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Published: March 11th 2011
The re-boot seemed to work and we made good time to Sydney, arriving about 1hr late, we were hurried through immigration, customs and the bug dump department at alarming speed and were very quickly shoved into a taxi and on our way. We got back to Glebe in time for a quick midi in the Toxteth Hotel (cue jokes about the world's stickiest bogie!).
The next day was very hot and humid, we arranged an appointment with a "genius" at the Apple Store to look at my iPod charging problem and spent most of the rest of the day mooching around the Queen Victoria Building because it has air-con.
Feb 3rd was Genius Day and we turned up expecting the worst, the iPod started playing up after it was out of warranty so Apple didn't have to do anything. We explained the situation to our genius Norman and he wandered off to have a chat with his manager, then came back with a replacement iPod for me, free of charge. The only catch being that we only got three months warranty on the replacement because mine was out of warranty, mine was also not working and not likely to start working
again, a replacement with no warranty would have been better than what we had entered the store with so we were more than happy with three months cover.
Having sorted out the glitching electronica we spent the afternoon in the Australian Museum which, along with air-con, had an exhibition of Wildlife Photographer of the Year photos - absolutely amazing, there were some wonderful pictures there. We also spent ages looking around the Aborigine and Torres Strait Islander exhibition which depressed us massively, it's hard to imagine being told where you could and couldn't work or live or even whether you were allowed to marry or not, to have you entire life controlled by somebody else which was the case for these guys until the late 1960s.
Sydney was still labouring under unbearably high temperatures and humidity so on the 4th we fled to our favourite escape in the mountains, gathering up our stored possessions and releasing the Jaffanaut from it's temporary home in the maintenance store at Blue Mountains YHA. Even up in the mountains the temperature was too high for us northern types we wilted from one air-conned place to another, mooching around the shops with
no intention of buying anything, just desperate for some cool.
On the 8th we jumped onto the bike for a quick hoon down to Penrith for my appointment with the consultant, the ride was interesting, mainly downhill with a few short sharp ups to get the blood pumping and a few hairpins on the descents to get the stoker screaming. At one point we were shoved onto the Western Highway via a route Sustrans would be proud of, off road on a loose mix of gravel and sand between iron railings and the Armco barrier on the edge of the highway. Once on the road we got the shoulder to ourselves and, where the shoulder ran out, loads of space given by the drivers we were sharing the road with. We reached Penrith with enough time to spare for a cafe stop where we got chatting to a local, as we left she gave us "something for the journey home" - two Viennese fingers, excellent cycling fuel!
The appointment went well, no major diseases and no pathologies presenting (it's my age!!), I was prescribed a course of drugs which "should sort you out."
We finally left
Katoomba the next day and headed back to Sydney where we'd arranged to meet up with Charlotte our slightly mad friend who had come out to Aus to compete at the Evandale Village Fair (there'll be a seperate blog about that). Knowing how it is with tandems we'd given ourselves about 15 minutes to get from the train station to the cafe next door before we were due to meet up, unfortunately train delays ate 5 minutes of that, a bloke wanting to ask about tandeming took another chunk of time and then we got accosted by Red Cross collectors on the other side of the pedestrian crossing from the cafe. I could see Charlotte looking for us so I yelled and jumped up and down to attract her attention while Vernon dealt with all the questions about how difficult it is to ride a tandem and how little we carry and are we scared and all the other stuff. Thankfully Charlotte is a tandem pilot and has also been known to ride slightly "unusual" bikes so she is used to the delays caused by attention seeking velocipedes. We dumped all our kit at Glebe YHA and headed up to
the Sky Tower to look at the views and take many photos, then on to Circular Quay and the opera house before wandering around The Rocks where we were treated to a wonderful display as the Flying Foxes flew in to roost for the night. Somewhere in all of this Vernon found a balloon which then accompanied us for quite some time until I tried to park it under the awning of a pub and it made a bid for freedom. We'd been looking for a small child to foist it onto but Sydney children seem to be too sophisticated for balloons and weren't interested. We finished the evening with a meal in Chinatown at a place selected randomly from the Lonely Planet, mainly because Vernon knew how to find it. It was obviously popular as we had to wait outside where we were entertained by somebody, who we think was the owner playing the violin, before we got seated. The food was good, the service brusque and the place was completely packed.
The next day we had to move out as the YHA was full, we were just arranging a new place with The Rocks Visitor Centre when
I got a text from Charlotte suggesting we meet up at the Annie Liebowitz exhibition 45 minutes before. Ah the joys of international telephone usage, we're perfectly capable of being late without help, delays in text delivery just give us more excuses. the Liebowitz exhibition was amazing, as well as the well known celebrity pictures there were some huge landscapes, enlarged to the point of fuzziness and quite stunning. The most touching were the private shots of her family and friends, including some which I would have discarded as blurred or badly composed if I'd taken them - shows how much I know! My absolute favourite picture was of R2D2 in its storage box and the most annoying was of QEII in the garden at Buckingham Palace which would have been a great sunset shot if it hadn't been for the woman stood in the middle of it!
We headed back to central Sydney via Baskin Robbins for ice cream/sorbet (it is still very hot here) and a brief sortie into a militaria shop for the purchase of a pith helmet, before making our way to Real/Ideal, an architecture and art exhibition. The route there was made easy by the
non-motorist GPS which Andy Gates had provided Charlotte with; through a subway and a park then down a quiet residential street and we were at our destination - splendid. The exhibition was brilliant and we spent ages there before heading back to our spectacularly overpriced hotel, it was good to get back to the usual YHA fare the following day - at least you know what you are getting.
On another walk around The Rocks we came across some wonderful public art, a crushed car in the middle of a roundabout with a huge rock on it and a huge egg in a nest on a very tall pole, Aussies are very good at brightening up their public spaces. We also watched as a temporary cafe was being built, three shipping containers for the building, pallets as decking, walls clad with old clay plant pots (held on with number 8 wire of course) with strawberry plants in them, solar powered and all waste recycled. Once it has completed it's residency in Sydney it will be moving on to Milan, presumably all packed up inside itself.
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