My second week in Oz was spent at the beach! Knew it wouldn’t take me long to want to get out of the city…
This week was a lot slower in pace compared to the first, mostly because of the location but also because I am continuing to settle in and am taking my time as I go along. The hostel I stayed in also had less hustle and bustle than the first, so I was less inclined to hang around for the activities.
On Friday night there was a BBQ on the rooftop, so I went up for that and ended up chatting with 2 gals who were also in town solo. Els is from the Netherlands and Steph is from England, so we ended up chatting and spending some time together over the course of the beginning of the week. They were each leaving on Monday whereas I had booked to stay through the following Friday.
The more I was hearing about others’ travel plans, I started to get a little antsy to confirm what my next move was going to be, so I spent the majority of Saturday afternoon doing some planning. I knew I wanted to head north towards Byron Bay, but hadn’t decided if doing the Greyhound bus pass was the best move. Since I am looking to purchase a bus pass that allows for 45 days of travel, I had to think about if I was wiling to begin a bigger road trip up the coast. After comparing some options, I decided to book a flight to Byron instead, which I am happy at how it worked out! It was actually cheaper to get a flight than a single bus ticket, and I will gladly take a 1.5 hour trip vs. a 12 hour overnight bus ride! I concluded that I would potentially want to spend a longer amount in Byron; everyone I’ve met takes one look at me and says that I will love it.. so that’s gotta count for something?! It has the reputation of a very relaxed, happy, hippy, beachy vibe, so naturally I’m in. More to be determined on how this will play out, but I’m thinking it would be nice to be established somewhere with a group over the few weeks of Christmas and New Years.
On Saturday night, an old college friend passed through Sydney, so we got together for dinner! I got all teary eyed when I saw Kylie bopping down the street towards me, such a happy gal that I am lucky to know. We had a drink and some pizza, but more importantly caught up with each other and our lives over the past few years! I give Kylie a lot of credit; she is out here on her own as well doing farm work in a few different places. The following day she was flying to New Zealand to pick up a van and find her way to the next farm, meanwhile I was nervous about figuring out how to use powdered detergent in the washing machine haha. What I appreciated most about our visit, and what I love about Kylie, is that she asked me some really meaningful, deep rooted questions about my life and what I am looking for while traveling. It was both challenging and refreshing to verbalize a lot of what I’ve internally been thinking about for a while now, and to have two way conversation with someone who can relate in their own way.
The highlight of my Sunday morning was the discovery of the Nippers– the equivalent of Junior Guards at the beach! From a distance I could tell there was some sort of lifeguard event going on, and as I walked closer I asked someone what was going on, she referred to the kids as “little nippers” who come out every Sunday to learn ocean safety, compete in races, etc. My heard wanted to explode, they were so cute and it was so nostalgic to see such a big community event similar to what I know from home! Over the course of the rest of the day, I explored the Sunday Bondi Markets, laid out on the beach and indulged in some Thai food. Being in the sun all day wore me out and I finished the night with a quick walk up along the Bondi Iceburgs pool club. I got to watch a pretty sunset over one of the most famous pools in the world!
On Monday I decided to do the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, which I figured would take most of the day. The morning started out a bit cloudy and windy but the day turned into a stunner! About 4 miles each way, this coastal walk was a fabulous way to see much of the coastline and the little surrounding towns and beaches around Bondi. My favorite part of the Sydney beaches are all of the little pools built into the side of the coastline. When I got to Coogee I grabbed a burrito and FaceTimed with Diane and Jim! I loved catching up with them and being able to show them my view of the beach.
When I got back to Bondi, I met up with my friend Ellen who had come to the beach for the afternoon from the city. I appreciate Ellen for her sense of humor and ability to have good conversation about where we each come from. We’ve talked about so many random things from home and compared how things are both the same and different. I ended up going back into Sydney with Ellen for the night to grab some drinks. A few of us went up to The Rocks, which was a little bit dead being a Monday, but still a treat to see the Opera House and Bridge all lit up at night!
I started my Tuesday morning with rooftop yoga at the hostel which felt really good. It is also surreal to have a “free” yoga class on a rooftop overlooking the ocean, I have literally no room to complain while I am here! Over the rest of the day, I spent some time on the beach, wandered some of the local neighborhood streets and ended up getting ice cream because all of the nearby coffee shops were conveniently closed. For dinner, I had my first experience cooking in the hostel. I know this is not really a big deal, but it is one of those things that as a solo traveler (who is not a good cook) caused me a bit of angst. But the simple veggie burger, veggies and rice turned out all right and it was also nice to not have another meal out. I know that this is important over the rest of my time here, so I need to get into this habit pretty quickly.
Wednesday brought a day of torrential downpours; my first rainy day here and apparently the most rain Sydney has had in years. A bit cooped up, I took my time in the morning, FaceTiming with some of my favorite peeps and then ventured out to go to the mall down the road. Insert a bit more aimless wandering, reading, people watching…
The highlight of Wednesday was meeting up for dinner in Bondi with Emily, a friend from home (home like Howell, NJ home) which was so great!! Emily and I laughed over our history together, we met back in middle school which was basically a lifetime ago. She has been abroad since graduation and is on her second year in AUS, currently living in Bondi and working in Sydney. I told her that she was a big influence on me looking into this opportunity, aka, every time I saw her post on Instagram I asked myself how the heck she was living this crazy life!! We had a really nice dinner and, once again, it was really nice to have a familiar face around. She was super encouraging about my trip and I will always appreciate that she has been so helpful to me as a contact for anything I need out here.
I started the day on Thursday with round 2 of rooftop yoga and the morning routine I developed over the course of the week — a breakfast of Belvita crackers, blueberries and tea on the roof with my book. I am currently reading Stephen King’s It (the “fun” book) and Factfulness: 10 reasons we’re wrong about the world and why things are better than you think (the “productive” book). Obviously, I would recommend both. Additionally, I downloaded Sam Harris’s new app, conveniently named Waking Up like his book, to get started with some daily meditation practice. I like his style, so I am thinking this will be a good resource for me over the next few months. I also did laundry for the first time! I did figure out how to use the powder detergent lol, and I had to wash just about every item in my backpack so this felt REALLY good to have clean clothes.
I was really pumped to also get an email from my girl Alexis on the Gold Coast, offering for me to call the shop and schedule a time to get tattooed!! Got that on the books for the second week of December and am suuuuper excited for the experience. I also spent time thinking about the piece that I want and have myself all happy about my idea too! That night, I had dinner at a vegan spot and had this quinoa taco bowl that was probably the best meal I’ve had here so far. I then took the bus into the city to catch the recently lit Christmas tree at Martin Place. I was lucky to catch some carolers in front of the tree and got to watch a bunch of little kids dancing around with them. It was nice to see families out enjoying the city together.
Yesterday, Friday, I woke up around 5:00 to head out to the beach for the 5:37 AM sunrise. There were so many people already out! People were walking, running, taking photos.. it was a really active time so early in the morning. The clouds blocked the sun a bit, but it was still a really nice way to start the day (I went back to sleep afterwards, but that’s besides the point). That day was the best weather all week, so I enjoyed some time in the sun up until lunch and then met up with two other new friends in the hostel to head into the city. We went to a place called the Grounds of Alexandria, which was a really cute little garden and market that was decorated for the holidays. There were extravagent flower displays, hanging plants and small cafes built into this whole set up, and I can’t think of a better way to describe it rather than just being really cute! We grabbed some food as well, and then headed back to the hostel for (round 2) of the BBQ night. This time around, I met a good number of other travelers who had mostly just arrived into town. I always knew this was coming, but need to mention my first encounter with another person from NJ! Corey joined a group conversation I was in the midst of, and as I asked him where he was from we narrowed it down from the US, NJ, Monmouth County… and all I could do was laugh. He is from Monroe, not to far away, and basically out here doing the same thing I am. But aren’t we all? A group of us walked down the road to the Bondi Hotel for some drinks that night and I enjoyed socializing with a new group of people.
But, it’s now onto the next! I arrived in Byron around 5:30 PM today, Saturday. My hostel seems really great, but the entrance to my room was not the social, warm greeting I was hoping for… but that is okay. I am here for a week, and have plenty of new opportunities to meet people and explore this new town, which I am looking forward to.
As I typed this all out, I was very conscious of the “whole lot of nothing” some of these days had this past week. It is still a challenge to be okay with that, and to not compare my daily experience here with anyone else, either here or at home. This is my time to have some freedom and flexibility, and I can be okay with that.
Here are my continuing Random Thoughts, and observations, from the past week:
- Trading Hours is what shops call their hours of operation
- “Veg” or “veggie” is short for anything vegetable/vegetairan related, it’s cute
- No tipping is expected at restaurants, the ones I’ve been to have you pay at the counter so you also don’t ask the waiter for a check- not sure if this is the case at nicer restaurants?
- Options for black coffee: short black and long black. Still not sure of the differences, but they are both really strong and goooooood
- The toilets don’t flush in reverse (lol) but to me it seems like the locks and faucet knobs turn in the opposite direction? Am I imagining this?
- In addition to the traffic and walking patterns… escalators also go up on the left and down on the right
- Tim Tams aka little chocolate biscuit treats will be my downfall…
- The ocean seems more intimidating in this area than at home and the sun definitely feels stronger; I feel like I am actually a bit tan after just a few days
- Student discounts are called a “concession rate” and they are everywhere; wishing I had my USC ID on me…
- The public transportation in Sydney is really good and easy to figure out. I’ve been taking the trains and buses, and I feel mostly comfortable navigating them.
- I never used the “tap” system for my credit card at home, but discovered that my Capital One card has the feature that works here. It is scary easy to pay for things by just tapping it on the card reader.
- During my transit back to the airport (a bus and 2 trains) I actively noticed that I was less self conscious of my whole get up. I had places to go and was much more confident getting there!