SYDNEY SYDNEY

The metropolis that is the international beacon for “You have arrived in Australia!” 

Anyone that knows me would understand this was not a high priority stop in my travels, a large city along with the hyped tourism appeal being quite the turn off for me initially. However while in Queensland I met a lovely friend from Germany Fatih!  He was on a short vacation while completing an internship in Sydney. My time to leave my far North was soon approaching and with no real outline of a plan in my near future the idea to accept a generous offer to visit a friend on a whim in Sydney and have no red tape to stopping me it was a done deal! Ticket bought on a plane a couple weeks later with my world on my back (aside of course from the HEAPS of luggage my friends in Cairns so graciously were taking care of for me. If ever I “backpack” again I will pack MUCH MUCH lighter!

I was greeted at the airport on Australia Day Jan 26th the day after my 30th birthday by a car full of smiles only one of them being familiar face, a beautiful two story apartment with home cooking and instant mates awaited me. To this day please know mates how deep my gratitude runs, to come from “Hostel Living” to your palace of kindness and generosity w that you shared never be forgotten! .. ohh did I mention their view from the oversized balcony?

For this blog post I am going to upload more photos than I normally would, and include some of the “not so pretty” ones, I would love if I can somehow allow my friends and family back home to walk the streets of Sydney. I hope my photos and words give you a small feel at the very least.  A city that surprised me, she did win a place in my heart.

I must say I did feel a kind of culture shock upon landing, having been away from any kind of big city living for so long, my days had been barefoot surrounded by rain forest and a very laid back way of life it was so surreal to see sky scrapers, saturations of neon lights, traffic!, busy sidewalks, business suits and all the kinds of over the top unnecessary  human creations again.

I spent a couple days getting settled and really enjoying the luxuries of a home I had lived without for 6months. I cant tell you how amazing it felt to sit curled up in my pajamas on a comfy couch surrounded by pillows (with the absence of insects crawling over me, geckos and birds always in sight & ear pitch), coffee in hand, looking out a glass window pane into the world (yes my in FNQ world solid glass panes are a rarity).. just sitting alone in silence while the housemates were at work. I smiled a lot to myself.  And gave me some much needed photo editing catch up time, the months previous were 12hour work days and social hour 24/7, the break was emotionally needed. I had time to meditate over the last few months, I was filled with a great miss for my close friends back Cairns, my lovely friend Tracy had put together a photo album full of the smiling faces of all my mates, a gift that I will treasure always.

Relaxation… what a VIEW

McMahon Bay under starlight

Quiet days followed by evenings of great company, drinks with amazing food sitting outside talking the evenings away, I actually did not experience any of the nightlife the city is famous for and honestly that’s just how I wanted it. 

Sadly many of my days in Sydney were rain filled as they experienced a very poor summer season this year, no matter I still got out and explored! The down fall being my camera stayed packed up for a many magical moments.

The first Saturday we got up mid day and my lovely tour guide Fatih & I set off to explore the main downtown district at Circular Quay.  Sydney’s main public transportation is an elaborate circuit of fairy boats, there are trams and city buses as well, but how cool is it to catch a boat to work everyday!

We took a walk around McMahons Bay where they live, it feels like you are walking in a European town at times, steep hills, stones homes with wooden shutters draped in vines, rustic hand painted window boxes, all packed tightly together along narrow winding & mostly one way streets. A realistic closer look reveals high end real estate where older buildings are buried in bright new condominiums. I still found these new structures with their light pastels tones and large windows to be quite pretty.

View of the Apartment from the other side of the Bay.

McMahon Bay

Little sculptures found randomly hidden in the bushes as you walk along the marina.  

Our walk took us around the Marina and past Luna Park.

 

Standing below the famous Bay Bridge I get my first up close glimpse of the historical Sydney Harbour.

We set off to find the walking path across the bridge; eventually we found THE grand staircase after a few welcome uncertain wonderings.

Harbour Bridge led us right into circular quay the main ferry and transit station in center town. Docked that day was the LARGEST cruise ship I have ever stood next to, I stared like a child in awe the first time they see the dinosaur skeleton exhibited at the museum.

We spent a couple hours treading the pavement of the city business district (CBD). I had forgotten the affect architectural beauty has on me, surprised at how the lack of water and green jungle space still allowed my feeling alive smile to take over my lens. Large cities offer a greater variety of the odd, the super scaled, and patterns to satisfy my curious visual field.

The Royal Botanical Gardens are located directly east of the Opera House, 30 hectares of living green space in the middle of the city. A magical place, only wishing I had time for multiple visits, it really is a sort of secret garden with winding paths leading to hidden statues, waterfalls and never ending variations of vibrant flora. 

Flying FOXES!!

Anyone following my photo posts is well aware of my bat fascination, there are many flying foxes in Cairns, but these guys were hanging much closer to the ground than I had ever seen before. I honestly could have watched them all day, Fatih my lovely friend who kindly carried my camera equipment all day did not share the same obsession for my clawed fury night flight friends.

We grabbed lunch at a lovely restaurant by the water shared a bottle wine and caught the ferry home in time to catch the sunset from their spectacular veranda.

That day proved to be my one of my two sunshine days, the in between wet moments were filled with rest and the unwelcome battle to keep the damp chill off my bones, a much different climate than my far north tropics.

After a couple days of waiting for the sun to come out I decided to make the most of my time regardless of the weather, I set out on a solo day excursion to the Sydney Aquarium and Tower Eye. Thinking them to be good indoor activities. Armed with a hooded sweater and waterproof casing for my camera bag I headed out quickly transforming into a drowned rat but still smiling.

The Aquarium was lovely, but to be honest have seen more impressive displays in North America, I walked through slowly knowing I had the whole day alone and rain waiting for me upon exit. I sort of lack exhilaration feeling fell on me, as I looked into large aquatic tanks with sharks, stingrays and small displays of rare fish and crustaceous creatures from the deep I couldn’t help but think; I am in the land were it is completely possible to see these amazing beings in their own environment, were humans are the visitors as they go about the natural cycle and not vice versa what am I doing at an Aquarium? No worries I had my camera and occupied myself photographing thru glass and reading most of the info presentations, which honestly is something I often skip or quickly skim over.

I decided I wanted to view the city from the Tower Eye at sunset and twilight, so I walked the streets of soggy Sydney for a few hours, a concrete jungle with a charm of it’s own reminding me of where I actually was.  I wasn’t feeling the chill so much as I worked up a sweat wondering the sloped streets, sadly I didn’t not take my camera out the whole day. I sat at a small café to give my feet a rest and enjoyed a glass of white wine and smoked salmon nibbles. About an hour before the sun started to set I felt it was time to get out of the rain and headed for the tower where I sat in the lobby patiently waiting for the suns decent.

It was quite the sight to see the city sprawled out before me from that height, but unfortunately my thought out plan of perfectly a lit skyline was washed away by the heavy rain making for muddy looking photos lacking the vibrancy I envisioned. 

On my walk back to circular quay I snapped a couple low light city shots and noticed my perfect window of light at twilight was in progress, resulting in the deepest most magnificent blue. I took off my soggy/slimy sandals and started bounding off towards the Opera house, zigzagging through people knowing my window of opportunity for this light was brief. As the Opera house came into sight I stopped grabbed a couple shots from a further distance not knowing if I’d make it in time, then I broke into a full on run.. I did manage a couple shots but really I should have been there 10minutes earlier. No worries, time to head home! Hot shower and feet up.

In the elevator on the way down Tower Eye

My last weekend there we got our second day of sunshine, me and Fatih decided to check out Manly beach, a trendy surfer neighbor hood that was bound to be less tourist saturated than Bondi the more well known surfer hot spot.

I was kicking myself as I packed my gear for the day realizing I had let my camera batteries go flat… Iphone photo day it was!.. I KNOW some great photographer huh?

I love Manly, very chill scene, with quaint unit character shops, cafés everywhere. The types you know are independently run and have someone who loves them. We went into a couple places and spoke to some street vendors finding nothing but friendly smiles all around, not to mention the beautiful ocean with flowing great surf. It was a very relaxed day smillin in the sunshine.

After 8 days it was time to move on before I got too comfortable, I booked the first leg (what turned out to be my last) of the greyhound hop on hop off ticket I had bought 5 months previous to start my journey up the coast. Byron Bay here I come!! I always feel a sadness when I leave a place during my travels, I’ve felt this way my whole life, is this the last time I’ll travel down this street? Smell this smell? See these people? Most times the answer is yes and that sadness me on varying levels depending on how attached I became during my stay. I tend to grow roots and routines fairly quickly every I go, I was sad to leave Sydney and my friends a small tear was shed and time to move as they drove away leaving m at the greyhound station.

My time in Sydney was lovely, largely thanks to the wonderful friends by my side. She certainly has enormous amounts more to offer than what I saw, not sure if ill ever return in spite of the guilt that I didn’t really get to know her. I am not a big city girl this much I know about myself, of course there is always beauty everywhere one goes, I find joy in photographing architecture and discovering the small corners of uniqueness a big city has hidden in its belly, but I gravitate to small beach town friendliness… a whole coast of it ahead of me!

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