Our last Australian destination would be Sydney. We would have to make the most of the little time we had: only 2 days to enjoy this bustling city. Our hostel was near the central station, we showered, ate and rested the first night, much needed luxuries after our adventures in Uluru.
The following morning we planned on attending a free walking-tour but couldn’t be bothered getting to the meeting place on time! We did our own walking-tour instead: the Botanical Gardens, the Opera House and view on Harbour Bridge.
We also popped into the State Library as they were hosting a free photo-journalism exhibition by World Press relating current affairs or news events from 2016. It was poignant and informative. Some themes were: the refugee crisis across Europe and the Mediterranean, civil war in Syria and Iraq, unrest in Turkey, protests in the US against the Keystone XL pipeline project, the day to day in the slums of Rio, ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, increased violence and persecution under newly-elected Duterte’s iron fist in the Philippines, and the death and funeral processions of Fidel Castro.
The news wasn’t all bad fortunately, the exhbition ended with some artistic wildlife photography.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around Circular Quay, where some seagulls competed at snatching away our meagre lunch (rice-cakes!).
We continued up to Harbour Bridge in the hopes of visiting the Observatory.
These plans were soon dismissed, as Renaud had other vastly more important objectives: to watch a live Test Rugby Match in a pub in Sydney. And this wasn’t just any match, Australia was playing at home, and against Scotland which have been getting stronger over the past years. The irony is that the match was actually being played in Sydney, so with a little more foresight, we could have been in the stadium! It was an intense match, Scotland winning by a close margin.
After the match, we returned to Circular Quay for dinner at the food-court (French crepes!), and to take in the last night of Sydney’s annual light show: Vivid. This is a very popular event, and being the last night, the streets were packed! And for good reason. The artists put on a spectacular display of colour, light, music and technology, all around the city center, orchestrated in perfect harmony.
The Opera House was positively glowing, adourned in artistic designs and futuristic patterns, reminescent of the sea.
On our way back to the hostel, we stopped by the German Beerhouse where our Australian travel friend, Becca, works. We met her and Sasha at the beginning of their South American trip, in Peru. We connected immediatly and kept in touch, meeting up again a few more times. As soon as they found out about our travel plans to Australia, they convinced us to visit their city. And so here we were, making fun of poor-Becca’s work uniform!
We also got chatting with our neighbours in the busy bar, both hispanic: Jocelyn, a Mexican girl and a Spanish guy she had just met, who was in Sydney travelling with the Spanish Navy (apparently…). All this gave us many topics of lively conversation, half in Spanish half in English, which lasted well into the night. It took a few nudges from Renaud before I realised that we were kind of getting in the way of this potentially new romance! So we left the 2 love-birds and headed back to the hostel. It had been a long day, and was an even longer walk home, we were grateful for our comfy beds!
Bec and Sasha had kindly offered to babysit us the next day. We took the bus from Central Station to the beginning of a pleasant coastal walk North of Sydney. It lead past a few rocky beaches, a cemetary and a windy look-out over the ocean where seconds before we arrived, 2 ladies had spotted a whale!
We chatted the whole way, catching up on what we had been up to: us travelling (we compared notes with Sasha, who had travelled South America quite extensively), and Bec and Sasha nearing the end of their studies in geology and marine biology. They each had different plans to kick-start their future careers and were surprisingly environmentally-conscious considering the little prospects outside of oil & gas and mining that exist in these fields in Australia. We were curious as to how they had reajusted to normal working life after such a life-changing travel experience: what had they missed the most, what had changed and what hadn’t? Before we knew it, we had arrived at Sydney’s world-famous surfing hot-spot: Bondi Beach.
It was a cold, windy day: few people were on the beach or in the water, apart from a few intrepid surfers. We admired the street art which lined the beachfront, but didn’t linger. We had worked up an appetite, so getting to Chinatown for a fast, cheap, tasty, filling, meal, was the new priority. Conversation flowed some more, over beers and dumplings. The girls accompanied us all the way back to Central Station, where we reluctantly said our goodbyes. Thanks so much you guys, and all the best for the future! For sure we will meet again 🙂
We left Sydney, and Australia, the next day, bound for Bali, Indonesia, to start the South East Asia leg of our trip. It was back to backpacking, and ajusting to different languages, social behaviours, cultures, levels of development and modes of transport. And so the adventure continues for us, northwards and home-bound, despite our growing attachment for this fascinating island continent.