Trip Start Sep 08, 2011
Trip End Jan 08, 2012

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Where I stayed
Glenferrie Lodge Kirribilli
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, December 16, 2011

The last couple of days I'd not been well. I’d had (and still have though to a much lesser degree) a very stiff neck. I don’t know why – it could have been because of the different pillows I’d been sleeping on; it could have been from the bus journey; it could even have been from looking up at the tall buildings in Sydney. Who knows? All I know that the last 3 days had been absolute hell.

Naturally, this state of affairs curbed my activities somewhat and I wasn’t able to go out and truly explore the city as I would have liked. I ended up doing more or less the same things as I’d done on the first day, as each time I tried to brazen out the discomfort, the pain soon overcame me and I had to go back to the B&B. About those first two days, all I can say is that I’ve now seen the Opera House from every conceivable angle without actually entering it, not to mention the Harbour Bridge without actually climbing over the top of it.

Unsurprisingly, tourists of every type are drawn to the Opera House. There I met a man from Chile, who, somewhat unexpectedly, gave me a potted history of the revolution in 1974. But most strangely, but then again, maybe not so strange, a group of Chinese tourists stopped me and asked to have their photos taken with me. Now, this had happened to me in Bangkok with a group of Russian tourists and I didn’t want to be racist so I agreed. The next thing I knew, rather than a group photo, they all started coming up individually to take a photo with me – I should have charged them for it! I thought it was only fair that they reciprocate and so I have a photo with me and a group of Chinese women whom I don’t know.

On Friday I had something special lined up for the evening, so I decided to stay in bed all day, which actually did my neck a lot of good. That special thing? The inaugural match of the KFC Big Bash Twenty20 League: Sydney 6ers vs Brisbane Heat! Not only was I going to visit the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground), second only to the G (the MCG, keep up!) in cricketing importance, but I was going to see a match. Granted it wasn’t a full international, but it was the cricketing equivalent of going to a Premier League or La Liga match. Only to some will the names Brett Lee, Dwayne Bravo, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden and Brendan McCullum mean anything, but trust me, this is star studded cricket.

Things didn’t start out too well. The feeling that Sydney was overwhelmingly large resurfaced when I arrived at Circular Quay (the main ferry port in Sydney), looking for a bus to go to the SCG. Now, the SCG is like Wembley in London or Camp Nou in Barcelona. Seriously, how difficult would it be for a complete stranger to find them (starting from Charing Cross or Plaša Catalunya)? Not that difficult, I’d wager. It turned out that everybody (and I don’t mean normal people, I mean bus drivers) gave me different bus stops and bus routes to get there. I had an inkling (mistakenly as it turned out – thanx Google Maps!!) of which bus to catch, but when I asked the first driver, he said, "Nah, mate! You want the Coogee bus across the road," This went completely against all that I thought I knew and so I went to the customer information to ask, but the person there gave me 4 different buses that I could take.

At the original bus stop, I asked again and again I was told to take the Coogee bus, so I went over and waited for that bus. When it came along, just to make sure, I asked before getting on if he was going to the SCG, “Nah, mate! You want the 333 across the road,” Incidentally, it had been the 333 that had originally sent me to the Coogee bus. By this time I was desperate, I’d been there for almost an hour going from stop to stop and bus to bus. In the end, I called the central office for information. Surely they had to know where their buses went, didn’t they? Eventually, I got through to a human voice, which told me, “Mate! You want the 333,” – “Are you sure?” – “Mate! That’s the one you want, no worries!” Well, as he was so sure, I got on the next 333. When I got on and asked for the SCG, the driver looked doubtful, but said he 'sort of’ went near there. As we started the journey, he turned around to me (rather worryingly, I thought; keep those eyes on the road!) and said, “Nah, mate! You want the 396. That’ll drop you right outside the SCG.” I was ready to kill someone, when he pointed out that there was one just behind, which I could catch at the next stop. At least he was right about that. But, seriously, how can it be so difficult to get to a major sports stadium in Sydney?

The match itself was a fairly easy victory for the 6ers, even at the age of 34, Brett Lee had lost none of his fire as he managed to smack Brendan McCullum right between the eyes with a fast delivery. McCullum had to retire (temporarily) hurt with a bleeding nose that required five stitches – ah, cricket, that genteel game. In fact, the whole evening was light years from how I imagined a true cricket match would be staged. There were MCs, DJs, cheerleaders, fireworks (causing play to be stopped as nobody could see through the smoke), fancy dress contests (won by 5 guys in Santa suits and thongs!). The Australians were definitely trying (perhaps a little too hard) to put some razzle dazzle into the game.

I was having a good time at the game; I saw some great bowling, some excellent stroke play with the bat and a couple of outstanding catches. My only concern was how I was going to get home – if getting there had been so problematic, what was the return journey going to be like? I needn’t have worried; buses were laid on at the ground that went direct to Central train station. Once there, it was a piece of cake to return to the B&B.

Oh, and for future reference, if you’re ever at Circular Quay, looking for a bus to the SCG, “Mate! You want the 396.”
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PaulBB on

Nah, you want the 333.

kyzia on

Hope the stiff neck is getting better. It could have come from the stress and strain of feeling lost in a big city after so many weeks of blissful relaxation! A bit of bungy jumping in NZ will put it right!!!

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