Sydney has to be the most American foreign city I’ve ever been to. It’s like a cross between Seattle and San Diego, with a bunch of London culture thrown in to keep it interesting. I’ve only been here a few days but it feels like years. It’s a very different and fun experience.

My flight down here was probably one of the worst I’ve ever had. I knew I had over packed a bit, not knowing exactly how to pack for a 2 week work trip abroad, but figured I’d pay the $25 or $50 excess baggage fee and be good. Except it was $200! I didn’t know whether to laugh in their faces or burst into tears! I was floored. Does anyone actually pay that much? I managed to pull out enough stuff to get it below the limit, but I was really annoyed. Thank goodness for my friend Lara who made me some cupcakes!

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Once I got on the flight from SFO to SYD, we were told that beer and wine were only available for purchase. As surprised as I was about that, I guess it’s on par with a $200 excess baggage fee, but wow. That puts a crimp in my normal “knock myself out on the plane” plan. They also ran out of options for food so just threw what was left at those of us at the back of the plane. About 6 hours into the flight, I got up to get some more water. I had been mostly sleeping (with my mouth open) and was very parched. When I got to the flight attendant, she yelled, yelled at me to return to my seat as the fasten seat belt sign was on. I couldn’t believe the rudeness! I understand the need to keep passengers safe and seated during turbulence, but I didn’t think being yelled at was necessary. It was like I was a prisoner to my seat. I’m never flying United again.

After 15 hours of flying, longer than it takes to get to space (I’m fairly positive), I landed in Sydney at 730am Saturday morning and headed straight to my friend Aarron’s salon to drop my bag off. I’ve known her all my life, her mom and my mom went to beauty school together, but she moved to Australia when I was 4 so I’ve only seen her when she’s come to Seattle to visit her family. She graciously let me sleep on her couch for the first couple nights before I checked in the hotel where I’m staying with work. She recommended a quick bite for breakfast at Kawa across the street, then I headed into the city to do some site seeing.

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I walked from her salon in Surrey Hills down Pitt St (the 7th most expensive street in the world) to the waterfront where I hopped on the double decker tourist bus. It was nice to sit down and relax for awhile, listening to all the interesting history of the city. Unfortunately I didn’t take a ton of pictures as I was so tired, but I managed to snap a few of the most important sites.

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I got off in The Rocks, walked through the markets and then back through the city to meet up with Aarron at her salon from which we went and had an amazing sushi dinner before passing out. It was a long day after a lot of flying.

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Sunday we took the bus over to Bondi Beach and ate breakfast at a crowded little beach side cafe. I had eggs benedict which were delicious, both different and the same as home.

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We then walked the Bondi to Bronte Beach walk along the shoreline, stopping to take as many pictures as possible.

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This pool is right on the ocean and the waves crash over the sides and on to the people swimming. It seems a little scary to me, but kind of fun, too! The building has a couple of restaurants including Icebergs, a super expensive and swanky affair. We didn’t eat here, but Aarron explained to me that it’s the place to go if you are a celebrity. How posh. There’s also a bar/bistro with much cheaper food, for those on a budget.

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The scenery is so ruggedly beautiful, with rocks carved by the ocean and the flowers in full bloom. This was a truly enjoyable walk!

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At Bronte Beach, we hopped back on the bus to catch the train to see an NRL rugby match. We went out to Olympic Park Stadium, built for the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, to watch the South Sydney Rabbitohs aka the Russell Crowes (because they’re owned by Russell Crowe) take on the West Sydney Tigers. I had been promised a lot of redneck entertainment, but it turned out to be far more family friendly than expected. I still got to see some rednecks (‘bogans’ in Australian) though, and it was a lot fun!

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I ate a very Australian dinner of beef pie and chips and had no clue what was happening for most of the game. Even Aarron wasn’t sure, but we enjoyed it all the same. I would definitely do it all again! And the Rabbitohs won so woohoo for that!

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Monday morning, I packed all my stuff up and hauled it down the street to eat breakfast at the Paramount Cafe Project, aka the Portlandia Cafe (a name I came up with) with Aarron before she went to work. It was so hipster I could have sworn I was in the Pacific North West! Just like home.

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After breakfast, I jumped in a cab and checked into my hotel to relax and check email for awhile before meeting the work team in the afternoon. The hotel was so nice and luxurious. Definitely something I couldn’t have afforded on my own. The view out my window isn’t too shabby, either.

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I joined up with Mary and Tara in the early afternoon and we walked across the street to the Queen Victoria Building and had afternoon tea and sandwiches in a charming little tea shop. Australia really is such a mixture of American and English culture, but it all comes together into something that is uniquely Australian. And the tea was quite good!

After tea I met up with Aarron again in King’s Cross and she told me about a place for dinner that served a steak and chips special on Monday nights for $10AUD. We ordered some wine and vegetables as well, but I ended up taking the vegetables to go. They’ll make a good lunch later in the week.

Tuesday and Wednesday I’ve been in the office working, meeting the Australia team and learning about the job I’m supposed to be doing. It’s pretty surreal but the location is really lovely! We’re in the building all the way to the left in the picture below.

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Figuring out how to order a coffee has been the most difficult thing I’ve had to learn (I’ll take a flat white with sugar please), outside of the actual work I’m performing. And they are delivered straight to our conference room. Talk about service!

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Can you tell that coffee is big here? I’ve never taken so many pictures of my daily cup of joe in my life! But I don’t mind, it’s so delicious.

I’ve noticed most places close down really early here, between 5 and 7pm every night. How am I supposed to get any shopping done?! It also makes finding dinner a bit tricky when we don’t get back to the hotel until 6 or so. But we’ve managed so far. There’s a foodcourt in the mall next to our hotel. And the Cricket World Cup is taking place here in Sydney. I have no idea how this sport works, but I watch a bit in the evenings.

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I think things stay open late on Thursdays, so I’ll hopefully have time to shop then. We have two more days of working, then some fun activities planned for the weekend. I can’t wait!

Getting Sunburned at Manly Beach
Do You Come From The Land Down Under