So, next May will mark a decade since I started university, super shock and awe I know – especially as someone said I look twenty-two just the other day – back to the point, the first friend I made there was Chris. It was a friendship cast over three of our wildest years filled with drama and debt and dreadfully cheap booze ( I call it booze because I think the word alcohol has a certain level of sophistication and a quality to it that we were yet to embrace letalone afford).
The day after we landed in Sydney Chris got in touch and said he was booking us in for Sunday breakfast in a cool little place called Bondi Hardware, having had three whole days wandering around our Bondi bubble with jet lag we knew exactly where this was.
Sunday morning and we’re just about feeling like we could be over the jet lag, though we’ve wake-up around 5am and manage to sneak in a 6am breakfast before meeting Chris at 10am, by which point this feels like a lunch catch-up (clearly the transformation into Hobbits was complete). Arriving on time for once, I see that familiar silhouette strut in and we start chatting away like the six years since we’ve seen each other has shrunk to a few months. A few clear changes have occurred over the years, evidently, we’re both sat in a new continent as far away from our first meeting place as possible, both accompanied by our partners (Rachel, my partner in gin, travel and all things life right now and Michael being Chris’s actual partner, having moved over here together two years ago they now stop and stare every time a French bulldog passes by, I sometimes worried they’re planning a snatch and grab).
Stuffed literally and mentally from this fab breakfast reunion we make our way to sit on Bondi beach, when it’s this hot you can’t help yourself wandering on to the sand at every opportunity. It turned out this time to only be a brief sit down before Chris pops the lingering question, the question we all wait for, ‘Do you guys want to go and see Sydney Opera House?’ Well, with the jet lag just starting to shake-off (though second lunch time was lingering) and our new home becoming better known than the back of my hand, not to say you can get bored of Bondi but we had seen enough for now, we leap to our feet and make our way to Central Quay with our key navigator, Michael’s help to buy our Opal passes (that’s the Aussie Oyster card) and to route us out of our beach recluse and into the harbour!
Jumping on the train there’s a moment you can’t underestimate as a Londoner, firstly it’s air conditioned just like their busses – no sweaty pits in your face – but mostly it’s got a second floor of seats, – again, no sweaty pits on your face – which is overwhelmingly strange the first time you jump onto a double decker train. Settling our buts upstairs another bizarre novelty of the trip is your novel ability to change the seats’ direction; for those who don’t like to sit backwards to the movement of the train, who thinks of these things?!
One quick change over and before we know it Chris is pointing out the window to the city, poking out through the surrounding trees is their central business district. We hop off the train as it pulls into Circular Quay and the first thing we see from our platform? Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House! Insane.
We pick our jaws off the floor, look at eachother as if to say – yes, actually we are in Sydney aren’t we? And meander our way through to the harbour, where of course there, gleaming in the bright sunshine is the, ‘Laaaaa!’, Sydney Opera House.
How bloody fabulous is this? Just bloody bloody fabulous, I think. It’s just that thing you always associated with Sydney, a bit like a myth, when it’s there staring you in the face you start to come to terms with how bizarre this journey is that you’ve made to the other side of the world, and this building signifies that. Though let me tell you that the Australian culture though outwardly similar to ours is decievingly disimmilar in its cultural vices; but we’ll talk about brunching and gelatos later.
Having gazed significantly long enough for Michael and Chris to get bored, they edge us along the harbour, still in full view of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, to a waterside bar where like true Brits abroad we all perch in the midday sun, drink prosecco and top up our factor 50. Hot? Yes. Sweaty? You bet my drippy back. Bliss? All the way. Here we are sandwiched between two Australian icons (I don’t mean Chris and Michael, they haven’t been here that long yet) and drinking something tall, cold and bubbly. Oh hello Sydney!