I'm glad you're still here. We are almost done with the Great Australian Road Trip. Camille's days in Australia are coming to an end. It's crunch time. We have done Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and Byron Bay.
We didn't have a lot of time, but we thought we could squeeze Sydney in. We had two nights and one day. The plan was to land Tuesday evening have dinner with my friend Ela (pronounced 'Ella') who lives there. Wake up early Wednesday go see the highlights of Sydney: Hyde Park, Royal Botanic Gardens, the Sydney Opera House etc. Then, in the evening we would go see a
Bruno Major show (more on that later). All before zipping out at 8 am on Thursday.
Actual footage of me planning this trip and trying pack the most activities and locations in to this trip.
It might seem a bit ambitious, but all of these things are relatively close to one another. In the worst-case scenario, we would skip certain sites (sorry Royal Botanic Gardens). You know what they say about making plans...
Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right? That's what it was like for Sydney. I've already admitted to knowing that we were ambitious regarding Sydney. A lot of things would have to go right in order for the plan to work. I'm nothing else, if not optimistic.
Expectation: Our whirlwind stop in Sydney was a tight schedule. Arrive 6:30pm get to our hotsel by 7:30 meet Ela for dinner at 8pm.
Reality: So, of course Murphy's law came in to effect.
For some reason I can't recall the plane was asked to decrease speed, so we arrived to Sydney later than expected. Sydney may have the longest runway in the world. I swear, the pilot took what felt like 'victory laps' around the tarmac. I am not exaggerating when I say that 15 minutes after landing we were still rolling around the runway. When we finally taxied at the gate (a good 20 minutes after landing at this point) the stairs were broken. A maintenance team was on their way to assist it would take another 15 minutes before the first passengers would disembark.
Expectation: We catch a train from the airport to the city, walk the quarter of a mile to the hostel.
Reality: It's raining. That's unfortunate, but at this point we don't care. What can you do? While on the train, the announcer says that this train not going any further. Get off and catch another train. Thankfully the hostel wasn't too far so we walked the rest of the way. It didn't effect us much other than trying to navigate a foreign city... at night... in the rain... with luggage. No big deal. We have Google Maps.
Expectation: We push dinner back to 9pm as we arrived at the hostel at 8:30. We will Uber over to make up lost time.
Reality: We arrive at The Grounds of Alexandria around 9 pm and find that the kitchen has closed although the bar is still open. Disappointment settles in, this day was not going to plan. After a moment the wonderful hostess took pity on our tired souls and the kitchen staff stayed open for us.
The restaurant has a great atmosphere, the food did not disappoint. Most of the facilities are open air and there are several scenes that are really cool. This rainy Tuesday night, there were few other patrons there and the rain was now a light drizzle so we were rather unencumbered by other people. We proceeded to check out the grounds, act silly, and do a mini photo shoot.
Full Day in Sydney
When we first left Melbourne for this road trip, Sydney was outside of the 10-day forecast window-- but it's Sydney. It's known for it's sunny weather. So that's how I packed, for sunny weather. While in Byron Bay we realized it was forecast to rain the entire time we were in Sydney. Only having a day and a half to see Sydney, we couldn't let it stop us. Just in case the poor weather I bought a poncho. To be honest, I haven't accepted that there is other weather besides sunny. My winter/rainy weather attire is wanting.
The jean shorts I had planned to wear would😅 not have fared well in this weather so I put on synthetic pants that won't (in theory)hold as much water.
Expectiation: Wake up early Wednesday. Catch breakfast in the city. Stroll through the CBD and Harbour. Look for P Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way Sydney (as you do). Take some photos of the Landmarks check out the music in the park.
Altered Expectation: Since it's raining, I'm just gonna throw this poncho on and proceed with the above plan. Maybe check out a museum instead of the park.
Reality: The dark clouds loomed over Sydney crying in damnation. Water fell in buckets. The streets were running like rivers. Cars created tidal waves that beat upon the sidewalk. The wind came to torment those who sought refuge under their umbrellas. We watched from the shelter of the cafe. Hesitant to enter the barrage of water outside.
Okay... maybe I'm being a itsy-bit dramatic....
After realizing there was no 'lightening up' as far as the rain was concerned. We headed toward the harbor. After about 15 minutes of walking I contemplated going back to the hostel to switch in to a bathing suit. Though incessant, the rain was thankfully warm. The stinking wind was blowing the poncho open every three minutes. I found the sad truth that my Nike runners are not utility shoes. They have no grip and they are not water resistant. Remaining upright was added to my list of things to accomplish that day. Trying to avoid all the puddles and running water in the street was comparable to attempting to beat the high score of Dance Dance revolution at the arcade closest to the middle school. You know the one with that 12 year old who has memorized all the choreography and spends his/her entire allowance there. That high score. My feet were so wet that they pruned. I know, I know-- gross.
On the bright-side:
We inadvertently saw a couple of sites that had been cut from the *must see* in Sydney list...but only because we were looking for places to wait out the rain on our way to the Sydney Opera house.
Here's some pictures of the St Mary's Cathedral.
After the church, Camille and I wanted to get dry. His clothes were wet too. We were in the CBD so there were a lot of shop options so we decided to just buy some more appropriate clothes/dry socks. We typed 'water resistant clothes' in Google-- seems logical right?
Google directs us to a store called Super-dry. Neither Camille or I are familiar with the brand so off we trek away from the Opera House and towards the shopping center. When we get to the store, Camille goes in search of water resistant pants. I took a look at all the clothing and started to have my doubts about the this store. I find sales guy as he takes in my appearance (please remember I am in a poncho and am dripping wet)
"So... we're looking for water resistant clothes... is Super-dry reflective of your clothes or is it just a name?"
To the sales guy's credit, he was really respectful and non-patronizing when he informed me that Super-Dry was just the brand name. That's right, folks! I had a Alan from The Hangover moment. In my defense, Google brought us there!
We hid in the mall trying to wait out the rain for a bit. Eventually with no relief in sight we decided to try our luck again. We were determined to get to the Opera House. On the way the wind and rain stopped. The break in the rain lasted long enough for us to see the Sydney Opera House take a few pics and head back. I needed dry socks.
After a shower and nap I got ready to go to the Bruno Major show. Now here is a full circle moment: While I was living in Wellington, I was introduced to Bruno Major he came up on a Spotify playlist (sidenote: you follow me on Spotify, right? I have excellent taste in music if I do say so myself.) While planning the agenda for the trip, I found that Bruno's concert was going to be in Sydney. How kismet? He's a UK based artist who is doing his first Australian tour. How could I not, the universe is aligning.
Around the same time i was introduced to Bruno Major, I met Ela. She and I were both on working holiday and looking for friends in a new city. We became fast friends and the Pella and Ela adventures as we explored the Greater Wellington Region. Who knew when she left for Sydney, and I for Melbourne that we would be going to see a show of this British artist I'd just discovered?
After the concert, Ela and I attempted to find a spot to have dinner and on a Wednesday night in the city it was hard to find a place at 11pm that was serving food. Again, shame on me for assuming, but what international city closes it's kitchens at 11pm? Sydney, that's who. (Also if you are in Sydney, they have lock out laws which don't allow people to enter bars or night clubs after 11pm).
We found a bit to eat (three restaurants later) and called it a night. Ela had work the next morning, and I had a 8am flight to catch.
All in all, I arrived and left Sydney safely and without incident so I consider the trip a success. I saw the Opera House, hung out with friends, and saw a performer that I enjoy.
I know my opinion of Sydney is jaded as I was fatigued from the non-stop travel, stressed about sticking to the agenda, and uncomfortable in my wet socks. I tried not to take Sydney's transgressions personally, but I really feel like the city just:
I will write my judgement of Sydney in pencil. I definitely owe it another go. Sydney, I plan to come back!
Until Next Time,