Friday, February 17, 2012

Rainy Days in Sydney

Cloudy skies greeted me as I walked from the train station to my hostel. Since it was only 9:00 in Sydney I couldn’t check into my room yet, so I had to put my bags in the storage room. I packed what I needed for the day and set out to see the city. Without really having a plan or direction, I headed to what I soon discovered was China town. There is a very high percentage of Asians in Australia, so there is a pretty thriving China town.

Finally I could check in. The hostel I stayed at is called Base Sydney. I wasn’t sure what to expect of a hostel, but it was nicer than some hotels I’ve stayed at. I shared a room with 7 other girls. There were bunk beds reminiscent of summer camp and a bathroom shared with all the girls on the floor.

From here everything went downhill. When I got back to Base I moved my stuff up to my room. There was no elevator from the storage room one floor underground, so I assumed that I would need to carry my 100 or so pounds worth of luggage upstairs. To make this even more of a challenge I was on floor 4 which is the 5th floor by American standards (they count our 1st floor as the ground floor). I managed to carry my bags up the 5 flights only to be told when I got up that there was an elevator. I heard there was a tour at 2:30, so I headed town to the main desk. Unfortunately I realized after leaving the room that I’d locked my key inside. I was already late for the tour, so I figured I’d just get let in later. When I got to the desk they told me the tour did not leave from the hostel, but from a point a few blocks away. Being completely unfamiliar with the city I could not find the tour. I decided to just wander on my own for a bit. Shortly after beginning my wanderings the rain began to fall.

Why must everything go wrong at once? I ended up in Hyde park with the realization that I was alone half way across the world in a country where I didn’t know a soul. I felt very alone at that moment and it was nearly midnight in US. I called my boyfriend and he comforted me. He even offered to make me an itinary of things to do and to book tours for me. I told him it wasn’t necessary, but the thought was nice. I headed over to St. Andrews Cathedral and said a quick prayer.

I honestly believe that it helped because after that my day looked up. I got out my map and made a plan of what to do. My goal was to see Mrs. Marquaires chair- a lookout spot over the harbor. The path would take me through the Botanical Gardens which was another sight on my must see list. Although it was still raining, the gardens were spectacular. There were so many beautiful flowers, trees, and other plants. And then the animals- there were bats, ibis (these white birds with scaly black heads and long noses that are so ugly they are cute) and even cockatoos which are wild in Oz.

I took a detour to stop at the Art Museum which contained a mixture of aboriginal works and other pieces from around the world including Monet. After my adventure in the museum and park, my feet were killing me, so I decided to wander around and find dinner. I had my mind set on somewhere authentically Australian, so I headed to Bells Hotel which looked like a promising pub full of people socializing on a Friday night. I ordered schnitzel with chips. The chips which turn out to really be French fries were consumed with tomato sauce which is what we call ketchup in the US.

Australians really are some of the nicest people. By the end of the night I’d made my first friends in Oz. I played a game of pool, and was recommended to try a VB shanty (beer with lemonade). I also meet a sweet couple, the husband who was from America, who invited me to their super bowl party later that week. Even being on the other side of the world wasn’t so scary. I took a taxi back to my hostel. I think I will like Australia.

P.S. These entries are very backlogged because I did not have internet access for the weeks that I traveled around.

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