It has been a while! My mother and I have been busy taking the train around Syndey and exploring. We stayed in Surrey Hills for a few days, which is a lovely neighborhood, full of thrift shops and good food. We found a delicious gelato place, had one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had in my life, and got used to a new train station. The train system here is so efficient and clear, and I absolutely love it! There is nothing I prefer more than zipping around a big city, and I hear Melbourne’s “tram” system is good as well, which is exciting.
We also tried to take advantage of happy hour, as restaurants close much earlier here, and drinks are expensive. I’ve had a mix of luck with getting carded here, which I think has something to do with how I’m wearing my hair? Either way, it is debatable whether I am older than 18 apparently. After we ate the life-changing pizza the other day (toothsome crust, goat cheese, just the right amount of truffle oil), we walked to a nearby park just at dusk, and saw tons of bats flitting about and landing to hang in nearby trees! They were fairly big, brown bats, and I was so in awe. I think my spirit animal might be a fruit bat? Hoping so at least.
Amidst all this munching, we also managed a good bit of exploration. We saw the Sydney Opera House on Monday, which I thought would make this all feel more concrete and real. It is so iconic, and still felt pretty surreal to see it in real life, but it was really interesting to walk all around the building and look at the architecture. Even the bathrooms were cool! The next day we ate meat pies (mine had potato and peas), and went to the art gallery of NSW. It was about 98 degrees F, so we thought it might be a good chance to escape the heat! It wasn’t a life-changing experience, but worth what we paid for it (free!).
On the same boiling hot day, we thought it would be reasonable to walk through the botanical gardens, which we had meandered through a little bit the previous day. We only lasted a short while, but visited a really cool carnivorous plant exhibit, some forested areas that offered a break from the sun, and a succulent exhibit.
The next day, we got a later start and went out for vegan dim sum (although neither of us are vegan). We sat essentially in a park, which was just lovely, and although some of the dishes were a little odd, it was quite a wonderful experience. For me, it was exciting, as they had BBQ pork buns, and vegetarian sticky rice, usually things that I can no longer have. My mother liked the mushroom dumplings that we had! We bopped around and shopped a bit, and then packed up for a switch to a new hotel the next day. Notably, I also had my first sticky chai on this day, which is a honey steeped chai. 10/10 would recommend. I think I’ll be juuuust fine here.
The 14th here was valentine’s day! We swapped hotels, and arrived at our new location to flowers from Aidan! Even though it was the 13th in the states, he had arranged specially for them to arrive. Love that boy. We headed off to the zoo so I could get my first glimpse of wallabies, wombats, kangaroos, echidnas, platypuses (yes that is the correct terminology, the zoo said so!), and a huge number of cute little mouse-like marsupials.
We wanted to hang out with the Tasmanian devil, but it was fast asleep and couldn’t be bothered even to snarl at us! I can’t wait to learn more about all these animals very soon, and maybe I’ll see one in Tasmania. The zoo did leave us feeling a bit iffy, even if they seemed very pro-animal and environment. Birds stuck in an aviary can’t fly wherever they want, and it does make me a bit sad. It was my first time in a zoo in quite a while, and maybe my last for a bit. The ferry that we took to the zoo and back provided a wonderful view of the opera house!
Yesterday, we went back to Bondi because we had such a lovely time the other day. There are lots of other beaches in Sydney, but Bondi is really accessible by train and bus, and it’s just so gorgeous!!! We got breakfast at a classic Australian style spot and had over the top fruit covered vegan pancakes and sort of a deconstructed avocado toast. While sipping tea and munching on dragonfruit, it was hard to beat the view of the waves and surfers.
We also spent some time at the Bondi Iceberg, a pool that is right along the beach. The water was so refreshing, and we lost track of time. Last night we also went to the night market, a couple of blocks from our hotel. Vendors were selling various meats on sticks, sweets, and knick-knacks, and it was the most late-night action we had seen in a city that seems pretty calm in the evenings. We walked past all the open restaurants and decided on a spot for dinner.
Today was my mother’s last full day here! We took a lovely sunny walk in Darling Harbor. We did a little bit of shopping, and had a quick dinner before more packing! Tomorrow my mother will head off, and I will stay one more night before I join my program, just about a 10-15 minute drive or train ride away from where I am now. It will be sad, and I’m sure it will hit me soon that I’m all on my own, but I am excited to start having some structure and schedule back in my life. Ahhh! I feel I run the risk of sounding like one of those long-winded Christmas letters that you have to unfold like a scroll, so I will stop it there.
Australian vocabulary log #2: Rockmelon=canteloupe, brekkie=breakfast, uni=university, pearls=boba, yum cha=dim sum
P.S. We have had gelato 4 times already… if you come to Sydney go to Gelato Messina, they’re all over.