The land Down Under

I arrived in Sydney maybe...three days ago?  It's hard to tell honestly.  Flying west meant that my jetlag wasn't as debilitating as it would have been from the other direction, but I still passed out very early that night, woke pretty early the next morning, and have been fairly confused as to the time and date in the interim. This is also because I crossed the dateline and therefore never experienced the 15th October, which is a whole day of my life I'll never get back.  My friend Kitty met me at the airport and we spent the afternoon exploring Newtown, a neighbourhood near the University of Sydney with hipstery food joints and houses that reminded me of New Orleans.

The next day, my first full 24hrs in Australia, I head out to take care of the sort of tasks you need to undertake when moving abroad (setting up a bank account, buying a local SIM card) and to explore Sydney.  I was stopped outside the Town Hall by a street fundraiser and offered an interview that afternoon!  Around this unexpected appointment, I explored George Street and Darling Harbour.  The ash cloud from bush fires in the area (up to 65 apparently) meant the sun cast an orange glow over the city.  Apparently these are set to get worse as the winds quicken and the temperatures rise.

The next day I took it easy, resting after the previous day's excessive walking, and set about doing some jobhunting.  I met Kitty on campus for lunch - the University of Sydney clearly has delusions of grandeur architecturally speaking, with several sprawling, cloistered buildings that wouldn't look out of place in Oxford or Cambridge.  The chief difference of course is the natural life, with the purple jacaranda tree being most eye-catching (also a familiar sight all over the city).  That evening we did possibly the nerdiest thing I've ever done, and attended a Harry Potter quiz on campus.  Kitty has an encyclopaedic knowledge of...well, most things, but particularly this book series, and we managed to place 9th amongst upwards of 30 teams.  It was very funny and enjoyable even for non-superfans like myself.

Yesterday was my biggest day yet.  We started off by visiting Glebe Market, which had a great selection of clothes, jewellery, leather goods and food stalls...somewhere I'll definitely revisit once I have an income.  After running some errands and returning home for lunch, the big trek began.  We walked all the way from Newtown to the Royal Botanical Gardens on the far east of the city, in the harbour.  It's a beautiful spot and, unlike Kew Gardens back home, completely free to visit.  The plants there are so different to what I'm used to seeing at home, probably because 80% of natural life in Australia doesn't exist anywhere else in the world, which is why they are so diligent about guarding against incoming flora and fauna.  Ibis wander around like pigeons, which was particularly surreal.

The Gardens are a great spot to get a good view of the Sydney Opera House, and also apparently a popular wedding destination.  They are also home to Mrs Macquarie's Chair, a sandstone bench carved by convicts which commemorates the eponymous woman, wife to a former Governor of Sydney, who was responsible for planning a road in the area (also named for her).  From this point we followed the harbour round past the Opera House and on to Circular Quay, at which point we were starting to feel the mileage and took a break.  We met friends for dinner in Chinatown, and then headed to a weekly attraction: the fireworks in Darling Harbour.

These take place every Saturday night at 20:30, or 21:00 now the clocks have changed.  The harbour was filled with people sitting by the waterside to take in the view, or outside the many bars in the area.  It's a fun thing to do, and free, and if you miss it one week you can try again the next!  It's been a great few days so far, although yesterday's trek added up to 16 miles which I might not be repeating any time soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment