July 31st Trip Day 9 I shared in my recent post about the 2 days before and the confusion with the apartments. To explain a little further, we had already moved apartment houses and unpacked in our 2nd apartment, where we stayed the night of the 29th, when we determined that staying there was not going to work. Thus, we spent the day of the 30th traveling between and looking at a couple more apartment houses with the same company. Things were just not working out with them, and we made the decision to get a refund from the company and find a new apartment on our own. But we could not do so that day, so we stayed one more night, the 30th, at the 2nd apartment afore mentioned. This brings us up to date on the morning of the 31st, with our things once again half-unpacked. And once again, we had a time crunch as this was the day of the start of my program with the Honors Performance Series (HPS) - Young Adult Honors Choir. (For those that are unfamiliar, I auditioned back in June 2018, along with 12,000 other young people between the ages of 18-25 for the chance to sing at Sydney Opera House. Out of those 20,000 people (internationally), they selected around 75 signers to make up the Honors Choir. This opportunity was the reason for our journey to Australia. The program with HPS lasted 6 days and included day trips with the group, rehearsals, a dinner cruise, and, of course, the performance at Sydney Opera House. I will be sharing more details of the program day by day.) I had to check in with the program around noon, so we hurried to get our packing done and get over to the program hotel in time. On our way to the hotel, we stopped for me to get some lunch at a little, Asian place that had veggie bowls. The owners of the shop were so nice and willing to make a bowl for me that suited my dietary needs. We talked with the woman, whose name is Michelle, for a little while, and she was just the sweetest in wanting to know about me and why we were in Sydney, that before we left, I had to get a picture with her. The afternoon's activities with HPS included a 3 hour private bus tour of the Sydney area. While I was on the tour, my mom and sister moved all of our stuff to our new apartment. I thoroughly enjoyed the bus tour, and I especially enjoyed listening to our bus driver's commentary. It was very informative on the history and interesting information of the places we passed by and stopped at. I felt overflowing with Sydney knowledge by the end of the tour! Our first stop on the tour was Sydney Harbour Bridge where we got out and walked around for a few minutes, and I walked under the bridge from where there was a gorgeous view of the opera house. We travelled through Barangaroo and the historical part of Sydney of which there were many original buildings still standing. We stopped at a park that I don't remember the name of, situated on a hill above the harbour at the edge of the city. I wandered a little bit away from the group where I found some stairs that lead to a stone path along the water. The view from there was amazing! In a panoramic sweep, I could see the city, the opera house, the bridge, and some more of the city. But I didn't stay too long as I did not want to miss my bus. I may have run all the way back, just to be sure.
Our next stop was going to be Bondi Beach, but on the way there we passed many interesting or historical sights including Darling Harbour; the fish markets; Parliament House; the music conservatory which was originally built to be the royal stables and looked like a castle; statues of historical government officials such as the queen, governor, and prince; the historic hospital referred to as the 'rum hospital' because people used to pay in rum; and many other things. Our arrival at Bondi Beach was met with a warning of rain, so we hurried off to take in the sights before getting drenched. Bondi Beach is one of the most popular and touristy beaches in the Sydney area, but it was quite empty when we arrived due to it being winter time, late in the afternoon, and also fixing to rain. Each of those things alone is enough to warrant low crowds, but all three together are the perfect formula for an empty beach.... unless you're on a touristy bus tour that you have no control over..... I was taking in the magnificent view from the path above the beach, when crazy me got an idea. I took off my shoes and my socks, walked down to the beach, and started to make my way through the sand to the water. The sand, a different kind than we have in Florida, was soft beneath my feet. I reached the water and began to wade in up to my ankles (I had rolled up my pants to about mid-calf). Despite being the middle of winter in Australia, the water was not too cold, at least on my feet. But I did not need to stay in the water too long nor go any deeper, I felt satisfied with my little dip. Just as I was fixing to walk back, a wave that I had not seen suddenly splashed up against my legs. I ran out of the water in an attempt to escape the wave, but I was not fast enough. My bottom half was thoroughly soaked! Thank goodness at least my shoes and socks where dry. Remember what I said about the water not being too cold? Scratch that! And cold, wet pants mixed with cold wind do not mix! I rinsed the sand off my feet at the shower and walked to the beachside bathroom in search of paper towels or a hand dryer that could give me a little comfort from my wetness and allow me to put my dry shoes back on. But alas, the bathroom had neither. So I slightly dried my feet off with the outside of my socks before putting them on. As for my pants? Well, there was nothing much to be done about that. But it was worth every bit of it to now be able to say that I went into an ocean off another continent! Just as I was making my way back to the bus, it started to rain. My first impulse was to run back to the bus, but then I remembered that I was already half-soaked, so what difference did it make? By the time the bus made it back to Sydney, I was almost dry. After the program's mandatory welcome meeting, I headed back to my family's apartment to relax, change into dry clothes, and have dinner. It had been a fun day, but food, sofa, and Bonanza were calling my name. As did the bed, directly following.