There’s a great story about where I stayed in Sydney, Australia. My mom had met this Australian guy around my age at one of our family friend’s weddings two weeks prior to me arriving in Sydney and just so happens that his parents are very easy going/love to help out fellow travelers/backpackers so invited me to stay with them. They live right outside the city in a town called Merrickville and so my mom connected me to the guy's parents. The dad, Allen, picked me up and gave me an hour drive tour to all the famous beaches. It was lovely having him show me around to these places as it was my first time in this city and getting around in a car was very convenient as there was already traffic starting to build and it was just easy. My first impression of Sydney and Bondi Beach was that it somewhat reminded me of San Diego, California. As you’re driving to Bodi, there’s cliff-beaches right along the coast, mansions in the distance and skyscrapers and palm trees in the middle. It wasn’t anything I had expected and really had only seen pictures of the opera house and bridge so I wasn't sure what to expect with the beaches. I was thankful to get the quick tour before rush hour and then we were on our way back to their quaint neighborhood that was surrounded by Vietnamese restaurants and cafes. They had another guest staying with them from Chile, Veronica, who I started to chat with upon arriving, which was great as I could practice Spanish again! She was there taking English classes, from Santiago in her late 50s I’m assuming, and she has six children. We chatted while Allen went to go pick up his wife, Debbie and her coworker, Katrin - they were selling their business and it was a Monday so it was their first day with the transition. While I unpacked and got organized, someone knocked on the door who was looking for Debbie and it was her neighbor dropping off mushrooms and garlic and decided to wait for Debbie who then arrived within 5 minutes. Then another man arrived, one of Allen’s friends too, so it was a completely full house within just a few minutes and I went out to chat with everyone.
I ended up helping Debbie with the lamb skewers and we all chatted about my travels and got to know each other while drinking gin and tonics out on the back deck. It was a lovely evening, very family-filled with many stories and answering questions about my travels and such while the 5 of us sat at the dinner table (Debbie, Allen, Katrina, Veronica and myself). It warmed my heart to be in a house with warm people like that, I was very content. We all split some wine and then were off to bed. I woke up in time to get a ride to the metro with Debbie and Katrina around 9am and I was off on my own to the central station to make my way to the opera house. I arrived and got a coffee and bacon/egg sandwich while I enjoyed the view of the opera house. There were tons of Asian tourists swarming the stairs to the opera house and all of a sudden started singing something in Asian, it was pretty overwhelming and I couldn’t snap a pic without a single person in the background. So I walked around it and by the time I got back, they were headed inside. So I finally got a picture with no one in it. Then I made my way to the botanical gardens that was quite big and nothing really special but pretty nice being by the water with some ponds and koala bear statues randomly placed here and there. I ended up meeting up with that guy from San Francisco, Daniel, since he was also in Sydney for another night. We met in the gardens and then walked to the rocks and darling harbor where we enjoyed a nice lunch by the water. Around there, there was an area of corporate offices and many people out and about in business suites. We did a lot of walking, walked under the bridge, through a mall right in the city in an old building with marble floors and then to this famous coffee shop. Then we headed back to Quarter Que to catch a fast ferry to Manly beach. It was a nice quick ferry ride with a view of the opera house and only took 30 minutes. Then we walked to find a surf shop where we spotted one right away, had to walk across to the other side of the peninsula to get to the surf beach. There were surfers out, but the waves didn’t look great, and the water was really cold, so I wasn’t too pleased. Daniel talked me into getting a wetsuit and thankfully I did because it was absolutely freezing. We only lasted about an hour because the waves were too choppy, there was no barrel and we were the only ones out there other than a few scrabblers. So we chilled and chatted on the beach for a bit before heading back to the harbor where we ordered a couple beers at the opera house bar at sunset which was filled with young and old folks enjoying happy hour. It was a fun day and Daniel had made reservations at some fancy restaurant so we separated and I met up with Carmen from Belgium (who I had just met in Byron) for dinner in this Asian neighborhood called Spice Alley where we ate Vietnamese food. It was a cool vibe with tons of Asian restaurants around this quaint alleyway area. Afterwards we tried finding a bar but didn’t have much luck, so we got a beer at this hotel bar that sucked and then met up with Daniel at this speakeasy called Brunswick inn. It was Carmen’s first speakeasy experience and actually quite a cool one, with the best whiskey drink I’ve had in awhile (whiskey with apple juice, freshest apple juice). We each got a round and it was quite busy for a Tuesday night and I was getting tired since it was about midnight so I called an Uber back while Daniel walked Carmen back to her hostel and also got an Uber. I put the wrong address in my Uber so I had to get two and then finally was asleep by 1am. I woke up to go take a yoga class at this one yoga studio I had been talking to the owner at since last April about possibly doing a work exchange and was going to get a coffee with her afterwards, but she ended up getting a sub that morning and we didn’t meet for coffee. It was a bummer since I wanted to meet her in person but ended up meeting and chatting with the substitute instead and then took the train and bus to Bondi beach. It was an easy public transportation system and I was at Bondi by about 12:30pm where I got a coffee and smoothie from Joe and the Juice before heading out on the coastal walk. There were tons of people at the beach, sun bathing, running, surfing, etc. I started the coastal walk and there were sculptures everywhere for this art festival that was officially supposed to begin the following day so I was pretty lucky to experience this as this only happens once in a year. There were a lot of people running and also many tourists on this coastal walk. I got to Bronte beach and Coogee beach within 30 minutes and was amazed by the stunning infinity pools right on the beach outlooking the ocean. It was so beautiful and casual..there were so many different people sun bathing and enjoying the nice weather, random people taking pictures at the pool and then when the walk was finished there was a nude part with some girls topless on these cliffs. I had remembered someone telling me about this as soon as it happened but had forgotten about it until then. I was tired of the walk so I decided to take a swim in the pool to freshen up. Then I walked back, barefoot, because my sandals were giving me blisters and finally got back to Bondi to take a nice nap and watch the surfers do their thing. There were so many different types of surfers from old to young, to native Australian looking to South American looking or European. I took a nice nap after one of the cute surfer boys said hello to me on his way out and then this Swiss couple decided to plant their belongings RIGHT in front of my view and I just couldn’t handle it..one of my pet peeves (they literally had so much space to put their things but they decided to place it right next to where I was lying). Anyway, I had been there a while so I walked to the other side of Bondi where there were these models taking pictures and a young surfing school taking place with these young little boys…so cute. I enjoyed watching the scenery of everyday life at Bondi that afternoon with all the surfers, beach bums and workoutaholics.
I decided to get an acai bowl to finish my time in Bondi and ran some errands before taking the train back to the house. I got back around 6pm and Debbie and Allen were just hanging out relaxing watching some TV. They wanted to hear about my day so we chatted for a bit and I did some laundry and then we ate some of the vegetable curry Allen had whipped up. Had a gin and tonic and chatted with Debbie some more and then headed to my room to finish planning Melbourne. I was tired and went to bed and then got woken up to say goodbye to Debbie and Katrina. That morning I packed up a bit and then walked around Merrickville to get some coffee and a Vietnamese lunch that was this delicious street food. Allen was sweet enough to drop me off at the airport in time after getting his car fixed and I had an hour to my flight which was plenty of time. Sydney airport is a huge fancy airport with a lot of shops and restaurants and I even had time to get a coffee before boarding.