18th July and 19th July 2011
Rolled out of bed just before 9am and headed out to visit Sydney Harbour. As I was walking down the street I saw the bus pull up, assuming I would miss it I took my time. Luckily it turned out to be a small mob of kids getting on so I was able to almost stroll up at a leisurely pace and hop on. As we were driving I realised they did not announce stops and other than it taking about 45mins had no idea where I was going. I asked a fellow passenger and was rewarded with “its the last stop”. Well that should make it easy then.
My wonderful friend, Maz, who I was staying with had given me her all purpose transport pass that would expire that day (thereby saving me $20 at least). I got off at Circular Quay and headed down to the bay. The next ferry to Manly Island was in 15mins so I found a spot in the sun and ate some of the left over pizza for breakfast. The Sydney Opera house was just peeping around the corner of the harbour and even though I could barely see it, it took my breath away.
At boarding time I managed to duck and weave my way to a perfect position at the front of the ferry on the 2nd level. Unfortunately, everyone else followed suit. As we headed out into the bay the opera house came into full view and was truly like some mystical structure you hear about but never believe you are going to get the chance to see.
Once under full steam into the harbour I gave up my prize location for a wander around the ferry and settled for a more solitary position at the back of the ferry to watch the Sydney bridge and opera house disappear into the skyline on our way to Manly Island.
The weather was near perfect, with just enough of a nip in the air as to need a fleece but not the warm jacket. I walked along the beach and then up along a walk way until I found a sun-drenched rock, perfect to sit and read on. The water below me was crystal clear and I keep expected to see fish and sea creatures cavorting below the waves. After about an hour I headed back to catch the ferry.
The ferry ride was as perfect on the ride back, with the amusing background drama of parent vs child not wanting to put her jacket on. Back at the harbour I considered catching another ferry in the opposite direction, but some music caught my ear I went to investigate. It was a group of Aboriginals playing the didgiridoo, in truth the first ones I had seen that were not sitting in doorways with brown paper packets. The main speaker was singing and encouraging us to sit with Uncle Max and take a photo. Uncle Max seemed like a jovial enough character in a loin cloth and traditional body paint. The music was haunting and the general sense of entertainment combined with culture was at our fingertips. I even picked up one of hte cd’s. It was that or the painted Emu egg that would go nicely next to my Ostrich egg, but the cd was $10 cheaper.
Feeling a bit tired, fresh air and ferry rides can do that to you. I decided to head “home”. On the way I got a text from Maz saying that we had free tickets to the final Harry Potter movie and to meet her at 6pm. Perfect!!! A quick nap and bite to eat then off to the movies.
We had KFC for dinner, hate to admit it but out of all the fast food places (all of which I try to avoid at all costs) there is something addictive about the KFC sweet chilli wrap. Just so dang yummy! Then the final installment of Harry Potter. It was great seeing families, teenagers, men in business suits… it appears Harry Potter appeals to them all!
Last day in Sydney
My last day consisted of going to the coffee shop and doing some internet, mailing a few postcards and then staring glumly at my backpack, that appears to have exploded all over my friends living room floor. I swear I don’t have that much stuff. Just as I returned to the apartment the weather turned foul, the wind was howling, the rain was pouring down… so we opted for take out Thai for dinner. A perfect choice.
An OH SHIT moment!
Maz’s roommate had offered to take me to the train station at 6am on her way to work, saving me the bus trip and walk down the hill in the rain. I made it to the airport perfectly on time, lined up for checkin, was sent to the front of the line for those going to Auckland only (the plane was continuing on to Santiago), was able to get my air miles reward number entered in, everything was going wonderfully. Then I was asked “ok great now if I can just see your flight info for leaving NZ”.
OH SHIT!!! I hadn’t printed it out. I had all the info written down but had never managed to find an internet cafe (that will teach me to look harder). With a mild sense of panic the very nice lady behind the counter explained that if I just pop downstairs to the left I would find a place to print. She even let me leave my big bag. I ran downstairs, and searched for the internet place, finally I found the computer stuck behind some tables, printer was out of order. I was now reaching the frantic part of the search, I asked someone and he said there was another place further down to the right. I frantically made my way there and discovered the coin slot was jammed so had to use my credit card, $5 minimum (plus exchange rate and foreign transaction fees, this was going to be expensive printing). With a sigh of relief I got it all printed and made my way back upstairs where I was handed my boarding pass and sent on my way.
Up to the point where I was asked for the dreaded flight info I had really needed the bathroom. It is amazing how your body goes into survival mode in panic, as I no longer needed to go, at least not until everything stopped clenching and relaxed.
Not only was my flight on a Chilean airline, LAN, and therefore at risk if the volcano in Chile had burped again, but the weather was also outrageous and I had this gnawing fear that I would have to stay in Sydney longer. As I walked to my gate I looked at the info board only to see my flight displayed thus:
LAN Flight 800 gate 30 delayed-Wed
Forgive me, but has anyone else had a flight appear delayed for an entire day. I nearly had a heart attack. But then it changed to on time, apparently someone had pressed the wrong button. Go Figure! Without any further instances I settled in to wait for boarding.
At boarding I was very pleased to discover that I had a whole 4 person row, that they had yummy FREE snacks and an excellent entertainment system. I almost wished it was a longer flight.
Next entry will be my fun experience with NZ immigration!