Summer had given up on the Monsoon style rains and 35 to 40 degrees was the norm. Sometimes I had a couple of hours break in-between Deliveroo shifts, so I’d bring my bikini to soak up the sun on Bronte or Bondi Beach. The waves can be quite aggressive and there are strong rips threatening to pull you out to sea. But if you time it right you can easily avoid both and go for a refreshing splash about.
Lea and I loved delivering around Dover Heights from which you get a stunning view over the city.
And when it wasn’t busy, we’d chill in the park with a good book and a cool breeze coming in from Double Bay.
But the nights started getting cooler and Autumn is definitely knocking on the door. Our friends in Coogee invited us to stay with them for the last couple of weeks before setting off and so we packed our things and moved back to the seaside.
Their house, their rules of course and one of them is not to open any windows lest the spiders come in. Alex is petrified of them (and I guess in Australia one probably should be – more on that later). One day, when I brought the laundry in, a small spider crawled out of it and headed straight for our bed. Luckily I managed to catch the little bugger. I didn’t tell Alex though 🙂
We quit our jobs in time to have one week to explore Sydney. I still hadn’t seen the Opera House! Since we’d managed to miss China Town last time, we made a point of popping by now. It wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped though.
Then we found a Japanese street food bakery and had to try one of their mouldy looking green tea An Pans. It is definitely a very different palate of tastes than what I am used to. But once you get used to it, it’s actually rather nice!
Next stop: The Australia Museum. Now, we don’t usually do museums, but I’d heard that they had a few of the deadly snakes and spiders on display so I thought it might be a good education as to what to avoid on our camping adventures. The museum was full of past and present animals, stuffed, as skeleton, models or just photos. Most of them from Australia and New Zealand. We were mesmerized, walking from display to display with great interest as we’d hardly seen any of these before.
There were some live animals too, including a crocodile. The python’s cage was empty so god knows where in the big building it had escaped to.
And of course there was a huge section on deadly snakes and crocodiles and a whole room devoted to spiders and insects.
Regrettably we are really none the wiser. I think the conclusion is, if it moves, run!
The museum also had quite a section on the aborigines and the tribes of Oceania. There were totem poles, spears for fishing and collections of unassuming looking roots, bark and twigs, used to poison fish and animals. There were boats carved out of tree trunks, shields and masks, some decorated with not just feathers but entire birds.
In the evening Aidan’s old workmate had invited us and the other office friends for dinner. He’d said the flat was a little small for it but it was just fine with its two balconies and city views. Only when they all decided to help preparing the food, did the kitchen seem a little small.
So Aidan and Skunk stayed out of it.
We had hotpot, which I’d never tried before and it was an awesome new experience as well as a reminder of the wonderful Asian culture influences into Sydney and Australia. You basically have a big pot of Chinese soup broth cooking in the middle and everyone chucks ingredients in. and when they are cooked, you fish them back out and enjoy them together with your bowl of rice. We had super thinly sliced beef, prawns, toasted tofu, fish tofu, pork balls, Chinese cabbage, noodles and of course tinned quail eggs. Yum! 🙂
Afterwards we played some games that Susan and Lawrence had brought. They to win you basically had to deceive people, but if you got caught, there are lethal penalties. It was heaps of fun and giggles.
Before we all said our good byes, we took lots of pictures to remember each other by. And Aidan had to sit in that famous (if imitated) designer chair that every Architect loves. Of course I don’t remember a thing about it, so you’ll have to ask Aidan about the specifics.
Having been totally and utterly smitten by it when we first arrived in Sydney, I wanted to do the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk one more time. The rainy skies had cleared to gorgeous sunshine and we bumbled along watching the waves and the surfers braving them. In the evening we benjoyed an overpriced but super yummie pizza at the Coogee Pavilion and played table tennis at the back of the place till exhaustion (mainly due to chasing the ball trying to retrieve it from between the legs and under the tables of unassuming diners).
One morning Aidan and Skunk made a vague route plan. A fellow rider from Deliveroo had lent me his Motorcycling Atlas of Australia so we copied lots of the recommended routes onto our map.
I finally got to see the Opera House up close and personal and it is stunning. I posted Aidan’s pictures ages ago and that’s all I had seen too. But in real life the feel when you stand under one of those phenomenal arches is just awe inspiring. Like that church-feel only bigger and without the “should I believe in religion after all” guilt.
One of the must-do things is to take the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. So we did. As it sets off, you get a close up view of the opera house and the harbour bridge only to zoom out for a splendid view of their place in the city sky line.
The ferry speeds its way to Manly in a vast curve and you get a good view of the wild bush peninsulas revealing cove after cove of sailing boats. Sydney is sprawled out along the estuary and coastline with lots of untamed green spots where nature has been left to its own devices.
We even spotted a dolphin swimming along playfully.
Manly has a very different feel to the Sydney we’ve known so far. Much calmer and more countryside like. Or, as Architect Aidan couldn’t help but notice, it has an almost European city feel with wide pedestrian walkways lining narrow streets. It seemed the kind of place where you had to know where to go to find all the pretty spots. We didn’t have too much time and the beach was gloomy in the post-rain weather. So we had a schooner of Tiger beer on tap to conjure a summery feel.
As many areas in Sydney, the main pedestrian spots and the beach are an alcohol free zone. But the beach bar beer was a little pricey for our budget, so we bought another at the bottler and found a spot in the crowd watching a band at the international food market in the park. Some of them had brought their own beers so we hid in plain sight right next to them… So what were we waiting for?
The sunset ferry of course. It comes back to Circular Quay just as the sun sets behind harbour bridge. The views speak for themselves.
That evening we had arranged for some last minute leaving drinks at one of my favourite pubs, the Forresters. Sadly that meant hardly anyone could make it. But we had a great time with the people who did 🙂 And finally we managed to meet with Robert, another traveler who had contacted us on Facebook months ago saying that he, too, was in Sydney, and we should meet up. He’s an awesome guy and it was good to talk about motorcycle traveler’s day to day stuff with someone who totally got it, no explanations needed 🙂
When the pub closed, we took a Taxi with Ben (our friend who we were staying with) and his friend back to Coogee and ended up starting an impromptu house party with too much tinned Guinness and silly dancing. Even Noodle got his squiggle on… a super rare occurrence. Nuf said. I gave up around three am and believe the guys continued till around five. And of course none of the photos I took should be published here…
Not surprisingly we felt like death warmed up with severe nausea the next morning. Though Aidan recovered extremely fast. Must be the Irish blood! After a leisurely breakfast with Ben and Alex we finally said our good byes, loaded up the bikes and wobbled off into Sydney traffic nursing the nasty hangover that was just gathering momentum.