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25 and Under...and 23...and 22 I'm trekking southern Australia in the World Nomads Ambassador van with my little brother & his girlfriend. This should be interesting.

Interlude in the City

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 26 January 2008 | Views [1136]

Lookin all pretty!

Lookin all pretty!

Day 16

One thing about staying in the mountains is that it’s fuh-reaking cold! The Australian sun is brutal, but when it sets up there the warmth rushes from the air like dirt up a vacuum.

I woke up shivering to cloudy skies and a damp mountain floor. After a few various grunts and “ehs” to my proposition of a bushwalk, we finally decided the course of the day.

To Bondi Beach we would go.

Well, the beach Gods must have been shining down on us, because as we finally reached the end of Bondi Road two hours later there was nothing but blue skies overhead and deep blue sea below. The temperature was a perfect 25 degrees— just enough to get hot and run headfirst into the crashing waves barreling into shore.

At one point, bikini-clad Crystal looked over to me and said, “It could be snowing in Albany right now. They were leaving in 3 days. “I hope I don’t have to shovel my car out,” she continued. I looked out at the ocean, incredulous that anyone could leave that to go back to snow and cold. “Hey, you could always change your flight!” Unfortunately grad school applications can’t wait any longer, and today would be her last beach day until summer in New York.

We left around 4 p.m. to check into the NOMADS Maze Backpackers in the center of town. The perfect place for Crystal and Jeff’s last two days of Australian debauchery. We made like backpackers, ate the last of our pasta and joined in for quiz night. I’m proud to say I recognized Hillary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry and Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie for the bonus round. The capital of Latvia? Not so much. (It’s Riga, by the way. Oh well.)

Post-trivia it was on to Sidebar for the 2 for 1 special, then on to Opera Bar to meet friends. Beach, beds and beer: all in all, a perfect Sydney day.

Day 17

It’s one thing to wake up at 8 a.m. when you’re going to bed not long after sunset. It’s another thing to wake up that early in Sydney after closing down the Opera Bar. Yet we did, and dragged ourselves out of bed bright and early to enjoy our only full city day.

After spending the early hours ogling shoes on Sydney’s famed Pitt Street mall, I happily dragged Crystal to my favorite shopping street in Sydney: Crown Street. Packed with vintage stores, boutiques and tiny cafes, it’s a city girl’s dream. I once spent an entire day walking up and down Crown Street, then making my way down Oxford Street to Paddington, another huge shopping district. I can most decidedly say that was one of my favorite days in Australia, and I’ve got the receipts to prove it. Today Crystal would have the fun. She bought the perfect little festival dress (in preparation for Big Day Out!) at Felt, quite possibly my favorite store in Sydney. Nothing over $30! I highly recommend ladies.

A few receipts and a lot of walking later, we took a break at Kawa, a small café on Crown. The place is surrounded by a white picket fence, wooden tables and vintage chairs, and populated with hipsters galore. What can I say, it was love at first sight. We settled in with quiche and fresh smoothies, and waited for Jeff to come join us from his solo adventure.

Minutes later — and starving — he arrived and promptly scoffed at my suggestion to stay for the organic sandwiches and juices, and instead we hightailed it down to Darlinghurst for the lunch special at Urban Thai. What a find! For $6.50 we got full on Thai meals. Delicious. An hour later we stood at Mrs. Macquarie’s chair, taking in the view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Exhausted, I headed back to the hostel to shower before my first opera ever, thankyouverymuch, while Crystal and Jeff trekked on to walk the bridge.

Back to that opera thing. When Crystal first decided to come to Australia, the first thing she did after buying her plane ticket was buy tickets for the opening night of Carmen at the Opera House — for all three of us! It was a day I’d been looking forward to for months. I’d been to the symphony there, which was fantastic, but to see an opera at the Opera House, that was something else.

For once, we shunned our flip-flops and sweat pants and broke out the little dresses. By 7:30 p.m. we were seated, watching the curtain rise on the French opera. The show was fabulous, and though I’m embarrassed to say this after taking French for six years, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much without the subtitles!

We were asleep by midnight; tomorrow would be a big one. A Big Day Out…

Tags: ambassador van, party time

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