Day 4: G’day! I am now in the land down under!
Stay to the left!
I started off the day walking on the right side and after awhile remembered where I was and switched to the left. I did this a couple times throughout the day.
(I started this last night but exhaustion finally hit me and I passed out. I was even sleeping by the time my friends K & H arrived.)
I walked along George St in Sydney and since it was Tuesday around noon everyone was dresses for work heading to or from lunch. I immediately liked Sydney. The weather was was nice, not too hot, not too cold and I saw Asian restaurants everywhere that I wanted to try. Unfortunately I had a 1:05 Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb reservation I needed to make so I didn’t have time to stop and eat. I walked by Din Tai Fung with a sad face and dreamed about what I could have eaten at Mamak. My desire to make my first meal in Sydney epic was soon crushed.
I arrived at the check-in for my climb and the first thing they asked was, “have you eaten?” My reply, “no.” “You need to eat something.” So I scared down a Chicken Avocado sandwich which was quite tasty and not bad for a first meal in the land down under.
Booking a 1:05pm climb on a Tuesday afternoon turns out to be the secret VIP express climb. There was only one other climber on my tour and she was traveling for work. We introduced ourselves, they handed us a jumpsuit and we got changed. The weather can vary widely but they have everything you need. Since it was warm out we didn’t need to bring much. Our tour guide helped set us up and ran through a short physical test. And then we were off! I didn’t find it to be scary, you’re cabled in the whole way.
The views were amazing and being so exhausted I knew what I was experiencing was amazing but it was hard to feel it. I’ve seen images of the Sydney Opera house so many times and to be walking right along aside on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it was breathtaking, and literally too. I’m a bit out of shape. Post-Whitney I haven’t gone on any hikes and lost all my hiking muscles.
We stopped and chatted for a bit and I could tell it was because with only two people you climb a lot faster than the group maximum of twelve. They also stop here and there to take our photo. We ended up finishing a full hour early. Our guide said we could hang out as long as we want since we had so much time but since we didn’t have cameras and we can’t just run around everywhere we decided we had our full and were ready to head down. Since we finished early I headed over to the Pylon lookout to take photos for myself. The package for the bridge climb comes with a certificate, group photo, and free admission to the lookout. They will also record a short 10 second video which you can email to yourself later. I ended up paying $15 AUD for a single photo at the top of the bridge and $248 AUD for the climb. Initially I was planning to do the last day climb of the day to get some sunset but turns out my cousin is in town as well so we were meeting up for dinner and I didn’t think I would get there on time. My guide suggested booking the first night climb of the day since that $200 AUD and you can sunset views before it’s fully dark out. They have a twilight climb in between and that’s about $300 AUD. It is expensive but I had fun and I like I lucked out because we got the express VIP climb.
The Pylon Lookout was nice, I ran around with gopro and selfie stick attempting to capture an epic first selfie in Sydney. If I had to pay extra for it I don’t know if I would have gone. You can also just take photos from the bridge.
I had about two hours until dinner so I headed for to the visitor center to collect brochures and and then I walked around The Rocks. This place is named in every guidebook. It’s pretty touristy and it feels like one of those old places redone to look old but not falling apart anymore. It’s probably nicer on the weekends when it’s more crowded but it felt like a Faneuil Hall in Boston. I headed over to Circular Quay and saw boats coming and going and saw an artist making drawing large drawings. You can check him out on Instagram @pepegaka . He has Facebook as well. I was impressed by his wide social media presence. His sing says he lives purely by donation and does not sell his artwork but donates it. This reminded me of the stone lady I saw in Vancouver. I’ll try to post more photos later on Instagram.
From Circular Quay I continued to the Sydney Opera House. I have a confession to make. When I saw it with my own eyes I was underwhelmed. It looks not so white and a bit dated. Once I saw the stairs leading up to the Opera House and see the detailing I was blown away and attempted to catch the beauty in a selfie. It didn’t work out so well but hopefully this image I have in made head will stay for awhile.
On top of having a express VIP climb we also had gorgeous weather. Before coming to Sydney I imagined it was beautiful everyday because that’s what the photos look like. But my guide informed us it rains a lot and this is the first week with nice weather.
On the way to the Opera House there’s a nice/modern/musuemy restaurant and people were sitting outside enjoying views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House enjoying wine with friends and lovers. This is a nice spot to stop and chill after dinner and get drinks with friends. Also I was impressed that it wasn’t a cheesy restaurant you would normally find near major tourist attractions. It had class. Sydney you got class and I like it.
I needed to head over to the restaurant to meet my cousin for dinner. I had a general idea
of the direction I needed to go. I started walking and it was dark by then and the street was empty. I saw a
few people take some stairs towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge and decided to follow. It was going the direction I needed to go and there were people so I wouldn’t be alone.
At first I was happy I decided to change routes because it was scenic and then I started to panic I wouldn’t find a way down and the road led straight to the bridge. Too stubborn to turn around I continued on. I saw familiar sites and knew I was still going to right direction and then I saw a group I had see earlier in the day walking in the opposite direction so I thought there has to be another way down.
I ran into people taking photographs of the view. From that vantage point you can see both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I was also getting passed by runners left and right. Remember I’m still learning to stay the left but it feels so counterintuitive I freak out when I have to make a quick decision and end up staying to the right. My guide for the bridge climb informed lots of people enjoy running the bridge. I saw lots of people with hydration backpacks and I thought people in Sydney are fit! Later I passed an electronic signboard that said marathon in X days. I’m guessing the high number of runner wearing hydration packs were all training for the marathon.
Luckily I found a way down and continued walking into the city. Everyone was getting off work and I was long queues of people waiting for buses. I was amazed at how orderly everything was and how long the lines were! I took a photo but not the one with the crazy long lines. I stopped and stared for a few seconds. It’s not something I see in LA often and I could remember if it’s like this in NY. My last memory is from China and it was definitely not like that. I can’t imagine what kind of culture shock Australians go through when they move to China.
I arrived at dinner and found the cute restaurant bustling with people. I out my name down and waited for my cousin. I enjoyed people watching and I think people in Sydney are fairly attractive. We sat down to dinner and I was starved. I had originally planned to stop at Din Tai Fung for a pre-dinner snack but I didn’t have much time and thought it would take too long. Everything on the menu looked good and everything tasted good. We ordered a Tom Yum that was so spicy I didn’t ask for hot sauce. It is not the usual Americanized Thai food I’m accustomed to. We ordered too
much and couldn’t eat it all. My cousin insisted I take the leftovers but I stubbornly refused because we were headed out of Sydney the next day. But I’m writing this now on a two hour train to Katoomba and that leftover Thai sounds amazing but not the Tom Yum.
So we did out usual catch up and gab. Before I delve deeper I will give a backstory. I met up with my cousin in NY for dinner. We barely caught each other since she was out of town for the majority of my time in NY and were finally found one night of overlap. We both mentioned we were taking for doing and Austrlalia/New Zealand around the same time but neither of us had plane tickets. Fast forward to days before I’m planning to leave and I frantically start planning and wonder where is my cousin. I shoot her an email and find out we will be in Sydney at the same time. Our communication is choppy and we in the end only have one night of overlap in Sydney, typical us. I pepper her with questions about her trip and ask her for tips in advice. I learn she’s more into learning about the indigenous people and I’m much more into hiking and activities. We finish dinner and head out in search of a coffee shop. We head over to a food court she had been to earlier and find Ippudo and Lauderee! I am floored but sad because both are closed. We give up and head back toward her hotel to drop off the leftovers. We attempt to go to a bar across the street but it’s closing so we just in the hotel lobby. (Bars are sometimes called hotels because an archaic law didn’t allow alcohol to be sold in places that didn’t have accommodations. I learned that tidbit from my cousin the bookworm.)
We continue our gabfest in the lobby but exhaustion finally catches up to me and I am yawning non stop. At this point I haven’t had a proper nights sleep in three nights and I was battling jetlag. She hands me $20 AUD and tells to take a taxi home. This is also after she paid for my dinner. I was initially planning to walk since it’s not far but it’s late and the streets are empty so I accept and we head over to the taxi stand. We say our goodbyes and ponder when we will see other next. She will spend a day in LA but I’ll still be only my world tour. Another useful tidbit my cousin gave, restaurants charge less for cash so she takes out cash to pay for things.
Back to the hotel I see my friends have arrived but are out at the moment. I get ready for bed and start writing and within about two minutes the exhaustion is too strong and I fall asleep. My friends come back, wake me up and we talk while Iay in bed sleeping, too exhausted to get out. And by some magic, maybe being so exhausted I sleep through the night!