Just like Brisbane, when I first reached Sydney it was raining. It’s like Australia was telling me something (probably that it was winter?!). My first experience was to get the subway to Central station to meet my friend. After getting my bag I headed to the ticket booth and asked for an Opal card.
‘We don’t sell those here you have to get them from a shop.’
‘But you’re a public transport ticket vender and the opal card is for public transport. You have a top up machine just there!’
‘Yeah, but we don’t sell them, you have to buy a one way ticket.’
Why? Why do you not sell what is essentially an oyster card (look it up non-Londoners) at a place where you would definitely need an opal card? I guess, to rake the money in, ‘cause I then had to pay an extortionate price to sit for 20 minutes on a train. We have something similar in the UK, it’s called the WHOLE TRAIN NETWORK, but seriously it’s called the Express, and it sucks – I feel your pain.
After my first rainy night in the suburb of Redfern, I awoke to a sunny day and could finally see the beautiful houses of Sydney. These terraced houses are beautiful, and unlike anything I’d seen before. I walked through these areas that are classed as both the ‘ghetto’ and ‘creative’ parts of Sydney, and got myself on a fast ferry to Manly.
In just 20 minutes, you can be taken away from the hustle and bustle to a little surfer town with some awesome beaches. As soon as I saw Manly, I knew that it was the place for me to stay while I worked there. Apparently that’s what all the Brits say, and the reason that a lot of the people you come across there are from ol’ Blighty. I don’t mind though, it’s a great place with a good vibe, and some gorgeous views.
Since I arrived in Sydney during midwinter and their coldest one in decades, I needed to buy some warmer clothes. I spent an entire day walking around the shopping district which contains a huge Westfield as well as many other malls right by it. Pitt Street, which runs through the centre, had rows of evergreen trees to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’ – an event I was gradually getting used to – and there were Christmas decorations all through the malls.
The majority of shop names here mean nothing to me. I know Zara and Forever 21 but most of the others are absolutely new to me. My sister had told me about Sportsgirl, which was apparently a cheap shop back in ’91 when she came over here, but I don’t think it’s too cheap now.
Not knowing what sort of shop you’re entering can make the day more fun. I went into shops I probably wouldn’t have bothered with in the UK, and found some great purchases for low prices. By the end of a long day of shopping I’d spent too much, but was finally warm.
During my few nights in Redfern I was shown the highlights of Crown Street. This is clearly the place to be for good food, drinks, and sweet treats! I was introduced to both Messina and Kürtösh – two awesome places with dessert on their minds.
Messina is an ice cream parlour that’s become very famous for it’s different creations that are added to their specials board every week – just looking at their Instagram makes you want to hot foot it to their nearest branch immediately. I went there on a Saturday night and it was like a nightclub; there was a queue to get in and banging music inside. It was manic, but the staff knew what they were doing and moved the queue along quite quickly.
Kürtösh is a beautiful (and slightly dangerous) idea of ‘you get what you pay for’. You pay for the weight of the slice of cake you buy. Going in there having no clue what 100g looks like in cake form, I bravely chose my size of baked cheesecake brownie, and paid a mere $5.10. I was happy with the size I’d chosen and the price I’d paid. After my first bite, I was extremely happy; the brownie was absolutely delicious.
Manly so far…
The more touristy views of Sydney will come when my boyfriend gets here, but for now I’m based in Manly, and loving it. There are so many beaches to choose from, not to mention picturesque walks. People come from all over the world to ride the waves of Manly, and relax on nearby Shelly beach.
You can begin a walk from Shelly beach up through the trees, and get a view for miles from all angles. There’s a great walk which took me all along the coast line up to North Head, which is where you can look back at Sydney and watch the boats travelling through. This walk took me through swamps, army barracks, and a serene pool which had formed over the years on top of the cliff from collected rainwater. It was stunning and thoroughly enjoyable.
Another sight to see here is Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. Being a sanctuary it’s known for protecting Manly’s own colony of little penguins that live underneath the wharf, and they have some which they’ve taken in after they’ve been found injured nearby. They also have tropical tanks, a touch pool, and a massive tank with sharks, turtles and huge stingrays. They have talks throughout the day, and shark dives where people can go in the tank with the sharks! It’s pretty fun seeing a stingray sneak up on a diver and swim over his head.
I’ve only spent three weeks in Manly so far but will be spending the next two months there where I plan to adventure further afield to Spit point and Taronga Zoo, along with many other places around Sydney.
I’ll definitely be making my way back to Kürtösh a few times!