Just 3 days after completing my EMT course, I was back on a plane heading halfway across the world to Australia. A few hours of sleep and many movies later, the wheels were touching down on the runway of Sydney International Airport. I quickly passed through Australia’s far superior immigration system,, collected my bag, and hopped on a train into the city center.
Fortunately, Wake Up! Sydney Central, the hostel I stayed at, is only a 5 minute walk from the train station, meaning I didn’t have to schlep my heavy backpack too far. I checked in, took a much needed shower, and dropped my stuff in the room. I was ready for a day in Sydney.
As I walked out the door, I realized that I was pretty hungry. My airplane omelette had held me over but I was definitely needing a bite of lunch. I walked a few blocks and started to notice foreign lettering on signs above nearly every shop. I quickly realized I was in Sydney’s Chinatown. In the mood for a quick and easy meal, I stopped at one of the shops and grabbed a pork roll for only five bucks. I ate as I walked and stopped into Honey Creme, a specialty soft serve shop which uses a milk and creme combination that gained popularity in Korea. I opted for a delicious caramel corn sundae and then headed back out the door.
The next few hours were spent exploring the city on foot. I set my course for the harbor, walked past the large office buildings and busy streets, and arrived at the Rocks, Sydney’s historical district. I checked out the cobblestone streets and walked along the water, taking in the views of city. While most major cities in the world are connected in some way to large bodies of water, there is always something special about walking along the edge of the water. I like to think of it as two boxers circling each other in the ring at the start of a fight, sizing up their opponent. It’s one of my favorite ways to get to know a new city. Along the harbor I took in the amazing views and enjoyed the coastal breeze on a 75 degree day after spending a month in the chill of a Wyoming winter. Eventually, I came across the Sydney Opera House, and although my eyes had been fixed on it since the moment it came into vision, I stopped when I got to the base of the stairs. The opera house is one of a few structures in the world that I have seen thousands and thousands of pictures of. It is such a recognizable and important aspect of Sydney’s skyline, and staring face to face with it for the first time was a pretty surreal experience. Eventually, I did keep walking, and I spent some time exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens before making my way to the base of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Before I left for Australia, I had a hard time deciding whether or not to do the Bridge Climb. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the money or the limited time I had in Sydney. Ultimately, I decided to go for it, because, when in Sydney. Therefore, when I arrived at the Bridge Climb center, I was expecting a hell of an experience. It didn’t disappoint. Using over 50 thousand tons of steel, six million hand driven rivets, and peaking at almost five hundred feet above the water, the Sydney Harbor Bridge is largest steel arch bridge in the water. Naturally, getting to climb it was awesome. Six strangers and I suited up with our guide Nicole before departing from the bridge climb center up the stairs to the bridge approach. A bit of walking and some ladders led us to the actual arch of the bridge, and from there it was just bit further to get to the actual summit of the bridge. Feeling the rush of the wind as I gazed over the beautiful city in front of me is a moment I will never forget. Our climb was beautiful, the tour was interesting, and it was just plain fun to be up there. Definitely made the right decision.
After my tour terminated and I was unfortunately no longer wearing my fashionable suit, I made my way to a restaurant in the harbor called Portobello Cafe. I enjoyed a tasty beef cheek dinner with a remarkable view of the bridge and the opera house. I paid my bill and then walked over to the opera house for an 8:30 performance by Ben Folds. Since I had been awake for 17 hours already at that point and it was technically 3:30 AM my time, I was pretty exhausted as I found my seat in the concert hall. I was worried that I would fall asleep during the show, but luckily, Ben Folds had other plans. His quirkiness, energy, humor, stage presence, and general talent make Folds a phenomenal performer. The second he came out on stage I knew I would have no trouble staying awake. He put on a great show for us, playing all of his well known songs and my personal favorites such as Effington, Army, Underground, and Landed. After the show I caught a cab back to the hostel and melted into my bed.
The next morning I checked out, ate a quick brekkie, and I was on my way to Newcastle. I had a fantastic first 24 hours in Sydney, and I’m confident they won’t be my last.