The Halfway Point

28 days. I leave Sydney in 28 days. How has this summer flown by so fast? The first day of July is already coming to an end, and I barely just finished saying goodbye to May. I really don’t know how but here we are: one month down, one month to go. And this has been a month for the books.

It’s been ten days since I last wrote. Not quite two weeks yet still so much has happened. So without further ado… a list!

Saturday June 22: Blue Mountains
So in the beginning of the semester, I had signed up for another field trip with Phi Beta Dingo, the same group that had put together the Cairns trip for us. This time we headed to the Blue Mountains, with a few pit stops on the way. Now the weather lately has been pretty awful. As in it has not stopped raining for about ten days straight. Luckily it didn’t rain in the mountains that day (though it poured in the city), but it was still really cold. Much colder than I had anticipated. Thank you inverted seasons.

Our first pit stop was the ANZ stadium followed by Featherdale Wildlife Park. This bit was fun, reminding me of the wildlife park we went to back in Cairns. While we couldn’t hold a koala, we were able to pet them and take pictures standing next to them. And the biggest attraction there anyway are the kangaroos and wallabies, which for just one dollar, you can actually feed them from a little ice cream cone! Our group spent most of the time in the kangaroo section, no surprise there. I even managed to get the greatest kangaroo selfie of all kangaroo selfies. Literally never felt so accomplished.

Anyway, from there we stopped at a little town for a quick lunch. Then our next stop was the Blue Mountains. After being ultimate tourists and taking a ton of pictures of the Three Sisters, we finally began our hike through and down the mountains. It wasn’t much of a hike as a nature walk but still gorgeous scenery. We even saw some small waterfalls. Our walk ended at the Katoomba Scenic Railway, the steepest incline railway in the world. We set our seats on “cliffhanger” and rode it all the way back up to the top. All in all, a pretty awesome day trip (if only for the kangaroo selfie cause I mean let’s be real now…)

Wednesday, June 26: Idina Menzel
That’s right. Idina Menzel was in Oz. And I saw her sing. In the Sydney Opera House. With the Sydney Symphony. Basically leave me here in a puddle of my tears. I’m a huge musical theater fan, and having the opportunity to watch someone as unbelievable as Idina Menzel live, not to mention in the Sydney Opera House of all places, I mean that is just indescribable. It is absolutely one of the most amazing things I have been able to do since being here. Watching a show at the Opera House was on my Sydney bucket list but I never imagined it would be checked off by the likes of Idina Menzel.

I went with Sofiya and our friend Taylor and we treated ourselves to a nice dinner with drinks by the harbour before the show. So classy. The show was, needless to say, absolutely spectacular. She is just as incredible in real life as I imagined she would be. And she knows how to give a show too. Half concert, half comedy show, to be honest. She even surprised us with a rendition of “Take Me or Leave Me” that lasted 8 minutes and had her in the audience pulling people up to sing verses with her. Taylor and I were near tears the entire time. It was a really, really great night. If you’re ever in Sydney, seeing a show at the Opera House is an absolute must. And if you ever get the chance to see Idina Menzel live, don’t even think twice.

Julia’s List
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my best friends at BU, Julia, did this same program last semester while I was in London. When she found out that Sofiya and I were gonna be here for the summer, she made us a 6 page guide to Sydney, organized by neighbourhoods, with the best bars, clubs, restaurants, late-night eats, beaches, malls, literally everything you can imagine, complete with her hilarious personal commentary. She’s basically the greatest person in the world, as Sofiya and I have literally treated it as our bible since the day we arrived.

We’ve been able to check off a ton of stuff from it in the past month which is great, but we still have a ton more to go. Two months is nothing, so we’ve been trying to do at least one new thing every day, even if it’s just at night after work (which is basically all we do since we work 9-5, Tuesdays to Fridays).

One of my favorites from this past week was The Soda Factory in Surry Hills. It’s this really cool bar, modeled with a speakeasy vibe and totally retro look. The entrance looks like a hole-in-the-wall hot dog stand from the 1950’s and you have to pass the counter and go through a door in the back to get in. Dim lighting, old music, vintage artifacts, even black and white silent films playing on a projector on the wall. Such a chill place to hang out in. On Tuesdays, they have dollar dogs where their normally $10 gourmet hot dogs are only a buck! We got there too late last Tuesday but we’re absolutely going back.

I’ll try and include a bit like this in the rest of my posts with my favorite outing from the week or something. And if Julia doesn’t mind, I’ll upload her guide on here because it really is perfect. Can’t wait to see what new places she’ll lead us to this week! (And Jules, if you’re reading this, you rock. Seriously.)

Friday June 28 – Sunday June 30: The Last June Weekend
I’m telling you, I could write an entire post about just this weekend but Sydney is keeping me way too entertained to be a more consistent blogger. So I’ll do my best to condense it into a short blurb. Like I mentioned before, the weather has been absolutely horrible lately. Buckets and buckets of water just ceaselessly pouring down into the city for about a week straight. That plus the cold plus my roommate being sick, well the inevitable was bound to happen.

I’d been feeling iffy all week but it would go away as the day went on. For some reason, it hit me harder on Friday. I tried to ignore it since it was a pretty busy day at work but I could feel myself kinda out of it. In the afternoon, the headache began followed by cold sweats and a pain in my chest. I have never in my life left work early for any reason. My life motto is and has always been: no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up. But when it got to the point that my eyes couldn’t focus on my computer screen, I went to ask my supervisor for some headache medicine and she convinced me to go home and rest.

Like I said, I have never left work early and I only had about an hour left in the day so I felt bad and kinda embarrassed. That is, until I realized I barely had the energy to walk back, took the bus home, and passed out until 9:30pm. Sofiya and I spent the night in watching movies and eating snacks. The rain was still just as relentless on Saturday and I was glad for an excuse to take it easy. After some antibiotics and a lot of rest, I was starting to feel better by Saturday night.

Which is good, cause Sofiya and Liz, one of my roommates, had planned an early birthday celebration for me at Cargo Bar. I won’t go into the details but we had a good time and the place was pretty cool so I’m glad I was able to get out for a bit. Yesterday, I started to feel a bit off again when I woke up so I took it easy all morning before taking a cab out to Breakfast Point where Pancholo, my dad’s friend, lives.

Like I mentioned in my last post, he had invited me to spend the day at his house and meet the rest of the family. It was honestly one of the nicest Sundays I’ve had here. Just being around someone who treats you like family can really make all the difference when you’re in a foreign city. He and his wife made the most amazing lunch, which in typical Venezuelan fashion was started at noon and actually served at around 4pm. We were even able to Skype with my parents for a bit, and I know that made my dad really happy. Afterwards, we took a walk around the gorgeous bay in his neighbourhood.

It was just the kind of touch of home I needed to beat the cold/flu/fever/whatever it was that had me down that week. One of his friends who had spent the day there with his kid gave me a lift back to Chippendale, which was incredibly nice. The best part was though the little gift Pancholo gave me right before I left: two full bags of harina pan, the corn flour needed to make my absolute favorite food: Venezuelan arepas. I cannot wait to make some here and introduce everyone to the greatest breakfast ever.

Monday, July 1: Today
And here we are. First day of July. And guess what. It has stopped raining. After being one torrential downpour away from building Noah’s Ark, Sydney finally gave us a spectacular day. And it’s gonna be like this all week! Bright and sunny, and in the high 60s! I cannot believe I’ll be at work from tomorrow to Friday and won’t be able to enjoy the days but Sofiya and I have planned to do the Manly Ferry and Bondi Beach this weekend which will be perfect.

I also took full advantage of today since I don’t have class until 3:30pm. I took a personal day, grabbed my iPad, headphones, and a water bottle and went exploring. I made my way to Hyde Park where I just laid out in the sun reading for about an hour. Then I walked over to Darling Harbour, walked around the park, got myself some fish and chips, and laid out in the grass relaxing and listening to music.

Sometimes the best medicine is sunshine and the city. It was definitely what I needed today. Fish and chips, a good book, music in my ears, and abundant sunshine. It was wonderful. What a way to bring in the month. It’s amazing how strongly the weather can affect your mood and your health. I feel infinitely better after today, and 90% of it was being able to see a blue sky and feel the warmth on my bare skin.

It’s also just in time for my 21st birthday this Wednesday! Tomorrow, we might go salsa dancing and bring in the 3rd with a proper Latin fiesta. And then maybe just a nice dinner or something on Wednesday. I’m excited. I love birthdays. Anyone’s birthday, not just my own. And celebrating it before anybody else in the world, well that’s pretty fantastic.

Anyway, this was a jam-packed post, so I’ll leave it here for now. Until next time lovelies!  xx

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