On Sunday I decided to move hostels to a cheaper one, so this meant I had to say goodbye to my first travel friend, Jo. We ate burritos and drank a litre of sangria to toast our travels. It was fair to say we were both a bit tipsy after that. However, it’s not really a goodbye, it’s an ‘I’ll see you again soon!’ If you get on with someone well enough, you know it’s never a goodbye.
The first Hostel I stayed in, Wake Up! Sydney Central was an absolute dream. Although the kitchen was far too small for the amount of guests they have, everything else was simply great. I stayed in a 6 bed female dorm, so it was nice and chill and comfortable. All the staff were friendly and they had their own bar and cafe making it easy if you wanted dinner or a coffee etc. They also did free tours (a city one and a beach one). After experiencing this, it was hard to feel comfortable in the next hostel I stayed in; Mad Monkey Kings Cross. It felt kind of hostile there, not a lot of room and the girls I was with had already formed a clique, and so were unwilling to engage in conversation (I think they were long stay). The bonus was the free breakfast, but at a travel agents who try and convince you to spend $1000 on a 3 day tour around the Whitsunday islands. After two nights, I went back to Wake Up! Everyone keeps saying this is the best hostel they have stayed in and I completely see why! Although it is a bit pricey, you definitely get what you pay for! My only worry now is it will only be downhill from here hostel-wise.
On a day spent by myself, I jumped on a ferry and went to Manly. It’s like this little town, very much like a seaside town back in England, that has a quieter beach than Bondi where all the locals go for the better waves. And to get away from tourists. Despite the weird encounter with a guy who sat down next to me with a six pack of beer and said I looked interesting and I intrigued him, to which I responded that he looked drunk and walked away, Manly was a lovely place to see. Definitely worth a visit. Tip; All travel in Sydney on a Sunday is $2.50, so it’s worth going to the most expensive places on a Sunday, such as Manly ($14.50 return) or even get the train to the Blue Mountains. Something which I failed to see whilst in Sydney, but I love to have a reason to come back.
The next day was the most exciting day of all. Ever since I watched Mary-Kate and Ashley climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Our Lips Are Sealed (girls, you know!), it has been a dream of mine to do the same. I remember watching it and thinking ‘Wow, that’s amazing! Where can I do that?!’ And that’s when I found out, at the age of 6, where Sydney was, and immediately told myself I will probably never go there! Man, I need to watch that movie again. Anyway, I have finally accomplished this dream! And it was beyond amazing! I loved every single second of it and I wish I could have stayed up there forever.
You’re not allowed to take your own camera or phone, so I wasn’t able to take any of my own pictures, so you’re going to have to look at a rather sexy one of me in the middle of my group. I went by myself to do this, and was the only British person in the group, but that didn’t matter. I got talking to an older American couple from California who had done 5 weeks around New Zealand and Australia. They were lovely and were excited for me and my adventures. On that note, I just wanted to say… if you’re ever in a group or couple and you’re doing a tour or activity like this and there is a young man or woman who is by themselves, just say hi to them. They’re probably too shy to say hi to you, so just say hello and ask them a question. You will make them ten times more comfortable.
The Bridge Climb costs $288 (£180) to do it during the day (I booked the latest slot of 4-5pm in hopes of the sun starting to set and for it not to be too hot). Twilight is the most expensive time of day and night is the cheapest. I know it seems a bit expensive for what it is, but for me it was worth every penny. I would have regretted leaving Sydney without having done it. The whole experience lasts around 3 1/2 hours, including getting geared up and filling in a little bit of paperwork. They recommend you keep your t-shirt on and just wear your underwear on the bottom half… I wasn’t too keen on this, so kept my shorts, but it was actually surprisingly uncomfortable and tight and hot, so I changed my mind and took them off. And this is something I highly suggest you do, because a) it’ll definitely be easier climbing the stairs and b) that breeze when you get to the top feels absolutely wonderful!!!
If you didn’t want to spend that much, but still wanted to see the beautiful views, for $15 you can climb the pylon lookout located on the bridge. I got ‘free’ entry with my bridge climb booking – I used inverted commas on free as obviously you pay for it in the bridge climb price. And here you can actually take your own picture and videos without fear of dropping your camera onto moving traffic.
After moving back to Wake Up! I found myself in the exact same room as before but with 5 completely different room mates. Izzy invited me to go to Bondi beach again with her and a guy called George she met in the kitchens. I know I said in the last blog to literally have a bath in sun cream, but I seemed to have failed at my own advice. Six hours in the sun, reapplying sun cream at least 4 times apparently was not enough! I’ve now got even patchier burns over my body, more brutal than before. I’m now taking baths in after sun to edge the pain away. A girl in my dorm told me that suncream in Australia is actually completely different to that from England; it’s incredibly thick and actually does the job of protecting your skin. Looks like I wasted £6 on Nivea factor 50+ and will be purchasing this Aussie sun shield as soon as possible.
One thing I have learnt the past couple of days is just because someone else thinks something is good or cool or completely stupid, doesn’t mean it is or you have to do it. I didn’t come to the East Coast to party or get drunk every night and I’m definitely not judging the people that do. You can spend your money doing whatever you like. I just feel as though that’s what everyone expects you to do. People have tried to sell me tours based on how much you party on it. I do enjoy drinking (any of my friends can tell you that), but not to the point I’ve stopped enjoying myself. I’m here for adventure and to spend my money on experiences I will actually remember!
Not many people are aware of this place as it’s quite well hidden away. I only knew about it from PsychoTraveller’s vlog around Sydney. It’s called Forgotten Songs or Birdcages of Angel Place. It’s an art instalment displaying birdcages hanging in an alleyway. It represents the birds that used to live there until the Europeans settled forcing them to migrate away. If you stand beneath the display, you can hear the birdsong. If you fancy trying to find this magical scene, it’s down a lane called Angel place between Pitt Street and George Street; worth a look if you’re wondering around, or ask your city tour guide to show you it.
I said I’d talk about SIM cards in this post, but there’s not too much to say. Before I came I wasn’t really planning on getting myself an Australian SIM card as I thought I could live off the wifi, but after a couple of days, I changed my opinion. Wifi isn’t incredibly good along the East Coast and I rely on google maps a lot as I’m prone to getting lost (as proven to myself walking back from the bridge climb, managing to do a full circle in the botanical gardens), so I find it helpful have data there just in case. I got myself an Optus SIM card as they were free at Wake Up! And charged it with $30 meaning 3gb, unlimited calls and texts. That was the cheapest one they did. Not as cheap as my provider back home (giffgaff £7.50 goody bag), but a decent amount to pay.
I would say if you’re only here for a few weeks, then maybe it’s not really worth it, but if you’re here for a month or longer, then it’s at least something you should look into.
Currently, I’m sat on the Greyhound thirteen hour overnight bus to Byron bay. Although the air con is mildly blowing, it’s so hot and sticky and I can never sleep on public transport. However, the girl next to me just moved seats at one of the stops to be able to charge her phone, so now I’m the only one on this bus with two seats to themselves. Winning!
I’m kind of sad to be leaving Sydney, but excited to see what the Gold Coast holds. I’ve been trying to work out timings of being in places and although I planned to be in Aus for 3 months, I think I might end up completing it in 2. Now I’m considering going to South East Asia after New Zealand and Fiji as so many people I’ve met here stopped off in Asia on the way and loved it. Just a thought for now.
P.S. Jo found a Havaianas outlet, so I got these beauties for $15!!