After my mother left on her flight midday Sunday, I went to the opera house at sunset, which was all glittery and lovely. I found a quick dinner and went to bed, trying to process everything I was getting myself into. I was nervous, but not for any sort of practical reason, just sort of a general mix of worry and excitement. I left all my packing to the morning, which was a fun time as I tried to somehow make all my clothes look smaller in a billion different configurations.
As I made my way to the hostel, I at first thought it was under construction or closed. In fact, it is on top of an old archaeological dig that was found when they created the building. It has an amazing harbor view and lots of open space. It also has terrible wifi and a room that we found increasingly more hot and humid before we figured out the air conditioning. I absolutely love bunk beds though, so all is forgiven when I get the view from a top bunk (of the floor of the room? I have no idea why I find it fun…). The first day was a blur of new faces and names and colleges and hometowns. The most notable event was a talk from a local Aboriginal man named Bob. It was astonishing how little I had learned about aboriginal culture even though I had been in Sydney on aboriginal land for over a week. My evening finished at a local pub with a few people from my program.
Early yesterday morning, we got up to head to the blue mountains. We had a stop at a wildlife center, where I actually got to pet wallabies and even saw a mama wallaby with a baby in tow. There were Tasmanian devils, alligators, and all sorts of fauna, in a more humane situation than the zoo, it seemed. After about another hour of driving west, we arrived at the blue mountains and had a lovely lunch at a grassy field. Some people played cricket, some people watched, some ate a lot of fruit (me!). We feasted on mango, watermelon, peaches, and strawberries.
We then went for a walk down into the blue mountains, down a series of steep steps cut into the sandstone cliffs. We learned about the blue eucalyptus haze, the various creatures that thrive in that area (koalas, wallabies, wombats, goannas), and then took a super steep railway car back up to the top of the mountain. We got one last look at the three sisters before heading back on a long bus ride. It was supposed to rain all day and it never did, which hopefully gets me ready for Melbourne, where you notoriously have to be prepared for any sort of weather.
Today, we had our afternoon free. I went with a big group of people to get fish & chips, and then headed over to Manly beach. It was sort of a gloomy day, but I had a lovely beach walk over to Shelly beach (aptly named, with big chunks of shell not yet fully ground down to sand). The ferry over to Manly also provides a lovely view, as did the dinner cruise we took this evening.
Tomorrow it’s up early for a flight to Melbourne and I can’t wait! It will be nice to be settled in one place and unpack fully, which I haven’t done for about two weeks. I know the fun will continue when the group of us is in Melbourne, and I can’t wait to get sorted and buy my first load of groceries.
Australian vocabulary log #3: Bin=trashcan, Bin chicken=ibis , Capsicum=peppers, Take away=to go, Track=trail