Step 31 – Start with a Vacation

We have been in Australia now for 168 hours.  In that time we have had some tired, self-induced, apartment-based solitude, and some curious, self-guided, public-transit-based tourism and everything in between.

Day 1: See last week’s post. (Summary: Got phone and groceries and went to Coogee Beach in a thunderstorm).

Coogee Beach in a thunderstorm. Totally worth it.
We learned how to use the bussing system. Pretty easy. Just ask google. Google knows.

Day 2: Went to Target. Went to Bondi Beach, saw Hugh Jackman doing a photo-shoot. Went downtown and saw Sydney Opera House. Good Day.

Dan, thinking about the cost of tickets to the Sydney Opera House and knowing it will be a long time before he gets dragged here again.
Dan, looking amazing at Bondi Beach.
Hugh Jackman doing a photoshoot at the ocean pool. Hi Hugh! (He probably didn’t see us, otherwise I’m sure he’d have said hi).
The stunning view over the coastal boardwalk at Bondi.
Our first wildlife sighting.
A tempting park bench. We did a lot of walking on this day.

Day 3: Went Whale Watching. Here are some pictures of all the whales we saw.

There are no whales in this picture. We saw no whales 🙁 But its ok. Its hard to pin them down – they don’t carry smart phones I guess.
Here we are on the boat – excited to see some whales (though the future versions of ourselves will be disappointed because, I reiterate, we did not see whales).
The boat ride was pretty amazing thought! We were frequently airborne on this thing!
We did also see one pirate ship (and two New Zealand seals). But no whales.
And on the way home, the Sydney Opera House. Iconically whale-free.

Day 4: Was mostly a stay at home day. We did venture out to buy a GPS, go to a mall, and discover the AMAZINGLY cheap groceries at Coles, Kmart and the Big W (not affiliated with Walmart).

Notice, Dan is not actually wearing that kangaroo t-shirt. He just didn’t want to be topless in the picture. (He asked me to add that he’s a prude).
Our cluttered little nook.

Day 5: We attempted Whale Watching again. Great news! We saw a pair of humpbacks heading south to feed in Antarctica! I have to admit, it was a little underwhelming.  We occasionally saw their backs break the surface, and once or twice, a tail. But no breaching, no swimming over to the boat. In fact, they were zigzagging as if to lose us.  Ok, whales – we can take a hint.

After the whale watching, we did a self-guided walking tour of the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Once we calibrated our expectations to winter greenery – things because a lot nicer. We found Canadian maples, so many varieties of bamboo and of course so many kinds of ficus – which is a fun word to say.  We also found the eel ponds. Apparently they drain the pool and remove all the eels, but within a few nights, eels can be seen wriggling over the grass to get back in.

Here we are, eagerly (and a little achy still from the last trip) looking forward to whale watching, again.
If you can spot the whale tail in this picture, you got about as much out of the trip as I did.

Day 6: We managed to get ourselves to the rental car place, psych ourselves up, and drive it home. This was an achievement for two-reasons. First, we are not accustomed to driving on the left and second, Sydney is a city of 5 million aggressive drivers.  But we made it.

After that, we did a walking tour of Sydney, which took us to the Opera House, Campbell Cove, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Hyde Park, the QVB, the Barracks, numerous historic churches and malls and lots of other interesting sights. Totally worth the zero dollars we paid for it! (It was a free tour, but you pay the guy what you think is fair – which I think is a TREMENDOUS way to do business).

Queen Vicky, overseeing her loyal, criminal subjects.
The beautiful dome inside the QVB.
The Sydney Rum Hospital piglet. Not sure of its significance.
Dan, taking in the facts, learning the data, assessing the information, retaining the salient details and so on.
This was a beautiful spot – Angel Place. Empty cages representing the 50+ species of birds driven out of the Sydney area by urban sprawl.
The ubiquitous Sydney Harbour Bridge.
And me – congratulating myself for walking 2 billion kilometres with a glass of Australian Shiraz (or as Siri likes to say, sure-ass).

Day 7: We packed our stuff and headed out of Sydney. Our second time driving the car on the left, was directly through downtown, over the 1.3 kilometre long Sydney Harbour Bridge and out onto the Pacific Highway North.  This day also included seeing our first, living kangaroo (as well our our first three, dead kangaroos) and arriving safely in the NICEST AIRBNB WE’VE EVER STAYED IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some pictures below.

Here we are singing along with the road trip playlist I made months before we set sail. Fine. I was singing and I requested Dan open his mouth for a picture.
Picturesque scenery along the highway. At different times we thought we could have been in Ontario, Alberta or California.
We saw a gorgeous sunset. As so many people here do. And also people other places.
Here is our first kangaroo encounter. He hopped across the driveway in front of us, then stood in the bushes watching us. He’s tough to see except his glowing eyes.
And now for the nicest AirBnb we’ve ever stayed in.
Gorgeous comfy couches (from which I am presently writing this post).
Thematically adorable bedroom overlooking the ocean.
And this little creepy-crawly who was also here to greet us. He was much bigger in person. I was too scared he’d eat anything I put near him for reference.
Here I am at the beach in Coff’s Harbour. This beach was also an off leash dog park. I found heaven.
Dan looking happy with his life choices.
Lastly, we stopped off in Byron Bay where we observed some stoner, beach-people enjoying a drum circle. And saw this sand-beauty. We also ate sub-par Mexican food for dinner in this town – but who cares – look at that sand!

So that was our first week.  Stay tuned to next week’s blog for our first week in Brisbane.


7 thoughts on “Step 31 – Start with a Vacation”

  1. Great pictures and commentary Mare. Thanks. Looks like a great vacation place — someday!
    Seeing pictures, reading of your travels, somehow you don’t feel quite so far away. Love you.

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