Sing Me Some Opera

After a plane and two trains, I had officially arrived in Sydney. I made the final trek to Ryan and Honor’s apartment in a nice little suburb just outside of the city. It was getting late and the rain was really starting to downpour, soaking my backpack and rainbow tie-dye duffel bag (clearly purchased in Byron Bay). I made it to their place without completely drowning and gratefully downed a delicious pasta dinner and citrus-y custard dessert, while simultaneously getting to know the awesome couple who were taking me in for a night before I raced the next morning.

This next step was a stressful and exhausting endeavor as both Ryan and Honor helped me try to piece together the puzzle of Sydney public transport to the race location. Little did I know that it was located way out in the boondocks of New South Wales, so not really near Sydney at all? Oops.

I hadn’t thought much about ‘focusing’ for this race as I usually do, I had been too preoccupied with the damn transport and how much money I was willing to sacrifice for that. The level at this point that I cared was this: I had more or less been training for the race. I didn’t have a finishing goal in mind though I wasn’t worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it. All it is is running, you get into a rhythm and fight until you see the finish line, where you fight harder until you cross it and hope you aren’t too sore the next day. There was nothing I needed to prove, so why was I doing this again?

After Honor and I attacked the transport website once more, we found a way for me to get there. It was way past my bedtime at that point. I reluctantly set my phone for 4:30 am and sank into the comfiest bed I had slept in in a while, extremely relaxed yet not looking forward to how short-lived that sleep was going to be.

Public transport got me there, but not exactly in time. It was a sprint to the train station and then two train rides, an accidental exit onto one stop, a significant wait until the next train, and then a final taxi ride which brought me to a park still 800 meters away from the racing site.

I walked up to the registration table to collect my racing bib forty-five minutes late. I was in a mood similar to one I had been in when I was increasingly jetlagged way back in February. I was just laughing at the situation at that point. I figured that although that race had departed, I could wait for a bit and do the 10k instead.

“Hey so I’m really late for the half-marathon…can I still do the 10k?” I asked.

“Definitely!” said the nice race lady, “It starts in five minutes.”

Easy. I threw my bag over to the tarp area and reset my watch, looked down at what I was wearing and shrugged. I was still basically in my pajamas. I found myself surrounded by runners having warmed up, jogging in place and doing last minute stretches in their skimpy trainers. At that point I was just lucky if my shoes were tied. I guess even that was a lost cause seeing as I had been running in them since November and they were at the point where my socks were starting to poke out of the sides, laces barely attached.

The gun fired and the rest is history. I ran hard and beat quite a few towards the end, happy that kilometer markers come and go faster than mile markers do. Once I was done I chugged some water, jogged a bit for a cool down and asked a nice family where the bus stop was, but they offered to just take me straight to the train station. Score! As fast as I had arrived to the race I seemed to be leaving, but I was just happy that the whole ordeal was over with, and that I would really enjoy Sydney from that point on.

Honor, Ryan, and I shared some banana pancakes and then they showed me around the city before dropping me at my hostel. I said farewell to my hosts that took me in for my first night and then set up camp at the Original Backpackers hostel, where I met two English fellows who would be my buddies for the next few days.

That Monday was all about the Sydney Opera House. I came upon this sucker earlier that morning when I was running. When I found it, I pretty much stopped in my tracks. It was just one of those cool moments when you see something you have always learned about or seen pictures of your whole life, so actually looking at it in real time was incredible.

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That night: karaoke at the Irish pub down the street. Maybe too much karaoke? R. Kelly probably cringed in his sleep last Monday night as Lewis and I belted out ignition.

Tuesday brought better weather and more navigation of Sydney and the surrounding area. We went out on the town again that night which ended with a stumble back to the hostel. Dani starting heading to her own hostel, though I believe we were all hesitant to let her walk alone. From what I can recall, she and the other Englishman Michael were debating whether she was strong enough to handle the trek on her own. So what better way for her to prove her case than to deck him in the face? That’s right, the Englishman was decked by a lady yank (in the friendliest context of course).

This of course was all recalled the next day as we set off to the markets and Chinatown for some shopping and more exploration of the city. Michael turned to me and showed me his fat lip, and then some swelling in his cheek where I guess I decided to give him a good swing as well. Case in point, watch out for “lady yanks” late at night on the streets of Sydney, guys.

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 Although we roughed them up, they still let us have a picture

We said farewell to our awesome to friends later that afternoon, and then enjoyed a nap, laksa, and an unbelievable show put on by the Cuban Ballet entitled “Ballet Revolucion”. This show featured dances to popular hits with a Cuban twist, and some added pointe shoes.

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My last day in this spectacular place consisted of some thrifting and then a scenic ferry ride of the surrounding harbor.

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We then watched a kid street perform with some drumsticks and some paint buckets, and then some old geezers get crazy competitive at a game of life-size chess.

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The last portion of my holidays was spent in the Gold Coast with none other than the fabulous Kate Webb. I bunked with her and her family (minus Ryan, who is her brother,  and Honor who were still in Sydney). Emily, also an Aussie studying in Bozeman, and Kate and I grabbed lunch as well. It was an awesome time hanging out with my good friends from Montana, although it was a little surreal catching up with them in their element so far away from home. Another lesson in how small the world actually is! And reminds me of how many connections I have if I ever decide to drop everything and become a globe trotter, which is pretty likely.

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Some Superman Man of Steel, Max Renner Chocolate shop, and time with Kate’s precious nephew Talan occurred in the GC, and now today I head off to Springfield again one last time.

Hooroo! (I think that means good-bye in bogan speak, though every other Australian I meet besides Selina tells me that no one actually says that)

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