Welcome to Hippieville a.k.a. Byron Bay

Welcome back, friends.  I would like to first openly state that my last travel blog was written in a hurry since I was going out camping for a few days and it was insisted upon that it was finished before I left-which made it the not so much best work I ever did.  Now, where was I…?

We arrived in Byron Bay, NSW Australia on Saturday July 15th at around 10am.  The shuttle bus from The Arts Factory Hostel (the link is worth clicking-this place is rad) was there waiting to pick Us up and We were whisked away to Our new home for the next 6 days.

The welcoming party
One of the walls outside the Arts
Another wall outside

It was quite busy in the receiving area that morning so We put down Our packs, left a passport for collateral and took a self guided tour around “The Arts”.  We had a $4 breakfast of eggs and turkish toast (I only mention the price because in Australia, that’s cheap) and then explored the grounds including the campsite where We intended to stay.  Checkout wasnt until after noon so We had time to look around and decide which accommodations We would prefer.  There really was no question about it-the campground, a.k.a. tent city, was the only option We would be considering.  As We walked the path out to the campground and away from the bustle of the main area, the vibe changed and it felt like We were in a different place than We had been in only a few paces back.  It had its own outdoor kitchen and food storage, its own bathroom and showers, a covered pavilion with several tables to hang out at communally, a no campers under 18 rule and the generally respected rule of keeping the noise to a minimum.  There were tents everywhere.  Not in designated numbered campsites, but on whatever patch of sandy dirt their tent would fit, possibly next to someone they knew and arranged to provide the best interaction (or lack of) with their neighbor.

Neighborhood 🙂
Organized chaos.
A resident of the Arts

The laid back attitude of every single camper made Us feel at home in about 45 seconds.  We chose a spot to build Our house, and it turned out that We had chosen Our neighbor to be the same guy who picked Us up from the bus-Sam.  Our first impression of Sam had been nothing short of great (“and here we are at the arts factory, this is the bar that has happy hour nightly and live music, and here is the cafe.” he had priorities 🙂 ) so from the beginning this little hippie commune of sorts looked to have promise.  We had looked at the weather for days before We got to Byron and knew it was intended to rain for the first 3 days, which was how We ended up choosing to visit Byron in the first place.  It was going to be raining at every Greyhound stop up the coast and the decision had to be made of where to get off and spend time camping in the rain.  We investigated the hostel/campsite options in those areas and came across The Arts Factory.  Sleeping in a teepee sounded fun and the beach was a ten minute walk so when it stopped raining, We would be able to spend time by the ocean in the sun ❤ WIN.  After setting up Our house, We hung out in the common area on the wi-fi (oh yeah, and there is wi-fi) until happy hour at the bar next door, which also happens to be the Byron Bay brewery.  Already We could tell that it was freaking genius to have all these things (including the spa and cinema I havent mentioned yet) all sort of connected by the walking path in front.  And still, the campsite community felt like it was a whole different place!  People stay in the dorm and teepee and cabin parts of the hostel for a short time and they go on, people stay in the campsite, meet other people, enjoy feeling like a family and sometimes don’t leave.  We learned early on that the most common story in Byron Bay, especially from campers and employees, started with the words, “Well, I was only going to stay a week or so, and then…” and end with “so, now I’ve been here for _____ (insert a time period from 3 months to a few years)”.  Wow.

We had seen a few flyers posted that said The Arts was accepting work for accommodation volunteers so, I asked if there was anything I could do.  Around 8pm I was informed I could drive the shuttle bus from the hostel to the greyhound stop from 7am-1pm for the following day and the day after.  For driving the shuttle 16 times total, I would receive 4 free nights of accommodation in the campsite.  Sounds great, there is just one problem- I’ve never driven on the left hand side of the road, from the right hand side of the vehicle.  Actually, I felt weird just being in the vehicles here when other people are driving who do it all the time.  I expressed this to the lady, and I was told I would be fine.

“Ok, then, I’ll do it.” 🙂

The next morning I got up early and went to work.  Weird.  I was given the keys and directions to the pickup/drop off point, and shown the schedule of when I should make my trips.  The first time I got in the driver seat that morning, it was disconcerting to say the least, and by the time I pulled out of the lot I was feeling kinda freaked out.  It didn’t seem natural to be intentionally driving on the wrong side of the road!  I’ve been driving more than 10 years now and driving on the left side of the road only happened on one way streets or on accident.  It only took 2 trips there and  back before my anxiety turned to confidence and since there was only about 1 trip an hour I could read or check Facebook in between and drink coffee.  Plus, that meant I was the first impression for all travelers arriving during my shift.  😀 Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.  I drove the shuttle for those 2 days and following the last trip, We finally headed to the beach for some sunshine.

The beach was popular when you first step on it, but it is called Main Beach so We weren’t surprised.  Since it gets substantially colder as it gets later, and it was only an hour or so before sunset, I hadn’t worn my swimsuit and We didn’t stay long.

I so love the ocean.

I love the sun too

We saw some surfers (I love watching surfers), and took a couple of photos before leaving with the promise of returning the next morning.  Return We did…for 3 days in a row 🙂  The beaches in Byron are simply beautiful.  We didn’t venture much further than the beaches walking left from main beach, but We didn’t need to.  Once We got to the next beach, there were hardly any people so We plunked down in the sand for a while to watch surfers, sunbathe, listen to music and read.  Cali took His camera along and got some more amazing shots-here are some and in His blog www.calidbs2011.wordpress.com are many more.  He is quite the photographer 🙂 Some of my pictures, however, were taken with my phone camera 🙂

Finally sunbathing! The way July is supposed to be for this TX girl.

Did I mention it is winter here in Australia?

Those few days We spent hanging out around the Arts and going to the beach, We met a few people who lived at/near the Arts and We could be found hanging out with the “local wanderers” when We weren’t off being alone together.  There were people from many different places around the world that had all found themselves in Byron, usually quite by accident, and hadn’t managed to leave again.  It made for a wonderful experience walking around and hearing all the different languages being spoken and then english being spoken in the many different accents.  There were a few nights We stayed up with the others and had some “goon” (wine from a box that has the box removed and is then just a bag), and passed a few around, and enjoyed Ourselves.  At any given time there was fire spinning, hula-hooping, guitar playing, singing, strap-walking, story telling and random dance breaks.  It was a group with an aspect of “realness” to them that was quite alluring.  Almost hypnotizing.

We met one girl in particular that We even became friends with.  I mean, We had several friendlies and enjoyed the company of the people We hung out with, but this girl We became like Facebook friends and exchanged phone numbers and stuff.  She is a musician and a fantastic singer and she’s pretty, but best of all-she introduced me to a loose leaf chai that she was pretty damn good at making.  There is a shop not far from the Arts that sold “Byron Loose Leaf Chai” and I have to admit…Byron produces awesome shit.  Miss you Jess!!

On Wed the 20th, after Our daily trip to the beach, I went on an informative bush walk at the Arts and learned some pretty useful things-some of which I hope I never need to remember, most of which could save my life.  That same night was “Trivia  Night” which was pretty entertaining to watch.  It was a $2 buy in, 5 people teams, the winning team got to divvy up the entry fees for themselves.  Also, everyone who bought in wrote their name and what they would name the book of their life story on a slip of paper that went into a large pot.  Throughout the competition, names were drawn from that pot and awesome prizes were given away.  Prizes like cruises, pub crawls, day trips, surf lessons, trapeze lessons and skydiving.  We did not buy in, but it was fun to watch.

The next day would be Our last day at the Arts.  We had made a friend who had a tent with an actual bed in it (I told you, most of the campers LIVE there) and said We could pack Our house and use his tent so when We woke in the morning We wouldn’t have to tear down before leaving.  Super cool.  We packed all of Our stuff and at that point realized that sometime during Our stay We had unwillingly picked up a roomie.  A mouse had chewed a hidden hole in Our tent wall to get to the oats in my pack.  Oats and mouse poop galore in my bag and under it.  I didn’t so much mind that there had been a mouse, but I didn’t particularly care for the idea that I was sharing my home with snake food :/  Never did see the rascal, and obviously didn’t die from a snakebite, but learned the “keep all of your food out of your tent if you can help it”  lesson.

We spent Our last evening in Byron hanging out with Jessie-Rose, the girl I told you about a minute ago.  She invited Us to visit her at her house-she used to live at the Arts, but now lives not far from it-and We all hung out talking until it was time for bed.  We were able to have a nice fire in the pit in her yard, which was fun watching her try to start and in the end Cali getting to play with it.  She had asked 2 friends if they wouldn’t mind coming over and spinning fire for Us privately and they agreed!  It was really cool to watch and the sound fire makes when it is spinning is almost as soothing as the ocean.  We enjoyed a few hours of mostly philosophical conversations before saying Our goodbyes and going to sleep.  A wonderful night indeed.

Where would the bus take Us the next day?  Somewhere awesome to see someone awesomer.

Stay tuned…

Goodbye my brother.

Welcome back.  Today, Im having a tough time.  I hope sharing it here will help me accept that I have lost someone dear to me.  Right now, his death has only served to remind me that life is short and fragile and that anyone I know could be gone at any time.  I am floored by my emotions and by the extreme sense of loss I feel.  Today, my brother Mark Wills died.  I will never again hug him, or tell him how much I love him or have those great talks about how stupid the rest of the world who isn’t us is.  Im greatly saddened that I will never again be able to go to him when there is an internal family issue.  I will never again be able to sit with him and know that he loves me for who I am no matter who that is.  He might not be the only one who I can do that with, but never again will I get to do that with him.  There are others who miss him.  There are others who miss him who saw him daily, while I only saw him sometimes.  There are others whos daily lives will be different without him in it, and for those people, I cry more.  Through the worlds circumstances and some crazy shit, I met Mark and immediately loved him.  After a few very emotional times in my life that he was a part of, he became my brother.  He has tattooed me, he has allowed me to tattoo him. He has accepted me as the fucked up person that I am and loved me anyway.  He would have done anything for me, and for Cali and for anyone he knew-and now, he is gone.  I have a tattoo on my wrist that he did that I see every few minutes, every day of my life.  It has always reminded me of him and it always will.  I don’t know how to feel right now.  On one hand, I know that he is better off dead. His sweet soul has been through more than any person should ever experience.  He lost his mother, and can now release the pain of that loss.  He has been strong through it all and I had the pleasure of being his rock from time to time when he had trouble standing on his own.  My heart hurts.  On another hand, I want him back.  I want him back now.  I want to know that he is still there when I need him, and as selfish as it is-I WANT HIM NOW.  I will never again have him.  I will never again hug him.  I will never again hear his musical laugh or see him stumble drunk from the bar.  GD Sprankles is no more.  He was so much more than a friend to me.  He was more family than most of my blood relatives.  I never responded to the last email I got from him…I might never know how he died.  There are so many things I want to know, want to say, want to do…The next person would be my sister, or my best friend, or my mother, my grandmother, my Cali.  It could be anyone.  It could be me.  Nobody knows when.  Nobody knows who.  Nobody knows how.  And right now, I don’t know anything.  I have a lot to think about.  I miss so many people.  Im already grieving for people who aren’t dead because they could be in only minutes.  I know I will get through this.  I know he will be with me as I do, but Im so sad and I feel like something is now missing from my life that I never thought would be gone.  Who do you love  Do they know it?  Can you reach them?  Touch them.  Now.  You might never get to do so again.

 

He let me tattoo him...he tattooed the same on me.
DONKEY PUNCH
I love my brother
Family

How cold is 0 degrees?

Welcome back, friends.  Today, We will discuss camping in zero degree weather.  The only nice thing about it is that in the middle of the night, when you turn on your light, everything is sparkly.  Why is a light necessary in the middle of the night?  Well, because getting out of the tent to pee is necessary…and that is not nice.  At all.

We arrived in the town of Katoomba in the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains  late afternoon on Tuesday and it was already getting cold.  Katoomba is the last stop on the train from Sydney and it took a couple hours to get out there.  Once We got off the train, We had to walk “through town” and down a massive hill to get to the campground and set up Our home.  As We were the only ones camping, We got to choose the site We wanted and get to it.  Wait, We were the only ones camping?  Yes, there were people in campervans, and people who stayed inside cabins…but no other tents.  Wonder why…

I had the hardest time getting to sleep the first night there.  It wasn’t the coldest night We had there, but I just.couldn’t.sleep.  I was up most of the night thinking about my daughters, my family, my friends.  I don’t know what time I finally dozed off, but I do know it wasn’t long before the sun was up and the still-on-school-holiday children were running around using their outside voices.  That was Our cue to get ready to go.  Some coffee and oatmeal and off We went to walk 12-14km (6-8 mi) starting on the nearly 600 ft high clifftop and then down into the valley and back up via the steepest incline railway in the world.  Along the way We viewed the 3 sisters (from eye level and below), Echo Point, Katoomba Falls, Leura Falls, and many other unnamed things that were simply stunning.  A few hours walking along the cliff edge and then hundreds of stairs going down into the valley and We went from cold, windy weather and gray surrounding to nearly tropical growth on the valley floor…

The Blue Mountains
3 Sisters rock formation from Echo Point

Looking down...down...down

The descent
Finally on the floor!
This was called the "Amphitheater"
Looking up.

3 Sisters from the bottom
3 Sisters from below and far away
3 Sisters from the Railway

The “Scenic Railway” is the steepest cable-driven funicular railway in the world, with an incline of 52 degrees over a distance of 415 metres!!  We didn’t get any good photos of/from the ride up because by the time We got there, it was time to go and then it just moved so fast.  The ride was short, but pretty awesome, and it definitely felt like the steepest railway.

That night was ridiculously cold.  The kind of cold where you would…I don’t know, but you would.  We filled Our nalgene water bottles with hot water from the kettle and tucked them away into Our sleeping bags to keep warm.  Our bags might be rated for below freezing temperatures, but that doesnt mean they can’t be warmer 🙂  I mentioned sparkles in the first paragraph…I suppose it could also be called ICE.  It was sparkly inside the tent because the condensation from Our breath was freezing on the inside of Our tent.  We slept in Our hats and gloves and scarves and delayed using the toilet whever possible.  Thank the Lord for Our sleeping pads or I fear We may have given up and arranged to sleep indoors somehow. (darn, right?)  If you know me at all, you know I abhor being cold, and I was mis.ruh.bull. trying to sleep in that bull shit.  Yeah, the hike was pretty, but DAMN.  No thanks.

The next day, We spent the day hanging out in a cute cafe, using their wifi and eating deliciousness.  The chai I had there was the best I’ve EVER had-and it was made by a kid who learned how to make it on youtube!  His parents own the cafe and he works there regularly so he has had some practice.  This is also the cafe where I was served this amazingness:

It is French Toast and Bacon.  I’m not kidding.  I capitalized it because it should be crowned as royalty.  This is the thickest bread I’ve ever seen (nearly an inch), the most perfectly cooked slab of bacon, the most magically mouth watering golden syrup…this, my friends, is worth every penny you would spend to fly to Australia and eat it.  I might never order french toast again for fear that I will never again be satisfied.  This day however, more than satisfied ❤

The time We spent in Katoomba was certainly cold, but one of the most amazing trips Ive been on so far.  I might mention that the Blue Mountains are so named because the gum trees that cover the landscape (basically the same thing as a eucalyptus, which means it smelled amazing) emit an oil that gets into the air and when the sun shines through it, it shades everything blue.  Thats rad if you ask me.

We left the Blue Mountains to head back to Sydney and then on to Byron Bay on another overnight Greyhound.  Further north means warmer weather, right?

Stay tuned…

Another chapter closes…saying goodbye to Sydney.

Welcome back, friends.  Our last few days in Sydney were spent typing blogs, watching Australian movies and trying out a couple new restaurants.  I keep a calendar/day planner type thing in which I write down the things We do everyday…well, almost everyday 🙂  sometimes I forget to write stuff down and when I go back to fill it in I can’t always remember.  I’m sure nobody reads my blog for the minutia of Our day anyway, but it makes for moderately difficult blog writing every now and again.  I mention this because at this moment, I am looking at the calendar and the lack of detail says that either I filled in Our final Sydney days from broken memory, or We actually didn’t do much of ANYTHING.  That illustrates why I have the calendar in the first place-if I don’t write it down, it didn’t happen since I will never again think of it without seeing pictures.  Since not much happened those days, there aren’t many pictures to show :/ Correction, there are NO pictures.

The movies We saw came recommended by some Aussies…one, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, is a movie that apparently everyone, but me, has seen.  I had never even heard of it until it was brought into the house!  How do I love the gays and I’ve never.even.heardofit???  Needless to say, I loved it and it is now one of my faves.  The only thing I still can’t get over is every time I saw the guy from the Matrix (Hugo Weaving) I thought to myself “MISTER Andersonnn”.  Enjoy the trailer for a moment, shall we?

We then watched “The Loved Ones”…it was a pretty awesome, yet totally creepy wtf movie.  I highly suggest watching it.  Now.  Yes, right now.  In case you are in doubt, feast your eyes on this trailer as well 🙂

One morning, Our breakfast was a trip to a chinese seafood restaurant with an interesting way of doing things.  You walk in and sit down and a swarm of asian wait staff comes around carrying dishes showing them to you and asking if you want it.  If you decide to take one, they mark on a sheet of paper that is left with you and somehow ends up being your bill.  There is a lazy susan in the middle of the table so that everyone can reach all the food, and the staff never stops coming.  There must have been 20 of them just making rounds of the restaurant.  Its damn near impossible to stand up or move around once you have chosen your seat and don’t ask questions because they don’t speak english 🙂  it is like christmas in that you don’t really  know what you are about to get unless you are well versed in chinese seafood, and it isn’t always what you wanted or thought it would be.  We were lucky enough to not choose anything that needed to be spat out, and We were in a group of 5 so We all tried quite a few things and ended up only paying around 13$ per person (which is fricking fabulous in Australia, land of expenses).

Another day, We went to Chinatown, which was slightly disappointing…We walked around for about 15 minutes and decided it just wasn’t what We hoped it would be after being to Chinatown in a few other places.  No shop stalls selling textiles and trinkets, just storefront shops and tons of cooked food.  After meandering through “Chineseland”, as Cali says, We saw a sign that said “$3 drinks, all the time” and that caught Our attention!  We climbed the stairs to the Bar Century (the link is purely for the picture, I don’t agree with the review :/) and found a darkish place to sit with large windows overlooking the street and true to the sign, $3 drinks.  Several liquor/mixer choices and all the beers on tap…decisions, decisions.  We hung out there for a while watching the people on the street and then decided to get back on the train and go “home”.

There was a day when Cali decided to head into the city alone to read and explore while I stayed and cleaned up the kitchen in the house…you can take the domesticated chick out of a house to keep, but you can’t keep her from cleaning whatever house she stays at!!  When He came several hours later, He returned bearing gifts!!  The day before when We were out looking for Chinatown, We passed a place called Pie Face that caused me to drool simply by seeing the sign.  He ducked in there to try (another) meat pie and was nice enough to bring me 3 miniature pies.  (Seriously?? Yes.) He brought me a cherry, a pear, and a chocolate and I was in.heaven.  They were delicious!  Well, the pear one, not so much, but the chocolate one especially was divine.

Just above, I mentioned that Cali had gone in to Pie Face to try another meat pie…Since arriving in Australia, We (mostly He) has ventured in to the land of savory pies.  Now, a difference has been discovered between so-called meat pies and steak pies.  “Meat” pies, are gross. “Steak” pies are delicious.  I don’t know what it is about the “meat” pies that makes them so terrible, but they just are.  So bad that there has been major hesitance to try new pies.  Thankfully, We discovered the meat vs steak thing and have been pleasantly surprised by almost every pie from every place since then.  Who are these people who eat those gross pies and LIKE them?  They must be out there…the meat variety are far more common than the steak ones :/  Go out into your supermarket and decide for yourself (if you can find them).

On Tuesday July 12th, We packed up Our things and left the Sydney house for The Blue Mountains and Katoomba camping.  Tent camping.  In zero degree weather.  What.the.hell. were We thinking?

Obviously We didn’t die, but did We temporarily deep freeze?

Stay tuned…

A walk along the beaches SOUTH of the bridge :)

Welcome back friends.  Bella, one of Our flatmates, graciously offered to take Us on a walk from Coogee to Bondi Beach and it was beautiful.  A couple hours walking and then a pub lunch that included some group architecture 🙂  There wasn’t much talking along the way and We didn’t do anything but ooh and ah.  One part of the walk went through the most amazing cemetary Ive ever seen…truly beautiful (for a cemetary).  A nap was needed after and before heading back to the city for a party at an abandoned puppet warehouse.  Yes, I said abandoned puppet warehouse 🙂  complete with a human joke machine, belly dancing and burlesque!  It was a going away party for a flatmates boyfriends friend (whew!) and again, We were graciously invited.  Our flatmates really were awesome.  Very pleasant and accommodating and full of great advice.  Here are the days photos:

Coogee
Swimming pools in the ocean? Yes.

Almost got got!
It was HUGE. Almost a shame that dead people have this view as opposed to the living. Almost.

Bondi Beach
Team effort, GO TEAM!
2 of Our flatmates, Bella and Shane. Sorry Shane 🙂
Think of this as a creepy 8 ball. Drop a ball in its mouth and ask a question and the ball ends up in a lane with a vague answer.
Human joke machine!

This was just creepy...

All in all, another great day.  Our adventures in Sydney would soon be over…

Stay tuned.

More from the city of Sydney

Welcome back, friends.  I forgot to mention in the last blog (July 4th) that the wine We chose at Blu36 for Our date was wine from the Winery We visited in Victoria on Our trip to Yarra Valley-Innocent Bystanders.  It was awesome to look at the wine list in this posh place and see they offer the same wine We tried and liked when We visited its home.  Also, We had to be a little American on the 4th, We attempted to make potato salad after Our date…I say tried because apparently mayonnaise is NOT actually mayonnaise here.  It is fricking miracle whip!  The jar of $8 “whole egg mayo” is what We wanted-but We didn’t know that and when at the store, $8 seemed like a ridiculous price to pay and just a fancy way to spend money.  Won’t make that mistake again!

Now, moving along, while in Sydney, We had many adventures.  On the 5th, We were invited to a cult movie night at an underground “viewing space” (read-upper floor of a building with couches, recliners and a big screen).  We saw an amphibious nazi zombie movie called “Shock Waves”

.

I sat in the flower chair in the 2nd row 🙂

It was definitely interesting and fun!!  Horrible horror indeed 🙂  We just happened to win the door prize (a DVD: Exit Through the Gift Shop”) which was cool.  When We got back to the house, We bought Our bus tickets up the coast ending in Brisbane.

The next day We packed a picnic and headed out to the city again, this time to explore the gardens.  Hyde Park, St Marys Cathedral, Fort McQuarie Point, Royal Botanical Gardens and the Sydney Opera House were all on the agenda, ending with watching the sunset over the bridge and Opera House again-this time from the gardens lawn.

Hyde Park is beautiful!
Love this fountain in Hyde Park

St Marys Cathedral
A picnic with a view ❤
From Pt McQuarie
In the gardens 🙂
Trying to get just the right angle for the photo
These are my favorites!

These were so beautiful.
Giant fruit bats in the trees
RELEASE THE BATS!!! baahahahahaaa
Sydney Opera House-an enchanting structure
Once the sun started going down, these sulfur crested cockatoos were everywhere!!

Pretty great day if I do say so myself.  The next day We went back in to the city to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  I wasn’t feeling great, but a liesurely stroll through the gallery was nice.  You know what else was nice?  The walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach the next day!

Stay tuned…

July 4th, or just Monday?

Welcome back, friends!  First, if you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet so you can receive “hot off the presses” updates directly to your email inbox, the button is just there to the right 🙂  go ahead, I’ll wait for you…

Ok, now that everyone is back, let’s discuss the least patriotic 4th of July I have celebrated in my life.  Before leaving the US, I made the comment “man, it would be awesome to be in Sydney for the 4th of July…see fireworks over the Sydney Harbour and the Opera House and stuff…”-Cali simply laughed.in.my.face.

“Why would they do THAT?”

Oh.snap.  Never considered that other countries don’t happen to celebrate American Independence Day :/  We ended up in Sydney for the 4th anyway, so We spent the day at the harbour 🙂  It was Our first time in Sydney and there was much to see and do (but no fireworks lol).  Even from the train I was captivated by the Harbour Bridge- it is very impressive.  As soon as We left the train station, We found Ourselves surrounded by tourists and also natives due to the school holidays…that means there were many, MANY people.  We saw camels hanging out with some folks advertising tours in Western Australia, We saw an aboriginal painted up and playing a didgeridoo, We walked around the old part of the city for a bit and made Our way over to the bridge and walked across and back.  Around 5, We found the Shangri-La hotel and headed up to the 36th floor for an amazing view of the Harbour at sunset from Blu 36 where We had a date unlike any other We have been on…nothing short of magical.  Have a look:

Fresh off the train!

Not cute.

Opera House from the bridge 🙂

I squish the Opera House 🙂

From the 36th floor!
From the entrance looking at Our table in front of the window ❤

Our dinner 🙂

What other adventures did We find in Sydney?  Stay tuned…

Skipping, its the new walking…

Welcome back, friends.  This blog is going to link the last blog (Mornington Peninsula) to July 4th (which starts Our fun back up again 🙂 ).  After visiting the Peninsula, We basically didn’t do anything for Our last few days.  We had spent all the money and done everything We had to do, so We hung out around the house and got to know the family We were staying with.  I spent a lot of time with Eva, the 8yr old girl, putting together puzzles and playing games…I miss my girls terribly so I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was hanging out with the 8 yr old 🙂  We researched accommodations in Sydney since that would be Our next destination, and found a room in a house on Craig’s List that was just the right price and location!  We couldn’t do anything but “look” at what We might do when the 1st rolled around.  On Friday morning, We watched the bank account to see what the time/date difference would do to His pay schedule…turns out He gets paid basically a day later than He has for the past 10 years or so :/  Knowing the money would deposit eventually-even though it hadn’t when We left-We left the Antonopoulos house for the last time and managed to find things to do overnight until heading for Melbourne’s Southern Cross station on the morning of the 2nd.  That day, We started making Our travel arrangements for heading in the direction of Sydney.  This proved difficult because Tiger Airlines (the cheapest way to get anywhere here) cancelled ALL their flights.  Them being the cheapest means that there were a shit ton of displaced travellers…We didn’t even want to fly, We wanted to train or bus, but all the busses and trains were full of Tiger’s newly stranded passengers.  It was chaos.  We went to many kiosks to see if there was anything We could get-We were due to arrive at Our room the next day and it takes about 12 hours to drive from Melbourne to Sydney!  Finally, one of the train companies We spoke to decided to rent coach busses to transport all the overflow business they were losing, but the bus tickets would be the same price as the train tickets were :/  whatevs, We now had a way to get to Sydney.  The bus wouldn’t be leaving for a few hours and would be driving Us overnight so We found a coffee shop with wi-fi and just hung out near the station.  During the great ticket hunt, We had found out that the Southern Cross Station is huge!  It covers so much ground and has so many escalators and stairs.  We were worn out by the time We purchased the tickets and got to relax…I mean, We were carrying Our packs during all this walking.  My knees were holding up well and Our backs did not give out, but it was tiring to say the least.  Our packs were down to 16kg and 25kg (35 and 55lbs) which is not exactly featherweight, but much lighter than they had been previously.  We had gotten rid of some clothes, paper, more of Our travel book sections.  I mailed some cards and trimmed every spare oz possible.

So anyway, We got on the bus around 7pm on Saturday and arrived around 7am Sunday morning to Sydney Central Station.  We found Our proper train to Our new home base station (Sydenham) and were picked up by Mike.  Mike is the friendly American who posted the CL add about the room-he was nice enough to come and get Us from the station so We could put down Our packs and get some rest from the long night.  He took Us to the house and then took Us on a stroll through the neighborhood to point out the supermarket (Banana Joe’s) the Thai food places that rock, the Farmers Market and other necessary info.  Mike and his gfriend Hillary would be going to Cairns for a week and We would be renting their room in a house that has 3 other flat mates-Ellie, Bella and Shane (whom you will all meet later).  We took a nap quite early in the day but it didn’t do much for the state of exhaustion We were in…We talked to the other flatmates for a while about local things to do and the plans that We had for the city and listened carefully to their local advice.  Glad We did-it made Our 4th of July memorable and incredibly romantic.

Stay tuned…

Sleepy holiday town.

Welcome back, friends.  Today We go to the Mornington Peninsula and the town of Rye.  Our hosts have a holiday house there and for whatever reason there was reason to drive down there, so We tagged along and got to see the Peninsula.  Well, kind of.

We saw fog.  While We were there it didn’t seem possible that it was fog, and We were sure that it was ash from the recent volcanic eruptions, but We later found out that it was just freakish fog.  That was the only day it was foggy, according to the news and other people who went down there in the following days…It was pretty, but there was not a ray of sun to be seen…actually, there was nothing to be seen.  In the last picture up there, there are 3 barely perceptible boats, and that was the best view of them.  The rest of the time We couldnt even see them!  What should you do when faced with a foggy beach in the Mornington Peninsula??  Eat fresh baked bread and locally produced wine of course!!

Happy campers!

That pretty much sums up Our trip to “The Peninsula”.  Another good day.

For  more good times, stay tuned…

Not quite football…

Welcome back folks.  Today, I will not confuse the everloving crap out of you by trying to explain Australian Rules Football, a.k.a. Aussie Rules, a.k.a. Footy, a.k.a. AFL.  Instead I link you to the all knowing Wikipedia: Australian Rules.  Its quite confusing unless there is a seasoned fan sitting next to you explaining what in the hell is going on.  We saw it on the tv when We first arrived in Melbourne and realized that it was something of a big deal to Australians, so going to a game seemed like an “Aussie” thing to do!  There happened to be on the following weekend, and it was projected to be a good game.  Lucky US!  It was a Richmond vs. Melbourne game and the attendance was right around 62,000 people…We had some amazing seats, which was awesome as well.  Our host family came to the game with Us and We made the train ride and seat hunt together, only losing 1 of the 3 children only once the whole day 🙂  Oh, and I ate oreo cookies.  Pretty good day if you ask me. ❤

Famed MCG

From Our seats

Melbourne won.  They are both “Melbourne teams” but, I guess someone had to lose right?

Next We visit the Mornington Peninsula and Rye before leaving Melbourne for Sydney.

Stay tuned…