Street Markets, French Festivals, and Bus Tours

I am officially to the holiday portion of my Australian Adventure. I managed to get my major paper, two conference proposals, a review paper outline, and 22 documents translated to Spanish turned in last Friday so I can enjoy the next two weeks with Emily. So I started the holiday with two street markets, a Bastille Festival, and a hop on and off bus tour through Sydney.

Newcastle Culture and Markets

During my last week in Newcastle, it was pretty wet and chilly, just like my first week here. I have been walking every day after school so I had to fit my walks in between storms and sunset. The one benefit to that was the beautiful rainbows. I hike up a pretty steep street and up a mean set of stair on my walks. One day I was rewarded with a beautiful full rainbow over the town of Newcastle.

On Thursday, I saw a double rainbow from my room and walked out on the porch to photograph it. I’m glad I did because I realized I couldn’t see the mountains anymore and a major storm was coming. So I enjoyed the rainbow and waited a few minutes before venturing out between showers.

Last Friday was lovely. The building I have been working in at the University of Newcastle is open to the elements on both sides. So the building is the same temperature as the outdoors. Although, since it’s winter, I think it’s colder in the building because it takes longer for the stone and cement to warm back up. Here’s a shot of the courtyard on one end of the building. I’m sure it’s very enjoyable in the spring and summer.

Since it was my last full week on campus, I decided I should finally visit the Birabahn Cultural Trail on Campus. The trail talks about the history of the tribes who were originally located on the university’s land. It ends at the Wollotuka Institute for Indigenous Studies. Click through the slider to see the signs talking about the history of the land.

On Saturday I invited Nao and Yuko, the Japanese girls staying at Lynn’s, to visit the Hunt and Gather Market with me in Hamilton. We took the bus and arrived right as it was opening. I wanted to see what types of things they sell at street markets here in Australia. The hope was to find some gifts for the few people I still need to buy something for. While it was interesting, I didn’t end up buying anything as it was mostly clothing, candles, and expensive art.

Sydney Festivals

Following the market, I caught the bus to Sydney. Emily arrived in Sydney at 6 am on Sunday so I needed to be there on Saturday. Thankfully, Sydney loves a party and planned a Bastille Festival for me to check out. Whereas Vivid was a Light, Music and Ideas Festival, Bastille was a Food, Wine, and Art Revolution. They had a Latin Section, a Nordic Section, and two French Sections. It was an interesting combination. I started the holiday with a glass of champagne and raclette.

My cousin had posted a video while she was in Europe of raclette being scrapped onto a pile of potatoes so I was very excited to try some. They melted the cheese in individual dishes under a bunch of burners so they were able to keep up with the demand of the crowds pretty well.

I wandered around the festival for a bit to see what was going on. Surprisingly, or maybe not, it was mostly food and wine and very few shops. So after exploring each of the venues and enjoying a mulled wine, I headed back to our hostel.

Emily Arrives!

I booked us to stay in the Sydney Harbor YHA. I stayed there during Vivid and liked it a lot better than the Sydney Central YHA I stayed at during the ASERA conference. The view directly outside our room is the Sydney Harbor and Opera House. Since I had to be up for Emily, I was lucky enough to see the sunrise. It was a lovely way to start the day.

Poor Emily, I made her hit the ground running after 30 hours of travel. Unfortunately, it’s the quickest way to acclimate to the new time zone. So after a shower to get rid of the travel grime, we started exploring. We began with a walk over the Harbor Bridge so Emily could enjoy the view. The stairs to the bridge are right across from the hostel so it was on the way to everywhere else. From there, we headed down to the Tea Cosy for some breakfast.

The Tea Cosy is known for its scones and having knitting out at each table for people to work on. Emily did a great job. I would have made a mess as I never learned to knit.

Right in front of the tea shop was The Rocks Markets. We looked at all the touristy things they were selling such as racing kangaroos and Christmas ornaments. Emily decided when we started traveling last year to start an ornament collection so we were excited to check that off the list. We also visited some of the local art dealers and gift shops to find specific gifts Emily had been tasked to find. Next, we checked out the National Opal Museum before heading to the botanical gardens.

We not only walked through the botanical gardens, we went all the way around to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. It has the best views of Sydney from across the harbor.

We spent most of the afternoon wandering and ended up walking more than 8 miles and 27 flights of stairs. We called it an early night as we were both pretty exhausted.

Bus to Bondi

On Monday we decided to take the Big Bus to Bondi. It was a hop on/hop off bus company that covered all of Sydney. The bus tour was very interesting and shared a lot of facts about different parts of the town but, for a change, I didn’t take very many photos of the buildings or sights and just enjoyed the ride. The sign on the bus said to sit back and relax:

One thing I did take a picture of, was the Coca Cola sign at Kings Cross because it is apparently a major icon in Sydney.

The road into Bondi was beautiful and I can see the appeal to living in that part of Sydney. We got off the bus and headed down to the beach. There were several people surfing and lots of people sunbathing.

They also had some really cool street art along the beach.

We enjoyed Bondi. Emily says it was the best beach we’ve visited so far. After lunch, we caught the bus back towards Sydney and got to see some amazing views along the harbor.

The tour also took us through the Central Business District and Darling Harbor. We didn’t get off except at the Chinese Friendship Garden. We didn’t pay to go in but it looked lovely.

The bus tour ended up back in The Rocks which is where we were staying. So we got off the bus and went for a hot chocolate at a Belguim Cafe called Guylian. They were banana caramel and amazing.

We walked off the hot chocolate by checking out the shopping district. I forgot that everything closes so early here. So we were having trouble finding places open for dinner at 7 pm on a Monday night. We ended up at Jamie Oliver’s and had some great Italian.

On Tuesday, we had a school visit to one of the richest school’s in Australia. I think I will write about that on my other blog and let you know all about it. We followed that up by a trip to Manley to look for penguins. We found none. Manely Beach wasn’t super exciting so we took the ferry back to Sydney and headed to a cute basement bar for some Dumplings. It was very tasty as were our cocktails. However, the ladies next to us had to one up us and have flaming cocktails.

Wednesday we headed up to Cairns but you’ll have to wait until next time to hear about that! Have you been to Sydney? Have we missed any important spots?

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