November in America means a lot of things, but mostly it means Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful. It also means the official start of Christmas season, once we pass the Thanksgiving marker. Oh who am I kidding? Wal-Mart and Costco have probably had Christmas decorations out before the first leaf even fell. Anyway, I always do that 30 days of gratitude challenge where every day you write something that you’re grateful for. I haven’t been totally on it, but I’ve been better than usual. They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Oz (obviously) so it was weird not doing anything. I honestly forgot all about it until Facebook blew up with a thousand Thanksgiving statuses. However, by the time that rolled around, it was already Friday here. Not to mention I was busy trying to recover from a fantastic little bout of tonsillitis. I guess if I can’t even manage to swallow food on Thanksgiving, it should be on the Thanksgiving that I spend outside of America. I’m grateful for good timing.
Every day I wake up and I’m so grateful for where I am. It still blows my mind a little bit that I live on the other side of the world, because every day I go outside and I’m astounded by the amount of natural beauty that fills this city and the surrounding areas. Not to mention there is so much to do and see around here it’s incredible.
A few weeks ago, I trekked up to the Blue Mountains with two friends and took a little tour. They’re called that because of the eucalyptus oils found on the trees reflect blue when they evaporate or something. The place is incredible. I’ve never been to The Grand Canyon, but I imagine it’s a lot like this. You see pictures, you hear how large it is, but you don’t understand the full scope of it until you actually stand on the edge. The Blue Mountains are like that. The pictures just look like a giant valley filled with trees, where drunken teenagers set stolen cars on fire and push them over the edge, and cockatoos roam freely but it’s so much more than that! Jokes aside, it really is. If you’re ever near Sydney, you have to make a trip up there. Our tour only scratched the surface, I think, so my friends and I are considering going back up once it starts raining to do the more intense hikes that take you to the bottom of the waterfalls.
My friends and I on the edge of a cliff that overlooks the valley.
The famous Three Sisters peaks.
After looking over the cliffs, we went to the park they have on site. To get there though, we had to take a gondola across the valley, then to get to the rainforest area we had to a train to the bottom that almost went vertically. So crazy.
Swinging on a vine like Tarzan!
Nature is pretty cool.
After hiking around a bit, we started on our way back. Everyone wanted to see some wild roos but our tour guide said they usually hide out in whatever weather it was that day. However, as we were descending, he pulled over to the side of the road and we sat there for like twenty minutes. My friend and I were chatting so we didn’t know what was happening. I just assume there was an issue with the van and he’d gone to fix it. At that moment though, someone yelled, “look!”
So I did.
And there was our tour guide running through the bushes chasing kangaroos out so we could see them in the wild. Apparently kangaroos are big pests–like giant opossums or something and drive everyone crazy. I think they’re awesome, but maybe it’s because I haven’t had to go toe to toe with one in my backyard. As a tour guide myself, I was a bit critical of our tour guide. But when I saw him running around like a crazy man in the bushes, I suddenly had so much respect for him. Clearly he is dedicated to his craft. Tour guide points to him!
I think I told all of you faithful readers about the lovely Cockatoo Island. In case you’ve forgotten the magic, Cockatoo Island is one of the many islands in the Sydney harbor. It is not as nice and wonderful as it sounds. It was once a prison that later became a shipping warehouse during WWII. Now it looks like a scene from the latest horror movie. If you want to read more, refer to the post or click the above link. Aside from being absolutely terrifying at dusk, Cockatoo Island has its merits. The only one that I’ve found so far is the Outpost Festival, which is a big festival of street art all on the island. I enjoy street art quite a bit so it was great being able to go FOR FREE. I mean…sure, I paid for my way there but at least I didn’t have to pay for anything else once I was on the island. The first time I went, I got there pretty late, so I saw a few things then ended up sitting for literally two hours doing a chalk drawing. By the time I had finished, the exhibits had closed and it was time to go home. Oops.
It doesn't look very big, but It was probably around four feet tall.
Of course, I went back a second time. Before we embarked on our epic journey, we stopped by a little souvenir stand outside of the wharf to kill time. Here’s a sneak peek of all of the wonderful things I’ll be bringing some of you.
You've always wanted a bottle opener made of kangaroo scrotum...right, Dad?
Oh right. And that's why you spell things "correctly"
Speaking of which, I found this sign near a park a few weeks ago.
Kerb your enthusiasm?
According to my friend, this is the correct way to spell “kerb” because they spell things the British way and, you know, they kind of, invented English or whatever.
I still think this is wrong.
Back to Cockatoo Island.
The exhibits were so cool! Saw some Banksy and other famous artists alongside a variety of local artists.
Last but not least, I did some other little trails around here. The first was Watson’s Bay at The Gap (no not the clothing store) and the second was another coastal walk around Manly. Both places are beautiful. Seriously, there are so many beaches here and so many cool places that I can’t even handle it. Sydney is my dream come true. At The Gap, I just walked around by myself. I ended up finding this little trail. I had no idea where it would lead, but I followed it and went with it anyway.
The edge of the world!
The other walk took us to a private little beach with a waterfall! Apparently there are also penguins around there but we didn’t see them…New goal: Find the penguins.
Anyway, it’s back to the crazy weather. It’s been hot enough for swimming one day then pouring rain the next. On top of that, when it rains, it’s still so hot and muggy that I don’t want to wear any proper rain gear. Ugh. Right now it’s actually cold though. A proper December even though it’s summer. Soon enough though, it’ll be in the 90s on the daily and I’ll wish for days like this!