I woke up in a hotel room and jumped out of bed. “I’m in Australia!”
It was my first time on the other side of the world. My British friend still slept on the bed beside me. It was nighttime, around 11PM, but I suddenly was too awake and too excited to go back to bed. I decided to go out and check my surroundings. I washed my face, still looked tired. Oh well.
What Brazilian has never dreamed of going to Australia? The island is a favorite destination for those looking to study English abroad. I fantasized being there any time a friend who had the experience told me about it. Except, for me, the possibility was very far-off. First, I was broke. Second, I already spoke English so whenever I thought of a student-exchange opportunity, I would rather go to Europe to travel the old continent.
Oh, how lucky I am! Having this wonderful vacation life. I will tell you how I did it, but that’s a story for another post.
Anyways, where were we? Oh right, my first day in Sydney, we were so jetlagged that we went straight to bed in the afternoon, and suddenly I woke up late night and now I’ve changed and was going out by myself – a little adventure that I was entitled to, since I was a big girl at (23 y.o.) and was traveling the world. I guess I still felt like a newly independent woman, and it felt great!
Someone once told me that Sydney is the perfect combination of nature and city. I thought the city would be a blend of kangaroos and koalas’ forestry on one side, and buildings and modern constructions on the other. Beaches and oceans would also be somewhere in the mix.
Not really. We stayed downtown, and instead of nature I first saw a messy abundance of bars, clubs and Koran shops. Or were them Chinese? Anyways, it felt like Asia.
Exiting the hotel was a bit dark but, as a good paulistana I am, I did not let myself intimidate. When I turned the corner, I already saw a busy intersection. But where are the blond Australian surfers? I never imagined that, on my first night there, all I would see were a bunch of narrowed eyes.
I decided to get into the pub around the corner. I will never forget the three big monkeys (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”) on top of its Victorian building entrance – hey this was 2007 and the “3 Wise Monkeys” is still alive and well, so I guess it’s fair to say it’s a staple at downtown Sydney – and how kind the bouncer, that night, was. I was wearing flip-flops, had no ID and pretty much nothing more than a few bills in my bra. He hesitated at first, but after my ‘come on man’ plead (on my best Charlize Theron’s Monster performance), he let me in. I sat at the bar, had a pint, and looked around. A bunch of dudes drinking, not the greatest scene… until I realized too many people were coming up and down the staircase (wasn’t that just the bathrooms?), so I went investigating.
Surprise-surprise! What I thought to be just a pub around the corner turned out to be a 3-story club. I ordered another drink and I stayed in the corner, dancing with myself.
Bonus Story: A guy approached: “- brasileira?” I said yes, we chatted, nice guy. It was nice to meet another Brazilian on my lonely night out. He asked if I was in Australia studying English, I said no, he asked if I was working, I said kind of. Had to tell him my story: I won a trip around the world, producing content for Smirnoff. It was hard to not say anything, such a great story I had. After a while I said goodbye and went back to the hotel. Next morning, the guy had already added me on Orkut (it was 2007! Orkut in Brazil was the FB of today) – but how did he find me? I never gave him my last name. Even more baffling was his question online: “Is your grandma’s name Abigail?” WTH? Apparently, he got home and told his roommate my story. And his roommate grandmother was my grandma’s neighbor. It’s a small world indeed. Let’s never stop exploring it.
I learned that Sydney offers great nightlife options, especially downtown and around King Street. Too bad I, in the following two weeks there, found the Sydneysiders to be quite snobs and immigrant-haters; and bouncers followed it being mean and selective at the doors. Several places didn’t let me in with my flip-flops, actually. I hate those frills. Sydney’s security guards and taxi drivers annoyed me a bit; bouncers thought to be the Club’s Great Emperors and taxi drivers often choose who they want to take and how much they want to charge. It’s a fight to get them to use the meter. Well, that was 2007, so hopefully things have changed? Let me know.
On the other hand, you will find excellent bars. I went to one that the bartender made your drink based on your personality, and at another one, the drink was served in a ceramic kettle. Creative bunch, those pretentious Aussies.
And, of course, when I found the beaches I understood why Australians are so protective of this beautiful land and why Australia is the best. I’ll talk about the beaches in another post.