Journey to Down Under – 1. Stage Sydney

In this and future articles I will report on my six-week trip to Australia. Since I don’t yet know exactly how many parts there will be, I can’t tell you when I will be finished reporting about this trip. Just a quick word about the facts: I flew from Zurich to Sydney on 2 August and back from Cairns on 14 September. In Australia I moved on with the Greyhound and I spent less than 5000 Swiss Francs for the six weeks in Australia including the flight. Almost everyone says that Australia is expensive. But I can show you that even with a small budget you can have a lot of fun in Australia. If I’ve aroused your interest and you wonder what I’ve done or how I’ve managed to spend so little, I advise you to read all parts of my trip to Australia and ask questions in the comments section.

Now I come to the essential and also more exciting part of my journey: As already mentioned above, I flew off on August 2nd, in the evening. So I could sleep through the whole flight to Singapore. I was quite nervous, because it was my first flight completely unaccompanied. But the joy of finally flying alone without parents and exploring a foreign country on my own was greater than the nervousness. After I had said goodbye to my parents, I went through the security checks. Since I have flown many times before, it was easy for me, so that I was already much too early at the gate. I sat down and listened to music. About 20 minutes later other passengers came to the gate and the seats filled up gradually. A young Asian man sat next to me, maybe two to three years older than me. I was so absorbed in the music that I didn’t even notice that he suddenly started talking to me. Only when he stretched out his hand and introduced himself did I take the headphones out and say a shy „Hi“. I was a little annoyed because I thought he probably wanted something from me. He asked in very good English what my name was and where I was going. I answered his questions shyly in the hope that he would soon stop talking to me.  But he didn’t stop babbling and with time I realized he was very sympathetic and just wanted to chat a bit. He told me a lot about his vacation in Switzerland and that he would fly back to Malaysia now that he had to study again and also missed his home. He told me that it was part of his morning ritual to surf every morning, which he couldn’t practice very well in Switzerland. Time flew by and soon a voice called out that our flight was ready for boarding. We said goodbye and wished each other a good flight. Why am I telling you this at all, you may ask yourself. I am telling you this because I have learned something for life from this encounter: Be open to new things and get out of your comfort zone. I am very shy and through this conversation I learned to be more open. Sometimes such situations result in very good conversations and you get to know nice people.

On the plane I sat next to the emergency exit, so I had more room for my legs. You have to know that I have had problems with my knees for many years. I sat down and listened to music again. Shortly afterwards an older gentleman sat down next to me in his mid-fifties. I just thought, please don’t disturb me and leave me alone. But as fate plays from time to time, the gentleman just looked at me and spoke to me. Again I took the headphones out and shyly said whether he could repeat himself. He asked me if I was all right because I looked a bit pale. I answered nicely that everything was fine. He continued and asked where I came from. When I mentioned that I was half Italian, his eyes flashed and he immediately asked from where exactly in Italy. I told him that my grandmother originally came from Naples, but now lives in Carrù. He suddenly replied in Italian and told me that he came from Calabria. We talked for hours about travelling. At some point we were both tired and we decided to go to sleep. I was so excited that I couldn’t close my eyes and so I kept listening to music.

In the afternoon we finally arrived in Singapore. I said goodbye to my travel neighbour and took the train to my gate. The airport was huge. It certainly took me at least 30 minutes to get from one gate to another. Now I had to kill about five hours. I strolled through the airport and looked at the shops and restaurants. As time went by, I got a hunger killer and thought about eating something in a restaurant. Just in time it occurred to me that I had a month’s supply of crackers in my backpack. I sat down, ate and watched the hustle and bustle of everyday airport life. At some point it occurred to me that maybe I could text my family and my girlfriend that I had arrived well in Singapore. (I will introduce the airport in Singapore in the report of the return journey more near). The flight to Sydney was quite quiet. With luck I got a place at the emergency exit. This place had been assigned to an infant, which is not allowed for safety reasons. We changed places and I was happy.

I arrived in Sydney about five o’clock in the morning. I went through the security checkpoints and picked up my suitcase. After what felt like half an eternity, my suitcase finally arrived, just when I thought it had been lost somewhere. I left the arrival area and the first thing I saw made my heart jump with joy. I felt a warm and familiar embrace. It was my then girlfriend Sureya who picked me up at the airport. She had already flown to Sydney 2 weeks before me to take a surf course. At that time I could not go along, because I still had to fulfill my employment contract. She also beamed when she finally held me in her arms again. I even had to shed a tear of joy. Since I hadn’t slept since the departure in Zurich, I just wanted to go to our apartment to take a shower and rest a bit. Sureya, on the other hand, wanted to show me the city right away. But since I already knew Sydney, I didn’t really want to see it. Our apartment which we had rented on AirBnB was only three minutes from Central Station. I took a shower and made a deal with her that we would lie down for 30 minutes, have breakfast and then explore the city. First we went to Hydepark. At first I wasn’t really enthusiastic, probably because I would have preferred to sleep longer. With the time I liked the Hyde Park better and better. It is a huge park with a long pedestrian street lined with trees and meadows to the left and right.

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Hyde Park

Our destination was Darling Harbour. There is my personal highlight of Sydney – at least I thought. I wanted to visit the Sea life Sydney Aquarium again, which I had already visited in 2004. But the aquarium was a huge disappointment, at least for me. First we had to wait 30 minutes at the ticket counter until it was our turn. Then we learned that the tickets cost about 50 AUD, which was about 40 CHF. But all that was still possible. When we were inside, I quickly noticed that the aquarium had changed a lot. The individual aquariums were less beautifully decorated and generally there were much fewer sea creatures than last time. That’s why I recommend you: If you really want to see it, then go. But if you don’t burn on it like that, you can easily do without it without having missed anything. The only funny thing was to go through the penguin enclosure with the rubber dinghy. But attention: Nothing for you, if you freeze fast.

After this disappointment I needed something to eat. We went back to the apartment, because Spicey Alley was just one minute away. The Spicey Alley is a very narrow alley with many small Asian restaurants. The food was awesome! If you are in Sydney, go to Spicey Alley. You won’t regret it. We went home full of food and then accidentally fell asleep so deeply that it was already evening when we woke up again. After a healthy salad we decided to have a drink and toast our upcoming holiday together. The bar named Gin Lane was just nearby and we liked it the best of all the bars we had seen. The drinks were fantastic, really fancy and also the price-performance ratio was great.

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Pyrmont Bridge

I’m full of nature lovers, as you might have read in the article about me. So the next day I really wanted to go and see the Botanic Gardens in Sydney. The park was really big and beautiful, but I liked the Hyde Park much better. In the Botanic Gardens we ate our sandwiches and slept another round on the meadow and enjoyed the sunbeams on our skin.

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Botanic Gardens

Well rested, we made our way to the Sydney Opera. Once there we shot the typical tourist Selfies and walked around the opera house. The special thing about the opera house is the architecture. The whole building consists of five arches. Allegedly, the architect got the idea of these arches when he peeled a mandarin and the shell took the shape of such an arch. Unfortunately, the next day I accidentally deleted all the pictures from the opera house from the camera, so I can’t show you any here. Then we walked to The Rocks, the old town of Sydney. This area was originally a camp for convicts. Since it was Sunday, all museums and most shops were closed, which I wasn’t so sad about, as I had to visit most of the museums years ago with my mother. Fortunately there was a flea market and so we could watch something in the Rocks. Afterwards we wanted to cross the Harbour Bridge at sunset. Unfortunately we hadn’t considered that we were on the wrong side of the bridge and therefore between us and the sunset the lanes and a high lattice ran. Which is why we hardly noticed anything.

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Sydney Opera from the Harbour Bridge

Arriving at the other side of the Harbour Bridge, we walked towards Luna Park to take the ferry back to Circular Quay. The Luna Park seemed nothing special from the outside, so we decided not to go in. The only thing that would have appealed to both of us was the Ferris wheel. But we let it go and took the ferry back to Pyrmont Bay, a station near the Sydney Aquarium. There we wanted to look for a restaurant. But none of them really turned us on and we walked on to the Park Palm Grove. There we ate in the first best restaurant, because both of us were starving.

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sunset in the Luna Park
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Sydney Opera by night

Since Sureya and I are very interested in markets, the next day we decided to go to the Fish Market and buy a fish that we wanted to prepare in the evening. Since we didn’t want to go to the restaurant every day because of our small budget, we often cooked at home. Already from a distance we could smell the fish. When we stood in the huge warehouse, we hardly believed our eyes: everywhere fish, as far as the eye could reach! Never before in my life have I seen so many fish in one heap. I especially liked the fact that there were both cooked and raw fish. The warehouse consisted of many small stalls, some of which also offered great looking sushi. There I saw Sushibagels and Sushitacos for the first time. Convince yourself!

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Sushibagels
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Sushitacos

Sushi is my favorite food. So it was a matter of course for me that I had to treat myself to a huge Sushi for lunch. We ate the Sushi in Victoria Park, because we wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather. Of course we visited the Queen Victoria Building, a huge shopping mall, and had a coffee there. At the end we made a short detour to the Surry Hills, the hip quarter of Sydney. A small quarter with many eating stalls and pubs. Quite okay but not really special. Finally we drank an aperitif on the roof terrace of our apartment and cooked our gold ribbon snapper in a butter garlic sauce garnished with tomatoes and couscous. This was our last whole day in Sydney, because the next day we went to Katoomba, our second station.

How it goes on with our journey you will find out next month. But there is still a small article in the middle of the month with tips and my impressions about Sydney. I’m also planning to write another little article about the gadgets and materials I used on our trip. I would be happy if you leave a like or a little feedback in the comment function. Don’t forget to follow me if you don’t do this yet.  Stay tuned!


 

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