This post must be prefaced with an apology, our lack of posting here and on social media, created a concern for our wellbeing, being so close to the New South Wales (NSW) wildfires. As you can now tell, we are absolutely fine! It has been a bit of a hectic week with job hunting and looking for accommodation but thank you for your concern!
Our journey to Sydney started off apart as Qantas, rather helpfully, sat us at opposite ends of the aircraft. After touching down we were prepared, focused and ready with all of our Working Holiday Visa paperwork to be questioned by a border agent about our financial status, where we were staying, if we had an outbound flight booked, did we have any previous convictions, what colour eyes do we have, have we ever smuggled drugs, when did we last go to the toilet, what addresses have we had for the last 20 years, are you planning on carrying out terrorist activity in Australia, you know, all the usual rigmarole! We were convinced it would be more awkward than normal as we were also coming to work but, as it happened, we spoke to no one and were able to make our way through the electronic gates without speaking to a single soul! But hey, we weren't complaining! (Other than not getting a stamp on our passport) Our bags arrived fairly quickly, customs let us pass and we made our way to our transfer into the city. It was very difficult for us to get our heads round seeing all the airport Christmas decorations whilst standing in shorts and t-shirts in 24 degrees!
We arrived at Base Backpackers, far too early for check-in, so dropped our bags off and went in search of some breakfast as the airplane choice of scrambled eggs or tofu held no appeal to either of us. After some sustenance, we headed off to explore and obviously we went to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Being a Sunday it was crazy busy but we found ourselves a wall to sit on and enjoyed an hour of people watching in the sun with this fantastic setting.
After some time we made our way back to Base (geddit!?) to grab some lunch in the attached pub, Scary Canary, and then checked into our room, a nice 6 bed dorm room! Thankfully, our room mates were all lovely, if a little untidy (but then anyone who knows Craig knows that everyone is untidy in comparison!) and we were fairly happy with our bunk bed for the next week.
After a very chilled out afternoon we headed to Macchiato for a delicious Italian dinner then, having been up since 03:00, we were both in bed and fast asleep by 21:00.
The following morning, after breakfast, we had our orientation with Laura from IEP Australia who helped us set up for working and living in Australia. As part of the orientation, we got our tax file numbers sorted, were given Australian SIM cards and given instructions on enrolling for Medicare. After the orientation, and continuing with getting ourselves organised, we headed to the Commonwealth Bank to get our bank accounts opened (Katy now has an Australian bank account, with her married name, before she does in Britain!)
With a busy morning under our belts, we were ready for some food, so went to Parlour Burger for lunch. Afterwards, we walked back to the hostel and set up our Australian phones and signed ourselves up to the online course; the Responsible Serving of Alcohol (RSA) for NSW (because every state has its own, different course and you can't handle alcohol in any business if you don't have it) in a bid to expand the pool of jobs we could look for.
For dinner, we headed back to the Scary Canary and, for a bit of fun, stayed to take part in the pub quiz! Realising we were substantially older than the rest of the participants, we debated sneaking out and not embarrassing ourselves however, the questions were perfectly geared to those over 25, and we managed to come in 2nd place (just 1 point behind 1st) and won ourselves a pitcher of beer!
The next day was a very uninteresting day spent working on our RSA courses, we shall spare you the very boring details! We interspersed our day with eating, playing table tennis and avoided the 38 degree heat as best we could!
Having had such a dull day, the next morning we decided to be tourists and went for a wander around Darling Harbour which was much quieter and more pleasant than the area around the Opera House (10:00 on a Wednesday might have something to do with that...).
Next stop, was to Myers (a department store) Christmas shop. It certainly wasn't a patch on Macy's however it was awfully nice to have a wander given we are both struggling to get into the Christmas spirit. We also used this as a chance to pick up some smarter clothes just incase we got any interviews as we reckoned our fairly worn out backpacker gear wouldn't exactly help us get a job.
Our afternoon was then spent applying for any and every job (highlights included Katy applying for a job at the zoo, Craig applying for a job as pharmacy delivery cyclist and as a receptionist for a botox clinic) we could find online and hoping we might hear back from someone! We then headed to Sushi & Grill for a delicious dinner. Whilst Katy is a huge sushi fan Craig definitely isn't, so this was one of the first times Katy has had sushi in over 5 years, and so she was extremely excited about it. Sushi & Grill definitely didn't disappoint!
The following morning we headed to the Medicare office to get ourselves sorted with Medicare (as the UK has reciprocal agreements with Australia, we get free healthcare should we need it (hopefully we won't though!!)) Annoyingly, as with all of these places, it was a very long drawn out process so it took up the majority of our morning. We then spent the afternoon trawling round some shops with our CVs (and happy smiley faces) in the hopes someone might be hiring.
After a busy day of more job hunting we treated ourselves to some incredible cocktails at Grandma's Bar. Sydney has a thriving hidden bar scene and Grandma's bar was one of them. The name had caught Katy's eye on google maps, given she had had such a wonderful Grandma, however when we went to actually find the bar it took walking up and down the street a couple times before going into the entrance of a block of flats! The cocktails and eclectic furnishings however, were definitely worth it.
After a few drinks we were both confident we would manage an excellent nights sleep despite being in a dorm however, our new roommates had other ideas! It started off with a lady in her 40's checking in, who turned out to have some form of sleep apnoea, and kept us wide awake with her snoring. Then, just as we were drifting off to sleep a young guy arrived with his 5 mates, switched on all the lights, had a full blown conversation in, we think, Hindi then proceeded to take the mattress off of the empty bunk and disappeared. They then returned the mattress with similar fanfare 3 hours later, incidentally, just in time for the lady to get up and leave, so finally at about 04:00 we were able to get some sleep.
We didn't manage much of a long lie the next morning however, as we joined the I'm Free walking tour which was an excellent way to see Sydney. Run by Justine who is a 'Sydneysider' we got to see some lovely bits of Sydney and were given some insider tips of places to visit. The tour left from the Town Hall and we worked our way down, over 3 hours, to the Harbour Bridge whilst learning about the city from it's early convict history to it's current incarnation.
We followed the tour with lunch at Mary's, on Justine's recommendation, as they do the best burgers in Sydney and she was certainly right. Sadly, the rest of our afternoon wasn't quite so exciting as it was laundry time and we squeezed in a nap given our lack of sleep from the previous night.
For dinner, it will come as a surprise to no one that we went to our favourite chain, the Hard Rock Cafe so that Katy could get yet another pin (there was a bit of a discussion about whether we should work out how much money Katy has spent on HRC pins but it was thought best not!) With its setting on Darling Harbour, we enjoyed walking around the beautiful lit up harbour after dinner.
After a much more restful nights sleep, we woke on Saturday and decided we couldn't do much job hunting so instead we joined the locals and headed to the Rocks Market. We tried some BBQ'd Kangaroo (it was delicious!) and enjoyed wandering the stalls although nothing was bought. Next stop was Munich Brauhaus where we stayed for a drink or two, Craig was thrilled to discover they did beer in steins just like at Oktoberfest!
We returned to the hostel for some chill out time and then, in keeping with the theme, we went to the Beerhaüs for dinner (trying to stop Craig being too sad about missing out on Oktoberfest in Munich this past September!) Whilst the food was good, there wasn't much going on so we left after dinner to go in search of another one of Sydney's hidden bars. The country themed, Shady Pines Saloon, was located down a small alleyway and incredibly difficult to find. With our phone's torches we located a small sign above a white washed door and entered one of the most fantastic settings, a low lit, Southern American style saloon. We sat at the bar drinking incredible cocktails, (Katy was enthralled with the Pumpkin Flip) nibbling on, in-the-shell peanuts (monkey nuts) and, the big bonus for us, non-stop country music. We sang to our hearts content with our favourite's being "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys" and "The Whiskey Ain't Working Anymore." An excellent night and a brilliant way to spend a Saturday.
As we are now settling in Australia and we won't be moving around quite so much we have decided to move to a weekly update, likely on Sunday's, until our travels restart!