welcome to australia. sydney is a beautiful city and if we were 10 yrs younger we would get a work visa and stay a year. the city is super easy to navigate. the weather, with the exception of one day, was perfect while we were there. warm during the day and chilly at night. as someone who constantly sweats but enjoys nice weather, this is basically my sweet spot. we stayed in an airbnb with our own entrance and bathroom so it felt almost as if we had our own place. now that I’ve painted the mountains and lake let’s draw in some birds and happy trees.
our first night we walked around randwick, neighborhood we stayed in, to try and familiarize a little bit. we settled on the closest pub, the dog, for dinner and a few pints. (side note – most of the best bars in AU are called hotels) caroline was sold into getting 3 orders of prawns which meant she more or less had a dozen garlic-butter soaked shrimp for dinner, delightful, and we met a nice irishmen whom we bumped into again on our way to the airport on our last day. after dinner we played locals by sitting in on trivia night, which was mostly disney and america based questions, and realized aussies know more about american pop culture and geography than we did. i did try to help some nearby tables by conspicuously discussing the correct answers to the questions they asked about the south, they were not appreciative. whatever.
day 2 is our first full day and we kept things close to our hood. started at coogee junction (basically if summer house and soho house had a baby) for $18 coffee and croissants before starting the coastal walk up to bondi. a beautiful 2 hr-ish walk that we would recommend to anyone visiting sydney. we people watched along the way and had lunch at a hippy cafe once we got to bondi beach. being a weekday, and not quite yet summer, the walk and beaches aren’t overly crowded but everyone we did come across seemed to be training for an ironman. on our second day we also met our AirBNB host, Warren, who travels more than most flight attendants and set-up the AirBNB to honor his passed wife – caroline cried reading his welcome book. his place was amazing and has thus far been the most organized AirBNB host with maps and recos waiting our arrival in a binder.
day 3 we headed downtown early. sydney has pretty much the a-typical big city centre until you reach the ports. we walked the ports then had breakfast and decided the best way to get a feel of the city was to jump on a big red bus. lame but if you find a hop on/off for the right price it’s really the quickest way to learn the hoods. we jumped off first at the sydney fish market where every asian in australia was having lunch and, in typical fashion, having no respect for personal space (my video below is about an hour after “rush hour” of which it would have been impossible to film). its starting to get really hot and grumpy hogan is on the cusp of a meltdown so i convinced, with littler resistance, caroline to go to the sydney aquarium and wild life zoo. we had a close encounter with kangaroos and koalas and got some interesting perspective of a dugong and a 3 meter crocodile. from there we smashed $5 burgers (would turn out to be the cheapest meal we have in australia) and walked the sydney bridge. we took the bus back to bondi junction on accident but used it as an excuse to walk home which meant we treated ourselves with local libations from our neighborhood bottle shop. went to dinner at an italian restaurant in a hipster neighborhood south of us that served caroline white rice in spaghetti sauce and called it risotto. slow clap.
not much doing in our last full last day. we had breakfast next to a boring bro who, from what we gathered while pretending to read the newspaper, got laid for the first time in a year. for a pretty memorable event there was little to no enthusiasm on either part. hung out on coogee beach people watching and are starting to realize how active aussies are – from kids to seniors everyone is outside and up to something. knocked out some laundry and hung out with warren who taught us the rules of cricket, showed us his man cave he built in his basement (which we didn’t know he had) and introduced us to the barramundi. naturally we went for dinner to a fish called coogee to try our newly discovered aussie favorite fish. place was bomb and we capped the night off at a young persons bar with a few pints before walking home. we were in bed before the local kids were even getting started.
we head to the airport to fly to byron bay but not before we saw what appeared to be some sort of racially charged confrontation on the bus between the driver and some teens. I’m running on roughly 4hrs of sleep and didn’t appreciate the shake-up. after a flight and a short bus ride we arrive at Don’s house late afternoon. a beautiful home walking distance to the byron bay city centre. byron is a sleepy surf town that has more bars than stop lights and a several beautiful beaches. we arrived at the beginning of “schoolies week” which is a week of non-stop partying for high school seniors after they graduate. basically spring break but with the drinking age at 18 they’re all baby faced children whom we don’t trust. before dinner don, very kindly, drove us around the town to show us his favorite spots. don is a hippy who is originally from South Africa but left during apartheid because “things were just getting too dangerous”. he did not want to elaborate on this part of his life, even when encouraged, but was adamant that we didn’t spend enough time talking during our stay. to be quite honest I’m not sure what type of dialogue he was looking for, with a 30 yr age gap and his refusal to discuss the most interesting part of his life, there wasn’t much else we had in common.
day two was agreed to be a lazy day. i got a haircut and shaved down to a moustache. we hung out at the beach and received free wristbands for a schoolies party we immediately decided we were both too old for but definitely not above a $5 beer (which is by far the cheapest you’re going to find in all of AU). after a split dinner with some great live music (teaser vid below) we headed to the schoolies party where kids were making out and grinding to the point that they were disrespecting their families. i tried to get caroline to join in but she was having none of it. we left but not before i traded movember stories with a guy who claimed too old to be at a schoolies party but his cousin or something was there and I’m also pretty sure he was selling drugs. point of me telling you this is i asked for his age, 22, and he mine in return. after i told him i was 32 he told me to “get the f@#k out”, which it was “late” (see 1030p) and we happily obliged.
last two days included several casual byob meals, lots of beach time and the lighthouse walk which is also the most easterly point of australia and we would both definitely recommend. the morning we left don offered to drive us to the bus stop in town so we could get to brisbane and pick up our camper, however he nearly caused us to be late due to an impromptu meditation session which impressed caroline “just so amazing he can do that, i wish i could reach clear consciousness” and frustrated me.