An Australian Summary
Sydney, 1st - 6th January
From the airport, we head straight to the new AirBnB in Mosman. Not that this information will come of use to you, but this neighbourhood is located in the northern part of Sydney. Somewhere between the city and Manly Beach. We will settle here for the next few days. Though there is still the question of exactly how long that will be. What do you mean it’s a question? Aren’t you going to Bali? Yes, we are … But that doesn’t mean we’ve bought the plane tickets. We have the hopes but they are still imaginary.
The flat is in a nice location - in the centre of the neighbourhood, right by the library. But it takes a while to find it as we see no residential buildings around. We are surrounded by loads of festively decorated and closed shops and above them are offices only. We look around like lost puppies … Finally, we walk up to one of the doors and there is something bulging under the doormat. The promised keys! This is the place then. We enter into a huge space and it takes us a while to realise exactly where we are.
The main room is enormous with a double bed, a single bed, two sofas and three tables with chairs. While the kitchen consists of a small fridge, on top of it are a microwave and a toaster, all of which stuffed into the miniature bathroom. This has definitely been an office until recently. Even the whiteboard for the meetings is still on the wall. Yes, the interior decisions are especially strange, but it will be great for just the two of us.
Before bed, we meet our roommates - huge Australian cockroaches. Aren’t we paying for a private room? When I lived in Sofia for a year, I experienced a nightmare with the local cockroaches. Even the exterminator that came to save me was distressed by the hoards in the entire apartment. But now, I am grateful they weren’t this Australian type. I managed just fine with the small ones There’s no way I would have been as calm if they were like these. We instinctively crunch one of them in the bath-kitchen and we’re ready for a film and to relax. In front of our great window, there a lit-up tree, still in its Christmas decorations. There is romance flowing around this new, odd and nice sanctuary.
We sleep until 11 am but even awake we are in no rush to get up. We feel something new. Probably since our time in Germany, we haven’t had such days when we aren’t bound by anything. No places to visit. No other people to take into consideration. And Bertie won’t be an issue either when he’s stationary under a tree.
Only one thing can disturb this calmness - our hunger. When we can no longer deny the tummy rumbling, we get dressed and walk into the heart of Mosman. The days are still festive so most shops are closed. And with that, most restaurants are too. Our tummies are unhappy but we want to walk around a bit. The neighbourhood is calm and even the shops’ windows are enough to fill our walk. We start on the upper street, come back on the lower, loop around the park and head in a new direction. It is nice.
The only place for lunch, suitable for us, is in the local shopping centre. We ordered confidently and wait in excitement. But we’re quickly shocked when our tray arrives. Turns out, we didn’t quite understand what the waiter was saying, because our Asian tofu meal is full of beef mince. Horrible! But as we know that any arguments will be lost in translation, we put the bowl aside and focus on the vegetable plate that we managed to successfully choose. Perhaps we should load up the “bathroom” with fresh products so we aren’t left at the mercy of the universe or the local restaurants.
We spend the rest of the day on the computers. You are probably wondering what we still find to do on these computers when we are travellers. But it doesn’t happen like a two-week break by the sea. We need to follow our bank accounts, plan the finances, schedule routes. Actually, this sort of travelling requires a lot of work.
In the evening, it turns out that we didn’t send a strong enough message to our roommates to stay away. As I carry dirty dishes to the bathroom, I scream at the sight of a giant, walking across the tiles. As a husband-protector and a superhero, Nic immediately turns around and squishes it with the soapy frying pan he’s holding in his hands. All animated films were right for the suitability of the pan as a weapon.
To cheer us up after this meeting, the Universe sends us an answer to Bertie’s advert. It has been online about a month now, we took down the price, and yet this is the first person interested in him. We are glad to receive the notification, but we were expecting so much more interest. This is usually the strong season for selling this type of vehicles. Four months ago they were telling us we might even sell him with profit. But hope isn’t lost … there are still possibilities.
The morning again starts around midday. Are you jealous? But this time we won’t stay in bed too long. After a quick breakfast, each of us finds a comfortable seat among the endless combinations in this odd flat and we focus on our tasks. I continue to write the diaries, as Nic finally books our tickets and accommodation for Bali and Singapore. We are officially flying out in four days. We are so excited. It will be very different there compared to what we’ve experienced here in Australia. And Bertie will have to be sold as there is no room for him in our luggage for Asia.
In the early afternoon, we decide to go out for the rest of the day. We’ve had enough in this office. Sydney will certainly have more to show us. This time we will see North Sydney - the neighbourhood on the north bay shore, west of Harbour Bridge. We roam the streets and observe life, all quiet. They definitely take their breaks here seriously. We equip the GoPro for full usability and head towards the water to test it. Nic is so obsessed with the little camera. He takes it everywhere with him and regularly tests the different functions - from the set up of the lens to the voice control. Mum and dad truly nailed it with this present!
On the way to Lavender Bay, we pass a garden which I didn’t expect to come across in Sydney. Avoiding the loud building sites and the brand new residential skyscrapers, we are suddenly transported to a fairytale forest. It seems to have been created by the local Sydneysiders as it is full of all sorts of trinkets collect through the years. The railings are made of crooked stems and branches. Here and there, you can see tables and benches to sit on. Only the fairies are missing but they probably come out at midnight. People have found a way to escape the loud, fast day-to-day and to connect to Nature. We should have come here for the fireworks - not that we would have found a spot.
We cross the train tracks and emerge out by the bay. The layers in front of us are mesmerising. Boats and yachts in the front and behind them the colourful atmosphere of Luna Park. The entire view is supported by the splendour of Harbour Bridge and behind it rises the skyscrapers of the central business district. If this is not a picture-perfect view … But actually, we find a better one. Between the huge luxurious houses down by the bay, the Opera House is added to these layers. Wow, to live here …
Our walk is slow. What could we be in a rush for? Nothing is missing. I can find happiness everywhere in Sydney. I don’t understand why everyone we talked to in the last four months tried to ruin our opinion of this city. It is so beautiful and different. If only it was closer to home. We continue by foot through the streets until the heat puts us on the nearest bus. As good as a tourist’s life is, the summer heat will always catch up with them.
Tonight we act wiser to avoid our horrible roommates. If violence isn’t the answer, that let’s see what they’ll think about leaving the light on in the bathroom. It might not be environmentally friendly, but they are similar to vampires - they like walking around in the dark. Fortunately for us, the artificial light is just as unbearable for them as the sunlight. Let’s see what they have to say about that! We didn’t see another one for the rest of our stay!
I don’t know if it is worth talking about today. We stayed in the flat the entire day to do as many administrative activities as we could. Such days are unnecessary for travel stories. No, actually, I am wrong … They are extremely necessary to keep detailed notes. When your parents distracted you for two weeks and you didn’t write a single line in the diaries, you need to use all these spare hours so you can have something to write about. Otherwise, it will be only a story in pictures if we had remembered to take enough photos.
To stretch the limbs, at one point we empty the entire car into the flat. I stay to wipe the muddy legs of chairs and tables, while Nic takes Bertie to a car wash. He even ends up going twice because the first time wasn’t sufficient for the quantities of sand in the car. How else can we present him to potential buyers? Not that they are queuing up for him … We have only one option left and it might be the only secure one.
Today, we get up on time - we are meeting Tom. We get off the bus in Manly. We learned our lesson a few days ago, so we didn’t take Bertie with us. We walk down the high street. And then again. Tom is still “coming”. Finally, on the third lap, he finds us. The plan was to bring a picnic to the beach, but it seems like neither one of us was on board with that idea. Don’t worry, there is always a solution! Didn’t we already try one of the local burger places a few days ago? We will happily visit it again.
Once tummies were full, we get out on the windy beach. I get into the Australian ocean one last time. Nic and Tom refuse to move their butts off the sand, but I have no intention of missing this last opportunity. I grab the GoPro and run into the cold water with child-like happiness. Every dip into the ocean is like some ritual. Like a successfully passed test. Like a sacred right. Who knows when I’ll get this chance again? And you two can stay dry on the sand if you wish.
Covered in salt and happy, I am ready to move to a cafe for hot chocolate. We find one with the grand name “Hemingway”. That’s the place for us. Tom asks the young waitress if the writer has ever visited this area. But her confused look quickly covers the subject. We aren’t too sure if she has ever heard of Ernest Hemingway or has any clue for who he is and what he’s famous for. Well, I shouldn’t pretend to be all-knowing - I haven’t read Hemingway yet either. But I at least know who he is! Google will help - no, he has never been here.
After a wonderful afternoon and goodbyes with Tom, we return to Mosman. No one has responded to Bertie’s advert. I won’t be surprised if the raging bushfires have something to do with this. The events have limited the streams of arriving adventurers, ready to explore Australia, and nobody wants him. We contacted the company that we bought him from, a few days earlier. We are hoping the will buy him back and the next sale will be in their experienced hands.
It will be a long day. Wish us well.
I feel anxious as soon as we wake up. We are flying early tomorrow, so this will be our last day here. Bertie must pass the checks; he must be sold; the money must be transferred today. So many things can go wrong that I don’t even want to think about it. We move out of the flat everything that won’t be coming with us to Asia. We pack the boot one last time.
We leave our white co-traveller in the garage we were sent to. At least someone is working during this vacation time. Here, they will do a full check, evaluate any damages and according to that, the company will decide on the price they are willing to pay for Bertie. When we got in touch a few days ago, they said they would buy him for no more than half the sum they sold him for to us. After that, they will deduct the expenses for the issues found. We bought Bertie for $6,000. On top of that, we have another $1,500 extra expenses such as the tent that wasn’t accounted for in the bill. The negotiations will start at $3,000 and they will go down from there, nobody knows when they’ll stop.
We take our things from the car and leave. My nerves are stretched far. Only about a hundred meters later, I realise I will never see Bertie again. Ever. And we didn’t say goodbye properly. Don’t get me wrong. I am glad that he will no longer be our responsibility and we’re ready to separate. But it was cold of me to not say a proper goodbye. To give him one last pet and thank him. He was so good to us. He was our home for all 24,000 kilometres. Without any major issues. He did so well - we couldn’t have asked for more.
But we’ve left him already. I will not go back. Perhaps, we have a strong enough connection to separate from a distance. Now we will only keep our fingers crossed that he will be good during the tests. Because he can be just as loved by some other crazy heads to help him pass his 300 thousand kilometre milestone. We leave him at 290,000.
We were told that the checks will take about two hours so we go into a pub to fill the times. My stomach is in a knot and I can’t even drink a glass of juice. I can’t focus my mind on any sort of productive activity. I just wait and look through the air. Time should pass.
We are already at the end of the second hour. Impatient, we walk into the Too Easy Travel office. Yan welcomes us from the door. He helped us start this adventure four months ago, he will help us finish it. He hasn’t received anything from the garage yet, so … we continue to wait. Another two hours. Most of the time we just scroll on our phones, from time to time Yan passes and asks little questions about our journey.
Suddenly, our mind is taken by some news that we can’t assimilate. We receive a message in the group chat that Ed, Nic’s middle brother, is in hospital after a seizure at home. No, he is not an epileptic. Yet, he’s been in a medically induced coma for almost 12 hours now. All this time, the family has been in agony and we only find out now. But what can we do other than send positive thoughts and trusting the professionals to do their job? I am sure that tomorrow morning we will hear good news. We have to hear that all is well. There’s just simply no option otherwise ...
And we continue to wait. The owner of the garage is in Bali on holiday and he’s the only one that can send the offer for the potential issues. Yan finally arrives and opens the email in front of us. Nothing major was discovered on Bertie, but the small problems are plenty. The garage has helpfully summed up the expected expenses and has written the sum in big red letters on the bottom. $3,000! My heart sinks. What does that mean? Will we be getting any money for our little beastie? Did our calculations end up wrong again?
Yan invites us into the office. We will wait a little longer while he consults with his partner in the other room. He returns and … You’ve been to a car garage … You know what it’s like. “We, he says, don’t usually buy cars off travellers because they don’t invest in the upkeep, knowing they will leave the car somewhere.” We stay quiet … “But we can see that you’ve taken good care of the car, so we aren’t worried about buying it”. He continues to test our nerves. His partner said he wouldn’t buy it. We whither … “But I am prepared to offer $3,000 for the car.”
What!? Is this serious!? A collision happens in our heads of unimaginable happiness and relief but … we must act British. Instead of shining our teeth ear to ear, our faces freeze and only a raised brow turn it into a look of questioning. Maybe we will manage to raise the price with a few dollars. “And does this include all the extras, that we’re leaving with the car?” - This is Nic’s competent comment, knowing every detail about the tent, the awning and everything else we have in the car … Not that it matters. The price they are offering is great, we are just obliged to look concerned. Well, okay, we “agree” to their offer and sign all the documents. We agree to get a deposit now and receive the balance in a week. With slight smiles on our faces, we thank them and say goodbye.
We continue to keep our happiness bottle in as we leave the office. Just in case a future buyer sees us. But everything is released once we turn the corner. A loud scream echoes from both of us as we jump and dance on the streets. We can’t believe our luck! Is it all a dream!? Good luck, Bertie! You can do it!
We get on the train and get off at Central Quay. We have now been in Sydney for 15 days and we’ve never been to this station. It is literally behind the quay and from its corridors, you can see the ferries, the Opera House, the Bridge and of course, the huge ugly cruise liner parked in the middle. Why have we avoided this station this long? We continue with the walk and walk in the Rocks on a hunt for a silver koala. When grandma Constance last visited Australia 20 years ago, she bought herself a few figurines of Australians animals. These souvenirs have continued to be a growing subject between her and Nic, as he regularly turned them on their heads as a child and continues to do so at 25. Now, he is insisting we add to her collection with a koala. We will look for it on the last day here, but Sydney is full of souvenir shops - the task won’t be too difficult.
With a koala in the pocket, we walk into the brewery on the quay just as the ugly liner has left and the view to the Opera House has opened up. We had our first Australian pint in James Squire; so here, we will have our last one. We need the view of the perfect place to close the circle and to celebrate.
And to drink to Ed’s health. What could be happening there right now …
To ensure we finish this part of the trip properly, we decide to walk by foot through Harbour Bridge. From high up, the view is stunning - the entire harbour as if on our palm. I can officially confirm, that there is no viewpoint we haven’t seen the Opera House from. The perfect place for one last Australian conversation with the grandmas. The ideal place to say goodbye.
After an unsuccessful dinner, we try to fall asleep early, but our thoughts of Ed won’t allow it. We don’t yet have any news and it won’t leave our heads. Nor that of Alex - the oldest brother of the three. We talk to him and try to understand what is going on, but neither of us has the required qualifications. We agree that we’ll all call England tomorrow morning to learn more details. We go to bed extremely worried and everyone is sending good thought into the Universe in their own way. Be it in prayer, or mantras or just brotherly thoughts. We can’t fall asleep but we need to be up at 5:30! C’mon, Ed! Time to wake up. We will wait for good news in the morning.
We arrived on the 7th of September 2019.
We leave on the 7th of January 2020.
96 posts on Instagram.
37 blog posts.
I don’t know how to summarise this time. Our travels are something that we still can’t fully comprehend to this day. I often can’t believe it actually happened and I think of some places as if I watched them in a film. But my memories are so detailed that I couldn’t have just dreamed of it.
Australia is not a country that we would want to live in. It is too far from home. Plus we are devoted Europeans - we aren’t accustomed to the system Down Under. But we will happily return one day. To see again and to remember the forgotten. No, it will not be any time soon. We will first explore everything else around the world.
We will never forget what happened to us here! We completely realise our privilege to have experienced all of it. We will value it forever and do everything possible to pass it forward. We are grateful to the Universe to allow us to explore Australia. We thank you, Australia, for being so ready for us!
Vassya (and Nic)
END OF PART TWO