Recently I had the pleasure to visit Paul in Sydney. My experience of Sydney prior to this was many years ago on a boat, and two years ago when my brother and I drove down the East Coast (where Sydney was a short stop-over for lunch).
The Plane Ride First up was an exciting plane ride with Virgin Blue. I say exciting because that seemed like the thing to say. It was too early in the morning and I felt sick (before getting on the plane) so it wasn’t exactly fun. Everything was all very serious too which was a touch disappointing.Nevertheless when I landed I was feeling a whole lot better. After a short wait at the carousel for my luggage (and a quick tour of the Sydney ((I find it hard to say toilet))) was heading towards the train station at Sydney Aiport.
I should point out at this point that my experience with finding “ammenities” in Sydney has been very poor. During my previous visit we were unable to locate any. I concluded on my last visit that people in Sydney simply hold it. Perhaps airport was equipped with ammenites to assist traveller’s not as accustomed to “holding it in”. (More on this later)
I then took my bag to the train station, which was where I discovered it was incredibly easy for the bag to go up on one wheel ((Think Ski Mode in Knight Rider)). Unlike David Hasselhoff I was unable to control it very well and it ended up going from side to side. I soon discovered that a solid kick would set it straight on two wheels again.
The Train Ride Waiting for the train was dull. Really dull. I phoned Paul from the train station to say I had arrived in Sydney, but after that, pure dullness. Eventually a train came and then went and the screen saying when the next train was coming didn’t know what it was doing.When the train did come (and stop), Paul’s description of the double decker train materialized before me. I had trouble locating the Voyeur booth, but that wasn’t a huge problem because I was in no position to make use of it anyway with my bag.
Arriving at the train station where I arranged to meet Paul I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I gave him a call but he was going through a tunnel (an actual tunnel, not the metaphorical kind). Despite this we managed to meet up and headed to Paul’s place of employment to drop off my bag in preparation for a real trip through Sydney.
Paul’s Place of Employment At Paul’s place of employment I had the opportunity to inspect the ammenities, which received my seal of approval, particularly for the stainless steel soap dispensers fitted into the vanity top. Urinals were placed at the proper height and mirrors were used to make it (the room you sick bastard) look bigger without making it feel like someone was watching. I also got to see Paul’s spiffy dual monitor set-up to which I thought “I’ve got to get me one of those”.
Holy Crepe Batman! At this stage we went and had crepes for breakfast. I only mention this because I was able to take advantage of the fact that I didn’t adjust my watch for daylight savings time throughout the entire trip. Paul and I were able to score a free juice as per their morning special (which ended about 30 minutes prior).
The Monorail Ride Following the tracks to the station and singing the Monorail song from the Simpsons we ventured aboard the monorail, which was surprisingly busy (surprising to me and my limited monorail experience ((The only recent monorails I have ridden pior to this was the monorail betwen Conrad Jupiters and the Oasis shopping Centre on the Gold Coast))). Fortunately after the first lap we had a seat and continued to sit for several more laps until we started to get hungry. Our hunger was soon to be satisfied in the David Jones Food Hall.
The David Jones Food Hall In all the David Jones I have ever been in, they tyically have pretty nice restaurants. It seemed that this Food Hall was taking it to the absolute extreme. It can be best described as a fruit shop/deli where they have set-up “bars” to sit and eat. But no samples here, full food. My nose sought out the “Grill Bar”, but I decided to have the Fish and Chips instead of a steak, because over the next three days I was going to eat steak on each one. Other bars included The Oyster Bar and the Cheese and Wine Bar.
The quality of the food was exceptional, but the wait for a seat was frustrating even though we didn’t have to wait that long. The fact that there isn’t really a system, but rather a case of fighting it out when a seat becomes available. Despite the dis-order of the seating arrangements I was able to maintain my composure and enjoyed my meal while watching the chef cook up some yummy looking meals.
Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children! After our meal, we proceeded on foot to a local cinema to catch a flick. Along the way I was accosted by a girl who I can only assume was in the child slave labor market.
“Hi, How was your Christmas?” she asked in a bright, cheery and confident voice. I was so taken aback by her bravado and confidence that I had to answer. “Good” I replied. This was obviously a mistake as she gauged this to mean that I have spare money lying around. She then started to talk about how a male stripper was trying to get people to buy children in Africa. “All you have to do today is choose between a girl or a boy” she said as she attempted to lure Paul and I over to look at some photos. She also commented that she was involved in this scheme and she only wished she could afford more than one child.
We then headed off saying that this was a big decision to make and we’d have to sleep on it.
The Outback Steakhouse Where better to take me on my first night in a strange city than a restaurant with the name of my favourite meal right there in bright neon lights above the restaurant. Despite a big lunch I was feeling quite hungry when we got to the Steak House (indeed, writing this is now making me hungry despite having just finished my lunch). Service was pretty poor, but the quality of the steak was tops, although a bit too peppered for my taste (making it harder to truly taste the meat). The pumpkin soup though was superb, but had a bread roll that was about twice the size of the soup. Fortunately it was a very light bread roll.
Prelude to the Ferry Ride (the next day) Wow. The number of people amassing to get on the ferry was tremendous. It was also a pretty hot day so the Sydney Ferries company was handing out free Spring Water. At first I was a little suspcious, but haven’t noticed any side effects effects. Standing and waiting surrounded by hundreds of people was hardly pleasant, but at the end of the unpleasantness would be a ferry ride followed by the much talked about Ribs and Rumps.
The Ferry Ride We managed to get a seat up on the deck and could look out at the sites along the way. It was on this seat that a question of etiquette came to my attention. I didn’t mention it at the time, but now seems as good a place as any. The girl opposite me who was with her male companion was having trouble with the strap on her dress not being straight. In this scenario is it acceptable to get up and help? What length of time should you wait before offering assistance. A similar issue was noted when another girl (also with a male companion) was having difficulties tying a knot behind her neck that was supporting her swimming suit.
Oh yes, and the views across the water were good too.
Ribs and Rumps After a big steak dinner the previous evening I was looking forward to another and Ribs and Rumps were up to the challenge. This time, both the meals and the service was exceptional. The only regret I have is not getting a bigger steak. Curiously the steaks were served on a wooden cutting board, which was a bit different from what I’m used to. The steaks weren’t heavily seasoned so the full flavours of the meat where able to come through (and now I’m hungry again). We even managed to fit in a dessert which I feel suggests we didn’t order enough steak.
The Taxi Ride Because Paul needs his beauty sleep I caught a taxi to the bus terminal where I was to depart for the next leg of my journey. Normally I wouldn’t mention this, but this was the first time I’ve had a taxi driver whose English was very poor. Thankfully my destination was clear enough (Central Station) that we didn’t run into too many problems and managed to find the right spot the second time past.
Ammenities at Sydney Central Station It was when using the ammenities at Sydney Central Station that I discovered why Sydney-siders hold it in. Toilet paper and faecal matter was everywhere. It was quite sickening to think that people would actually do that, but the evidence was in front of me in plain site. It still haunts my dreams.
Closing Remarks Sydney was an interesting place to visit for a few days, but I wouldn’t want to live there. It has a nice harbour, but really that seemed about it. I enjoyed my steak while in Sydney and enjoyed and appreciated the accommodation provided by Paul and Trish. Will I return? Probably.