Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sydney Australia

If you remember from my posts about other cities--Berlin, Prague and Munich for example--I went on 'free' tours there, where there was no price for the tour and the tour guides relied on only tips.

The first of these trips I ever did happened in Sydney Australia. I don't recall the girls name, but unlike most of the tour guides in Europe she was native to not only the country, but the city itself. She was also quite cute. Unfortunately, the material she had to work with was inferior to the places I visited in Europe, mostly because the history wasn't as rich and the country wasn't touched by war. Not a bad thing, but that doesn't make it interesting.

Part of what I loved most about traveling Australia was all the culture I got to soak up in the process. Not from Australians, but from everyone also traveling the beautiful country. There was an older Russian-American couple, along with the mans brother, on the tour. They moved to New York City sometime in the 1980s, which meant they grew up in the former Soviet Union, right in the middle of the cold war. My Soviet history class was probably my favourite and I had to ask them what it was like growing up in the USSR. I also had to ask what they thought of Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington capitals, guessing that may be a team they follow. I was right, they also mentioned up-and-coming goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

The tour took us around areas of the downtown, informing us about which building was which and what the original use of the building was. One of the areas the tour went to was The Rocks. At The Rocks there was one of, if not the, oldest pubs in Australia. Obviously, not as old as places in Europe I visited, but 200 years is something. The pubs name was Hero of Waterloo.

The tour ended at the Sydney Opera House, where we were told about the Danish architect and some of the issues involved in the building of one of the most iconic places of the 20th century. I took a ton of pictures of the opera house alone while there.

As I mentioned the tour guide was super nice. I probably paid more for the trip than I initially anticipated, but she treated me well. I got the chance to talk to her for a little while after everyone left. She told me how she enjoyed doing the trips just to learn about her own city and encouraged me to see if they had them in Toronto and to check it out. I don't think there are any in Toronto, I tried to look on-line for some. But she did make me know it was worth while to do them in Europe as well. She also helped me find my way back to the hostel, she even took the bus with me as she was headed in the same direction. She showed me some bars to check out while I was in town, circling them on the map.

I never ended up going to any of them. Instead I spent the evenings with a friend I had met in South Korea, she lived in the same city as me and worked at one of my favourite bar. We ate as well as did a lot of walking throughout the city. One night we walked from city hall to the other side of the Harbour Bridge and then back. It took us several hours.

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