After a little bit of whining from the peanut gallery about my posts being too long, I decided to shorten them up a little. So those who know, I am already in Asia, but I'm still writing on Australia because I'm a busy girl out here! So enjoy the easy read and I'll be back soon to finish up on the Aussie experience!!
I flew in from Prague to Sydney and that was SUCH a long flight... Obviously we all know that Australia is far away but 20 hours flying is a little extreme! 13 hours from London Heathrow to Singapore, then another 7 from Singapore to Sydney. And that's not even counting the other 2 hours from Prague to London! Anyways... That's boring.
What's not boring are the gay guys that hosted me for my time in Sydney! There is a website called airbnb.com that you can go on and create a profile, then you can check out people's homes that have put a room for rent online. You can see photos and read their profiles and their reviews. This was the first time I had used the site so naturally, I was a bit nervous. The cabbie drops me off at a really nice condominium and I buzz their place. A man with a heavy gay "accent" comes down and insists on carrying my very heavy luggage (very awesome) and he took me up to their place. Their home was amazing! It overlooked Bondi Junction and had 3 awesome patios, one off my room. My room and bathroom were identical to a little hotel room and I loved it. That night they took me out to a happenin' neighbourhood called New Town and we had some dinner then finished off with chai lattes. I slept like a baby in my new room and woke up to little parrot-like birds chirping on the patio. Australia was awesome, and it was only day one.
The 2nd day in Sydney, I woke up to toast and eggs and fresh fruit and tea... Jude had woken up early to prepare a feast for me. So awesome. After breakfast, Jude was going to drive me to Bondi beach but because of a huge marathon that morning, the roads going down there were temporarily shut down so he dropped me off downtown instead and I started checking out the city. While walking down George St looking for a cell phone store, I walked by a LuluLemon and remembered that my friend Delshani worked at a Lulu in Sydney. It said it was opening at noon so I went for a coffee and went back at noon. I walk back and there she was! She told me to come back after 5 and we would catch up after her shift. You ever complain about how expensive Lulu is at home? That shit is practically free in Canada compared to Aus! So insane.
I wandered around town, obviously doing the mega touristy stuff like the Sydney Opera House and the bridge. Then I headed down to the aquarium to check out some marine life, and my favourite, sharks. After I was tempted to beat random children, I decided it was best to head out before I was handed a criminal record lol. As I was walking back downtown through Darling Harbour, I commented "nice shirt" to a passer-by wearing an old school Hartford Whalers shirt... Little did I know I just found myself an S5 (stage 5 clinger) I was followed around by this random student from Virginia State blabbing on about Vancouver weather, Obamas position in the eastern states and a few dumb, uneducated comments about Sidney Crosby. I was finally able to ditch him in a book store. Safe at last.... I met up with Del shortly after and we had a good conversation over dinner. Catching up on each others lives since our time in Banff together. We even finished up with a chocolate fondue. Perfect evening, and after over a month in Europe in a crazy hurry with 35 people, it was just really nice to sit with an old friend and drink tea for 4 hours!
The next day, after another amazing breakfast from Jude on the patio, I went into the city centre to meet up with my friend Laura from Tasmania that I met in Europe. We headed out to the Taronga Zoo which is a beautiful ferry ride through the Sydney Harbour. We seen so many cute little animals.... My favourites being a little seal, platypus and these crazy monkeys. And the tiger. And the elephant. And the zebras. Actually, I loved everything there and I thought the zoo was wonderfully done and exceptionally kept and maintained. I wish I lived there! After Laura and I parted ways, I went for dinner, booked some flights to Melbourne and off to bed.
Woke up decently early and after some ridiculous translating of a bus schedule, finally found Delshani at the train station and we were off to Manly for the day. Manly was gorgeous and wonderful, but the wind was out of control! We hung out at the beach for a bit when our old friend, Spencer, came to join us. Spencer is a good old friend from Banff that I spent lots of time with and share some amazing memories with. We caught up on the beach, took a stroll and wound up on a park bench with a 6-pack of VB (Victoria Bitter, a local Aussie beer). Well it wasn't much longer after that we picked up a box of "goon" (white wine) and headed to a Mexican restaurant where we sheepishly filled our glasses from our snazzy box of white and talked about times past. I won the award of the night for bringing up the most awkward situations. Ever. We ended the night at a little sports pub and I was sad to say goodbye to Spike, knowing it would be the last time for a long while. It was great to have the evening with those two. After the night at Delshanis, it was time I parted ways with Sydney.
Melbourne is one of the greatest cities that I've been privileged enough to visit. It is so lively and filled with arts and passion. It's easy to get around and has tons of things to do. When I arrived into town, I had to kill some time before I arrived at my hosts place because they weren't done work yet, so I decided to go to the mall, after all, I am a girl. Turns out the mall was insufficient so I ended up eating a meatless big mac for supper and got teased a little for asking for ketchup. He instantly replied "where abouts in Canada are you from?". Had to laugh at that. After McD's, I went to the theatre and watched "The Change Up" and then headed back to my place for the evening. Upon my arrival to their place in an artsy fartsy neighbourhood, there were two girls my age having dinner at the table. I joined in and we were instantly talking Canada and Fubar. Awesome. They were great and we had a blast and spent some solid time laughing at Canadians and our terribly awesome movies (one of the girls lived in Calgary for a few years). They gave me some city tips and off to bed!
My first day in Melbourne consisted of the Queen Victoria Market where $10 asian massages and hot jam donuts were welcomed with open arms. Got some work done on my iPhone, getting it "unlocked" and then did some exploring through the city. I headed out to St. Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne, and had a nice dinner at a place called "Lentil As Anything" where there are no prices on the menu, but you just make a donation with all proceeds going towards education, clean water, prevention of AIDS/HIV in parts of Africa. After my delicious meal, I walked down the St. Kilda pier and took great pictures of the sunset, followed by some amazing observations of the "ferry" penguins that nest there. They were sooooo cute!!!
The next day I was planning on doing a tour of the Great Ocean Road but had to give up that idea when I realized the guy who was working on my phone never gave me back my Canadian sim card. So back to the market I went.... Ate more hot jam donuts, and got the stupid sim card. After that I went to an unique area of town called Brunswick Street that was lined with independent retailers. This reminded me of what heaven would look like for my friends Julie and Chelsi or my cousins Kristen and Kathryn. It was very cool and creative and extremely eclectic. I headed back towards downtown and enjoyed birthday dinner and dessert (I still always celebrate my moms birthday a little bit) and got ready to go to my first AFL game (Australia football league, Aussie rules). I got a scarf and a toque and was cheering for the Hawks apparently!
I walked to the arena, and there were 90,000 people in attendance and I could not believe it! These fans are comparable to Rider fans!! The Hawks took on the Magpies in this semi-final and a little old man I was sitting with filled me in on the rules and in no time I was right into it. The Hawks succumbed to the Magpies at the very end of an awesome game and that was that. I got lost on the way home but eventually figured it out, and got some nice photos at the same time. The next morning I got up and had tea with my host, Loren, and we had a great visit. Unfortunately, her brother has been missing for quite some time and she has been actively perusing his discovery. Seeing her raw hurt and sadness made me really miss my brothers and really think about how fortunate I am to have not only one, but two brothers, who I know are safe in their beds tonight. Google Dan O'Keefe for anybody interested in her story, especially friends in Australia, as where that is where he is missing.
Leaving Melbourne was sad, but sweet at the same time because now I was headed off to Brisbane to see another old friend from Banff, Sue!
Coming up next: Brisbane, Fraser Island, Cairns, Whitsundays, Byron Bay & Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise)