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It was my 21st birthday this past Saturday, so I got together with a bunch of friends to spend the day walking from Manly to the Spit Bridge. After all, what better way to ring in a new year of life than soaking up the sun in Sydney, Australia with good company? Right before we began the walk, we decided to take a quick detour to Shelly Beach, since some of my friends had never seen it before. On our way there, we had a wonderful surprise—we saw wild dolphins jumping out of the water! I have only seen dolphins in aquariums before, so it was incredibly special to see them in their natural habitat. We all stood there for at least 10 minutes, just staring in awe. It was almost as if the dolphins knew it was my birthday… :)

We started the hike in the early afternoon, and didn’t finish until the sun was just starting to set. The walk was clearly paved, and although there were certain points with lots of stairs, it was still very enjoyable. We took many breaks throughout the afternoon to enjoy the views and eat a snack or two. Besides the fact that I was surrounded by amazing friends, I liked the walk because it had a nice mix between walking along the beach, walking through the forest, and walking through residential neighborhoods. Since the homes we passed are right along the coast, we all fanaticized about what it would be like to live in such an extravagant location.

At one point during the walk, the leader of our group directed us all down to a beach off the path. I thought we were just going there to take a break, but when we all sat down, my friends pulled out brownies and banana bread that they had baked for me the day prior, along with champagne and orange juice for mimosas. Since I had friends of all different cultures with me, they sang Happy Birthday first in English, and then their own languages. It was an extremely sweet surprise that left me smiling from ear to ear!

Between all of our breaks and walking at a casual pace, it took us around 4 or 5 hours from start to finish. It’s a total of 10 kilometers one way. I would recommend this specific walk to anyone, as it has really nice views and isn’t too strenuous!