Having left the city for a few days I find myself at Maroubra just south of Sydney. However, I'm not staying in a hostel this time but couchsurfing. For those unfamiliar with the term basically I ask a forum full of volunteer hosts whether I can stay at their home free of charge for several nights. The idea is you make friends, gain connections all over the world and return the favour to fellow travellers when you get home. My host was Benny a strict vegan who is very much part of the 'alternative scene' and he's also a bit of a kleptomaniac. He shares his home with Beau an American traveller whose been working in Maroubra for a few months and Pete who is from Czech so can't apply for a working holiday visa. Instead he enrolled in a tourism course to get a student visa. I didn't see Pete much but learned he didn't like his course and was only really interested in surfing. He also decided it was easier to call me Chris than pronounce Kirstin in a Czech accent. Benny was always working so I didn't really see him either so I spent most of time getting to know Beau.
Beau's a very nice guy who was just a little too much into American civil war politics though he claimed to hate politics. My first night I got a free history lesson on the American civil war, Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Governments. I'll be honest I got pretty lost with what he was telling me but I'm sure it was very informative if you could follow. He also attempted to teach me how to play guitar having only self taught himself a month ago - it proved interesting, and insisted I try peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which I just find odd. Jam and peanut butter just don't go together.
As for Maroubra itself, there is an amazing little beach and a salt water pool and not a lot else. A few very expensive cafes dotted along the front are the only other attraction so you have to head out of Maroubra in order to do anything. I discovered this after having wandered around for an hour or two on my first day. Thankfully there is a good bus network passing through and very cheap tickets so my second day couchsurfing I headed to Bondi beach just up the coast. I had to swap buses at Bondi junction which was shopping central so I wandered around for a while but only window shopping for me. It was a very sunny day so I spent some time down at the beach and even went for a swim but the waves were a little fierce for swimming once the wind picked up. The surfers seemed to enjoy it though. I also found my first Australian Domino's Pizza down at Bondi beach, funnily enough I didn't buy one.
The famous Bondi beach
After 2 nights spend with Benny, Beau and Pete I said my goodbyes and continued on my travels having had a very interesting and memorable first experience of couchsurfing.
From Maroubra I moved on with a big change in scenery on the cards as I board a train headed for the Blue Mountains. My stop is Katoomba one of the towns close to the Three Sisters Mountain Range which I plan to explore. It's a 2hr journey but my ticket only costs $7 or around £4. You realise how much public transport costs back home when a 15min journey cost a fiver.
Today was really hot in Sydney, in the high twenties, so even though I was carrying my backpack I only wore a vest top. Never again. Unknown to me until I got on the train my backpack had caused a sort of bruise with all the little blood vessels in my skin seeming to have burst where it had rubbed and cause a weird rash thing on each shoulder which perfectly matches the material pattern of the straps. I look a little like an alien. Once I'm off the train I won't have the same problem as the temperature will have dropped about 10 or 15 degrees and it will be a lot wetter so more like home up the mountains.