The Australian story, continued.
After we said good by to Sarah, Alicia and I went into the city and walked around killing time.
We had heard the couch surfing house had been invited to an adult warehouse party that night which included a bounce house, basketball court and a few other major attractions. It sounded fun but we both were lacking motivation to go out and party. We were in fact very tired and we were flying to Sydney the following evening.
We agreed we'd stay at the house and and get some extra sleep but things never work out that way. Once we arrived at the house the gang was right on top of convincing us to come out! It sounded like a load of fun but I really needed sleep and I had a few couch surfing requests to put in for byrom bay. So I stayed home with one other girl while Alicia went out with 9 others from the house.
I did my couch surfing requests, cleaned the kitchen and the living room and then met Sam's live in girlfriend for the first time when she got home from work. I could tell she wasn't a fan of this party house.
My delightful bed on the couch was call in for me just after 1am. Around 3am Chapman and Bianca showed up. They had been in the city at the two very large art museums. Each as big as the Pdx art museum if not bigger and both free, of course! It was an all Melbourne artist show in both buildings that they described as incredible!
We visited on the couches for an hour, all 3 of us fighting to keep our eyes open while we talked. It was nice to finally meet travlers my age and that I clicked so well with. I've found that most travlers are in their early to mid 20's and also NOT from the states.
They asked where everyone was so I told them about the party. I figured we had probably 2 more hours before they arrived. We all agreed we should go to bed but just as we were all falling asleep I heard chapman call out, their home!
There was no going back to sleep now. They all came in stumbling and talking loudly, laughing, jumping on the couches around me and then the stereo was turned on. Anyone who might have been asleep was now defiantly awake! I decided to stay laying down on my couch or I'd lose my spot. I made the right decision and I did the next best thing to partying with them. I video recorded the group of them that stayed closest to me. I wish I could post it instead of a picture but I don't think a video will work. It was funny, ill just leave it at that.
The house went to sleep finally, at 5am and daylight came quick but I was up making breakfast and packing my bag soon after the sun came out. Alicia and I were going to spend the hours we had left in Melbourne at the art museums. Due to the great feedback we had heard about.
Once she was awake and ready we got a group/ family photo and hiked out to the train station and rode into the city.
We only had time to see one art museum but I agree with Chapman and Bianca. It was an overall pretty incredible show! There was a cake frosting exhibit, a taxidermy exhibit, paintings, a life size and very realistic human sculpture and so on. Chapman & Bianca even ran into us towards the end as they hadn't finished the building we were in
I'm curious to know what I missed in the 2nd building.
Our flight to Sydney was fast approaching.
We got our packs from the museum bag check where we had left them and headed across the street to the train station. The train dropped us off at the bus stop that was our only bus to the airport, late! Which meant we missed our bus and it was the LAST bus of the day!
I left Alicia with my bags and went to re-look over the route boards and then ran across the street to ask a bus driver how to get to the airport. A taxi was the only way he said and it'd be about $50. A girl from china was waiting for the bus we missed too. She approached me about the situation and we decided the 3 of us would split a cab. It was working out alright after all. We flagged a driver down who was a very kind Indian man living, working and finishing up uni (university) in Australia.
He was very honest with us and drove us straight there with the total bill being only $25.
The three of us headed for check in with Tiger Air. This would be mine and Alicia's first time flying with the discounted airline co. and probably our last!
When we approached the ticket counter we dropped our small bags in front of us that we had stuffed full of all our heavy items. We each placed our big packs on the scale so the guy could make sure we were within weight.
He asked Alicia and then me, when it was my turn if we had any other bags. We both told him no but when he asked me a third time I replied, well only my personal bag. He was totally on to us, he already knew we were trying to sneak something by him. So we both had to weigh our small bags and that put the both of us overweight.
Big lesson learned that day. Our
plane ticket cost us each $60.24us and now we were being forced to check one bag and they charged us $74.70us for!
This put Alicia in a very bad mood but I knew there was nothing that could be done about it so we needed to move on. We paid more for a bag then we did for a single plane ticket.
So a note to any future traveling friends of mine: only fly tiger air if you are traveling light. 10kg is what they allow for your bag(s) to weigh and go on board with you. The bags weighed TOGETHER must be 10kg. We were each over by 5kg.
Once we got into our airport terminal they announced that the flight before us was going to be delayed due to weather. Apparently there was a thunder and lightning storm outside.
Then it was announced that our flight was delayed. After an hour and a half we boarded our plane but as soon as we were all loaded the entire Melbourne airport closed due to the storm.
We all had to stay on the plane, waiting. Alicia and I visited with our neighbor, Dong (spelling?) from Vietnam. She lives in Australia now and was very kind to us. She shared her tangerines with us and told us of things to do in Sydney and Vietnam. Then she offered to give us a ride to our accommodations after we arrived at the airport. I thought her generosity was wonderful! We didn't need the ride though as Alicia's friend of a friend, Scott was picking us up.
Dong also invited us to dinner at her favorite Thai restaurant any evening in the next 3 nights. It was her treat she told us, when I asked how expensive it was. She said she wanted to give us a good impression of Australia and if she ever came to the US we could return the favor.
Finally we arrived in Sydney, hungry but we were here and greeted by Scott and his roommate Sam at the gate. This was the start of another great host(s).
They carried our bags to the car paid for the parking and then offered to get us dinner. I had been told to go to Harry's cafe de wheels so I suggested that but it was a bit out of the way and neither of the guys had heard of it. On the way to their house they drove us through key parts of the city so we could see it lit up at night.
When we got to the house we met Alicia, the 3rd roommate and then Scott showed us to our room. Actually his room that he had given up for us. We had his queen size bed AND a nice blow up queen size bed at the foot of his bed. He took the couch. We tried to tell him we could share a bed but he insisted. They offered us to whatever we needed in the house including food. We ordered 3 pizzas for dinner that Scott went back out and picked up for us. After dinner they took us out to a Sydney night club on Darling Harbor where Scott even paid our cover to get in. These guys were spoiling us!
The next morning after we made breakfast the guys, Alicia (we started calling her Lee) and I headed out for a full day walking tour of the city. Alicia their roommate had to go to Uni to study so she didn't join us. We drove into the CBD of Sydney and it started lightly raining.
They showed us some districts around the CBD so we could see other areas of the city and not have to walk around in the rain, just yet. Finally we parked and when we were a good ways away from the car it of course started raining harder! We embraced it, It was still warm out just wet and a hair windy but then it got worse with thunder and heavier rain fall. People were looking for places to duck into tell it passed. We took shelter in a flea market that took up more time then we would have liked due to the weather.
We walked just over 8 miles that day.
Basically we looped the city, went thru the CBD into darling harbor, stopping at the fish market for lunch then under the harbor bridge and around thru "the rocks", circle quay, the opera house, botanical gardens woolalamoo and back into the city to find the car many hours later!
In the botanical gardens Alicia found a palm with these beautiful berries and picked one. She squeezed it and said to me that it was like an onion when it squeezed out. She must have grabbed another because she handed one to Sam and he squeezed it, instantly grossed out and loudly stated that it was like snot on him. Alicia fell to the ground laughing and rolling in the grass. Sam threw the oozing berry at her and the slime wiped onto her chest. She was soon up right frantically fanning herself and practically whimpering, that it was stinging!
Scott, Sam, nor I knew what to do but Sam was feeling responsible. She then ripped her shirt off now only in a sports bra was walking franticaly in circles around the grass. Sam decided to find her an aloe plant in the gardens and off he went. It didn't take long before we got some on her and were able to continue our walk. She was still stinging a bit and she definitely had skin irritation on her chest.
We stopped in Woolamaroo for drinks at a corner pub and then up into the city, back to the car to go home and make dinner.
This was our last night with Sam, Scott, and Alicia.
"Lee" had a friend, Mitchell, who was flying in to visit us from Oregon for 10 days.
The next 4 to 5 days we would be staying with Mitchell's friends. we were starting at Katie's place one block away from Bronte beach. Possibly my favorite beach and beach town in Sydney. Again another fabulous host! She was a total sweet heart and I really enjoyed her company. I think I'll add her into my collection of friends.
After "Lee" made Sam, Alicia and I all a yummy, stuffed French toast breakfast, we packed our bags. Sam drove us to Harry's Cafe de Wheels (the meat pie place I was told to go to) which was delicious and very popular with celebrities and everyone else. Then he dropped us off at Coogee beach to meet Mitchell.
Mitchell was waiting at a cafe with a box of oregon's famous Girl Scout cookies on the table for us.
A sweet taste of home.
He ordered us a few rounds of coronas and then we spent some time on the beach before making the long hike with our full packs from
Coogee beach to Bronte beach in the mid day heat!
Mitchell offered to call a cab but the budget(er) in Alicia and I said, let's walk it! The walk was beautiful! It's a long ocean stretch walk that starts at Coogee goes to Bronte and ends at Bondi but passes several small beaches along the way.
By the time we arrived at Katie's my pack and the sun had teamed up and soaked my shirt, anywhere the pack had been resting, I had a sweaty impression of the bag on me. Katie's first impression of me was that I was a sweaty mess! The light tangerine color of my shirt didn't help to hide the pack marks. She offered me a shower.
We made spaghetti and salad for Katie and ourselves that evening and she introduced us to grilled halloumi cheese which was great! Lemon and parsley sprinkled on top made it even better.
Our next day was a beach day but we got it started right with an Australian big breakfast or big breakky if your Aussie. This to was recommended for me to try. It was good and the breakfast is different at every cafe but they are all big. However when I say big I mean big for Australia. The breakky I had was nothing bigger then a brunch item anywhere in a Pdx cafe. Food portions are a bit smaller in Australia.
After laying in the sun for a bit we continued the ocean beach walk from where we had previously left off. Walking to Bondi beach with a goal of getting Mitchell gelato that he had a craving for at a popular joint. Bondi is one of the more popular beaches in Sydney but I prefer Bronte because it has more charm and is less crowded.
At the gelato place whose name I can't remember, we sampled flavors off pop cycle sticks. Some samples were so small you could hardly taste anything but wood and others were heaping! Not only that but they weren't thrilled about giving samples either. With the unique flavors they had listed I didn't want to buy anything until I sampled.
This joint needs to take notes from pdx's salt and straw. I ended up having a scoop of salted coconut mango salsa.
We walked back to Bronte and the 3 of us caught a bus to Mel and Ben's apartment in Maroubra and stayed with them the next 2 nights. Mel was also a friend of Mitchell's who was getting married to Ben in 10 days. So she was very busy.
We met up with Sam the next day and he drove us to Manley beach but also showed us Shelly beach. His favorite and less crowded beach. As we walked from Shelly beach to Manley, Alicia discovered a blue tongue lizard/ dragon on the side of the pathway. It looked like an iguana, big like that too!
It was just after lunch so we decided to have some drinks and snacks at a place overlooking the ocean in Manley. Then spent an hour or so in the water, I didn't go in past my knees!
The town was very picturesque with lights strung up around the outside, cobble stone walkway and full of backpackers as well as people with money. There was something for everyone.
Something I wasn't expecting in Australia was cooler ocean water temperatures much like New Zealand. I haven't been in the ocean as much as I had thought in either country, yet. I've been told that the further up the coast we head the warmer the water will get. Especially as far up as the Great Barrier Reef. I'm looking forward to that!
On our way home from Manley we stopped for another one of Harry's pies. This would be Mitchell's first though. From the minute he arrived in Australia he has been on a non stop Australian food splurge!
You (the reader) may have noticed Ive been talking about eating out and just eating in general a lot more lately. Mitchell can take full credit for this but it has been fun getting to eat out a bit more. He's treated Alicia and I most of the time as well so our budget shouldn't be affected.
We stopped at St. Mary's cathedral on our way home thru the city. It was a city attraction Sam really enjoyed and very beautiful at night when it's all lit up. So the four of us ventured around Australia's largest cathedral checking out one of the worlds finest English style gothic church's made of local yellow block sandstone which is what Sydney is built on.
Our planned museum day, the following day turned into a half beach day back at Bronte as we had to move back to Katie's place for the night.
Thank goodness too! Sleeping was brutal in Maroubra. It was very warm at night so we left the windows open and I'd say there was only 2 hours of quite time outside, each night. The rest of the time was spent listening to people at the bus stop, aggressive street sweepers and morning rush hour traffic. The last night Alicia woke up with her back hurting so I offered her my couch and then I curled up at her feet to sleep with the room that was left.
I've discovered that Alicia doesn't function well on little sleep or little food so I do what it takes to make sure she's a happy backpacker whenever possible.
After our beach time we headed into the city to meet Sam and go to the art museum. On the bus we met 2 guys from San Diego who told us that the Westfield mall was a must see. They had never seen a mall like this. So we jumped off at Bondi junction and sent Sam a FB message to meet us at the mall instead. I don't know if that was the mall the guys were talking about but it was huge and pretty cool but nothing special.
I did however enjoy the best chai frap of my life in this mall. Sam bought me one when he bought a coffee. I wanted something cold and the baristas didn't understand me when I asked for an iced chai or a blended chai. So in the end I just ordered a chai latte. I thought I'd get a hot beverage. Then I saw them pull out the blender and a few of them discussing how to make it. So a blended chai frap is what I got. I asked them if they had ever made that before and they replied, no. I told them it was amazing so they tried what was left in the blender and were impressed! They said they might have to put that on the menu.
Well you should, I thought. Most of America already has it on their menus. Haha!
Our day ended with 4 free tickets to the center point sky tower. A $75 value p/p that a friend of a friend hooked us up with. This is the tallest building in Australia and designed to attract lightning strikes so that the buildings around it would be safe. It looked a lot like the Seattle space needle but taller. It had an inside observation deck, a rotating restaurant and an outside observation deck where you wear a jump suite and you are harnessed to a rail the entire time you are outside. The tour began with a short 4D movie, from there we moved up to the indoor observation deck. Sam had to leave for work before we went outside. So at 7pm it was just Mitch, Alicia and I putting our jump suites on and heading outside with a small group. We were not allowed to bring cameras or anything else with us that could be tossed over the edge so I have no pictures from there to share with you. It was pretty cool and definitely worth the price!
Mitchell wanted to take a ferry ride at night so we left the tower and took an hour loop through a few different harbors, including Darling Harbor. I sat on an outside bench and visited with a German guy about Dubai. Needless to say, Dubai is defiantly on my list of places to visit now! Maybe not this trip but sometime soon.
I hadn't eaten since lunch and it was now past 10pm and we were in the bus making our way back to Katie's beach house. I was hungry but not voicing it, I just figured I was out if luck as everything seemed to be closed. A guy on the bus was chatting with the 3 of us about his experience in Bali. Just before he got off the bus he turned to me and said, are you hungry? I perked up! Yes! Thinking he was going to tell me of a place to get good. Instead he pulled out a small bag of corn tortilla chips and a container of roasted tomato salsa! None of it was labeled very well and when it was first placed in my hands I thought he had gave me a bag of black licorice and chewing tobacco! I was very confused and a bit delirious I guess you could say. It was tasty! The man got off the bus and I looked at Alicia, across the aisle from me and said, again, how do we get so lucky!?