Sun, sea and sand; the ideal way to spend the afternoon and even more so when you’re at Bondi Beach. That’s how we decided to while away some time today and although I managed to burn my legs a bit, it really was a good trip out away from the city.
Waking up under an Australian flag printed duvet was a bit strange this morning but I definitely appreciated the opportunity to get snuggled up in a bed that was comfortable for a change. With it being so lovely and cosy, we’d actually had more of a lie in than we’d intended to have and so when we finally woke up, we quickly got up and ready for our day out. After a hearty cheese on toast breakfast (not sarcastic at all!), we gathered our things together and made our way through the maze of corridors, down the stairs and into the reception. We knew we needed to catch the 333 to Bondi Beach for our day out but we weren’t really sure how to get tickets with everything here being prepay only. Luckily the receptionist knew what to do, I suppose he needed to in a job like that, and so we set off into the blinding sunlight in search of Liverpool Street and a 7/11 shop.
With the sun beating down on us and feeling incredibly glad that we’d put on and had the sun lotion with us, we turned on to Liverpool Road and found the shop. There was a bit of a queue but we didn’t really have much choice other than to wait as they wouldn’t have let us on the bus without a ticket. It can be a little bit annoying having to pay in advance as quite often you end up walking in the opposite direction but it’s great when you actually get on the bus. At home you end up having to wait whilst somebody finds the correct change in their purse or argue with the bus driver for trying to pay with a note whereas here you just get on. It’s great. I wish it would catch on at home! Whilst we were waiting, two Canadian girls were talking about their jobs behind us and I have to say, one of them sounded amazing. She worked in an office for an ice cream distributor for Ben and Jerry’s etc (I can’t quite remember the others!) and there was a huge freezer full of them which they were allowed to eat at any time. It sounded amazing. I can’t help but think that if I had that job, I’d end up huge and with so many health problems from abusing the freebies and scoffing them every single day. Eventually it was our turn to buy tickets and after deciding to just buy two returns rather than risking trying to buy a ticket at the beach, we handed over our $15.70 and hurriedly left to find the bus stop.
We walked as quickly as we could over to the bus stop and pressed the button, on edge in case we missed in and had to wait in the baking sun. Just as the little man turned green, the 333 appeared and we had to run down the road to make sure we were able to get on it. Thankfully we did as it was stuck at the red lights for a while, though it was that packed that we had to stand up for most of the journey, crammed in like sardines in a tin. Pardon the cliche, I’ve just always wanted to use the phrase and it seemed particularly apt for this situation! During the 40 minutes journey, I enjoyed getting to see parts of Sydney we wouldn’t necessarily have seen otherwise and there were so many naughty looking, fluffy dogs. I’m really missing having a dog to play with so it’s nice to see other peoples now and again, even if there’s no stroking. I suppose when we were living in Cardiff we didn’t have a dog but there were the lovely ‘outside’ cats who I spent time with and cuddled and we had Noodles the hamster too. I think that’s one thing I’m looking forward to when we leave, getting to look after a pet again. I love getting to see all the interesting and unusual wildlife here but obviously you can’t touch it so when we get back to the UK, JJ the dog is in for lots of hugs! Bondi itself looked like a lovely little town as we passed through it and I was a bit sad that we weren’t able to stop and have a proper look around it. As much as I like Sydney, I think I’m always going to be somebody who prefers the smaller places so it would’ve been nice to have spent time there. Still, there are plenty of little towns further up the coast and so I don’t think we’ll be missing out too much and Sydney is such a nice city that I am really enjoying spending time there. To me, and Codie, it’s miles better than Melbourne!
40 minutes later, as the bus turned the corner I glanced out of the window at the surrounding sights and found myself staring at a huge stretch of sand covered in tiny ant like people. We had almost arrived at the beach. It was very, very busy, as is expected for such a popular beach, and yet it still look incredibly inviting; I couldn’t wait to get there. The bus pulled up across the road from it and everybody piled off, wandering in the same direction and eager to see it all for themselves. We followed the crowd and carefully padded onto the sand, determined not to kick it up the backs of our legs like normal but ended up taking the flip flops off instead as it was just too difficult! I was quite surprised at how cool the sand was as I was so used to being burnt and having to peg it to the sea for some relief. Here it seemed to be the perfect temperature, not cool but not burning, and this meant that we were able to pace up and down for a bit before choosing a decent place to sit.
After laying out our towels and fighting the wind to stop them being blown off down the beach, we decided that we were far too hot to just sit down for ages and that we should probably brave the waves for a paddle. I can really see why is such a famous beach for surfing, the waves were absolutely crazy and I think that if we’d have properly gone in, I might have been washed away! As we cautiously stepped forward into the sea I was well aware that we could be soaked at any time by an unexpectedly large wave so slowly walked into the water. For some reason I just wasn’t prepared at all for the temperature of the water and so when the freezing cold water touched my feet, I flinched and stepped back. Brrrrrr. It definitely was not like the tropics! Slowly I acclimatised and crept further and further in thinking that the water would perhaps reach just above my knee when a wave came but I could not have been more wrong. As we were standing looking out to sea, a huge wave built up and thundered it’s way towards the shore and quite an alarming speed. Unable to move away fast enough, it flew at me hitting my legs and shooting upwards soaking me through and almost knocking me over. I’m not going to lie, it was lovely to be in the sea again without the risk of jellyfish and it was certainly very cooling, I just wasn’t very prepared for it!
Now completely soaked from toe to hip, I dripped my way back to my towel and flopped down onto it. Hmmmm. It wasn’t what I had in mind but at least it was a lovely sunny and warm day so I wouldn’t be too wet for too long. In a way I would have loved to have gone in the water properly but between the surfers and the out of control swimmers combined with the ginormous waves, I think it would have been a complete recipe for disaster. I like to think of myself as being quite daring in having a go at things but when it comes to things that put your life at risk, I much prefer not to get involved. It did look fun though. All of a sudden, a beach patrol vehicle came shooting past us and stopped a little bit further down the beach. People began to run over, barely looking if there was anything in their way and formed a circle around whatever was going on. Some people genuinely looked as though they needed to see what was happening or their entire day would have been ruined. Just able to catch a glimpse of things through the tangle of legs though still firmly glued to our comfy towels, I saw that the life guards in the vehicle were now sat on the floor looking at something. Automatically we presumed that someone had fainted or something and they were being tended to and looked after which begs the question, what was everybody staring at? I know it’s human nature to be a bit curious about things and want to have a quick look, even I did, but to go and stand over making it so obvious was a little bit rude. Imagine having collapsed and waking up to see about 200 people watching over you; absolutely horrendous. The amount of people in the sea had actually dropped by about 2/3s so many had gone over to see. Just unbelievable. Eventually the life guard told everyone quite sharply that there was “nothing to see” and to “go back to what you were all doing before” and people slowly began to wander away, each one looking quite dejected. Once the crowd had dispersed I noticed a guy walking around with a muff and another with a camera who was filming whatever had happened. I vaguely recalled that we’d watched a tv programmed called ‘Bondi Rescue’ a while ago about the life guards working on this beach so we thought it must be that they were filming for. I suppose that could have exacerbated the situation with the crowd, the chance to be on TV drawing people in, but a part of me still just thinks they were nosy. Still, even from our nice spot on the beach, it was quite cool to think that we were at the beach when they were recording the programme.
Not too long after, the heat of the afternoon was cooking us so we decided to risk a quick paddle once again to cool down.To begin with it was great, my feet were cool, my ankles were cool, my knees were cool….and my waist was cool. Yep, another wave caught me off guard and hit me at such a force that it splashed up my legs, completely drenching me. Codie had managed to run out of the sea fast enough to avoid it but I hadn’t and was now very tempted to just completely get in since I was a bit wet anyway. Of course I didn’t, that would be a bit too far, and instead chose to dry off on the towel and watch circling police helicopter and the surfers trying to surf. It didn’t look easy at all! There are flags on the beach which swimmers have to remain between in order to make sure that there’s enough room for everyone however so many people chose to ignore the rule that a few times I think some only narrowly avoided being decapitated. It was mental. Even with the lifeguards shouting at them to move, they just shrugged, looked confused and carried on with what they were doing. It must be really annoying if you are trying to surf as it looks difficult enough to do as it is without people appearing in front of you. I did manage to see a few people succeed though and it was cool to watch whilst drying.
Eventually we were dry enough to leave and decided to head up to the cafe area to indulge in a yummy, cold ice lolly. I really fancied a twister type of lolly but since it was so boiling, I thought most of it would end up on the floor and so opted for a pineapple calippo instead. Yum. I think I chose well as even in the cardboard tube it turned into a drink almost immediately; I hate to think what would have happened to one on a stick! After these, we wandered over to a platform sticking out over the beach to get some photos to try and show how pretty it is as phone pictures just don’t seem to have the same effect. I took a couple to stitch together to form a pano of it so hopefully my laptop will let me this time; it just seems to hate them at the moment. I’m sure it’ll look good if it does (I hope so anyway!). At one point Codie managed to lose his towel over the edge and so had to wander back down to the beach to collect it. It was a pain for him as walking on the sand is quite a challenge but it gave me the opportunity to get a good photo of him from above. I ended up going down to just so I could have a similar photo though the sun blinded me a bit as I was trying to smile at the camera. I haven’t actually seen the photo yet but I’m really hoping I don’t look as strange as I felt.
Once we’d taken lots of photos and made sure we’d had one more good look at the beach, we walked back up towards the road to catch the bus back to Sydney. It was a bit confusing trying to work out which bus stop we needed to be at as there were two. I stood at one whilst Codie had a look at the other before waving me over as apparently the bus stopped there. I was quite enjoying people watching at mine so wasn’t too keen on walking further but of course I didn’t want to miss the bus and so off I went. I’d just reached it when the bus turned up and went back to where I had been standing. Grrrrrrr. They don’t make it easy for you! Luckily for us the bus wasn’t as packed on the way back and so even though we were quite far back in the queue to get on, we managed to get seats and practically collapsed into them. Hooray. Now I could enjoy watching all the dogs out of the window in relative comfort and relax again. I really enjoyed our trip to the beach today, especially with it being such an iconic place. I’d read about it loads so it was lovely to see it all for myself and appreciate how beautiful it is. I usually like to pass the time on beaches by dolphin watching or looking for other marine life, as I seem to have done most of my life, whereas here there were so many other things to look at, my eyes were always busy (as Karl says).
Back in Sydney , and after a quick trip to Coles for tasty supplies and a look at some dog cakes in a shop window, we made it back to Maze. Showers were desperately needed to get rid of all the sun lotion, salt and sand clinging to our skin so that was the first stop before a delicious mince, pasta and potato tea. All the carbs! I don’t think I will ever take potatoes for granted again. They seem to be so pricey here that they’ve now become quite a rare treat and I’m really looking forward to being able to enjoy mash potato again. After tea, we dragged ourselves back to the room and I’m now writing on the bed looking forward to a nice, cosy sleep. I’m not entirely sure what we’re doing tomorrow but I’m hoping to go to the Rocks Discovery Centre in the harbour to learn more about the history of the area. We’ve had one relaxing beach day, now it’s back to what I love best, exploring!