Backpack time has come again

Trip Start Jan 21, 2007
Trip End ??? ??, 2008

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's been a while since my last entry.  And now the reason for this entry is that it is time to move on.  After almost 4 months in Sydney, the time has come to leave the "settled" life and become a backpacker again.  I never had any intention of staying here this long, money was the only thing keeping me here, the lack of it that is.  But I've now realised that no matter how much money I earn here, I will spend it all anyway.  So I am leaving for a few days holiday in Melbourne before going on to the little town of Mildura where I am going to fruit pick (grapes, it seems) for 3 months in order to extend my visa for a further year.

So, update since last entry is required.  Well I didn't end up moving to Coogee. I realised that all my friends live in the city and moving to the beach would mean me being the one always having to get late night buses or taxis home.  And getting a taxi in Sydney on a Saturday night is no mean feat.  So instead I found myself a room to rent just around the corner from where I was living at Diane's, in a 2bed flat with an Australian guy.  It's a pretty decent place, I have my own bathroom and there is a big terrace as we're on the ground floor, there is also a pool, gym and sauna.  Which I have never used.  The flatmate has also turned out to be slightly odd.  Harmless, but weird.  He doesn't seem to have great social skills, he's useless at small talk, he keeps the remote controls in the little plastic bags they came in, he has a giant "Garfield" cushion on the sofa, he plays Abba on the piano, he has a thing for Korean ladies etc etc.

I didn't find another job, I'm still at the same company.  It has improved, I've made friends and have enough work to keep me entertained throughout the day so it's not too bad.  But I won't be sorry to leave.

I am sad to be leaving Sydney however.  I love it here, it's a fabulous city, and I have also made lots of nice friends.  So I'll be sad to leave and to say goodbye to everyone but it's time to move on, I need to be traveling again, life in the city is far too normal.  What I will not be sorry to leave is the Sydney weather.  This has to have been one of the worst summers on record.  It has been raining for weeks now, not just Scottish-type drizzle but proper torrential rain.  It's disgusting.  We have all had just about enough of it.  It's not even warm right now, it's chilly enough to be needing jeans and hoody again, and this is supposed to be the middle of summer.  Mildura is inland so I believe it should be better there. I hope so.

Now what else have I done here that will be of any interest to people??

I've visited Luna Park, a theme park just over the Harbour Bridge which seems to be a bit of an institution here. It wasn't even that good, not exactly of Alton Towers standard, but a good night none theless.  I feel the hamburger I had there should get a mention, for being the worst burger I have eaten in my entire life.  I believe it was actually made of cardboard.  It certainly tasted like it.

I've now seen most of the beaches around Sydney, on the few occasions when the sun has been shining.  I've visited the world famous Bondi Beach, which is incredibly long and incredibly busy, as well as Coogee, Maroubra and Manly.  Manly is quite pleasant in that you can get a ferry there which is a novelty.  It's more expensive than getting the bus to another beach, it takes longer and the beach is no better than any other, but like I said, it's a novelty!  And a nice ferry ride.

Just before Christmas I was happy to see the first familiar face from home.  Caroline Curley, who I worked with at Mytravel in Rochdale was out in Sydney visiting family so we met up for dinner and drinks one evening.  It was nice to meet someone from home and catch up on all the gossip and hear what had been happening at work

Last weekend I finally did the Harbour Bridge Climb.  I knew I wanted to do it, but at $199 it was kind of expensive!  Anyway it had to be done before I left so last Sunday night it was time.  I did it along with a friend, Jess, and two of her friends visiting from England.  You can do it at various times of the day, early morning, daytime, twilight, night.  We were on the last official day climb, at 5.25pm.  We started by getting into our highly unattractive grey boiler suit-type outfits then it was onto the gearing up section.  I don't know what I expected, but it actually took about an hour before we were ready to go.  First we go our harness belts on, then added the latch which was going to keep us attached in case we felt the need to launch ourselves off the bridge, then we added lanyards to keep our sunglasses attached, a hanky, a hat, a fleece, a radio and a headset.  All attached by either elastic, a lanyard or some other kind of hook.  You're not even allowed to wear a watch.  So once we'd geared up we had a quick practise on some ladders then it was onto the bridge.  You are attached at all times from your harness belt to a cable so it's not at all dangerous.  It's not even hard work, which we had expected it to be. The first part was probably the most scary which involved walking on mesh pathways high above the ground, after that it was onto the steps and ladders.  A large part of the climb is actually walking along the top of the arch of the bridge itself, there are steps on there too to make it easier to climb.

Christmas was a bit of a non-event this year.  I wanted to go to the beach and have a picnic or barbeque, but the weather wasn't co-operating.  Christmas day was cold and horrible, and it ended up being a fairly quiet dinner then a good night at a friend's place with lots of wine.  New Year was supposed to be spent in the botanic gardens with friends but when I arrived (at 7.30pm!) it was already full which meant two of us were stuck on our own (myself and my fabulous friend Mel - who specifially requested that I mention how fabulous she is!).  I think we ended up having the best night though, wandering the streets of Sydney, watching the fireworks at the harbour bridge and meeting (and photographing) many many random people.  A great laugh. 

I had a random meeting on New Year's Eve when walking down George St in Sydney, my friend Mel points out a guy in a Scottish "tammy" (hat) with fake red hair, assuming that he was Scottish.  I replied that no Scottish person would be wearing a stupid hat like that, but on looking again, he not only is Scottish, but I know him!  I have randomly bumped into Glasgwegian Ben first of all in Bombay, then in Goa, then in Bangkok and now for a fourth time on the streets of Sydney at new year in crowds of millions of people.  Amazing!

One thing I was delighted to find in Sydney was private karaoke!  Having come across this in Thailand and thinking it was great, I didn't expect to find it in Australia, I should have though considering how many Asian people live here.  So a night out for a friend's birthday was spent in a karaoke room in a Korean restaurant singing at the top of our voices and jumping on the sofas (after I had seen that the people in the room next door were doing that and we were far too sedate all sitting down!).  Excellent fun.

And that seems to be it for now for Sydney.  I will be back (I have to, as I've left 2 big bags of stuff with Diane - backpacks are not made for high heeled shoes!) but for now it's back on the road.....
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