Saturday, April 14, 2012
Or that bad really... after all, it means that I can wander around and around the same city block for a couple of hours without annoying anyone else.
I'm also starting to think that this kind of "lightning strike" approach to travel may be the way to go for places we've been a few times now... in and out with little chance to get bored, and having a laundry list of things to do (even if they're a little vague), which also helps.
It also meant that I could choose a really, really, really early flight time and not have it affect anybody else. So I was actually awake about a minute before my alarm went off at 4am this morning (yeah, I know... it's insane, but I did actually manage to get to bed early so it wasn't so bad).
I was organised and ready to go by about 4:30, and the taxi arrived pretty much on time at 4:45.
And it had to happen eventually. You can't live in a building filled with taxi drivers and not eventually get one that happens to live in your building. At least I think he lives in the building. Beyond a really quick look at him when I got in the cab, I didn't really pay any attention.
Normally, I'm used to taxi drivers taking me to the airport through the city, but when he asked me which way I wanted to go, I just said "whichever way is fastest", so he took me via the Entertainment Centre. And I have to admit, it actually felt faster. Whether it's because there are less traffic lights that way... or simply because either direction would have felt faster at 5am.
The fact that I only had one carry-on bag (in which I'd hidden my backpack, Russian doll style) also was a blessing. Just meant that I could sail on through security with nary a worry. Actually the fact that I was also only carrying the one bag instead of having to deal with my suitcase and my Crumpler bag and my camera bag (plus Ma) was a great help.
The flight was pretty good, as these things go... I ended up having an empty seat next to me, which is always awesome. And when we took off from Adelaide it was still dark, so I got to see the whole of the city spread out like Christmas lights. Very purdy.
I can't remember if I've said this before, but I think that one of the things I would never get used to in Sydney is how humid it is all the time... I mean currently Adelaide is 27C and 21% humidity, whereas Sydney is 21C and 66% humidity.
Everything else about Sydney I adore... it's just the humidity.
And I've now been on every form of public transport that Sydney has to offer. In fact, if I was to go down to Circular Quay right now and get on a ferry, I would have been on every possible form of public transport today.
The one that completed the trifecta today was the train from the airport to the city. I traversed deep into the bowels of Sydney Airport, down one escalator after another until finally I got my ticket and ended up on the platform.
For things filed under "Why can't Adelaide have nice things", please see underground train stations and double decker trains. I mean, seriously, too fucking cool... and I think it was very possibly the longest (passenger) train I've ever seen in real life.
It's also the first time I've been on a train for about fifteen years.
It also seemed to be a shorter journey via train than going by taxi... but that could just be my imagination... makes sense though since I would imagine it's a more direct route. It was a really leisurely way to get into the city though... once you conquer all those stairs anyway.
Once the train got into Circular Quay I shouldered my big purple bag and headed off to The Rocks to find my hotel (after being flummoxed briefly by a station ticket machine that wouldn't accept my ticket to let me out).
And it's always useful when your hotel has something distinctive about it... in this case, a big purple archway over the door...
Given that it was only about 9:15 at that point, I knew that there was no chance my room would be ready, so I left the very big bag with the hotel, took my much smaller black and yellow bag and went a-wanderin.
I did go back to see the nice young man who I got the watch pendant from last November... not to buy something else, just to thank him and to tell him that I wear the pendant all the time. Yes, a dorkalicious thing to do, but that's the way I roll baby. And I like to encourage those people whose art or craft or skills I admire, not only by purchasing their work, but also reinforcing that the decision I made to buy said item was the correct one.
Or possibly I'm just a giant dork.
After stopping off to get four chocolate covered strawberries on a stick (BEST! IDEA! EVER!), I headed over to the Opera House to buy the Lego Architecture Sydney Opera House set. Because, really, what's the point of being in Sydney and having the Opera House right there, if you don't go and buy said Lego set you intended to buy anyway from the building in question!
In retrospect, it may have been a better idea to buy it on my way back to the hotel, because essentially I had to carry the damn thing around for five hours, but still.
They were also giving away a free poster if you spent a certain amount of money (which I did), and I'm never one to turn down a free gift... even if I have no idea what the hell I'm going to do with it.
And somebody obviously didn't get the memo about my arrival, as they were staging a triathlon at the Opera House... so people everywhere and areas of the Opera House that were impossible to get to... and sadly, there were no gentlemen in wet, clingy, bulging lyrca as I was passing by.
I was intending to walk up to Westfield Sydney since there were about a dozen things I wanted to do in and around there, but just as I went past one of the bus stops at Circular Quay a "Free Shuttle Bus" appeared... and just happened to mention on the side of the bus that it went to QVB, which is close enough to Westfield, so I hopped on. Saved my poor knee having to do all that uphill walking... even if the bus did seem to take forever before it took off.
I ended up leaping out by Hyde Park and heading over to David Jones, then over to Westfield and up to Happy Lab.... yaaaay Happy Lab! Yaaaay also, very, very, very cute boy working in Happy Lab.
Then I wandered over to Bécasse Bakery and got myself the most amazing lemon tart while I called Ma, mostly to tell her I was having the most amazing lemon tart at Bécasse Bakery. Thankfully she also reminded me that I was supposed to go to the Swatch store to ask about a new case for one and the soy sauce incident about the other.
I did kinda end up going around and around and around and out then back in then back out of Westfield for the next couple of hours...
First I wandered over to Myer to check out their toy department for Lego (yes, I know... but there's a particular set I want and I also wanted to make sure they didn't have the new series of minifigures... which they didn't).
Then back over to Westfield to locate the Swatch store where Helpful Swatch Boy was very helpful. And gave me a new case for free... yay!
Part of me did toy with the idea of getting one of the One Direction dolls... but it would only be for shits and giggles, and they were a little expensive for that.
Then back into Westfield because I wanted to check out the store in the basement that sometimes has vinyl toys... which they did, so I grabbed another one of the 2Tone Dunnys and a Futurama figure. I ended up in QVB briefly, partly because I'd confused it with The Galarie across the road... but by that time it was pretty much lunch time, so I went back across the road to Westfield and had lunch at Charlie & Co Burgers, which was very nice... but I really shouldn't have had the fries... it was just too much food even though I left about half of them.
Afterwards I realised that the money I had on me wasn't really going to last very long, so I detoured around to the one ATM in all of Sydney that belongs to my bank, then headed over to George Street to get some new headphones at the Apple Store.
It was a choice between the normal ones which only last about six months if you're lucky, or ones that were "in ear" headphones, which stay in better and were three times the price... I went with the three times the prices ones. Granted, if they fail in anything less than 18 months I'm never buying them again.
By this point it was almost 1pm, my feet were essentially falling off, so I traipsed all the way down Pitt Street until I got to The Rocks, had a quick poke around the Museum of Contemporary Art shop, grabbed a drink at the Market, did a quick wander through the stalls just in case anything looked worth buying.
Then I went and sat near the hotel for a little bit until one of the nice painters from across the street started chatting to me (I think because he saw me taking a photo of the building they were painting... mostly I did that because it was all covered in blue cloth and looked cool... see below)... then figured I may as well hang around in the hotel lobby if my room wasn't ready... at least it would be more comfortable.
I'm not entirely sure what constitutes "an upgrade" at this hotel (or any hotel for that matter)... but I was given one. It's not a bad room... it's just the one room though, even though it has space for a kitchen and a sofa and a table and a desk. It reminded me, layout wise anyway, of the place we stayed in in Brisbane.
Sadly my view is of the back of the original heritage buildings at the front of the lot... even one more floor up and I would have had a view of the harbour at least to some degree... but all things considered it's not bad. Plus you get three hours free internet... which I may or may not use given the fact that I'll be out most of tonight and should be getting to bed early so I can get up early and get to the airport on time.
That's pretty much all I've done for the last couple of hours... sit around the hotel room, typing this up and poking the internet to see who falls out. And I'm okay with that... I did everything I wanted to do this morning/afternoon... and I don't really want/need to go back up the hill to buy anything else... so I'm content to just chill out here for a while.
Plus it looks a little stormy out there right at the moment... or at least it's very overcast.
I may wander downstairs in a bit and go take some photos of the Opera House/Bridge... maybe see if I can take some more photos with Little Traveller...
Yeah... I brought one of my old, original Lego minifigs to Sydney with me (and christened him Little Traveller, or LT for short... hmmm Eltie... that could work)... he's essentially the same one from the Gay Lego Love Story, but I gave him a better face, new hands and gave his torso a wash. The only problem is trying to get the iPhone to focus on him rather than the background, and keeping my hand mostly out of shot...
Okay, so I took LT for a wander, took some pictures and then wandered back to the hotel to take a shower and get ready for dinner/the Opera House.
I kinda ended up being ready far too early... but I was slightly terrified I wouldn't have enough time and then ended up with too much.
I went down to the Opera House and had dinner at Opera Kitchen... Beef Vermicelli Salad... I was actually expecting the beef to be in strip form, but turned out to be minced... was still very tasty. And I think the venue itself is worth a revisit... or if not that one, then one of the other places under the Opera House... there was some interesting dumpling and sushi style options too which sounded good.
And then, slightly by accident (well technically, by going to look at the poster for Macbeth), I found the Drama Room at the Opera House and proceeded to hang around outside for a good 30 minutes or so, until I finally went inside, bought a program and waited for the doors to open.
Now, not so much with the Fringe, but occasionally with the Cabaret Festival, but very definitely because it was the freaking Opera House... I made an effort with my outfit, working within the limitations of having to transport it to Sydney and then having to sit in it in a theatre all night.
Some people did not bother making an effort. I really was astounded at what some people turned up in. Moreso quite young or much older folks, but there was a guy there who looked like he was about to make a bad gay lumberjack porn movie in the 70's.
Halfway through the play I suddenly realised that I hadn't seen the Bonds hoodie I wore this morning pretty much for the rest of the day... in fact, I think the last time I saw it was when I stopped off in a café at the airport to sort out my bags for the train ride. I have a feeling I put it down on the seat with the backpack, then put the backpack in the purple bag and forgot to pick up the jacket.
Dammit... I didn't even need the jacket except for about five minutes standing outside this morning... I should never have bloody brought it.
Hopefully this story has a happy ending and the next paragraph will be me describing that I went back to the café at the airport tomorrow morning and they had my jacket. I'm not overly optimistic though...
This would not be the paragraph mentioned above... this would be the paragraph where they hadn't seen my jacket and where I will need to call the Lost and Found department of Sydney Airport tomorrow morning and ask if they've seen it... then get them to mail it out to me if it is there.
Anyway... after the play, it was a wander back to the hotel, marvelling at how many people are still out and about at Circular Quay, and packing my bag for my early train ride back to the airport tomorrow morning.
THE FOLLOWING MORNING...
This is why I should never try and work out times and plans for things when I've been awake for about twenty hours... I ended up setting my alarm about 45 minutes earlier than I really needed to... so I was up at 5am, and ready to leave by about 5:30... and the plane didn't leave until 8:20... plus the train ride only takes about 15 minutes.
So I ended up sitting around the hotel room poking myself in the eye until it was time to go. Fortunately I also did a bunch of wandering around, going out onto the balcony and whatnot... and happened to notice that the clouds had started to glow with dawn light.
Dawn, the Opera House within a few minutes walk, time on my hands... you bet I went straight downstairs to check out of the hotel and then straight down to the Harbour to photograph dawn at the Opera House (that would be one of the photos on the right at the top of this post).
I then had to run the gauntlet of the stupid ticketing machines at Circular Quay train station... they're not fucking user friendly... firstly one of them wouldn't take cash at all, then it closed down after somebody else managed to buy tickets. Then the other one wouldn't take my EFTPOS card... eventually (and because a very sweaty American tourist managed to buy a ticket before me) I got it all to work... but tres frustrating.
The train ride itself was fine... getting to the airport was fine (even with the 400 escalators to traverse)... finding out that the Lost Property department at the airport was on the outside of the security zone after I was inside the security zone, not so much.
And then I think because I'd been fortunate enough to have an empty seat next to be for the flight there, I ended up with a very, very large woman in the seat next to me for the return flight... and one of those women who chats... fortunately she didn't chat to me, she chatted to the woman on the other side of her and I put my headphones in and dozed for the majority of the flight.
Then it was an expensive taxi ride home (seriously $30 to get home from the airport, whereas the train to and from Sydney costs $15... WTF)... and there endeth my holiday!
And hereth... errr... here are the goodies from the trip (and for the record the clef pencil and a couple of the smaller Happy Lab things are for Ma)...