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Waking Up in Sydney
Thursday 20th January 2011 – Sydney, Australia
After the long journey from the past two days, I could be forgiven for wanting a lay in this morning. In fact, by the time I actually woke up, there was not a lot of the morning left. I had slept well, and felt the urge to get up out of bed and begin the sightseeing of this city that I had only dreamt of up until now. Even though I was in Sydney, I hadn’t seen any of it yet, and that will never do.
I acquired a map from the reception and headed out, instantly aware of the heat. I stopped to grab another pricey bottle of water before setting off towards the centre. I didn’t know what I wanted to see first, so I just walked in the direction of the green bits on the map, the parks. I thought this would be nice for the first day.
I found myself in Hyde Park before too long, and recognised how alien I was at this point. I had pale, English skin, and sweat pouring down my face. I felt like I had ran the whole way there, but the reality was that I was just not acclimatised to this weather. The beautiful people all around me gave me hope that I should one day be as brown and healthy-looking. Today, though, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
I walked to Woolloomooloo Bay for outstanding views out around the city, and towards the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The sun was shining and the sky was blue, and here I was standing and staring at the iconic landmarks, thinking that only a couple of days ago I was on the other side of the world thinking about this moment. I had arrived in Australia, and I was going to make damn sure I enjoyed every second of it. I carried on walking around the city and stopped for a rest by the water feature, and watched the countless tourist taking photos of themselves by the fountain. I laugh, but I did the same thing. It was great to see the older generation sat around a giant chess board on the ground, watching as two combatants went head to head under the shade from the tall trees behind. I sat for a while, though I know nothing of the rules of chess.
I came back to the hostel for a much needed siesta and spent a while relaxing until the evening. I went out to eat with a couple of the guys in the hostel, and we chose a place in Kings Cross offering 10 dollar steaks and entertainment. It sounded fine, so we found our table, ordered a schooner, and waited for the entertainment to begin.
Our meal came, and it looked incredible, and at this point the entertainment began, although I’m not so sure entertainment is the word I would use to describe it. A man in drag read out some numbers in a lottery, told a few jokes that had a couple of people in stitches, then left the building. If anyone reading this has been to Kings Cross, you will not be surprised at any of this, as it is the norm once the sun goes down. At night, Kings Cross primarily consists of cross-dressers, ladies of the night, and tourists looking to have a wild night. I wondered what I had let myself in for.
After our impressive meal, the three of us headed down to the Botanic Garden to take a look at the Opera House and the Bridge at night, as we were hoping it would all be lit up. It wasn’t, but the views of the city all lit up were enough to make the walk worthwhile. Admittedly, anything that differs from my home town back in England is worth seeing. It felt so good to be here, and to be meeting cool people already.
In the Botanic Gardens they have an outdoor cinema screen that they put up at night for film lovers, and on this particular night they were showing Inception. It’s a film I like, and we sat on the steps behind the cinema watching the film through the trees, all the while large bats flying about our heads. It was slightly surreal, but something I could get very use to.
Our walk back to our hostel was interrupted when a Possum jumped out in front of us, much to the horror of one of the guys who yelled
Run! These things attack you! Having been unaware at this point that we had been confronted by the animal, the other guy and myself froze to heed the warning, but stopped when we glimpsed the animal scurrying off past us. I’m ashamed to admit that for a brief moment I felt a little weary of the animal, having never seen one before, but I would like it to be known that I didn’t run, but stood my ground, honestly!
After our encounter, we saw bright lights from a nearby bar offering live music and cheap drinks; we didn’t need any more persuasion. Ironically, the second we walked in, the music stopped. And I don’t mean everybody stopped talking and all looked around at us – as if we were villains in a Wild West movie – but the band had just finished playing. We did feel a little as though we were being observed though, by one guy in particular. We didn’t care much. We just sat down for another schooner – although, cheap it most certainly was not – and saw in the remainder of the evening.
The first full day in Australia had been a good one for me, and I had the sun-burn to show for it. I was enjoying myself, and that’s all that matters in my book. With day 1 over, I was excited at what lay ahead on my path through this great land.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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