|On the last hilly outcrop before the ocean, looking into the harbour - it's a big city...|
|Standard life in Sydney. The number of pleasure craft of all kinds here is incredible!|
It is also, unfortunately, an almost unbelievably expensive city, the pinnacle of a phenomenally expensive country; I hadn't been ready for this and have been leading a rather frugal life these last few weeks, but on the upside this has meant unprecedented quantities of fruit and a generally healthy-ish life. Drinking is practically unaffordable (5 pounds and up for a beer, which comes in half-pint measures put me off that quickly), and so I managed to keep up a pretty tight running regime in Sydney. My aunt and uncle very kindly put me up in their stunner of a house which is just up a big hill from Bondi Beach, making for a very convenient and photogenic 9k circuit with mats for bodyweight circuits along the way.
|Bondi on a windy day - though no conditions or time of day seems to stop the incredibly fit Sydneysiders who populate this beach from going for their runs. Apparently, this includes New Year's Eve at 8pm (yes, I was out as well...).|
On the whole, though, the prohibitive prices of practically everything in Australia - coupled with my recent larger investments - have meant that most of my time has been spent wandering around various cities. In Sydney, this took me to the fish markets (and some oysters, made tasty by the bacon and cheese on top of them), and to various corners of the city accessible by ferry. To be perfectly honest, though, I would have been a very happy man just sitting on the ferries, looking around - that's how pleasant the place is.
|Bridge climbers on top of the Harbour Bridge. Now a guided tour...|
|A few cool-looking sailboats came in looking like they are racers - someone who knows anything about sailing might know more, though!|
Early in the new year, I headed out to Melbourne on a night train. I was less impressed with the place last time I was here, but this turned out unjustified - apart from the two days I was out of action with (man)flu, I had a lovely time clocking some miles around town in my trusty Olympics-uniform trainers. It's full of really cool public spaces, parks and places to eat (although I can't afford any of the latter, supermarkets & cooking is the way forward!), and comes across as more laid back and less formal than Sydney. This made it thoroughly enjoyable to just wander around and get lost, only to find my way back home sometime in the evening.
|This screen shows what's going on right in front of it - my touristy self on the left side.|
|Melbourne Museum - I sought refuge from the 43C heatwave here, and found a really quite pleasant museum!|
|St Kilda's beach, swarming with kitesurfers - how I miss these blue skies!|
|A possum, more intimidating with red-eye...|
|...and the anti-possum measures on old trees which would otherwise be climbed and eaten by the critters.|
|And a taster of desert vegetation!|
Oh, and maybe most importantly - Melbourne's boathouses! I came across these right by the city centre and started missing rowing even more than usual immediately. Sadly, nobody seemed to be about - I would probably have gone up to them to see if anyone needed a random sub...
|Melbournites teasing me with their shiny boats...|