The moment I got off the plane, I was so tired of the long flight that I didn’t realize that I was stepping on the ground that would fulfill my long-waited trip to the land of Kangaroos.
After finishing the immigration formalities for the first time on a foreign land, I met my sister who was waiting for me at the arrivals, holding a balloon labelled “Welcome to Australia” with a heart above the ‘i’ and a Koala holding a tree branch on the side. We hugged each other and I could feel excitement emanating from her which was not reflecting in me. Yet, we screamed at each other in excitement and I pushed my 25 kg luggage towards the exit.
The most dreaded solo flight journey was over. For the next fifteen days on my trip, my only job was to do the things which Amy had lined up for me and enjoy. (I’ll explain the Amy part later on).
Sydney was cold; it was breath-taking as I had anticipated. The climate was bleak and just like my tiresome mind, the feeling was reflected in the atmosphere around me. We took a train from the airport towards her residence in Hornsby. It was around 11 when we reached Hornsby and we walked the half a kilometer distance to her house. The roads were empty; she pushed my big bag across the street on to the curb and I threw a glance to my surroundings; huge mansions neatly lines, lush green foliage covering the walls, one or two cars drove past us and not a soul around. We reached a corner and there was a small three storey building with English lamps on either side on the pavement.
The one bedroom apartment was cozy and white; thick carpet on the floor provided warmth and absorbed sound. After a quick shower and some hot chocolate, I fell on bed and closed my eyes and drifted into deep slumber.
“Finally, I am in my dream city” .
Day 1 in Sydney started early. It was a surprise to see darkness outside at 8 am. Although my body was jet lagged and craved more sleep, my mind was fresh and reads to explore the beautiful city.
I had a bucket list to accomplish; a to-do list which included landmarks places, try all the local cuisine, walk up to strangers and converse, to learn their accents, collect souvenirs and make a lifetime of memories.
Every change in Sydney was new and welcome for me; although drinking tap water from the bathroom was a no-no. I settled to drink water from the kitchen tap. There was no bucket in the bathroom but only a shower for bathing purpose. Somebody was practicing piano in the neighborhood. I got a new sim card for my mobile phone and checked the service and made quick calls to my family.
Coming from Bangalore, I was not very used to walking. In Sydney though there was a lot of walking. To reach any place, mostly everyone used the metro trains. Walking to and from the Metro to home and back was a daily affair. It took a couple of days to get used to walking and matching pace with Amy. We boarded the train and I saw a plethora of people from different nationalities. Being Indian and a chatty girl, it took every ounce of energy to keep my mouth shut and maintain silence in the train compartment.
We reached CBD, the Central Business District, the IT hub of Sydney and walked amidst crowds, constantly flickering neck around and checking out outfits. My mouth fell open looking at the beautiful scenario, ocean cutting the city in two with the Harbour bridge- a two and a half km long bridge with 4 lanes, a walking track on one end and a metro line on the other. Walking in the Harbour bridge, I looked at the Opera house, majestically perched on the wharf below.
The view was amazing; blues and greens around; clear sky, a few birds flying above Sydney’s most visited landmark; my dream destination; my phone’s wallpaper over over a year now.
Just then a girl in tracks, ran past me and I jumped on to left side of the path, getting out of my day-dream.
Our next destination was the Manly wharf for which we had to take a ferry from the main land to the other part of the city. The ferry ride was smooth and serene; the sun was out. I got my camera and clicked a million photos of myself with the Harbour bridge and Opera house in the background. Manly wharf was crowded with tourists. Music blared from one of the nearby bar- The Bavarian.
Bavarian was the quintessential Australian bar; throngs of tall Aussie people were drinking beer from large mugs; blue eyes women dressed in cute mini-skirts served their customers with a smile to go.
We ordered some chicken wings and couple of local beer. Initially I couldn’t grab the local accent and found ‘mate’ sufficed at the end of every sentence; to save me from embarrassment, Amy placed our orders and the girl in the mini skirt left us with a high pitched ‘Thank you’. After ten minutes, we were served two large glasses of blonde beer and a large plate of chicken wings covered in Buffalo sauce and a side salad.
After the scrumptious lunch, we headed to the Manly waterfront. It was drizzling slightly now. The long road along the beach was lined with beautiful, huge mansions with glass doors and white windows. Even though every mansion had a different architecture, most of them had a garden in the front yard, complete with a barbecue, a wooden table surrounded by some chairs.
The 6 km long walk was tiring but the view was breath-taking. Around 5 pm, we were back to the ferry and made our way towards the mainland. Our fellow passengers on the ferry stood at the front deck, laughing and giggling every time the boat rose high on waves. Me and Amy sat holding on to each other for dear life and prayed so that we don’t end up puking out guts out with sea sickness.
I gathered courage and walked to the front desk, holding the railings for support. The waves were pretty strong and the ferry rocked back and forth. Lady beside me said – “Oh my God. This is so much fun” I smiled at her meekly and said- “Oh Yeah. OF course it is”.
She further said – “Hi, I am Susie. You are?”
I extended my hand and shook hers, replying – “I am Anusha”, to which she got confused. I bet she didn’t get my name correctly. At that moment, my sister came to my rescue and said – “Hello there. I am Amy and this is my sister Ana”. Now Susie nodded and smiled at us.
By the time we reached the mainland, Susie knew all about us and wished us a fun filled vacation ahead. Now it was night fall and the Opera house was lit. It was a beautiful sight to see the spectacular Opera house.
Train ride back to Horsby was a blessing as there was complete silence in the compartment and fewer people.
Darkness surrounded us, as we walked back home. I thought to myself- “Quite an adventurous first day. Let’s see what more Sydney has to offer tomorrow“.
Around 10 pm, I was dead tired and closed my eyes picturing the day’s events in my mind like a slideshow and quickly drifted into deep sleep.