December 28, 2011 – Leon and I left Vancouver for a year of adventure in Australia. We were almost newlyweds, about to celebrate our first year of marriage. Australia was our first home together since getting married.
December 28, 2017 – Leon and I sit on a balcony overlooking the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge having a cup of tea, catching up on our correspondence. We’ve been in Australia for 37 hours. This time, the trip will last only 5 weeks but we have lots to see and plenty of new and old friends to visit.
We arrived yesterday morning at 6:15am. Getting through immigration was a breeze thanks to the epassport system they have here and the fact that we are travelling very light with no checked luggage. I did have to declare my package of almonds which resulted in us being sniffed by the nice border security pooch, but otherwise, it was uneventful.
Onto the mobile phone counter to buy a SIM card. $40, including tax, buys you 14G of data, unlimited nationwide talk and text and 300 min international time. Yes Canadian friends, you read that right. Are we being soaked in Canada for phone costs or what?
Within 20 minutes we were out of the airport and on a train headed to our Airbnb in Woolloomooloo. We purchased a transit pass that we can keep reloading. This allows us to travel on the trains, buses and ferries in the region.
I was reminded of my first day in Bendigo when we registered and insured the car within 20 minutes. I felt my exchange partner couldn’t be having nearly as easy a time as I was. Oh the guilt!
We were too early to check into our accommodation, so we took a detour to Circular Quay were the Sydney Opera House is located. We sat just outside the Opera House for a cup of tea/coffee and just enjoyed the ambiance. I have to say, I really felt like I was coming home.
After breakfast, we decided to walk with our luggage through the Royal Botanical Gardens to our Airbnb. It got rather hot but who’s complaining? 26c is fine when your friends back in Canada are experiencing -26c!
The apartment we rented is lovely. I thought it was a bit odd that it had 2 bedrooms as I only remember it as being a one bedroom for 2 nights. But whatever. We showered and relaxed and finally decided we needed a nap before going out to Bondi beach.
The beach was beautiful and crowded! The last time I was there was March 2011. The autumn is not a big beach season although you can always find surfers at any time of year. We walked along the promenade and found a lovely restaurant which happens to be the RSL, sort of like our legions in Canada. But this was a lot nicer!
After a cider and a great chicken salad, we decided to walk back along the beach. I had to try the water! People were swimming but honestly, I don’t find cold water very inviting. It might be as turquoise as the Caribbean but it’s not Mexico!
By 5pm, we got back on the bus, then train, and made our way back to our rental. We were sitting in the livingroom, relaxing, when the front door opened and our host came in. The short of it is that I had not realized that we were only renting one bedroom with kitchen privileges. Our stuff was everywhere, most notably in the master bedroom and this host is very particular. Well, you can imagine my embarrassment as he gave us specific instructions on the house rules.