A few days here and then a few days there (SYDNEY)

Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
Trip End Dec 21, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Thursday, August 20, 2009

Off I set to find Gisele who I had left up in Hawkes Bay months previously. It felt weird to be back up in familiar places that I didn’t ever imagine on leaving that I would be back quite so soon! I knew I had wanted to return to NZ at some stage in the future but passing accommodations and places I had visited earlier in the year was just weird! It all felt strangely familiar too in the sense that I don’t think you could ever get in Australia how ever long you lived there - the place is simply too vast. With NZ on the other hand even small place names rang bells and I remembered passing through them or staying for a night en route to somewhere else. Especially arriving up into Waipukarau. Having lived there for a couple of weeks in the small sleepy town and driven everywhere either in the yut that met its demise with us or the irreversible car, it all felt uncannily familiar.

Gisele and Heleen picked me up from the bus stop and we couldn’t stop talking. There were months worth of scandalous tales to be told, mountains of stories and days of catching up to be done. We ate, we talked and then exhausted fell into an unconscious state until Gisele landed with a thump on the end of my bed in the morning. 8am. How does anyone have that much energy that early in the morning. It’ s unnatural. It’s handy though when they put their energy into making coffee for you though! And this is how the next few mornings went. The day entailed hairy car chases up mountains on dirt roads, stolen signposts and mad Sunday sessions hidden deep in the mountains of NZ. It was all quite bemusing really - an entire universe away from what the past few months had entailed for me and yet it was nice to slip back into the country ways and for a time rest from the fast lane my life had been whizzing full speed down for the previous few months. Waipuk was hardly a rest though with Sunday sessions and going over to see Bell and family, getting to know some of Gisele’s new friends and then of course my going away party. Yes I was only there for 3 days! It was fun, it involved aerosols and matches and then having to get up at 6am to get a lift with a friend of Will the Sheppard to Hastings where I had booked a bus from the night before without thinking about how to get from where I was to Hastings. A problem Will had kindly sorted at midnight the previous night.

It was a long day spent travelling, 8 hours back to Auckland where I had booked my flight from as I was supposed to be staying with a friend who had conveniently relocated to Wellington in the meantime. So instead of doing the 4 hours back to Wellington which had been the original plan I was now doing 8 to Auckland for no apparent reason! Gisele however had organised with a friend of hers that I stay with her and she was going to drop me to the airport which was all very kind of her considering she didn’t know me bar stories from Gisele.

I arrived at a servo at 8pm, tired and hungry and in bad need of a stretch. I had left the house at 6am that morning! Laura better known as Ickle spotted me getting off the bus and we started chatting and pretty much didn’t stop until the following day at airport security. She was so lovely and had a wonderful evening and following morning with her, chatting about all sorts and seeing the yard she was running and all the horses. She left me at airport security where even though we had got to the airport on time they were calling the final few passengers for the flight to Sydney. Perhaps it had been the sushi lunch we’d stopped for between check in and security that had made me late but needless to say I was late and the teeniest bit panicky that I was going to miss my flight. I rushed through immigration, security the departure lounges, made it to the desk as the last few people were boarding, composed myself and idled to the back of the queue ignoring the looks being shot at me by the airline staff. I found my seat, organised myself, sat down and opened my book. Cue : in walks Mike. Myself and the man on the isle shuffle out of our seats and let Mike in to his window seat - I was sorely tempted to congratulate him on being even later than me onto the plane but thought hang on I don’t actually know this guy. So I held my tongue. That didn’t last for long though. As he sat down he materialised out the book I had just started reading when it got stolen with my bag and all my other belongings in Argentina. ‘A Spot of Bother’ by Mark Haddon which had been so good and I hadn’t seen it since my copy had been stolen. An appropriate title thinking back to it. We chatted about that for a bit and said he’d give me the book if he finished it on the flight. Well that didn’t happen. We started chatting and didn’t stop until the Sunday when I left to fly to Cairns. I got the book eventually though!

We had a wonderful few days in Sydney. Went to China town for dinner, drank some dangerously budget gin (never again) from the hostel bar, walked to the Harbour bridge and Opera house the following morning, chilled out in a park and ate some ice creams while taking in the sights of Sydney in the lovely almost forgotten warm sun, went on a sunset cruise of the harbour, went to the cinema, ate some sushi, went to a museum, wangled some ludicrously cheap Opera tickets, went to dinner and then the highlight of Sydney - went to the Opera at the Sydney Opera house!

Of course that’s a highly condensed version of my 2 and a half days in Sydney! We also got lost a few times wandering the streets and not wanting to look like tourists and so refusing to get a map out, I somehow managed to run out of camera battery on arrival at the Harbour bridge which resulted in a quick run around to remedy the situation and then of course there was the step incident.

Now I’m sure you’ll all agree there are an awful lot of steps in the world. I’ve climbed thousands in my short life come to think of it thousands over last New Years when I valiantly tackled the Inca Trail. Now I do have a small habit of being able to quite successfully trip UP steps. One I had recently been brushing up on in Wellington where every single house seems to have at least 50 steps up to (or a private cable car). So I’m ambling along minding my own business and casually climbing the many steps up to the Sydney Opera House box office - aware of the multitude of Japanese tourists with their cameras set and ready to snap at any chance when I quite spectacularly manage to trip up a step and end up sprawled across the next flight up. What can you do except laugh in those situations. But of all the steps in the world why those ones?? Luckily with no more than a bruised knee and slightly dented pride I lived long enough to come up with the bright idea of just checking the very pricey opera to see of there were any discounts going for that evenings performance. There were! Some Friday special if you were a YHA (youth hostelling international) member which we both were and so we managed to get brilliant seats for $25 (GB 12.50!)

Feeling slightly chuffed with our selves we headed off to polish up as much as 2 backpackers could for the Sydney Opera. The thought of having spent $150 to send a bag of stuff home 3 days earlier from NZ came a little painfully as I remembered that the only nice clothes I’d collected up over my stint in Melbourne were in there and I only had left with me a sparse collection of my backpacker clothes after leaving the rest with Gisele! Unfortunate but with no other options back to the hostel to scrub up it was!

The opera was splendid! With nothing much to compare it with (being not the most experienced of Opera Buffs) I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening.

Unfortunately the clock was ticking and my hours in Sydney were dwindling. I had an early morning flight and an airport shuttle bus booked for 5.45 and alarm for 5am. I woke up at 5.45. The bus was nowhere to be seen 5 minutes later when I appeared outside slightly dishevelled looking. I rang the company and the driver had allegedly waited for 5 minutes for me before driving off. I had my suspicions. They said they would send another one around at 6.15. My flight closed at 7am and I had been told it took 45 minutes to get to the airport although they were now saying it would take 30. Again I had my doubts. I did consider getting a taxi as the flight I was about to miss had cost me an arm and a leg and however much it would have been nice to stay in Sydney I didn’t want to throw all that money down the drain. We arrived at the airport as 6.50 amazingly and I was the first to be dropped off. I jumped out of the bus with enthusiasm, grabbed my bag, ran into the terminal, checked in, went to check the time and realised my phone was gone. With boarding closing in 10 minutes I didn’t have to time to find someone with a phone to ring mine and so after a quick search around and check with security I had no choice but to go through security phoneless. For the 3rd time since Argentina. I was sure it would turn up though - we weren’t in a club this time or a dodgy Argentinean town - some fellow traveller was bound to pick it up and hand it in. They didn’t and I’m now on phone no 4. The good news was I’d already lost the charger and it was going to cost a bomb to unlock the phone anyway but once again I’d lost ALL my numbers! C’est la vie!

I was on the flight, heading to the sun, sea and with a whole new underwater world to discover it was hard to feel too cut up about it.
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