After hanging out in Perth and Canberra, Jake and I spent our final weekend in Australia in Sydney. My mum stayed in Canberra to spend more time with her parents (she was meeting clients in Sydney the following week and flying home after us).
After two weeks of staying in busy houses full of small children, dogs and fake cockroaches used to scare us at any opportunity, it was nice to have two days just the two of us.
Well, in theory. It would be remiss of me to pretend that our 48 hours in Sydney were all rainbows and ice cream. We interspersed some great moments swimming at Bondi Beach, touring the opera house and meeting Jake’s extended family for dinner with petty bickering. I don’t know what it was exactly. I was feeling sad and sensitive about leaving my family and that made me particularly alert to small annoyances.
I know I’ve written mainly about the more concrete ‘activities’ that we did, but for the most part we were just hanging out with my cousins, playing games and eating food. I cried leaving Perth to fly to Canberra and on the bus between Canberra and Sydney. We’d had such a good time with everyone and thought of heading back to London (where it had rained for ten straight days) and not seeing all my Aussie family again for years was making me a little blue.
Also the terrible Ofo bikes we rented that had no gears made cycling up and down Sydney’s hills very difficult, which, when combined with the heat and the 24-hour stomach bug I’d picked up, made me pretty irritable. I mean, Jake was clearly being super annoying too, but I think I have to give some ground to him here as circumstances had definitely made me quick to snap.
(I just turned to Jake now: “do you remember what we were arguing about in Sydney?” He thought for a moment and shook his head. Me neither.)
This being said, neither of us are grudge holders so between the bickering we did have a great time wandering around the city.
I asked my friend Caitlyn (or Jaitlyn, a nickname my brother and I inexplicably gave her a decade ago that has stuck to this day) to recommend us somewhere to stay that was non-touristy but still near a beach. She gave me lots of excellent suggestions. I booked us somewhere five minutes from Bondi Beach because I’m terrible.
We had many lovely swims at Bondi, though the waves were huge and the currents strong. We’d planned to surf, an activity we both enjoy even though we are laughably bad, but the signs all emphasised not putting yourself or others at risking by surfing above your skill level.
Given that, at that point, Jake had yet to successfully stand up on a board it seemed downright delusional that we could surf these 20-foot waves. Instead, we messed around getting beaten up by the surf and playing with the Go-Pro. It was basically the same thing.
Our plan for this first day in Sydney was to walk along the coastal route to a good snorkeling spot, but by the time we were ready to head off, it was late in the day, we’d been snapping at each other, Jake’s too-small swim trunks were causing unmentionable problems and the hills were, rudely, still there.
We decided to stay put on the beach instead, then have a nice dinner and ice cream on the beach looking up at the stars. Stargazing and gelato is much more conducive to kissing and making up than heat rash and hill climbs (this is the kind of important relationship advice I can offer you).
The next day, our last full day, was the day for capital-T Touristing. We hit up Hyde Park for lunch, took a surprisingly interesting tour of the Sydney Opera House and walked all around Darling Harbour. While I do like cities, when I’m in a country known for its incredible nature my beach bum side definitely prevails. I was gagging for a dip by the end of the day.
However, our day didn’t end with the ocean. It ended having a truly lovely dinner with a large contingent of Jake’s ‘long-lost’ extended family, who’d emigrated from Poland some forty years ago. We had no idea what to expect from this large group of Osostowiczs, but they were so kind and funny and welcoming that we ended up having the best evening. After dinner, a smaller group of Jake’s newfound family members took us on a walk around the area and we agreed to come and stay the next time we visited.
This was the perfect, unexpected end to an already family-focused trip and definitely left us with even more people to come and see Down Under.
To cap off the trip, we spent our final morning in Oz swimming at Bondi and having a lovely brunch with the aforementioned Jaitlyn. Then we packed up and the headed to the airport after a whirlwind trip to Australia hitting up three cities, opposite coasts and over twenty friends and family members. I sat in the departures lounge sniffling.
All the tears maybe sound sad – or melodramatic, but hey hello nice to meet you – but really it’s just a reflection of the deep sense of peace I felt, surrounded by warm sun, pure blue ocean and so many people that I love.
The serenity and relaxation was left behind almost immediately, as the return journey involved me sleeping for two hours total in half hour increments across the entire 24 hours of flights, bookended by our day in Sydney (the flight left Australia at 4pm) where we’d got up early to watch the sunrise (?!) and our first day back in London where we landed at 7am.
I was awake for almost 48 hours straight. Peaceful was not the emotion on the tip of my tongue. But, despite the inevitable jetlag, I remain so grateful for such strong ties across the planet and that fact that I keep being pulled back down under to one of my favourite places on Earth. I’ll be back. Lock up your TimTams.
And so concludes Australia. I’m writing and posting this from my phone in Wroclaw, Poland, so next we’ll be hopping from the sunny Southern Hemisphere to wintry Eastern Europe. Thanks for reading!
It’s also perhaps worth mentioning that I was in Australia in April, not now, as this has caused confusion with some of my friends, who didn’t understand why we’d invited them to Jake’s birthday party if we were in Perth. Writing and photo-editing takes time – plus this blog didn’t exist then – so it won’t always be chronological. I am in Poland right now, however, so all the pierogis coming up will be as close to real time as possible.