Wednesday, 10 September 2014

On the move: To Sydney

Melbourne to Sydney

After New Zealand, Sydney was the first place we had been to that we didn't know anyone, and although it felt strange after being so settled, it felt good to be on the move again.
Our method of transport was on the overnight bus. As this was the first leg we booked, so the closest time-wise to the time of booking we decided to do this rather than flying because of the significant price difference, however, the experience itself was not as enjoyable as we had hoped.
Being used to the National Express and Megabus in the UK, where the system is fairly simple compared to flying, just like the train; you book your ticket, turn up at the station, find the bus/train and get on, where the ticket will be inspected.
However, as became apparent in Melbourne bus station, ‘YOU CANT JUST GET ON THE BLOODY BUS AND SIT ANYWHERE YOU LIKE’ as the driver reminded me when I approached him soon after it became apparent that you should have a seat reservation. In my opinion, and from my experience, I would not recommend the Firefly bus to anyone over Greyhound or flying, as for the price it is hardly cheaper and you are stuck on the bus for the whole night. 
While I am more than happy to not be too comfortable on an overnight bus in Thailand or India, the price there reflects the service you receive. Especially when there is no language barrier, there is, in my opinion, no real excuse for poor customer service when you are paying nearly $70 a ticket with no reclining seats, but come the morning, we arrived in Sydney.

The sunrise that met us when we left the bus station

The weather was glorious as we arrived in Sydney. It was early in the morning so we hit up the classic 7/11 coffee, great value at all hours of the day. As usual, after an overnight bus journey, I felt pretty spaced out, as I can never quite sleep properly unless I’m fully reclined, no matter how smooth the ride may be, or if I’m just sitting in a chair.

The first view of the harbour area

We had to wait till 2 to check into the hostel so we went to check out the Sydney harbour bridge and the Opera House, at least from a distance. Part of our planning when leaving Melbourne was to cut down on baggage so that we didn’t have to rely on checking baggage on flights, but also to avoid having to lug a big bag round all day and get taxis when arriving at a new town. As a result we made our way in the glorious sun to the bridge, which was a fantastic view as the first since Melbourne.
The Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the Botanical Gardens all surround the harbour area which is buzzing with people, mainly tourists, every day. After taking some photos and looking around, we decided to check into the hostel, which was the cheapest one we could find online.

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House

Chili Blue Backpackers in Sydney is rock bottom in price and offers a free breakfast to guests. If you are looking for cheap, then it’s a good enough option, with no bed bugs and a kitchen, but if you’re looking for a relaxing stay then you might want to check out other options. If you are looking for a 24/7 house party then this is definitely the place for you, although expect for the mess to never be cleared up and frequent defecation on the floor, not always restricted to the bathroom.
The free breakfast consists of the cheapest white bread, strawberry jam and processed cheese money can buy, with a large amount of cold boiled eggs. Enjoy. If you’re looking for any help or advice then you’re more likely to get it from another guest than the staff, who were as useless as a chocolate teapot. It’s worth going out in a group if at all possible as the area can be quite rough and intimidating after dark, especially if you are quite young but it’s easy enough to avoid.

Bondi Beach

Although you can get a bus to Bondi Beach, we decided to make a day of it and get a feel for the city so we decided to walk, although I am not sure that I would recommend it to others as it is quite a long distance. 
Although it is a nice beach, and it was a nice day, I was underwhelmed at Bondi compared to some of the beaches that I had seen on the South Coast, and would see on the East Coast. There is a nice coastal walk which goes around and over the cliff which I would recommend, although the amount of people traffic can be quite tedious as runners constantly try to come through at speed. To avoid this it might be worth going early in the morning or later in the evening, although I am not sure if this would make a difference. Still, there are some spectacular views and the possibility of viewing dolphins and whales if you’re lucky.

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are also really worth a visit if you have time. Although they are a distance outside the city, it is very easy to get a double decker train there and the views are spectacular. I would recommend going early in the morning, as the light was beginning to fade by the time we were leaving and it would have been good to see a bit more of the paths available. Staying in the area would be another option which would make this easier, and the towns around are very friendly, with lots of free tourist information available.

Jon in the forest as the light began to fail

We only stayed in Sydney for a week but I feel that, much like Melbourne, unless you were living and working there that would be plenty of time if you wanted to see everything from a tourist point of view.

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