Where I am
Sydney, or what everyone thinks of as Australia's capital (actually Canberra). On the south side of Australia, 12 hours by train from Melbourne, the city was significantly warmer and felt far more like what I'd expected of the country than the mildly gothic, European-feeling former. Big, sprawling and a bizarre mix of English, American and homegrown aesthetics, I felt like I'd already been here before. I must confess that this was where travel burnout kicked in. I'd been warned, but hadn't really expected to feel quite so glum and apathetic as I did. Turns out I'm a total townie and all of a sudden I had zero desire to be in another big city or to do anything at all exccept sulk about. So, apologies, Sydney, I didn't 'do' you very well at all. But it mostly wasn't you, it was me. Mostly.
Where I stayed
In Earlwood, a pleasant suburb of the city, with two colourful characters, Al and Matt. Another great experience with Airbnb, Al's house was huge, immaculate and minimalist in style. It felt like staying in a cool, boutque hotel, only a warmer welcome I could not have asked for. Any nerves I'd had about being awkwardly in someone else's home were summarily dissipated by Al's hilarious tales of doing business in South Africa and his insistence that I eat whatever I wanted from the excellently stocked kitchen.
It's the most I've felt at home since leaving mine and I stayed a couple of extra nights in the city just to enjoy hanging out with them and chatting late into the evening over cups of tea and Matt's jealously guarded chocolate biscuits.
What I read
Still reading Ben Goldacre's (again, *swoon) Bad Pharma as I keep flinging it down in disgust and having to walk away to cool down.
Grazia. I am more happy than I should ever admit to that I can get this mag in Australia. Guilty pleasure.
What I listened to
'Forever' by Maggie Stiefvater on audiobook. I loved this series when I read them and an unabridged recording was just as, if not more, enjoyable being as it was read by four different actors for each of the narrators. It really brought it to life.
Frank Turner's entire discography on shuffle. I do love him alot.
What I ate
As little as possible, because, damn, Sydney is expensive. As in $12 is considered a seriously good deal for lunch expensive. I ate alot of McD's happy meals. $4 was hard to argue with in the circumstances.
A delicious stone baked pizza at the newly opened Little Darling near the station. They had a $5 deal, but my diet coke was $4 so somehow it still ended up being a little painful.
The creamiest banana milkshake at the City Extra Cafe by the harbour. Not the most illustious establishment, but it was yummy and they had free wifi.
Fish and chips on the beach at Bondi.
Raisin toast, chicken sandwiches and scrambled eggs at Al's. Literally the best food set-up of all the Airbnb places I've stayed. I'd've been miserably hungry were it not for his generosity.
What I did
Walked around Circular Quay in the sunshine up to The Rocks and back. Stared at the Opera House and thought, 'It looks exactly like all the pictures.' But actually, that's not completely true, it is actually shell coloured and textured, not white.
Took my long run to Bondi Beach and was overjoyed to find it seriously untouristy and just as beautiful as its mythology had led me to believe. Breathtakingly gorgeous beach, water, surfers, skaters and ice cream.
Sat in the sun reading on the wooden steps at Darling Harbour.
Took the ferry to Manly beach. Sniggered like a 12 year old at all the shop names prefixed with 'Manly.' The beach and town were lovely in a faded Victorian holiday destination made good again sort of way. The ferry itself was also cool, being that it's run like a normal city bus, so cheap, but I still got to go on the sea and watch the city flow by.
Half heartedly wandered around the art gallery.
Half heartedly wandered around the botanical gardens.
Half heartedly wandered around the coffeeshops of Marrickville.
Kept finding myself in shopping centres. No matter where I was in the city, somehow it was impossible not to find oneself in one. They varied from the cheap and ropey, to a shiny Westfield, to the super swanky Queen Victoria Building, but all were devoid of souls and I couldn't help but start feeling grumpy that they were so ubiquitous and inescapable.
Decided I'd had enough and booked a ticket to the beach...