I thought that I would start a travel blog so anyone who is interested can keep up with what I am up to, and also so that I can remember myself exactly what I have done!

My flight arrived in Sydney at 6pm and after going through the security and getting my working visa validated (they did not check funds) I was ready for Sydney!

After hunting for the shuttle bus to the Gapyear recommended hostel Wake Up I eventually found it and took the journey. It took about 15 minutes and cost $10. I checked in and went to my room, not feeling tired from the 31 hour trip from my bed in Chelmsford to my new bed in Sydney. There I met three travellers who were having some drinks before they went out to the city centre, and they invited me to join. There was a brother and sister, Nick and Charlie, who were travelling and a girl, Jade, they had met along the east coast (names may be vague in this blog as I struggle to remember them at the best of times). Jade seemed to only be in Australia to eat hash cakes and get drunk, which is a bit of a shame, but it is also something which I was told was not uncommon amongst the British backpackers in Australia. We were joined for the night out by two Canadian brothers and another English guy who arrived that night from Bangkok. At this point it still didn’t feel like I was in Australia; it didn’t feel real.

The first place we went to was a bar which had four floors and played live music every night of the week. The band was only a cover act but they were very good, and played a good set. Somewhere in the middle of Dakota, originally by the Stereophonics, it struck me that I was in Sydney, Australia!

We left this bar minus Jade, who was with a guy she had met, and made our way to a club which was quite big and had an outside section. I lost all of the other people I came with in the club for about an hour, but then I found the other English guy and we stayed at the club until 4am. It was expensive there so I only had a couple of drinks (two bottles of beer were costing $17) but the mixture of the journey there and the wine on the plane meant that was all I needed. Whilst there we chatted to four Australian guys about life in Australia and music. One of the guys had me singing Dry Your Eyes by The Streets because he wanted to hear an Englishman singing it, but anyone who knows me after a few drinks will know that I enjoy serenading random people (Lunny and Jonesy know about this!) so I was only too happy to oblige. We talked about some sports and I was glad to have spent some time the first night chatting to some locals.

The trip back to the hostel was going to be interesting, as we were both new to the city, but the tactic of ‘turn right’ seemed to do the trick! On the way back there looked like there had been a crime down an alleyway. There was a pool of blood and a forensic police officer photographing the alley. Despite this, I still felt completely safe in the city. On the way back (430am) I noticed that the newsagent-style confectionary shops were still open. A lot of these are 24 hours. Confectionary is very expensive in Oz. It can cost over $2 for a Mars Bar.

Having got back to the hostel I had the experience which has been discussed in some of the threads on Gapyear of people having sex in the bunk below you, but some well-timed coughs to let them know I was awake seemed to do the trick!

I woke up three hours later at 8am ready to see some of the city. I decided to gamble on good weather and wore shorts. After breakfast at the hostel ($7) I went into the city, having got very lost on the way there, and saw the Darling Harbour first. It was so great to be there and I couldn’t stop smiling whilst I was walking around! After spending some time here and taking a few pictures I decided to go to the aquarium. I wasn’t sure whether or not it would be worth the $19 entry fee, but gambled that it would. And it probably was. They had crocodiles, seals and sharks there which I didn’t expect to see, but the strangest creature there was probably the stingray. Very odd!

After this I took a water taxi to the Opera house. It took ten minutes and cost $15 but was worth it to get some classic Kodak moments of the harbour bridge and the opera house from the water. I was chatting to a family from Brisbane on the boat who were also seeing Sydney for the first time, and again it was good to chat to some locals.

On arrival at the opera house, I was a bit underwhelmed. Having seen so many beautiful pictures of it, the actual product was smaller than I thought it would be. I considered seeing an act in there that night but decided against it due to financial reasons.

Having seen the opera house, with my camera already out of battery, I went to the Botanical Gardens, mostly by mistake as I didn’t know exactly where they were. I finished by book from the plane ride and then walked around. the gardens were huge and I only looked around half, and thought to save the rest for tomorrow. The weather by this point was lovely and warm, and I thought it was meant to be winter here!

Having arrived back at the hostel 8 hours later, my legs felt numb and I had a nap before heading to the hostel bar. I met to welsh people there, Alun and Carla, who were almost at the end of their world tour. I played cards with them until about 1030, and then chatted with some other people at midnight before going back to my room. I was already conscious of spending too much at this point so I didn’t have any drinks. I woke up at 4.30am. Through a mix of excitement and having had a nap I guess I didn’t need much sleep. I chatted to some Scottish girls in the main reception until about 7, and then went to the open a bank account and sort out my tax file code ready to start looking for work. I finished this at about 10 and went to the Darling Harbour and the gardens again with a girl from my hostel room, Tamsyn. She had just spent ten weeks in Borneo and was a bit dissapointed to be back in a country so similar to England culturally, which was understandable. Walking there I noticed that there are more Chinese in the city then Caucasians.

That night I went to the hostel bar again, and had a few drinks with the Welsh people, and some more cards. It was much busier as the hostel was doing jugs of cocktails for $10. I stumbled back to the Tv room and chatted with a French canadian girl until about 5. We were watching some crappy old Oz film but adding our own interpretations to it and it was probably the most fun I’d had up until that point. I went back to my room at 1am and slept until 9, where now I’m writing this blog!

Overall it’s been a great start to my travels, and I am already glad to have done it solo. Tonight I’m getting the greyhound to Melbourne ($69) I will write more from there!

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