Arriving in Sydney

I have just arrived in Sydney Australia where I am going to spend about a week. For this visit I will be with family. My cousin and his partner live in Sydney and I am meeting up with them and my aunt who will be joining me from the USA. I’ve been away from family & friends so long so it is nice to break up my solo travel with some family time.

My aunt has arrived before me and secured our shared hotel room. I travel from the airport to our hotel by using public transportation instead of uber or taxi to save some money. There is a train from the airport but I must do a switch at one of the stations. The travel isn’t too bad except it is a little confusing finding my next train with the construction at Central station – I find myself walking back and forth a couple times to find the correct platform. I do finally find my train and arrive to my destination station at Kings Cross in the Potts Point neighborhood. The map shows a short walk to my hotel but 75% of it is completely uphill. Not so much fun with my heavy backpack on a warm day.

Potts point seems like a safe area. Many things are in walking distance and there are some nice cafes nearby. Most importantly we can walk to my cousin’s place from Potts point if we desire.

My first day in Sydney is low key. I get to see my cousin’s apartment in the city. It is in a great location with some good views.

The next morning I wake up and read the news before I start getting ready to walk around town with my aunt and cousin. While I am checking the news I come across an article on the Australian fires, an activity that is normal for me during the last couple weeks. The fires have been quite terrible but in the latest news I read about a fire tornado. A truck has flipped over and a volunteer firefighter from Victoria has died. Shocking as that news is to read it is even more shocking when I realize I recognize the name of the firefighter. A year and a half earlier I traveled to Peru on a tour with him and his wife. During that trip they were celebrating their honeymoon and now they were expecting their first child. I am heartbroken to read the news. Unfortunately I had not kept in touch with the couple directly but we had a Facebook group that was created to facilitate the sharing of group photos. I take some time to pause and reach out to some other tour members to let them know what I had learned. These fires are horrible and are really taking their toll on the country. It leaves me conflicted because I am now in Sydney and today is new years eve. Sydney is known for their fireworks displays. Despite the horrible fire conditions the fireworks are going on as planned. I would not blame Sydney if they cancelled them. A cancelled firework display after I have traveled this far would be disappointing but understandable. The government decides the activity seems low risk since Sydney is sort of protected by the city. The show goes on I guess…

Once we meet up with my cousin we wander around the city a bit today.

We walk across the Sydney harbor bridge. I notice the setup for the fireworks show. The bridge will close later in preparation for the fireworks display.

View of brutalism building . People say it’s ugly but I sort of like it.

We stop at a historic pub for a pint. There is supposed to be a trap door. We have fun looking for it.

Walking through the Royal Botanical Gardens.

My aunt and I head back to our hotel to clean up and grab some snacks and drinks for the evening celebration.

Once at my cousin’s we snack and enjoy the view, patiently waiting for midnight.

We head to the roof and soon the fireworks start.

What a fun once in a lifetime (maybe) experience!

My aunt and I walk back to our hotel since there is no way we’ll be able to pay for surge prices on uber. Luckily there are lots of people out late so it is pretty safe.

Good night!

Adelaide, South Australia

I leave Victor Harbor and head north towards Adelaide. The drive seems to start off fine but soon I see areas off into the distance with what I think is dark cloud cover but I find out is actually smoke clouds. I double check the news to see that I am not taking myself into harms way; it appears I am not at this time.

I drive down two lane curvy roads past many wineries. I am feeling disappointed I did not include this region, McLaren Vale, in my travel plans. It is a beautiful area and I am sure the wines aren’t too terrible either. I’ll be sure to try some of the region’s wines later in my travels.

I finally arrive in Adelaide. It is a nice quiet city. The downtown isn’t too large and I don’t find it too hard to navigate around. I do get a little confused on where to drop off my rental car but I eventually figure that out. I am a couple hours late in my return which could trigger me to have to pay for an additional day. Fortunately I am given a reprieve. Adelaide already seems like it has a small-town friendly presence.

Prior to dropping off my rental car I left my bags off already at the hotel at luggage storage. Now I have an opportunity to wander and walk back to my hotel.

I find some street shopping where I walk around and browse. There is also an outdoor seating area where I grab a beer and get something to eat.

My hotel is close to a shopping street. It is quiet this evening but it gets busier the next day with shoppers getting in last minute Christmas shopping.

I wake up early and go out to breakfast and get some delicious pancakes at The Original Pancake Kitchen. I think my hotel normally has breakfast included but the hotel restaurant is under renovations.

After breakfast I go back to the hotel to sort through and pack my bag since I have a flight tomorrow. I am back to living out of my bag again. It was nice to have a week reprieve of having to stress about correctly packing everything into my bag.

In the afternoon I meet up with a new friend I made in September while traveling to Egypt. Adelaide is her hometown. We grab some coffees and she gives me a tour of the town. She shows me her beautiful university and we take a walk in a lovely park. It is nice to catch up.

We stop for sushi and also have time for a glass of wine on a terrace.

I love meeting good people on my travels. Sometimes it is hard for me to come out of my shell and talk to new people but I am rewarded when I do.

She has evening plans so I stroll the town in the evening. As the night goes on the streets get lively. I see groups of young men traveling about in what seems like stag nights and birthday celebrations.

I think about seeing a movie but end up going back to my hotel to make sure I am prepared for my next journey.

I wake up next day to smell of smoke that has penetrated my hotel room. I start to really notice the fires now.

View from my hotel window. It is hard to tell but it is smoky.

My friend has to work today but is able to meet me for breakfast and coffee since I have some time to kill before my flight. I am so glad I met her months earlier in Egypt.

Now on to Melbourne where I am spending the week, including Christmas.