Off the bus we hopped again, arriving in Sydney after a somewhat shorter journey (phew.)
We were too early to check in, so plonked our bags at the hostel and went for a wander. We hadn’t realised that we’d arrived right in time for Chinese New Year, and found a Chinese market, which was pretty cool. One of the stands was a huge tree covered in red envelopes. We both picked one and opened it. Mine had a chocolate coin in, which I was more than happy with, and Tom opened his to find a $20 gift token for an electronics shop! He was even more chuffed when we went to the shop and he bought a small key ring USB charger that means he can charge his phone on the go, how lucky is that?!
(Some of the lanterns in Chinatown for the new year celebrations.)
After checking in, we went for a wander, through town, where a Chinese calligrapher wrote “luck” for me, and then to the Sydney opera house. It was so cool to see such an iconic building. The sun was gleaming on the roof and it’s so so much bigger than I thought it’d be.
We decided to go inside, and discovered that Jose Gonzalez was playing that evening. We both love his music and have seen him play in Leeds before, so we thought we’d get some tickets. It was sold out, but the box office lady told us to come back at 7pm and see if they had any cancellations. So we headed back later on, with low expectations to find that there were tickets available for some really good seats, about five rows from the front!
What a lucky day! We waited for the doors to open, with the fancy opera crowd giving us dirty looks – we’d been wearing the same clothes for days and didn’t blend in too well. Then we went in and had such a wonderful time. Jose was joined by a four man band, and the acoustics were out of this world. It sounded better live than in the recordings, and it brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. Magic. I feel so lucky to have seen one of my favourite artists play in such an iconic venue.
The next day we had a wander, stumbled across a Serbian festival, and then went to the Chinese Botanic Gardens, which were stunning, and made us really excited for Asia. Then we spent about an hour trying to figure out how the hell to use the bus system and bought the Oz equivalent of an Oyster card then got the bus to Bondi Beach. It was a really sunny day, so sunbathing on the beach and cooling off in the sea seemed very appealing. Unfortunately only the first half of this came true…
As we were lying around with our Kindles, we clocked the first aid station, which had a small queue of people outside pressing ice packs to their various body parts. Tom said “I wonder why they’re doing that?!” After a few more minutes I wanted to go for a swim and headed to the shore to find loads and loads of mini jellyfish all over the beach. There was only a few surfers in the sea. I was like “hmmmm” but didn’t want to bother the lifeguards, who had their hands full. I found a local and said “are the jellyfish dangerous?” To which he replied “oh yes, absolutely!
You’ll be okay if you stand on the head, but the tail will give you a nasty shock. They’re not lethal, but very unpleasant.”
So swimming was off then. There were lots of alarms and lifeguards everywhere, but we managed to cool off in the baby pool (ha!) and under the showers. Never a dull day in paradise.
There’s something so lovely about being in warm weather. I immediately feel like I’m on holiday.
The following day we checked out the art gallery in the park, then headed back to the harbour and caught a ferry across to the other side, where we wandered around the very creepy “Luna Park” which is a bit like a 1950s funfair and then walked back over the harbour bridge. We had a bottle of wine and chip butties in the park watching the sunset over the Opera House, which was lovely.