G day Mates,
Well, happy and healthy 2002!
Fri. Dec 28, I arrived at my hostel pretty late and was determined to go out right away as I only had a couple of days to meet people to spend New Years with. So I started walking up George Street and just kept popping in and out of pubs and bars. I was completely enchanted with the city. It was beautifully decorated for Xmas. It must have been about 10pm when I ventured out. I met some people along the way. We walked for several blocks and then they wanted to stop for a drink but I just said I wanted to keep going so I said have fun. I didn’t even note the street my hostel was on. I didn’t get a map or ask where we were or what was where. I just wanted to walk. I was a bit mesmerized.
The streets were just packed with people. I just smiled as I observed all that was around me. I arrived at this area called the rocks. It was bustling with people. As I approached and crossed the railway station, it was there that I caught my first glance. There was this bright white awning looking thing through the tree branches. I put my hand over my mouth (I think to prevent myself from gasping out loud). I approached it with curiosity and with caution as the tears welled up in my eyes as I was standing before the famous Sydney Harbor Opera House. I was truly engulfed with emotion. It was amazing. I just stared and walked as close as I could. It was beautiful. I didn’t even notice the bridge till the next day. As I didn’t have my camera with me that first night, it was really mine to remember and enjoy. Since then, I have probably taken 2 rolls of film of the Opera House from every angle.
Well, the fascination has not left me since. I have walked to the rocks, the bridge and the opera house nearly every day or night. I love it here. I think they will have to drag me away and force me on the plane sometime in Feb. My flight home is for the 11th but my visa does not expire till around the 23rd I think so I may be able to put my flight back a bit.
Well, back to my walk, I didn’t know I was so close to Sydney Harbor. It was pretty surreal just being there. I thought it was this monumental place you had to travel a long ways to get to. I can be so naïve for a traveler. Anyway, it was about a 30-40 minute walk. George Street is the greatest street I’ve ever been on. I’m staying right across from Chinatown and the Central train station so I am in this great location. I eat Chinese almost every day. (It still isn’t like home though. No orange chicken or beef and broccoli, my two favorites). But I get honey chicken and Beef in Oyster sauce.
I went out the next couple of nights and sure enough, I met many people that I would spend a bunch of time with in Sydney. Friends are just waiting to be made everywhere out here.
It is not like home where if you go to a pub or dinner or a bar 90+ percent are sure to be from the area. Here, it is that high a chance that it is a traveler. It is like that all over the country. It is a backpackers and travelers country. It is almost hard to find locals.
NEW YEARS EVE… This was the best and most memorable New Years I have ever had. We had dinner at a local bar/restaurant and hit the streets at around 9:45pm. We walked around Darling Harbor and the Rocks, (Where I spend most of my time out) and again, emotional as I am, just welled up as I absorbed the atmosphere of New Years Eve in Sydney. It was like watching the ball drop in Times Square. Hordes of people clustered together having the time of their life. Some couldn’t walk already as they were sloshed. We just joined the masses for a drink in front of The Mercantile, an Irish Pub that I really love. Then we walked along to the bridge. Although we were told to get a good place you should go out there at 2pm, we found our home for the fireworks show at about 11:15pm. We were very happy with our spot on the water between the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. I could see both of those sets of fireworks and the Darling Harbor fireworks and the other one’s beyond the Opera House. Tears filled my eyes like the thousands of others that were sober enough to appreciate them. It was really amazing how people were still just passed out laying on the street the 1st of Jan. There must have been up to 1 and a half million people out there. It was the best ever. The show was phenomenal.
I had a cold from Dec. 1 till the 7th. That was the shortest cold I’ve ever had. I was determined to beat it. The medicine is really good here too. I think I got it from lack of sleep. Anyway, since the 1st, I have made new friends, been on several ferries and cruises around the harbor, slept to recover from being sick, shopped, walked, shopped and walked some more.
I’ve explored Darling Harbor, the Central Business District, every weekend market, Glebe, Bondi Junction, Bondi Beach, Canberra, Manly, the Taronga Zoo, which was the best, as I saw my first Platypus and it was amazing. The curator said I’d be lucky if I could see one swim and I did for 20 min nonstop. It was right in front of me. I also saw a beautiful Dingo, but not as pretty as Mary. I went to the Blue Mountains, the Jenolan Caves (where I went abseiling again and did some real adventure caving, more than anywhere else). I saw Paddington, Fox Studios, rode to the top of the Amp Tower for a view of all of Sydney, saw Ocean’s Eleven and spent a day in an internet café catching all of you up. Needless to say, I’ve explored a huge part of Sydney’s nightlife as well.
I’ll be meeting some of the girls again when I am back here on the 23rd. Jane from England who I had met in Tasmania and ran into again here in Sydney and Marie a girl I met my second night here in Sydney also from England and Anneka from many places that I met one night out. We’ve all had a good time together and I introduced them all to each other. It has been a lot of fun.
For my birthday I am climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge at 6:45pm tonight. They say it will take 3 hours. I am not sure what I am doing tomorrow for my actual 36th. It looks like it will be a quiet day. I will probably take a tour of the Opera House and maybe a cruise along the Harbor to see the city lights at night. I have not done that yet. Who knows? I know I want to check out the Star City Casino. I have not done that yet either and it looks really nice. That is all I have planned the next few days. Maybe I’ll do some more shopping. I have to throw in here happy birthday to my dad, as we have the same birthday on the 15th. Dad, have a happy _ _ th!
Well, I will be flying to Melbourne again on Jan. 17 and on the 23rd I’ll return to this incredible city that never sleeps. It’s true. I have had several nights that lasted till 5 or 6am. If I am doing the walk back from Darling Harbor or the Rocks there are people still drinking away and walking around at a McDonalds or other 24-hour food places. I always feel safe. What a way to live. I love it here!!
Till the next update…
Always in my thoughts and prayers.