Trip Start May 27, 2010
97Trip End Aug 31, 2011
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We dropped our bags off and got through to the gate only to realise that our flight was full of Asian school children, some donning their breathing masks. I still wonder sometimes whether they are protecting themselves from outside threats, or whether they in fact are the threat and are protecting us from them! Anyway Phil and I were seated separately. It was only a 55 minute flight so it was ok to spend that time apart. But when I sat down, old mate sitting next to me started chatting away, asking all sorts of questions about my life, and generally sounding more Aussie than I'd heard anyone speak in ages
A shuttle took us to our hotel in Potts Point and we decided to make the most of the day. We walked from the hotel to Circular Quay, and when we reached Woolloomooloo (so many o's!) we found Harry's Pies on Wheels. Emma had worded me up about these Harry's amazing pies, but I didn't think we'd get the chance to go looking for it. As it happened, Harry's pies found us! So we sat and had a curry pie which, dare I say it, was heaps better than the curry pies we have at Villa Park! And then set off again to walk through to Botanic Gardens. Hearing some odd noises, I looked up to see bats hanging in the trees. Cool! Walking a bit further, we ended up at Circular Quay, bought our tickets and hopped on board the Manly ferry. We took in the view from the back of the ferry and made the most of the free wifi, checking our emails as we crossed the harbour to Manly, but also took in the size and scale of the bridge that we would be walking over come Friday: the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I must say I was a little scared about how my body would cope with the climb -knowing how much it hurt when I did it as a teenager it was sure to hurt me more this time!
It was nice to visit Manly, but we were left wishing we had taken our swimming gear with us so that we could cool off
Rested, we headed over to Bondi as planned on Thursday morning. I hadn't been to Bondi for many years and Phil hadn't been at all, so it was nice to take in the scene that we normally only get to see on Bondi Rescue. We set down our new beach towels - Phil's a map of Australia, mine a big $100 note - and slip slop slapped. The water was nice, but the waves were too rough for me, and feeling the water tow underfoot was enough to convince me that I didn't want to become a Bondi Rescue statistic. So I jumped out and retreated to my towel, leaving Phil to try and master his bodysurfing skills. Hoppo and Natho came and moved the flags, and when Phil came back he pointed out a fully clothed Indian lady who had almost drowned but thanks to some surfers, made it back to the water's edge
Despite the sunscreen I still ended up a little bit burnt, so we went back to our hotel to clean up and then got the train over to King Street in Newtown. Four o'clock was close enough to beer o'clock so we had a couple of VB's in a pub and tried to play pool while a lesbian couple looked on, putting us both off our game. So we found another venue to play pool in and I bet Phil, two out of three. Apparently that's what happens when you concentrate! We had some dinner at a cute garden cafe before calling it a night.
Friday was bridge climb day. I put on the new shoes I bought specifically for the walk, but had to take them off again and replace them with the Dunlop Volleys supplied by the Bridge Climb people. I was told my shoes weren't "covered in enough". It was probably better anyway. New shoes walking up many steps = certain blisters. Phil was happy to learn that he would be clipped on to the bridge as opposed to free walking without some sort of safety harness, and after slipping into the super-attractive climbing suits, we headed off with the guide and began the walk. I had pre-arranged with Phil that he would walk behind me, just in case I needed someone to push me up the steps if I became too tired. Thankfully the ascent was made at a comfortable pace and I didn't have to call on his pushing skills
Going down was the worst, and I could feel in my calves that I was going to be sore tomorrow. It was a great relief to get the suit off at the end of the climb, and even nicer to get a spray with the water fan on the way down. We collected our photos and certificates (I'm now a Master, having done the climb twice now) and stopped at the nearest pub at The Rocks for some lunch. I was definitely going to need a rest before we met Gemma and Chrisco in a few hours' time, so we made our way back to Potts Point for a rest and a shower, and then headed back to The Rocks to meet the guys at the Lowenbrau.
It was great to catch up with my two former London housemates, and we visited a couple of bars and sank a few pints
Phil and I had a bit of a sleep-in on Saturday. We hadn't made any particular plans for the day, predicting that we'd more than likely be hungover from the night out with Shazza and Chris. But we woke up feeling fairly fresh which was a nice feeling. So we decided to get the ferry around to Darling Harbour and have a look around there. I ordered myself a cider and a $24 parmagiana (when did Australia get so damned expensive!) and had to send it back when it came out cold. Relatively satisfied, we wandered around the harbour for a while, had an ice cream and walked back through the city. We were going to meet Gemma that night for some more drinks but were refused entry to the venue she was in, so we had a few beers in the Tooheys pub next door
We were flying out of Sydney on Sunday night. We packed our bags and then got the bus to Gemma's flash pad where she made us a lovely lunch. It was strange to see her cooking in a house other than 51 Grafton Road! It was great though and we really enjoyed being able to spend a couple more hours together before we jetted off.
The shuttle collected us at 2.45 and it took an hour or so to get to the airport thanks to the bad day the cranky driver was having. We didn't mind though - the less time spent in an airport the better I say! I'd stocked up on Tim Tams and Chicken Crimpy Shapes and contemplated - for a very brief moment - buying some Ugg boots. I curse Ugg boots every time I see someone wearing them in England, wearing them like they're hiking shoes or something. So I'm not quite sure why I thought it was a good idea to buy some, but decided it was probably knowing that they would be the final reminder of what a great time we'd had, and a final link to Australia
The flight to Bangkok was really bumpy, and again Phil had to cover his arms so my fingernails didn't dig in too much, and had to put up with my squealing whenever we hit a patch of turbulence. We were up the very back of the plane, so not only did we feel the movements from side to side, we also felt them up and down, so it was an uncomfortable journey to say the least.
After another long flight we eventually made it to London, relatively fresh considering we'd been in the air for 23 hours. We still had to get the tube back to Marylebone and then the train to Birmingham, but this was a drop in the ocean compared to the flights we'd endured.
Once we were home we were happy but weary, and knowing we both had to work the next day forced us to catch up on some sleep and leave the washing for tomorrow.