Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sydney

Got off the plane, took the train to King's Cross where my hostel "The Funk House" was located. I got onto a squeaking train, and noticed a relatively normal looking kid my age with a backpack on. I crossed my fingers and hoped he was a fellow backpacker, "Hi! Where are you headed?" Turns out he was headed to the same place! what are the odds.. He was a Frenchmen who had been backpacking for the past year and a half, he was great, probably gay (which was even better), and was huge (tall and fit) HUGE plus because as you can see from the following paragraph, King's cross is kind of intimidating, exspecially if you have no idea where you are going...


"Most Australians who have visited Sydney at one time or another have wandered through the Cross, if only for a look at how the "other half" live and play ... The strip clubs, topless waitresses, adult bookshops and tacky nightclubs ... small, trendy cafes... The Cross is most sleazy at night, when the bright lights come on and the action hots up. During the day it can look a lot less threatening.Visitors to the area should be careful, especially at night, as people do get mugged here. The other thing to be careful of is the spuikers outside nightclubs: they can be intimidating and aggressive and have been a problem in recent times.You will see some pretty strange sights around the Cross." -http://www.sydney.com.au/kingsx.htm

CLEARLY, did not do research before I chose my hostel. Granted it was the only one avaliable at the time. I got off the literally screeching and howling train, as the French acquaintance put it "This train reminds me of the Bronx," should have picked up then and there we were not headed towards the 'nice' area of town. I got off the train and instantly thought what in the world have I got myself into. Literally on my 50 meter walk to the hostel, a showgirls, an adult toy show, a dollar store, an adult concession shop, a bar, coco cubano, mcd's, a 'gentleman's club,' the sugarhill bar, and then? My hostel. I literally wanted to vomit it was so unbelievably scummy. Granted had I been with a group going out for the night I would have thought differently. This I accomplished the following night and the place is an absolute blast! It also has a great cafe culture and nice little boutique restaurants. I rather enjoyed it in the daylight!
The first day I woke up and left to go into the city, I took the train to Circular Quay and literally you know how often times a film will show the Opera House and you hear in the background and opera voiced "AwwwHH" ? As I stepped off the train to my fist viewing of the Quay with the Sydney Bridge on one side, the opera house on the other side, and a seagull in the middle my brain went "AwwwwHH." It was simply breathtaking. It is exactlyyy how you would imagine it.

I walked around for a bit taking photos then decided I wanted to go to Manly Beach.
I took the Ferry over and did a cliff walk... and managed an hour out, to get stuck out in the rain quite literally. I was soaked, ended up having to buy an umbrella on the way back and a tee-shirt because I was soaked thoroughly and was freezing. I got Max Brenna Mint Hot Chocolate to warm up while waiting for the Ferry back. As terrible as the rain was, the walk was possibly my favorite part of the trip. It was like a hidden gem. I stumbled into a cafe over on Shelly Beach which was quite good also, they had a corn muffin with rasberry's for sale which served as breakfast/lunch for the day!

I got back to the mainland and headed back to Kings Cross to dry my belongings. I put all my clothes including my shoes in the dryer and stayed nearby worried someone might steal my only footwear if I left. I sat there indian style on a bench as slowly more and more kids joined round the picnic table on the roof top. Then slowly over the course of the hour drying period joints were rolled and passed, as the kids all gambled and played card games for various other pills and packets of sorts. They were all nice enough, let me choose some songs etc but the entire situation was making me nauseas.

As soon as my dryer buzzed I excused myself and left the now rather large group. I got ready to go out and have a nice meal/glass of wine at a suggested restaurant from Connie, my cousin Emily's friend, and went to see Pirate's of Penzance at the Sydney Opera House. I was in the second row just a little to the right. The show was beyond fabulous, after the show I was feeling a bit better about the city and decided to go for a walk around to take photos. Some American guys approached me and started chatting, they thought I was from Australia at first, and looked at me incredulously when I initially said I was from Boston. In anycase, they were heading to Kings Cross and invited me to join, obligingly I retorted of course. They were a very boisterous group of ten boys, keen to have fun and play. I had a blast and eventually got back to my room later that night.


The next morning I woke up and took a walk into the city stopping at coco cubano for a cappacino. I then walked to the Peek Tour, a free walking tour. I don't really suggest it, while it was nice to hear a little history, it was three hours... it could really be dropped down to one-two hours. I took a walk around the rocks, around the botanical gardens and then dayraged at the Flugtag Competition put on by Redbull.
There were soo many people, you couldn't move, so people just stood drank and smoked on the sides. It was all good fun. I then wandered down to the Quay and walked in to the contemporary art museum for a bit, then walked to get gelato, then went to watch the stars in white arrive for the Aria Awards, then went to get on a train to Bondi Junction to see Bondi Beach.

On the inside of the clock tower is where one of the legended chalk cursive 'eternity' was written.
The picture to the right was taken in the beautiful gardens.
Most of the the little girls in Sydney were wearing tutu's for some reason. Obviously loved it! After all of my adventureing I was really hungry. All I had had to eat was two pastries, two bananas, and a salad, for the past three days. Granted the salad was pretty amazing, consisting of blue cheese, pear, walnut, and rocket spouts. Needless to say I was hungry though, so I sat and ate outside the Hostel waiting for the Airport Transport in a little pizzeria. Most amazing Pizza I have had since I left Europe. It was delicious, basil, real motz cheese, sauce, thin crust, made right infront of you. Had it with a glass of house red wine. I ate the entire pizza. The entire thing to my dome, so good. I got back around 12 a.m. then talked to my sister Juliette for a bit. Who responded after I told her of some of my adventures, "Helen. Why did you travel alone?!"

In retrospect, I do not think I could have traveled and spend the night in a red light district by myself a year ago, but it didn't seem unnusual to me until she asked in that manner. As my sister looked at me doe eyed waiting for an explanation, I thought to myself how can one really explain the satisfaction in waking up to a city alone, ready to capture it and make the most of the day in full force? And to be honest we're never really alone. Even a thru-hiker will stumble upon another similar like-minded wanderer to befriend at some point in their travels. Meeting people is never really a problem, finding people to walk around with and stumble into surreal spots not hard to do, people are genuinely kind hearted and are often more than willing to share a smile, a laugh, a memory to add to their reality in the unknown space. Don't get me wrong, I love having a base of friends to meet up with after I am done wandering for the day, but there is something fascinating in having nothing to do but explore, experience, everything new.

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