I will try to milk as long as I can split our Australian adventure story into bite sized pieces.I think it makes sense to split it in days or at least different areas we visited. So I will start with the first day on Australian soil.
Since we love walking and nature, we were trying to fit as much of it in our adventure (neither of us is a big museum fan).Famous Bondi to Coogee walk was probably one of the first things that appeared on our “schedule”, may be right after we wrote down “Opera House” in the Friday square. To save on car rental or other means of transportation, we decided to stay in the area.
While Bondi itself was extremely expensive, the other end of the trail – Coogee turned out to be very affordable. This is how we got to visit very quiet city of Randwick. Located about 20 minutes (and $60) away from Sydney airport it was filled with old houses, non-franchise shops and all sorts of tropical greenery.
Remember, this was our first contact with Australia, and it surprised me how quiet and clean it was. We climbed out of our Team Canada coats and jeans and decided to go for a run on our jet lagged legs. Maybe it was just me, but everything felt so quiet and calm at this point. It could have also been the fact that I was at the point where if I blinked, I would probably fall asleep. But it really felt like a vacation. I could enjoy this after the madness of Pearson Airport.
We walked down the hilly street, looking around and slowly thawing out. It was November 13th and +26 outside. Aside from apartment towers, every house had a fenced in front yard with a cute gate (seriously, ask Alex, I am obsessed with front gates) and a hole in the wall for the mail. According to the angry signs posted around town, Randwick residents’ favorite pastime is to steal each other’s mail. May be the combination of gates and high-security mailboxes should have made us worry a bit, but we felt safe and felt like all these were more of a tradition rooting in the wilder past down under. In all fairness, many people did not bother closing the gates after they drove out of their driveway.
We tried to run down (or more like up and a bit of down) to the beach to multitask – get my Couch to 5K scheduled workout and sight see. However, after being in the plane for 22 hours with a brief grumpy stop in Vancouver, I was ready for my second tantrum (I will tell you how I felt like a 5 year-old in the air). Everywhere we turned, we had to climb a hill. I seriously felt like Randwick people could tell the story of how they walked 5 miles to school, uphill both ways and no one will question their honesty. If you are planning to train, do some looking around and be prepared for it to be tough.We got to the Coogee beach in less than 2 kilometers, took a selfie and headed back. Uphill.
By then, just like me, my Garmin decided to die (I have a senior model, that spends most days plugged in the charger, and still manages to turn off during the workout… hint-hint, Alex). If I could not get any stats to feel bad about, I decided to not even bother with the run. We slowly walked back and looked around.
As I said, it is an older part of town, and they used to build very differently. According to Google, most of the buildings are in Italianate terrace style. I felt very weird about taking photos of people’s houses, but look it up, it’s very cute. Large terraces along the fronts, I assume locals sit on them in the evening and sip their tea and wine. However, I am not quite sure what locals do, as we barely saw any people there. I loved how all the railings were intricately decorated with tropical motifs. They use a lot of palm leaf elements in their buildings.
The place we stayed at was called St. Mark’s Lodge and managed through the Sydney Lodges Network. It was an old building with closed in courtyard. Our room was accessible from outside and had everything what one could ask for: comfy bed, shower, TV and even a kitchenette. I will even skip ahead a bit and tell you that it was the last hotel where we had a microwave oven (should have paid a bit more attention to details when reserving rooms). They gave us an electric kettle and few dishes to use. What else could you ask for?
After a brief nap, we headed to local Woolworth for groceries, since we have been warned on multiple occasions about how expensive the Australian food is. It was expensive all-right, and we only picked up breakfasts and snacks for the first few days, since we still had almost whole $1000 burning a hole in our pockets.
That night we bought a takeout pizza from Rocketboy. Funny enough, our second Sydney hotel was within walking distance from their only other location. It was one of those “hipstery” places where they don’t care about the latest technology, but the food is good. For a bit over $20 we obtained a medium great pizza and headed back to the hotel. Don’t ask me which pizza it was, or even what meat was on it. It was delicious, non-greasy and way better than any of the airplane food I got that day. At 7 o’clock, after writing an email to the team, I passed out with all the lights on and Alex’s timed swear words directed towards his bicycle.