The main street where I live, Glebe Point Road, is filled with lots of local restaurants that are independently owned, and therefore cheap which makes them really good for students! Alayna had her birthday this week, along with two of her friends, so they had a celebration at one of these restaurants – the ingeniously named ‘Spanish Tapas’. We went on a Monday night, as they have half price food on the menu (again, this is great for students)!
I’ve never had tapas before, so I had no idea what to expect. The restaurant was designed to look Spanish on the inside – tiled rooves, plastered walls etc. – and it had a really cool vibe. Tapas is essentially small plates of food, so you can order two or three and share them with the people around you. It’s a relaxed way of dining, allowing you to easily socialise with everyone as you are sharing each other’s food. It was delicious – even if they forgot my chorizo and only gave it to me after I asked for it.
Another thing about Monday nights at Spanish Tapas is that they have live flamenco dancing. The dancing was great entertainment and a good chance to see Spanish culture…up until the point where they grabbed my hand and got me to dance with them! There is a video of me dancing with them, but this website doesn’t let me upload videos, so your eyes are saved.
As the title states, this was a week of firsts. after having my first tapas on Monday, I bought tickets to go and see my first opera. When in Sydney, there is no better place to see it than in the Opera House. Although it might seem really expensive, they actually do a good price for the tickets with restricted viewing. Unfortunately, this meant that I couldn’t go with other people – in the rows of restricted viewing seats, only the seat on the edge actually had a view of the stage. Nonetheless, I didn’t mind going by myself as it’s not often you get the chance to go to the Opera House.
On Wednesday night, I journeyed to circular quay, picking up my tickets before having a cheap McDonald’s for dinner. Then it was time for the performance of La Traviata. The seats I had were great, especially considering the price I paid for them! The music was beautiful, played by a live orchestra in the pit, and even though it was sung in Italian, there were surtitles to read.
After the first act (out of three), one of the stewardesses came up to me and said that as there were some empty seats, I could move to a better one. I gladly did so, meaning that I was pretty much central to the stage and had a better view of what was going on. The seats were definitely more expensive than my original seats, so I was very lucky to move there for free!
The second interval was longer, so it gave me a chance to look around. At the back of the theatre, there was a bar with a deep purple carpet. Door lead out to an outside balcony, providing some amazing views of Harbour Bridge at night. I also went in to check out the orchestra pit – something I normally end up doing with my brother, so it feels a bit like tradition that I had to!
After I left the Opera House, it was raining, but I didn’t mind as I realised that the Opera House looks far better at night than it does in the day.
Saturday brought with it another first for me. A few of the guys at SCH own some boats, which they took to the Del Rio Riverside Resort for the weekend, sitting on the Hawkesbury River. They invited people down for a day to have fun on the river.
The resort is a fair distance away from Sydney, so to get there I had to get a lift with Joel. I got the train to West Ryde where he works and met him by the station. We went to Woolworth’s to get some roast chicken for lunch (along with Joel getting his choccy milk) before heading off on the hour and a half journey. This took us through rural NSW, even venturing out onto steep dirt tracks where the car struggled to climb. But we made it in the end and met everyone by the river.
A lot of the people from SCH were there, so it was a good opportunity to get to know them more, and to get their names. A lot of the Mum’s acted like a Mum to me, especially by making sure I was wearing enough sun cream!
After eating our lunch, we headed out onto the river on tube rings attached to Andrew’s speed boat. As he dragged us along behind his boat, we had to cling on for dear life – which did hurt your hands after a while. Sometimes it would get bumpy, mainly when going over the waves, and then you would almost fly out. At one point, my hands weren’t gripped tightly. We hit a bump in the waves and the next thing I realised was that I was in the water. Thankfully I had a life jacket on which helped me stay afloat. The boat came around and picked me up and we carried on.
When we got back, me, Jack and Joel spent some time by the pool, which wasn’t particularly amazing but it was fun. This was followed by a ride on Ash’s boat down the river. This was a cool way to explore the river while not being dragged behind a boat.
Ash offered to take me out water skiing, another one of the firsts that I did this week. It took me many attempts to get up, but I managed to do it a few times, managing to stand up for somewhere between 5 and 10 seconds. I soon decided to call it a day as my arms were getting tired and could only take getting thrown into the water for so long. Joel followed, and he was significantly better than me, lasting the length of the river stretch we were on. I went on the tubes for a final time before heading off home (this time Joel fell in).
On the way home with Joel, we ended up seeing some wild kangaroos! For an Aussie, this isn’t really anything that special, but since I’m a Brit abroad, we decided to stop the car and get some pictures. We also had to get the ferry over the river to get back, which he had to wait for, but it wasn’t too long until we got over.
After the morning meeting on Sunday, I decided to take to opportunity to explore some more of central Sydney. I walked through Hyde Park, coming up to St Mary’s Cathedral. I thought it would be good to go in for a bit and see what it was like. The cathedral looked really nice on the inside, and as it was a hot day I sat with the plan of cooling down for a few minutes.
As I was sitting, some bells started to toll and a large group of people started walking in from the back doors. I wondered what was going on, and I only realised that there was about to be a service after it was too late to leave. I stayed to see what was going on, but it turned out that everything was sung in Latin and I didn’t have a song sheet so I just stood and mumbled along. Ave Maria was easy as it was very repetitive; the rest was just confusing. It was only at the end of the service that I found out that this was an anti-abortion meeting, which explained the number of police surrounding the building. I left fairly quickly!
While I was on my way to circular quay, I stumbled upon a parade, so I decided to follow it to see what was going on. It turns out that it was the National Greek Day, and there was a big celebration outside the Opera House. I’m glad that Sydney can celebrate being so multicultural!
As I reached the Opera House, I got a text from Alayna seeing if I wanted to go to the beach with a few friends. Sydney has a great number of beaches, most of them being about an hour away from the CBD. The one we went to was Coogee, which was a bus ride away. The beach was a popular one, but it was nice as it wasn’t too big. There was even a place to the left where you could walk along and it took you to a natural rocky pool – I got some good pictures there. We didn’t spend long there as the sun was going down.
Later, we went to the bar on the beach which sold food and got some pizza. As everyone was eating, I gave Mum a surprise video chat. The reason why is that it was Mother’s Day back in the UK. I think she loved the card that I got her – it was a Funkypigeon special!
The only disappointing thing of the day was when I went to get a McFlurry from the nearest McDonald’s, I found out that they were priced at $4 – what an absolute rip off!
I hate to finish on a serious note, but it is worth remembering that on Wednesday of this week, I woke up to the news that there had been a terrorist attack in London. It was one of those times when your heart sinks and you are fixated on the news. As soon as I found out, I messaged many of the Brits I knew in Sydney to spreas the message; we were all in shock, complete with mixed emotions. It is certainly a day I won’t forget.