The roadtrip started! A few hours later than expected, mostly because the process of collecting the cars was very slow. If we had not already visited the city office the day before we would probably have been there the whole day. Anders, Agnese and Evija collected the Cars: “Optimus Prime” for the women and “Hawk” for the men. At the Latvian house the others were waiting with all the groceries.
Next we headed for the blue mountains. The blue colour is believed to come from particles emitted by the many eucalyptus trees. The bedrock consists mostly of orange/yellow sandstone however. In Katoomba we had some very nice views of these mountains. We also counted dead kangaroos by the roadside, final count was 13, none of those killed by Optimus Prime or Hawk.
We found a gorgeous free campsite for the night and feasted on sausages with gravy, potatoes and salad. Those who stayed up late were treated to a fantastic red Moon rising fast on the clear night sky, over the nearby lake.
Emīls writes [Agnese comments]:
We have planned to go to the rental office today to get all the paperwork done. We should meet at 9:20am. I arrange with Agnese to arrive at 9:30 as then I can buy the cheaper off-peak ticket. As the ride takes around 30mins, I came to my stop shortly after 9. The trains usually go every 5 or 6 minutes, but this time I had to wait for almost 15. Of course, as a result I expected to be late and arrive at 9:45. At some stop the train decided to wait for another 7 minutes and in the end, one stop before my destination it stopped and didn’t move any further. I waited for some 10 minutes till I understood that I might wait for the whole day. Some tourists were onboard and they were talking loudly, so I couldn’t hear anything that was said over loudspeaker. I asked one Australian person what has happened. He said he doesn’t understand anything as well. If he, being an Australian cannot understand, how can I do it being a tourist? In the end it turned out that he’s going to the same stop as me. So I managed to get to the destination together with the Australian in a taxi with almost an hour delay.
Once the paperwork was done, we went up in the Sydney’s tall TV tower. A wonderful view over the city. However I didn’t feel anything extraordinary – maybe I have flown and seen cities from above enough. After that 3 people from out group, me including, visited the aquarium. There were uncountable fish and other water creatures’ species. But I was the most surprised by the many sharks which were both small and very big in size. I saw them alive for the first time in my life from distance of just about 1m. [The others visited Powerhouse museum or Australian museum meanwhile and were very happy with their choice but a bit short of time to see everything properly].
Later we took a ferry ride [to Manly beach]. Once in the destination whole passenger crowd left the ferry through one exit, but we [were guided to other exit as we were blocking the path while waiting for the others of our group]. I had quickly gone through the normal exit, but my fellow travelers were hesitating somewhere. After some waiting I decided to take a look, where is everyone. Of course, there was something for free again – this time it’s complimentary coffee. I went back via the exit, but a station officer called me back and said that it’s not allowed to go there. I replied that I’m looking for my travel mates. I went a bit further and saw – everyone is making coffee – they had put the powder and sugar in cups, just about to pour the water on it. And then the doors of the station officer box opened and she saw the complimentary coffee being used, which was not intended for the passengers of this ferry. As a result Emīls had spoiled the coffee opportunity for his mates, and compensated them later with a bar of chocolate. Anyway, who is drinking coffee in the middle of the day when there’s ocean with waves waiting in a few hundred meters? .
A great swim in the ocean, sunset on a beach, a ride back to Sydney centre with a ferry and a view to the city in the night – fantastic!
The stay of our group at homes of Latvians in Sydney is successful and hearty. Each of us gets to know something new and also controversial.
For the breakfast – the Royal Botanical Garden of Sydney with guide and first postcards with Australia animals. The botanical garden of University of Latvia is on the right path, looks like I’ll need to give them a praise later on.
The territory of the opera house is huge, we also find a place to dine there [Agnese: I wouldn’t say it was the best choice, however]. I find the most akin part of Sydney for myself – the Rocks, which is the oldest part of the city; let’s leave the skyscrapers for others.
The long prepared meeting in Strathfield with the Latvians of Sydney has finally come. There are surprisingly many people in the meeting, I am very happy to meet Goga again and get to know other countrymen. Thanks to the Latvia group for participating!
Main part of our group (6 out of 8 people ) successfully arrived in Sydney today. Well, not completely, Evija’s luggage is missing. Promised to deliver later. We met with our hosts (we stay with local Latvian families). Nice and warm welcome!
I sniff the air. It’s quite the same as in my country. Only later I notice that blossomed trees are everywhere. Violet jacaranda is especially beautiful. All city today is dressed in violet.
In the afternoon our whole group meets for the first time. First looks, greetings and impressions. We will stay together for three weeks while driving 8000 kilometers around Australia. Lets see how we shall adapt to each other.
Sydney is gorgeous and Agnes is an excellent guide of our city walk. We visit Town Hall, Anzac memorial, ibisses in the park, St. Mary’s cathedral, Old Mint, Barracks and NSW state library.
Business part of the city around Martin place looks like a jungle. Narrow gorges between huge buildings are full of trees and crowds. Surprisingly there are no kangaroos on streets :-). Queen Victoria building with its remarkable clock is like an isle of quietness.
We continue with Darling harbour, seagulls and more ibisses. I especially like skyscrapers that shape silhouette of the city. Surprisingly, famous Opera is not visible from every corner :-)! Our tour finishes at Chinatown where most of us order different Chinese soups. I and Anders order soup with small chilli amount and even then it is very hot. Rūdolfs order medium chilli. Poor guy!