Published: February 14th 2010February 14th 2010
So the night at the airport was truly a disaster. The Auckland airport is a gong show of lights and TV’s that can’t be turned down, or off. There are some decent seats to lie down on, but the TV’s all night kept me up. I got maybe an hour of sleep, then woke up at midnight, and walked around, used the computer, waited, until my flight was available to be checked in. When I checked in, the airline gave me a voucher for 12 dollars off any food or drink from any place in the airport for being delayed by 2 hours. I wish they had told us this, for I had bought breakfast right before I went to check in. So I walked around for about 45 minutes, looking at things I could buy with this voucher, but nothing jumped out at me cause I wasn’t hungry. I eventually went to a sushi place, and bought a beer. 6am with a beer in my hand must have looked weird to some, but since I had been up the whole night, it still felt like it was the night, and a beer was more than welcome. Finally boarding the flight, with LAN airlines, it was a 3 and a half hour journey to Sydney. The flight was a bit rocky, I felt uneasy the whole flight because weird sounds were emitting from the plane all the time, and it was quite shaky a few times. Needless to say, I was happy when the plane made the unsteady landing at Sydney Airport. Getting into Australia was easy, and another stamp was put into my passport. I like that. I took the train to Central Station, which is near where my hostel is. The train was seamlessly smooth, and the trains themselves looked quite well kept. I liked using the train, much better than busing it everywhere. I plan to use the train to my advantage while in Sydney, getting places I wouldn’t go otherwise just on a bus. I put my stuff away at the hostel, and out into the city I went, heading straight for the famous Sydney Harbor. It was a bustle of activity, with buskers and shops, and ferries coming and going. Much bigger than the Auckland harbor, but that’s to be expected, Sydney has a population almost 6 times that of Auckland. I saw the famous Opera House, and of course took a picture with it, as it seems every single person does when they go to Sydney. It’s like you haven’t really been to Sydney, until you have a picture of you with the Opera House in the background. I wore jeans too, which was the biggest mistake I have made thus far in Australia (3 hours in). It was cloudy, and started to rain, but the humidity will destroy you if you’re not careful. I couldn’t believe how hot it can be when it’s raining, I was complaining about it in Taupo but that’s nothing compared to this. I think I will retire my pants until I leave Australia, I just can’t see me wearing them again. That’s probably an exaggeration, but you never know. Other than that, my first impression of Sydney is.. much like Auckland, just one a much bigger scale. One different is the coins, they are so messed up here. The $2 dollar coin is the smallest, like the size of a Canadian penny. The 50 cent coin is the biggest, it’s freakin massive. I have no idea who thought of that idea, but it’s terrible. Why would they make them all different sizes, it should go up in size by the worth of the coin. I’m used to nz money, the Australian bills are a bit weird looking too, but I’m sure time is all I need to get used to them. The prices here are more in line with Canadian prices which is good, but I think it’s still a bit of a deal for Canadians here, but not enough to get into a big deal about. On my 2nd day in Sidney, I got myself a hair cut finally (and explaining to the hairdresser, in glorious detail, the rules of hockey) I decided to hit the zoo. You have to take a ferry over from Circular Quay (which is the main Sidney harbor in the CBD) and it’s a massive zoo. They ferry ride was nice and quick, and I saw some nice beaches near where we were being dropped off so I decided to go for a hike to see one of them. It wasn’t that long, but it was through a forest trail and I won’t deny I was scanning the sides of the trail and in the bush for dangerous creatures. There was a sigh about Lizards on the track, and sure enough within 10 seconds I saw one. They were of a few different sizes, but one was pretty big. It was bigger than we’d ever see back home, something that would be in a pet store back home really. Also saw a parrot of amazing color, and that would be like hundreds of dollars back home, was just sitting in this tree. It was so cool. The beach was nice, I saw a sign from a distance that I was sure was warning about sharks of jellyfish or something venomous, but it was actually warning about used syringes on the beach that wash over from Sydney. I didn’t see any, and put my feet in the water, and it was quite nice but that sign put me off. When I got to the zoo, it become.. Just like every other zoo I’m sure. Lots of cool animals, including penguins. I spent the day being jealous of the water animals, since it was so hot and I really wouldn’t have minded a quick dip in their beautiful enclosures. The day after that I decided to take a trip to Bondi Beach, probably one of the most famous beaches in the world. It was about a 15 minute train ride to Bondi Junction, then a 10 minute bus ride to the actual beach. I like taking the train in Sydney, it feels very New Yorkish. Maybe I’m just not used to taking trains, but I find them efficient, even if Central Station is a mass maze of signs. It’s an absolutely huge train system, runs all underneath downtown and then out into the suburbs. The trains themselves are massive 2 floored beasts, and I much prefer them to buses. After getting off at Bondi Junction, I refused to pay for a 10 minute bus ride when walking there is attainable. The area of Bondi is very nice, lots of little shops and a massive shopping mall, but you can see it’s very touristy. Lots of souvenir shops, little food stalls, cafes. I really enjoyed it, but the heat takes it out of you. I found myself just sitting in the mall, just to take advantage of the extreme air conditioning they had in there. I just needed a bit of escape from the heat. Finding my way to the Beach from Bondi Junction was easy; I just followed the good looking people. The people kept getting better looking as you get closer to the beach, and it’s no joke. That’s pretty much how I found my way there. The people got better looking and they started wearing less and less clothing. Bondi is famous for good looking 20 something’s and for showing lots of skin, so I felt like I fit right in, right? 20 minutes later, I was at the beach. It was beautiful, so nice. Long white sand beaches, crystal clear water with big waves coming in. People were everywhere; the road running along the beach was full of burgers joins, coffee bars, souvenir shops, and people just sitting there to be seen. Also I quickly noticed Bondi is a topless beach. Lots of women were taking advantage of this, and extremely good looking young women too. I always hear nude beaches were only used by old or ugly people, but we had early 20s women here, very good looking women, just lying around topless. I did notice most of the naked ones were not speaking English, and knew European women do have a reputation for nude beaches. I didn’t know if there was a place I should go, maybe away from the mass of topless people.. But didn’t see any sign so I just sat down right in the middle of them. I didn’t sit there on purpose, it was the least crowded area, and I did see other men laying there so I figured there is no rule. But me sitting there didn’t stop them, this girl right in front me, could have been a playboy model, just looked at me, then took her top off and lied down. Haha I felt like a pervert, I had shades on so quickly I took them off so people could see I am not just there to stare at breasts. You did get lots of tourists, pointing and laughing to each other from the street when they saw a naked lady, and I’m sure if you tried to take pictures you would be confronted, but I think most people didn’t really make a fuss about it. I did go in the water, and at first it felt a bit colder than I thought it was going to be, but it did warm up as I got out a bit deeper. I didn’t go over my head, the warnings about Australian water took its toll on me, and I just basically got knocked over by a few big waves, and then came out. I had to make sure I didn’t get burned either, lots of people, especially the older ones, looked like they had leather skin. I walked along the street, looking at the various shops, had a burger and fries at this placed called “Hungry Jacks.” I thought it was a Bondi only burger joint, but coming back to Sydney I have noticed at least 4 of them now. Oh well. Walking back to the town, after taking a few photos of beautiful bondi, I bought a t-shirt like a stupid tourist (only cause I needed one, one of my other ones completely shrunk in the dryer) and then took the train home. I went to a pub, the 3 Wise Monkeys, had a local brew and used their free wifi. I was to leave Sydney the next day, and really wish I didn’t have to. I had promised a few friends in Canberra that I would go visit them, a town I didn’t really feel like I needed to go to, but if they can set me up with free accommodation, can’t go wrong with that. I most likely will come back to Sydney, as there is still quite a bit to do here that I haven’t gotten around too. I booked only 3 days because of the time I spent in Auckland was way too much, but Auckland and Sydney are pretty different. Sydney dwarfs Auckland, and there is way more to do in Sydney. They look fairly similar, both with big needle type structures, and they are both based around a harbor with ferries going in and out. Sydney just does it bigger and better than Auckland. Sorry Kiwis, but Australia’s biggest city has beaten yours for my affection. The next day, I reluctantly left Sydney for the countries capital, Canberra. It was a 3 hour bus ride, and it was so hot on the bus. The air conditioning was on, but the driver said he couldn’t turn it on full blast because the bus would overheat. Getting to Canberra was not much more exciting, I took a stroll to some of the shops, another massive mall, and that’s about it. Compared to the shops, beaches and harbor of Sydney, Canberra was like Hicksville. My friends weren’t around on the first day, so I had it to myself. The 2nd day in Canberra started with a light sprinkle of rain, but that didn’t stop me from heading off to visit the Australian War Memorial. It was pretty moving; Australians sure are proud of their past, but most nations are I think. It was free too, which I didn’t mind at all. I think all War Museums or memorials should be free, it’s about remembering. The rain came down harder and harder until it was a straight up downpour. All over Australians east coast, from Brisbane to Melbourne was in a huge downpour. I stayed in most of the day after that, watched the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, which I thought we did a decent job. It wasn’t trying to be Beijing, but a good show for a small populated country and with the budget 1/10th of China. I also enjoyed the fact there was a major malfunction at the end with the torches, felt very Canadian for something to go wrong like that. I eventually did meet up with 2 of my Contiki friends, both named Claire. They drove to the top of Mt. Ainslie and showed me some nice views of the city, but the best part was on the way down I saw my very first Kangaroo. It just walked right across the street, like the deer do back home. Actually when I first saw it out of the corner of my eye, my first thought was a deer, but then it started hopping and I freaked out. I wish I had gotten a picture though. I went back with them to their university and we hung out with some of their friends, a bunch of drunken uni students they all are there. We went out to a local bar, and it was a good time overall. It was the first week of uni after the summer break, so the bar was packed and you could hardly move. That’s how the young kids like it these days I guess. I eventually lost one of the Claire’s in the mass, and started to walk home. I didn’t know where I was though, and it was pouring rain out. I thought I was walking the right way, but then got mixed up, and had to ask these maintenance guys, who told me I was way off my hostel. I had to run the entire other direction, in the rain. It actually felt pretty nice, since the club was so hot, but I was soaked when I got back and off my head intoxicated. I was going to stay in Canberra a few days with my friends, but instead I’m taking off. I figure I’ll be back here sometime, probably on my way back to Sydney so I’ll see them again. I figured out the next logical destination, and booked a bus ticket (8 and a half hours, but cheaper than flying and its overnight so save on one nights accommodation) to Melbourne. The weather has been rank but hopefully it clears up for Melbourne. This last day in Canberra has been a rather depressing day, not much to do, weather has been off, and it’s Valentine’s Day so lots of couples and displays of affection which I do not like (maybe a bit out of jealousy today).