Monday, 8 November 2010

Hello Australia

Monday 8th November 2010 - (the blog is now up to date with the last three days just been uploaded. To view the other two, scroll down)

MP3 track of the day: - Time to say goodbye - Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli

Weather: Auckland was beautiful and sunny / Sydney was thundery and humid

I woke up pretty early today and immediately felt sad; just like at the end of my Canadian tour I did not want to take this flight. I said goodbye to Alex and Sarah as they left the house for work and I sat down to watch the Brazilian GP.

Not a great result for Lewis Hamilton, as all his title rivals finished ahead of him, but he's still in the flight. I checked the house to make sure I hadn't left anything (and that all the doors were locked) and then said goodbye to the cats. I left through the garage door and waited to make sure that it closed.

Yesterday I went through my journey to the airport, with Alex and Sarah, and I was a little surprised to see that it would take around two hours to get there. Therefore I left the house around 10:00am for a 3pm flight. I got on the first bus I needed to take
(Alex and Sarah's local bus to the city) and the driver said that he would let me know when we were near an 'airport shuttle' bus stop.

It didn't take as long as the bus timetable predicted to get into town and I was there within an hour; the bus driver stopped and told me to head right, up Victoria Street towards the Skytower. Now, looking on the internet yesterday, I wasn't convinced of this as Alex and I reckoned I needed to be near the harbor. However I followed his instructions and made it to the Skytower where, just as I thought, there was no sign for an 'airport shuttle' bus service. Luckily there was an information center close by and so I asked them where the nearest 'airport shuttle' bus stop was; it appears the way I came, back down Victoria Street and onto Queens Street, was where I needed to be. I wasn't that annoyed with the bus driver as a) I was a lot earlier than I expected and b) it was only a five minute walk.

I got on the 'airport shuttle' and paid my $16! for a 45 minute trip (my one hour bus trip to town only cost $6). I arrived at the airport and checked in immediately; it was now midday and, just before going through security, I had a look for a place to eat lunch. There was a small food court but nothing took my fancy; a little confrontation occurred within my tiny brain … do I eat here, when there could be more choice of restaurants after I've gone through security, or do I wait until I'm through security and run the risk of there being no where to eat . I decided to ask a member of staff if there were plenty of places to eat after going through security; he said “...yes, about 20 places...” and so I happily went through security...

Two … not twenty, but two places to eat. One Burger King and a coffee shop was the choice I had and if I find that employee again I'll tell him exactly what I think of his advice. I sighed and went to Burger King which, was actually quite nice (not as nice as Furgburger)and filled a whole. I then spent the $7.00 I had left in change on some expensive Cadbury's chocolate (and this is meant to be tax free … think I prefer the prices when I have to pay tax) before heading to a currency exchange office.

Now I don't normally use the currency exchange offices within airports (usually I either wait until I'm home) however I had fifty dollars left and I didn't fancy spending the little time I had in Sydney comparing exchange rates; therefore I changed my money … to Singapore Dollars. Why Singapore Dollars? Well two reasons actually; firstly I thought that the rate given at the exchange office was better for the Singapore Dollar than the Australian and secondly I shall be arriving in Singapore, in three weeks time, at 2am in the morning. I therefore need a little bit of currency to pay for taxis, hostels etc and so forty-two dollars (I lost four pounds exchanging the money) was going to help. After this I was going to sit down and use the free wireless internet within the airport … however it wasn't free, and so I just waited to board my flight by reading my Sydney guidebook.

The flight was pretty good, I had a look at the films on offer and wasn't bothered about with any of them. I then switched onto the TV section and was pleased to see 'the best of Bean' in the comedy section (top tip: if you like Bean, book yourself onto a flight). After that I began to watch top gear, however I wasn't really paying any attention, I was just hoping the pilot would either get lost, or have to return to New Zealand. As we approached Sydney I opened my blind to see very dark clouds all around us; far in the distance I could see lighting strike the ground. It all seemed very cool, until I realized I was in a metal object 10,000 ft above the ground … I was hoping for a quick landing.

The landing wasn't perfect; it seems that it was quite windy in Sydney and we landed with one side of the plane slightly up in the air … still we had no problems and we got to our gate safely. This is the first time I've flown with Quantas and I have to say, overall, I was very impressed with the level of service, the meal and the in-flight entertainment. As I left the plane I saw a big 'Welcome to Sydney' sign and just sighed, not a 'Welcome to Auckland / Wellington / Christchurch / Queenstown' sign then.

Immigration control was a breeze and, not only did they not scan my bag, but I didn't have to produce half the paper work I had printed out ready. I then got some cash out and went for the train that would take me, almost, to the door of my hostel within twenty minutes. The train was a 'double-decker', which I'm sad to say, I was pretty excited about. You see, when I was going my 'European Tour' over a year ago (where did that year go?) I saw these 'double-decker' trains for the first time and I wanted to have a go on one … sadly if never happened. I decided to sit in the bottom of the train however, on my way back to the airport, I shall sit upstairs. Whilst traveling to my hostel I did see the Sydney Opera House and Bridge and my 'traveling instinct' started to bubble and I wanted to go out and have a look.

When I arrived at my train stop I could not believe the amount of people at the station; within twenty minutes I reckon I had seen more people, in Sydney, than on the entire south island of New Zealand. I left the train station and I found my hostel with relative ease. I went to my dorm to unload my stuff and, unluckily for me, it seems my ten bed dorm is full of women … which means it's a total mess. I wouldn't have minded if it had the three British ladies I met in Christchurch, or the lady I tried to get a phone number off in Queenstown … lets just say the girls here weren't first inline when looks were given out.

I didn't stay long in my hostel and I headed along the street for a little while. Even though Sydney's sky looked like it was going to tip it down any second, it was very humid and so no need for a coat. I was out only long enough not to find a library (looks like I'll have to pay for the internet again) but to find a small supermarket where I purchased 2.5ltr of coke, because it was on offer. I then returned to my hostel and planned for tomorrow; firstly I'm going to head to the Botanical Gardens which, both Alex and Sarah and Moose and Chris, have told me are a must. It also appears from my map that, from the edge of the gardens, I could get a good shot of the Opera House, we shall have to see.

For now it's good night.

Toodle Pip!

P.S. Happy 4
th Anniversary Alex and Sarah

P.P.S. Loads of people have told me how expensive Australia is … and they aren't joking. Only been here three hours and spent a fortune on nothing.

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