn’t believe it!

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(Mwenya, Tashi, Sunny, Lindsey, Eric, and myself enjoying the beach)

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Overall I love the atmosphere of the Bondi area – laying on the beach, people out and about rollerblading, biking, jogging, surfing. Everything is so chill and relaxed.

We stayed at Bondi until 4:00pm, from there we had to go take Tashi to her dentist apt. Afterwards it was to her house! Her family lives close to the suburb Manly – another popular place to go to. When we arrived at her house we were greeted by her younger sister Ella, and her dad. It was nice to be in a family atmosphere since I haven’t had that since I’ve been in Australia –  it’s been more of a dorm/friends are my family feeling while I’m at Uni here, which is still nice don’t get me wrong, but there’s just something about being around your family and the feeling you get. After only being in there house for a few minutes, I felt welcomed and part of the family. Her mom cooked us dinner that night. We had chicken curry. I have never had Thai food before in my life, but man oh man was it good! And also the fact it was a home cooked meal! – something I rarely get or make while I’ve been here.

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Friday we woke up the next morning to go explore the main part of Sydney. We would be taking a bus to take us to catch the ferry in Manly that would bring us to the city. The nice thing about the bus stop: it was right in front of Tashi’s house. The down side to catching a bus: you have to wave it down like you would for a Taxi to hop on. While waiting at the bus stop, the bus drove right past us. We all had this confused look on our faces. Tashi then informed us that you had to signal the bus driver to hop on, even though we were at “the bus stop.” The next stop was a few hundred feet ahead. So we ran with our bags to hop on the next stop. Literally as we got to the next stop the bus drove off again. Soo we had to wait half an hour for the next bus to come. Finally we got on the next bus. From there it was a half an hour bus ride to the Ferry. Once we got off we saw that the next ferry would be leaving in two minutes, soo here we go again running as fast as we can to catch the ferry. We get there, the gate is locked. So another half an hour of sitting/wandering around until we hopped onto the next ferry. It was about a half an hour ferry ride, then there it was! The sydney bridge, the sydney opera house, the heart of sydney! We got off the ferry and from there went exploring. The city is huge. People were everywhere. We walked around for a bit and then made our way to the Opera house. We took a tour of it, learned the process of how it was made and it’s design, ect, and that was really cool. I was also amazed that it was only built 40 years ago, not too long ago.

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After touring the opera house we went to go walk around the town. It also was starting to rain. After walking around for probably 45 minutes we made our way into St.Mary’s Cathedral – it was also now downpour raining outside, and we had nooo rain protection/gear whatsoever. Just our luck. The cathedral though was very pretty to walk around. It was during the time of Lent so during this time all the sculptures and artifacts were covered up in purple cloth, which would then be removed come Easter. While in the church I also took some time to sit down and say a little prayer.

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After being in the church for a good hour hiding from the rain we ventured back out into the cold and wet atmosphere. The busy streets had now died and become empty since the rain had come. We took the ferry back to Manly and then went exploring around that area. Finally the rain had stopped.

We grabbed a bite to eat at Moo Gourmet Burgers. Afterwards we were debating to go out and see what the night life was like in Manly, or to go to bed. We ended up hopping on a bus to take us back to Tashi’s place. Half way through the bus ride, Sunny had realized that he left his wallet at the restaurant. So Eric and himself got off to go back – in the end they ended up going out that night as well.

The next morning, Saturday we got up early – 7am. Tashi’s sister had brazilian lessons in the city, and along the way to that her parents brought us to the Paddington Markets. It was a nice atmosphere. Local vendors came selling their goods. Since I have been in Australia I love going to the local markets. I ended up buying some jewelry and a pair of shorts. I also found a pair of Opal earrings I fell in love with. When asking the price, my mouth dropped. $450, definitely not affordable on this girls budget! The vendor and I chuckled when I said “oh that’s a lot.”

After the markets we went back to exploring Sydney. We also were looking for hostels to stay the night because we wanted to experience the Sydney night life. That night we would be going out to Club Ivy – a huge Bar/Club that had many different levels, entrances, and even a party area with a pool! It was huge! Before going out though we went back to Tashi’s house to pre celebrate her 18th birthday – 18th’s are a big thing here because that is the age when you become legal and of age to drink. Unlike 21 in the states – which mine will be coming up in August 🙂 woo!

Anyways we had Thai take out for dinner, and Tashi’s friends from school came over, her older sister even came to surprise her! It was one big happy social gathering. It was also nice to meet her friends as well.

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After our night out of celebrating Tashi’s birthday, and then dancing the night away at Club Ivy – let’s just say we stayed up a bit toooo late, we checked out of our hostel sunday morning on little to no sleep. Tashi also would be meeting up with us in the city since she stayed at her house that night. We were going to go to the Paddy’s Markets after checking out of our hostel. It is this huge market with vendors galore- we were informed it was a good place to buy souvenirs ect. Also later that night, Sunny, Eric, Lindsey, and myself had signed up to do the bridge climb. We walked a few blocks until we had seen a sign saying “The Markets.” Yay! We made it. We walked into the building and went up the escalator. When we arrived to the top, it looked like we had made it to a shopping mall. “Weird” we thought. This isn’t what we pictured a market to look like, but we assumed that maybe this was a different type of market. We walked around for a while, and while walking, noticed that a lot of the shoppers here and people were of asian descent, and a lot of the stores we had gone into were Asian culture. There were no souvenirs here. Nothing was cheap, and we were thinking this was the weirdest market we had been too. After spending close to 2 hours there, Tashi had met up with us…and we weren’t at the Paddy’s Markets….

We were in Chinatown at the Chinatown shopping mall. Now this made more sense, and for two hours we thought we were at the Paddy’s markets. Nope. The Paddy’s markets were located underneath the Chinatown shopping mall. “You’ve got to be kidding us” we had all thought. The boys were shopped out from the Chinatown shopping mall and didn’t want to shop no more. It was also downpour raining outside again. So Lindsey and I split up from the group and went through the Markets quickly while the others went to the Darling Harbour. We would meet back up at the Bridge Climb at 5:00pm. Lindsey and I were also concerned because reading over our bridge climb email it said we had to have “closed toed shoes.” Which neither of us had. So frantically in the markets I was in search for a cheap pair of tennis shoes, Lindsey would be borrowing Tashi’s.

While leaving the markets there was a little old lady selling umbrella’s. She said “usually I sell for $3 but today I sell for $5”. Of course since it’s raining outside it was a smart selling profit. We each bought one….and then after 5 minutes… I had wasted $5. While making our way through the dreadful awful rain, my umbrella decided to break and with a little wind, blow the other way. Lindsey and I just stood there staring at each other and then began to laugh. It was just not our day today. To make our day even more eventful, we got lost trying to find the Bridge Climb. Sydney is a huge city,and I would also like to add it’s not a fun city to get around in the rain. After walking around in circles for over an hour- and of course we were half an hour late, we finally somehow made our way to the Bridge Climb entrance. We were soaking wet, cold, and definitely not in the mood to walk up a bridge in the pouring rain that we paid big money to do, and at that point were wanting refunds. (Note to self: always expect the unexpected – and also always plan for rain). We looked at each other and said “We made it this far”, so we went along and decided to do the climb after the eventful day we had had. We got dressed and into the practice room. There we did a little meet and greet with our group and instructor. We also had an inside practice course we had to go through which was a demonstration of what the bridge climb was going to be like. We were given rain pants, a rain jacket, hat mittens, earphones to hear our instructor, and a light for our climb. Just before we were going to venture outside we were informed that the rain had stopped and that we no longer needed our rain jackets. Now that was pure luck/ a miracle. All I can say is I am so happy that I went through with the climb. It was one of the greatest, coolest, most breathtaking experiences I have done. The city lit up the night sky and the views were absolutely amazing. While climbing the bridge our instructor told us stories of how the bridge came to be, what the city was like back in the day, and other cool and interesting history facts. It was so peaceful staring into the big bright city,and looking at the Opera house. Views I will never ever forget. While on the way down, we even got to catch a fireworks show that was going on at the opera house. It was a perfect ending to a not so perfect day.

But not all things are perfect. Of course after the fireworks show, it began to sprinkle….bring on the rain…again…

Overall I can say this trip was quite eventful. I have never ridden so many busses in my life, I now always will expect the weather to rain/will be prepared for rain, and now have the motive that anything can happen and that not everything happens the way you want it to or plan it to be. Anything can happen.

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