Day 15 – 18 Sydney
The flight was an overnight flight of about 8 hours long. I had a comfortable seat but as usual I did not sleep that much. We arrived in the morning 9 am and going though customs was easy…even though I was a bit apprehensive having seen those reality shows on tv about airport security in Australia – but I had nothing to worry about. I had arrived in Australia! I could not believe it – there I was finally at the other end of the world, a dream come true. How grateful I am and feeling lucky. Finances were still giving me worries though and I knew there is an old block there that I really need to work there or maybe I should be doing better financial planning..haha. Trusting in the universe …
Sydney is a wonderful city, clean, vibrant and creative. The people are so friendly, open and relaxed: I felt very much at home. Arriving at the airport I went to get a mobile phone or sim card so I could make calls in Australia..I tried the Vodaphone desk and the guy was very honest when I explained what I wanted – he was not trying to sell me the Vodaphone phone at all but instead wrote down the name of a store JB where I can find what I need.. Well, for a first impression of Australian people that was certainly very refreshing. Later when I did go into JB or JD, I do not know, the lady who helped me also did not try to sell me anything but instead advised me to just buy a simple sim card and put it into my own phone.. checking first of course if it would be unlocked. I love it…was it just me or does this happen to other people too. The whole phone thing was becoming a quest, because I did get a sim card later and then I found out that my phone was locked and it would take at least 7 days to have it unlocked so I ordered a small phone online through ebay and when it came the next day – it also did not work…help…Luckily my friends later gave me one of their phones to use and I am ever so grateful.
But going back to Sydney – my Airbnb place where I was going to stay 2 nights was in a place called Kirribilli (love the sound of that) and I had to take the ferry across the channel to get there. They have a great ferry system with many boats and destinations, it is like taking a bus. What especially delighted me was that the ferry took me by the famous Opera House, the symbol for Sydney, and on the other side there was the Sydney Harbour Bridge. What an entrance to Sydney – the best, I still had to pinch myself because I could not believe I was actually there. My hosts were a lovely young couple with a cat. He is from Wales and she originally from the Philippines. They both work hard to make it all work and they do live in one of the nicest areas of Sydney. Location was perfect: I got to cross the Sydney Harbour bridge which brought me into the Rocks, the oldest area of Sydney. It was there that the ships with the convicts arrived and so this place has quite a history. The houses have that old colonial feel to them and I was lucky to arrive into a lovely market with arts and handicrafts. I even found a stall with Dutch liquorice…yum. The next day I went to visit the NSW of Arts Museum, where a great collection of Australian and Aboriginal paintings are being exhibited. The museum is free and I was impressed by some of the Australian artists, who you normally do not hear about. Their main exhibition was Rembrandt..but knowing already about him being Dutch, I skipped that one.
After the museum I went into the Royal Botanical Gardens – which lays on the water front and it is a beautiful old designed garden where you can have a lovely picnic or enjoy some peace and quiet, also for free. The next place to visit was The Opera House building and I went in just to get an impression of the inside. You can do a tour, but it was enough for me just to be inside and feel the energy. The Opera House is located at Cicular Quay – a central place from where you can get into the centre or take the ferry to where ever you want to go. When you get an Opal card – it is easy to travel with that – you just charge it when you need more money on it.
After such a nice cultural day, there was still more to come. I was going to meet up with Claire who I had met in Glastonbury before and we were going to have dinner and then I wanted to go to this music bar called the Basement where they would have a Jam session. It was great to see Claire and we had some good Asian food. The food so far had been excellent – there are many Asians in Sydney and you can see the effect on the restaurants – there some Asian fusion going on which is very tasty indeed. But what I like best is that the sushi is extremely cheap and I love sushi. Anyway, after dinner we went to the Basement where there was already a crowd waiting for the jam session to start. It is a popular evening, or so I have been told and I was going to see if I could maybe do a song. The house band was playing some songs in the style of Grover Washington Jr – nice and mellow. Just the guitar player seemed to have a bit of trouble getting into it, but when the guest band came after that I understood because he was a hard rock guitar player and he did it with flair and all the moves of a rock guitar player. They were fun – just the singer could not match the sound of the musicians – but it was still entertaining. After their crazy performance, and Claire unfortunately had to leave already, the house band started to invite people to come up and sing. I was getting chatty to the sound man and he encouraged me to go up there. They were doing a bit of soul and R&B so I did not know if my jazz or blues would fit in, but when I talked the leader of the band, he was fine with me doing a blues song. So when he called and I got up there and did my ‘Change is gonna come’ in the blues version – the band was really getting down with it and I could see that they were having fun and so was I. The audience seemed to like it and so I was surprised when the band leader told me I could only do one song, maybe later another one. I know these things happen with a jam session but still it is difficult not take that too personal. Maybe it was too bluesy…because after that there was more soul. I decided that was enough so I said goodbye to the sound man and left to go back. At least I did it and that felt good.
The next day after all that culture I decided to go to Bondi Beach and do the coastal walk to Bronte, something my friend Annabel advised me to do. It was a warm day – but it was easy to get there by train and bus, it took me about 40 minutes. When I arrived I saw a beautiful big white beach with some good looking blue water and surf boys…did I tell you that the men are very tasty for the eyes. I do not know if that is an Australian thing, or just a Sydney thing, but I do not care either way. I got myself some snacks for on the beach and started my coastal walk in the direction of Bronte beach. It was a lovely walk with some good scenery and it took me about 1 hour to get there, after which I plunged in the sea and cooled off as it was very warm that day. That sea felt sooo good, I loved it, Life was extremely good at that moment. I did have to do the walk back and my feet were already killing me but I soldiered on and made it back to get the bus and train to go back to the Airbnb. I had to pack my suitcase and leave to go to the airport for the evening flight to Brisbane. It was time to go see Mark after 40 years.