On Saturday, I had another early morning tour planned, this one an architecture tour of downtown Sydney. When I planned to come to Sydney, I was unaware of the amount of beautiful architecture in the city. The Opera House is just the pinnacle of many interesting, and beautiful buildings. Before I could get to this tour though, I hit an unexpected obstacle of the metro line (that I had just figured out) near my hostel was closed during the weekend for maintenance. So I was forced to give myself a crash course in the complex bus system. It didn’t work, but I managed to get to my destination on time with the help of a nice bus driver and some lucky timing.
My tour went marvelously. I was extremely fortunate, that there had only been one other person signed up for the tour, and they never showed up. Mark, my guide, was extremely knowledgable on the city’s history and its architecture. He has a degree in architecture and designs houses during the week. I got a very in depth, interesting tour of the northern part of the city, looking at many of the major building triumphs in the city (which Sydney is not lacking). Along with this he gave me a lot of background and history on the city, which played a large part in the development of the city. My favorite building was the music conservatory addition, that they had built completely underground, around an existing, historically important part of the conservatory. It contains 2 performance halls, and around 60 rooms. It involved different ways of getting natural light into the building, as well as not disturbing the nearby botanical gardens, and water sealing the building against the standing water originally there. After this tour I made my way along the wharfs; which had a few didgeridoo players, along with a man on a 20 ft. unicycle juggling for the weekend tourists, to a small Italian restaurant my book had rated well called Zia. Once again I was not lead astray by my trusty Australia book, the cramped restaurant was great. I had some pasta with I don’t even remember everything in it, and a house white wine. When I was done scarfing down my late lunch, I returned to my hostel for a quiet, enjoyable afternoon and solidified my plans for the next leg of my journey.
The next morning at 4:30 I woke up to leave for the airport. The nice thing about flying in Australia, is that it took me 40 minutes to check my bag, go through security (with my shoes on), grab some breakfast and board my flight, and this was with a considerable number of people there. I took a few hour flight up the coast to Cairns, my lucky streak with flying continued, as I was moved up to an empty row allowing me to grab some sleep on the flight. I headed to my hostel called Dreamtime Traveller’s Rest.
This hostel was very different from the previous one, it had the feeling of a cozy condo near a beach. With a small pool, an open courtyard, and many sitting areas. Once I caught up on my sleep and I headed to a nearby pub for a late lunch. Cairns is a tropical, touristy town and it showed. The heat was around the mid-90s along with humidity, and the town is mainly strips of shops, bars, and restaurants. Once it cooled down a bit in the afternoon I headed down to the ocean, where they have the lagoon, where people swim since the ocean around here is marshy and possibly croc infested due to the nearby rainforest.
I’ve found that although I loved Sydney, that I was really looking forward to this portion of my trip, where I get to interact and be out in nature more. This is the opposite of how I normally am, I usually want to explore cities and avoid being in nature. I’m still somewhat surprised with myself for choosing to come out here for study abroad. My natural inclination for what I’d like to see the most is Western Europe with all of its history and interesting cities. But I knew all along that I wanted to come out to New Zealand which is much quieter and rural (though not without its cities). For those that know me, you’re probably aware that I’m always moving at a hundred miles an hour, engaging in as many things as possible, never giving myself a second to breathe, and sometimes running myself into the ground. Maybe this is me trying to experience a calmer, more laid back way of life. So far I’ve found myself enjoying just hanging around reading, napping, or writing and not pushing myself to be moving all the time. Coming up for me this coming week are: snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the Daintree Rain Forest, and a 2 day backpacking trip on Kangaroo Island. Unfortunately I’m going to miss the Super Bowl trying to find Nemo on the reef. Don’t forget to see all of the pictures I’ve taken so far on Flickr! J Smith