Australia, July 20-25
A few hours after we left Chet, we headed to Auckland International Airport and boarded a quick flight to Sydney, arriving right at the beginning of rush hour into Australia’s largest city. Ben and Jerm decided to take the subway into the city due to the traffic and surprise, it was pouring down rain. We got into King’s Cross, the Aussie version of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, and walked through the Cross to Potts Point, dodging the rain, cars, and drug dealers, to meet at Dawn’s place (Jerm’s friend from Miami).
Once we met up with Dawn and her boyfriend Devin, we dropped off our stuff and went straight for dinner. The weather made us change our plans but we went to Opium Den (not what it sounds, it is a great Thai place) and we all got different tasty curries and tried some local brews!
Thursday morning we woke up to more rain, which cancelled our outdoor plans. Not to be detoured, we found the 2010 World Photo Exhibition at the New South Wales State Library, a collection of the best photos in the world. It was a FREE exhibit that not only had amazing images; they all told a story on sports, real life struggles, politics, and much more. After a few hours at the library, we walked around downtown Sydney trying to find an AMEX store to replace Ben’s traveller’s checks (yes these are the same checks Ben has been trying to replace for 8 weeks now) and finally gets his checks reissued. Lunch time, we were told to get meat pies at Harry’s (similar to KFC’s chicken pot pies) and were sadly disappointed that they didn’t live up to the hype. Luckily Harry’s had tasty hot dogs so Ben and Jerm decided to get one of those for dessert which was much better. We walked back to Dawn’s place in the rain, threw all of our now-soaked clothes in the dryer, popped in a movie and relaxed for the afternoon.
Dawn and Devin came home from work and they decided to invite some friends over for homemade shrimp tacos so six of us enjoyed Devin’s culinary skills, with homemade guacamole on the side! As you may or may not know, food costs in Sydney are ridiculously high, so Ben and Jerm gladly accepted Devin’s dinner proposal (a $10 dinner in the states would probably cost $25 in Sydney)! After another movie, we all were pretty exhausted and went to bed shortly afterwards.
Friday morning was our big trip up to New Castle, or “Newie” as the locals call it, to meet up with our friends Sam and Josh. We got on the train and Ben quickly realizes that he left our present for them at the breakfast place we went to earlier, so we turned around, luckily picked up the present, and continued our route to Newie only to show up an hour late. Sam met us at the train station and took us on a quick tour of town and then off for lunch. Later we took a tour of all the beaches, but had to stay car-side since the rain hadn’t subsided and the winds were picking up. We hung out with Sam all afternoon until Sam’s family made us a pot roast dinner which they forced us to eat, along with some Vegimite, and then headed out for the evening.
Our friend Josh was having a house warming party for his new apartment that had an American theme (in our honor it turned out). Ben and Jerm didn’t realize that everyone else at this party was dressed in their most ridiculous “American” costume they could come up with, which we had nothing. We met a lot of their his friends, listened to 80’s and 90’s American music, and even had an American hot dog eating contest around 2 AM Saturday.
Saturday morning we reflected on the American themed aftermath, and then went down to grab a quick bite for breakfast at the “cool” Mackies that was downtown. Yes, as in McDonald’s. Only our second time for the trip! We enjoyed our sandwiches and headed off to Black Butt Nature Reserve to see if we couldn’t spot some koalas and roos. The rain had almost stopped by this point, but we had a nice casual walk around this free outdoor nature reserve and saw some great local animals. We decided we hadn’t had enough animals for the day, and Josh wouldn’t quit whining about how great these huge bats were, so we gave in and he directed to another nearby park where he knew the bats secretly hung out. Get it? Hung out. Bats. Get it? Ok, moving on.
The bats were great, but we were running late so we made haste to the train station to catch our ride back down to Sydney. A beautiful ride it was, along the Eastern coast of NSW with the sun now shining, and we were back before we knew it. We showered and changed, grabbed a bit to eat, and were ready to be picked up by our long lost South African friends Cheryl and Wendy (if you recall, Cheryl’s house was the first stop on the trip and her sister Wendy was in ZA visiting, now Cheryl was in AU visiting!) to take us to the TriNations Australia vs. South Africa rugby match. We made it through the traffic we were both quite excited for this true rugby match. Well, we were quickly disappointed as both teams brought their B teams and the crowd just wasn’t as hectic as we had anticipated. Nevertheless, the rain had completely stopped and it was a nice night to watch a match, especially in the great seats we found. We made it back to Potts Point after the game and met up with Dawn and Devin who were out with some friends.
Sunday morning was the first sunny day in Australia, so we went and had a great greasy breakfast at Maggie’s, and then headed off to see the city! We walked through the botanical gardens and quickly found ourselves at the Sydney Opera House. While it looks really white and all one piece on postcards, it turns out it’s not that white and it’s all tiled. Who knew?! We walked around and enjoyed seeing and photographing the iconic spot. We continued walking down into the harbor to snag a quick ferry ride out to Watson’s Bay, one of Dawn and Devin’s favorite spots. We roamed around the beautiful area overlooking the Sydney skyline to one side and the ocean on the other for the afternoon and enjoyed some fresh fish and chips at Doyle’s before heading back to the apartment. Dawn and Devin decided to have some friends over for dinner so we started cleaning and cooking to prepare for the company. We enjoyed the night, but kept it low key since we only had one more day of traveling and D&D had to work in the morning.
We woke up bright and early Monday morning and headed out to explore on our last day in Australia, and lucky for us it was absolutely beautiful. The first stop was the famous Bondi Beach, where Ben and Jerm enjoyed strolling along the boardwalk and watching graffiti artist do their thing. After a couple hours we kept moving on and made our way back downtown, grabbed some pasta for lunch, and headed straight for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We both decided against the $220 four hour climb up the bridge, and opted for the $6 student price to climb one of the four towers. We had great views of the city and learned a lot about the bridges construction on the way! We had an hour to kill after the bridge, so we stopped in a local pub and took in our last beer of Australia, and of our summer together. After some good laughs, we continued on home, back through the botanical gardens, grabbed some sushi for dinner in Kings Cross, packed our things, and off to the airport we went.
And there it is. 70 days, 13 countries, 5 continents, and 3 silly MBAs.