Ta Sydney!

By Amy, Cultural Embrace Work Participant in Australia

“Ta” is what I’ve heard many Aussies say in lieu of both “thank you” and “goodbye.” It seems most appropriate to use it now in my last blog from Sydney. I can’t believe it’s been over five months since I first arrived completely clueless and lost in Chinatown! Although I’d like to think I’ve come a long way– mastering the ins and outs of city life– alas this is just not the case. Though I may no longer be quite as clueless, I am still quite often lost–but then that still happens to me in New Orleans so what should I expect?!

Christmas and New Years were both very bittersweet days. I hosted Christmas dinner, thanks to the “resort style” accommodations I’ve had housesitting. I don’t think any of us felt as though it was really Christmas but we played along and cooked our favorite dishes from home, drank our favorite concoctions, and took turns skyping family/friends back home all throughout the day and some of us into the night–depending on what time zone we were from! The weather was gorgeous, though a bit hot, but we waited out the sun and ate our “orphan backpackers'” meal outside in the yard and later exchanged our secret santa gifts. It’s funny the things you exchange as travelers. Nothing too expensive or lavish–as it will likely be broken, stolen or lost before you return home and even more so no one can afford it anyway!; also, nothing to big, bulky, or heavy–as we all considered that these gifts will end up being carried on our backs for lengthy periods of time or being weighed in an airport and we don’t want to be responsible for a friend’s overweight charges do we?! And so all the gifts were thoughtful–practical, edible, or small-which was just perfect! 🙂

New Years Eve was spent on working on the Sydney Harbour Cruise. The ship carries close to 600 passengers–300 on each level or “deck.” I was on the “Show Deck” which is the bottom deck. Upon being assigned this spot, I had decided that I would be quite happy peering at the fireworks through the windows or at best seeing them from off the back of the boat. We served champagne, appetizers, main course and then watched as the entire “deck” cleared for the early 9pm fireworks display. They all went to the top of the ship to watch from what is clearly the best view. Having no patrons, allowed the staff to catch the display from the back of the boat and it was really something to see. We got back to our places as patrons made their way back down for more cocktails, dessert, and dancing before the big show at midnight. Around 11:30 my deck captain called me aside and asked me to bring my friend with some trays. I was sure she was going to put us to work while the more senior staff got to watch the “Sydney Fireworks Dislay” that everyone worldwide watches. Instead, she told us to go to the top of the ship and not to return until after midnight and to clear any glasses we found astray. We were giddy and rightfully so. The show from the Harbour Bridge is something magical to see! HAPPY 2011 everyone!

With 2011 came the end of an era, the “Laverne & Shirley tour OZ era” to be exact. Yes, the Bould sisters took off on their final travels before leaving Australia and heading back home to England. We met them for a meal and saw them off at the train station. It was much more emotional than I had anticipated, but thus is the life of travellers. Everyone has to head home eventually. Now it’s just all the more reason to plan a trip to the UK or them to New Orleans (or both)! Great times, lots of laughs, & plenty of memories!–it’s been a blast and I can’t imagine my life in Sydney without Bould at my side…literally, right next to me morning, noon, and night! haha

I finally gave driving a try, but I made sure I had a qualified co-pilot, Juni. Juni doesn’t hold a license even in her own country but I was sure she was the right person to guide me to our destination–“Petbarn” –to get Jaffa’s food. I was right–she was a lifesaver. Poor Juni would tell me “okay, we’re clear” and I would keep looking the other direction, though she kept reminding me NO ONE is coming from that way. I also found myself hugging the curb, forgetting there was an entire half of the car between me and the curb, so there were a few close calls! In the end we made it to and from petbarn with a pitstop at the petrol station unharmed.

I was sure to make the most of my last weekend in Sydney. We took the 2 hour train ride north to the Blue Mountains. The train looked like it was straight from the 1970s with pale green interior and carpeted walls. We also felt like we traveled back in time a bit when we arrived in Katoomba–a slow paced small town in no hurry to catch up with the rest of the world. We absolutely loved it! The mountains were absolutely gorgeous. We were warned by our no-nonsense bus driver, Peter, that we needed to be careful hiking as there had already been a few “casualties” that morning. Not exactly the thing you want to hear but we didn’t let that deter us from exploring as much of each trail as we could. The weather held up for us as well which was an added bonus. We mixed it up as well between touristy stops and going off the beaten path which really heightened the experience! We became a bit obsessed with the steepest inclined railway in the world and rode it up and down about 4 times!

I saved the best for last–referring to both the blog and my life in Sydney–by going to the Fish Market on my last day. How I missed this beforehand I’m not sure, but oh I was so happy to have discovered it alas! The seafood was so fresh (and not pricey either so we splurged on everything!). James and Wendi had said that James’ mom recommended they try some sort of bugs–I was almost giddy thinking they were talking about mudbugs (crawfish). Much to my disappointment there were no mudbugs in sight, but my eyes, and tastebuds were opened to the brilliancy called Moreton Bay Bugs—mmm! They look like lobsters with flattened heads and have crab-like legs underneath. They were divine! We didn’t stop there either. We had boiled prawns (shrimp), sashimi–tuna, salmon, and octopus, chargrilled oysters, fresh oysters–sydney rock & pacific….don’t judge!:) It was a true feast of a day and I couldn’t think of a better way to end my time in Sydney.

Melbourne is where the next adventure lies and I can’t wait to begin! Australian Open, cafe’s, art galleries, street markets, & shopping all await me!


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