. Last night we had seen a travel agent selling Greyhound 3 month bus passes on special offer, so the first thing we did was head there to found out some more info. Once we had got all the leaflets we needed we headed out into the city. The sun was blazing hot and having been so cold in NZ for the last few weeks we suddenly felt like we had really arrived in Australia and could start work on our suntans!
Being newbies in town the first thing we wanted to do was go and see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, so we walked though the botanic gardens and followed all the other tourists to the harbour. Before we left the UK we had watched a programme with Griff Rhys Jones about Sydney and had learnt that the botanic gardens are home to hundreds of huge fruit bats, so I was keeping one eye on the path and the other on the trees looking out for bats. But unfortunately we didn't see any, which was kind of disappointing but also a bit of a relief. As we followed the path around we saw some small glimpses of the Opera House peaks above the trees, the sun was reflecting off them beautifully. Then before we knew it, there they were! In all their shining glory... the Sydney Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the background. The whole scene was very surreal, it felt like looking at a very big postcard. We went up the stairs of the Opera House and went inside... not quite what we were expecting, it looked just like a normal theatre inside
. But that doesn't really matter because the outside is just perfect. When it was originally designed the Opera House was supposed to cost $7 million, however by the time it was completed it actually cost over $100 million, that fact along with its unusual design means that its kind of like Marmite... people either love it or hate it. Well after much deliberation, Tom and I have decided that we love it, especially in the sunshine because the light plays off the white tiles wonderfully. So we parked our bums on the harbourside and watched the world go by for a little while and then went to watch the street performers around the quay. Our plan from here was to walk over the Harbour Bridge and get some more photos, when suddenly a huge black cloud engulfed the whole of Sydney. Next thing the heavens opened and there was thunder storm which lasted about two hours. We spent most of that time huddled up in a shopping centre feeling pretty miserable and chilly. By about 4pm the rain still hadn't stopped drizzling and we ended up wandering around a Modern Art Gallery just because it was somewhere dry to go... by the way, how is a football hanging from the wall art? By about 6pm we were getting seriously fed up and wet but we braved the rain and walked over to a smaller harbour on the other side of town called Darling Harbour. To get there though we had to walk through China Town. And we all know what's in China Town... cheap food!! Yippee! We found a great little food court and settled down to a feast of delicious Chinese food. After having such a good tea we didn't really give a toss what the weather was doing, but when we got outside the rain had eased off enough for us to walk back to Darling Harbour. When we got there we discovered that we were just in time for a fireworks display, so we joined the crowd and got soggy bums sitting on the wet benches. We didn't get back to the hostel until about 10:30pm and having been out since 9am we were absolutely knackered. So we joined some other people in the tv room and watched a couple of films until the wee hours, a great end to a slightly up and down day!
So this morning was our first full day in Australia and we both felt a lot better for having a good nights sleep in a comfy bed... fair enough we were both on the top bed of bunk beds, sharing a room with four other people we don't know and in a strange new city, but at least the beds were more comfy than the one in the campervan. I think it will take us a while to get used to staying in dorm rooms; the little things like tip-toeing around, using the light on your phone rather than turning the lights on and living out of your backpack are still new to us. The people we are sharing our room with are all living long-term at the hostel and they have got tons of stuff spread all over the room, so it doesn't really feel like we are staying in a dorm, it feels like we are crashing in someone's bedroom for a few nights. We got free breakfast at our hostel so we were up early to get our fill and out we went. During our time in Oz we will be moving up the east coast from Sydeny to Cairns on the Greyhound bus, which is the Oz equivilant of the National Express in the UK