Swinging By Sydney


I flew to Sydney after my short stay in Melbourne. Booking months in advance helped me score a cheap Jetstar flight (I think I paid Php3,000+ one-way). I was surprised that I landed in a much warmer city. Quite interesting how temperatures vary in two nearby cities, considering the flight time from Melb to Syd is just over an hour. While queuing for a cab, I had to take off my scarf and jacket as drops of sweat started to trickle down my forehead.

When the driver dropped me off my landmark, I started to panic because there was no Lauren in sight. I called her and after a few minutes I saw a lady in shorts and a pambahay shirt, and I knew it was her. We hugged so tight- a 6 years worth of hugs- before we let go of each other. She's still the same funny Lauren from college, except a bit chubbier. We both left the Philippines to pursue grad studies in 2009. Our friendship remained strong, all thanks to YM and Skype. We've cried buckets over Skype, and enjoyed moments of "silent laughter" because of my sleeping roommate, or her sleeping aunt/uncle whose room is just right next to hers. Ahhh it's been six long years, mate.

The Grounds of Alexandria
Lau brought me to The Grounds of Alexandria- a place I would highly recommend for those visiting Sydney. It used to be a pie factory turned cafe with an open garden, and a mini animal farm (please please check out the house of Kevin Bacon!) and a small flower market. While waiting for a table, we had ample time to try some treats being sold at the open garden- strawberry trifle, cold brew tiramisu (omg this was sooooo good) and a pink lemonade. Then we had a sumptuous proper brunch of burger and salmon at The Grounds, and had my first cup of flat white in the big city.





Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House
We spent the rest of the day in Circular Quay, watched the stunning sunset by the Harbour Bridge and took gazillion photos at the Sydney Opera House. We did all these while catching up- telling incredible stories of how we think our lives were such a mess back then (less now, I reckon), our part time jobs that somehow allowed us to eat a nice meal once in a while, and laughing at our not-so-successful attempt at love. It was starting to get dark so we rode the bus to Darling Harbour for dinner at Hurricane's Grill, then capped off the night with Hazelnut gelato from Messina. It was a perfect day with Lau, eating, laughing, the expected nonstop chatting, babbling the night away, just being our silly old selves.



City Attractions
My brother asked me to meet up with his former colleague Ate Rhina who's now based in Sydney. I also had a chance to meet my fellow LSPO animator Kuya Brix. I was so happy they made time to see me (and feed me hehe) even for only a couple of hours. Ate Rhina brought me to Hunter Park, St. Mary's Cathedral, Museum of Contemporary Art (I wish I could have stayed longer here) and The Rocks. Kuya Brix and his fiance prepared a nice picnic on a lush green area somewhere in Cremorne Point. We talked about our life after leaving Pinas, our many goals, the little joys in our every day. We paused in between just to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking sunset. It was so serene and beautiful. The sun bid us goodbye and we packed our picnic mat, carried the basket to Kuya Brix's car then headed to Newtown for some sweet and savory pies at The Pie Tin.




Blue Mountains
I was all alone for the Blue Mountains Tour on my third day. I signed up for the cheapest Blue Mountains Tour that I could find (making sure it has good Trip Advisor reviews). I've read online that you can take the train to Katoomba but to save time and energy, I joined a tour. The tour also included the Featherdale Wildlife Park visit, a quick stop over at Wentworth Falls Lake, and a Sydney harbor cruise. I thought I might as well do this tour alone than leave it for next time. Turns out, the tour had some people doing it alone too! I met a girl from the UK who was also visiting a friend in Sydney. We'd smile shyly as if it's our cue in taking turns to snap each other's photos.

We reached Katoomba around 10am and started our tour at the Scenic World Blue Mountains. They gave us a pass to try the four featured rides- Scenic Skyway, Cableway, Walkway and Railway. My favorite among the four is the heart-thumping Scenic Railway, a thrilling 52-degree incline passenger railway ride. I felt my heart sank to the bottom of my feet. You can hear laughter and people screaming... I belong to the later.

The highlight is of course the Three Sisters Echo Point lookout. The Three Sisters are the 3 rocks formed by erosion in the Blue Mountains. We were told that they have names! (I'm sure our tourguide mentioned their names at some point during the tour, as well as the legend behind it, but I wasn't paying attention so I did a quick Google search and according to Wikipedia, their names are Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo).

Everything is picture-perfect. This world we live in is just so grand that I wish some day- I don't know how- but I hope we'll all have the chance to see places we've never imagined and profess our love forever to the Creator of all things. I adore Sydney and all its pretty sights, lovely people. The vibe is different from that of the US. The Aussies, to me, enjoy a slow-paced life which I think is a reflection of their coffee-loving culture, taking one sip at a time, enjoying its aroma and bold flavor. Quite a nice metaphor, isn't it?




I still have to write a second installment of my Sydney trip- the visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney harbor cruise, Bondi Beach surfdude-watching (I kid... not!)... and the many awesome food my taste buds feasted on.