Eight thirty, the bus rolled into Sydney, everybody off. Well – an hour an a half of sleep is more than I could have hoped for, yeah?
The rain was pouring down, and I quickly ran into the bus station, searching for a free map of some sort. I knew the address of my hostel, and knew it was no more than five or ten minutes away, but how to get there? That was still beyond me.
As luck would have it, there were a good four or five different maps within all sorts of books. I grabbed them all of course, and ripped some out to fold up in whatever way they needed to be folded to fit my pockets properly. Out into the world I set, ready to find my hostel. It had a ten a.m. check out time, so I had hoped I would be able to check in at some sort of convenient time, but this was not to be. Check in? Two p.m. Very well. I tossed my bag in the luggage store, and then promptly fell asleep in the t.v. room with the sounds of golf lulling me into a deeper and deeper sleep.
Maybe there is something to that game.
At twelve thirty I woke up to my alarm, and headed outside waiting to meet up with yet another girl I'd met in Antarctica. Clearly I met many an Aussie in Antarctica. For the next half hour I spent time reading my novel about the strange giving birth to a seal pup. And then she turned up, leading me off into the city.
Step one, thankfully, get some food. I was directed to a sandwich shop ten minutes up the road on Pitt street. Around the two hundreds. You're looking at spending nine bucks on a sandwich, but it is a huge sandwich, and will fill your face well. Taking it to the park near St. Mary's Cathedral to grab a seat on a bench, and enjoy your meal? Also a lovely way to enjoy it.
Very quickly the difference between Melbourne and Sydney presented itself. Melbourne is great for sports, where Sydney is made for exploring. Rather than a basic grid, “Sydney has curves.” It's a beautiful and enchanting city that drags you in and sends you through one park, spitting you out on a small street, throwing you towards the water front, and then leaving you somewhere amazing.
However, when the sky opened up again, and the rain started to pour down – well, there was no time for exploring. Instead we ran up and into the church and decided to wait it out. This gave us far longer to contemplate the various set pieces inside the building than we otherwise would have. Not unspoken about were the mysterious floating heads attached to the wall below every arch.
After counting the Jesi (read: G-si) I decided to check out the gift shop. “Gift shop?” Oh of course, I explained. All churches have gift shops if they're in tourist areas. Still not unweird. But there was a door to the outside in the gift shop, which showed the rain had slowed. Off into the world we went, heading down to the art gallery.
In the art gallery I was delighted by some of the paintings, bored by more, and given to try and understand the aboriginal art. I questioned at one point why the aboriginals would stick to the coloured paints they used from natural pigments centuries past. When I saw a piece in the same style with blues, purples, and oranges – it became sell evident.
My favourite piece? Italy (1951) by James Gleeson. Check it out if you have the chance. It's a beautifully detailed piece, with shadows that have some mystery to them. I vowed to buy the picture postcard of it but knew that I would be disappointed by the colour reproduction. It never ceases to upset me that the one place that has reproduction rights to a piece I enjoy can't put the effort into getting the colours down. They just try to quickly mass produce the art without any effort to get it looking right.
This is why people take sneaky pictures in art galleries. And I would have – unfortunately I had to check my bag at the entrance. I can only hope that other people have done this, and tossed them up onto the interwebs.
After the gallery we walked down through the botanical gardens to the waters edge, where waves were undulating without breaking, as if something hidden just below the surface were pushing up, trying to break free.
Following the eerie movement of the waters, I was soon given a glimpse of that which makes Sydney Sydney. The Opera house. From a distance the building was lost to the light, but with the sun setting in the background, the camera saw the scene far better than I did. And reflected in the puddles of newly fallen rain, it was quite the thing to see.
We walked around the Opera House and took pictures of it from all angels, before finally being able to let it go. I shot snaps of the bridge as well – two icons of the city. And then watched as one legged sea gulls made their way to lit up amusement parks across the water.
Finally we headed to a food court for cheap food, and then parted ways as I headed to check into my hostel, and she headed to a five hour tango lesson – which I could have attended. Five hours. Of tango. tempting though that may have been – I really did need to pick out a bunk, understandably.
Quickly popping into the comic shop on Pitt street, I was back in my dorm, with a bunk near the power points, both charging, with hope for future vacancies. I spent some time down stairs where drunk Irish were attempting to flirt with girls in ways which did not seem to work, until two hours later when – and let this be a lesson – persistence paid off. Either through the inclusion of alcohol, the whittled away defenses of far too much time, or just giving up wishing to end the pain, the few partnered off and went their own ways.
Just don't let them be in the bunk neighbouring mine, and all will be right in the world.
Some time around midnight, I gave up on trying to write, or plan, or anything that wasn't falling asleep.
And then – I fell asleep.