Well, I finally arrived in Sydney last night, just scraping in before the sun went down. I would have been here earlier, but there was a bit of a cock-up with my luggage at the airport. I’d asked the Qantas staff for some tape at Brisbane, because there’s the beginning of a hole in the fabric (I’m really sorry, Pru – but it’s really very tiny, so this was preventative rather than remedial! [My sister, Pru, lent me her rucksack, eek.]) Anyway, when I arrived in Sydney airport, I became one of those pitiable people who you see standing alone and forlorn by the carousel, watching the last few unclaimed bags go round and round, searching with futile eyes for their own. Having finally reached acceptance that it wasn’t going to appear, I reported the lack of my luggage to the relevant folk who, with much head-scratching and general faffing, finally tracked it down to a secure storage area, fortunately in Sydney. It turns out that the tape I’d been given is what the airport staff use to identify bags containing firearms, so it had been transferred from Brisbane via the special channels reserved for such potentially dangerous goods. This made me chuckle rather, as the most dangerous thing in there is probably a pair of tweezers – oh, and perhaps a rather festering bag of dirty washing.
Anyway, the upshot was that I missed my shuttle bus to my accommodation and had to hang around for ages waiting for the next one. As ‘compensation’, a very friendly and apologetic man gave me one of the Qantas courtesy overnight packs, which are given to those poor sods who have to survive without luggage for a night. It was actually a fairly comprehensive kit, and will probably prove quite useful… So anyway, I felt I just had to wear the Qantas issue pyjamas last night, on principle, despite my corporate bedtime attire receiving some strange looks:
This outfit is brought to you by Qantas… An interesting marketing tool, which would surely rely on rampant promiscuity to work?! (And, thinking about it, rampant promiscuity is probably not very compatible with the subsequent donning of shapeless, baggy pyjamas…)
Aaanyway, before all of this kicked off, I very much enjoyed the descent into Sydney from the aeroplane window. The clear, blue skies were a geographer’s dream, giving me perfect views of the coastal topography below:
I also had my first glimpse of the beautiful Sydney Harbour, in miniature:
When my shuttle bus eventually arrived downtown, I checked into my accommodation super-quick, and legged it up the very grand Macquarie Street, trying to take in all the ornate, historical buildings in the fading light as I zoomed past. My power-walk dash paid off though, as I just made it to Circular Quay as the sun was setting behind Harbour Bridge, turning it instantly into an iconic silhouette, and touching the famous white sails of the Opera House with a warm glow.
The famous view, brought down to earth with the bump of a tourist landing in-shot at high speed.
I felt very excited to have become part of such a famous scene – it felt dream-like and surreal. I find air travel has that effect, as suddenly you are plonked somewhere completely new with no time to prepare for the change. I felt rather giddy and excitable. The illuminated high-rise city-scape across the water only added to my exuberant sense of being suddenly scooped up by the big city after relatively sleepy Brisbane.
Already sucked in by the breathless excitement of the indisputably good-looking Sydney, I headed back to the hotel to don a dress and discover Sydney-by-night. It was one of the times of my trip that I felt most keenly a desire to have a travelling buddy. I really enjoy travelling solo, but there are certain times when I do have a serious yen for a partner in crime – it would have been good to hit the bars with someone else last night as, alone, I knew I wouldn’t do the place justice. Nevertheless, I decided to check out the Oxford Street and the Surry Hills area, which is the gay hub of the city and apparently one of the liveliest areas. It certainly did have a very effervescent feel to it, and I felt rather underdressed compared to the attention-grabbing, mostly skin-tight outfits that abounded. I enjoyed wandering down the street, amidst some serious mincing and a cacophany of raucous laughter. I plucked up courage to enter a bar for a drink, and ended up chatting to a group of extremely camp Asian guys, who were lots of fun, and very ready to praise Sydney as a great place to live. They gave me the names of loads of crazy-sounding bars and clubs that ‘I just had to go to’, but I’m afraid I let the side down rather, as I headed back to the hotel afterwards. It had been a long day and I wanted to save my energy for a big day of exploring today – as I have only ONE DAY to do Sydney in – errr… hello?! However, I felt very happy to have experienced a teeny sliver of the after-dark fun to be had.
I nearly stopped off for a thai massage at one of the late-opening massage parlours on the way back. However, I glanced around at all of the adult shop and strip joint signs and had second thoughts, as I couldn’t know for sure whether they would be the kind of massage parlours with an optional ‘happy ending’!
Anyway, I am having a great time sightseeing my way around the city today, and have walked many miles already. I’m currently in a very funky, alternative suburb called Newtown, eating a delicious lunch in what I think is a cafe that Jason recommended, but even if it isn’t the one, it’s nevertheless very good! I want to make the most of the daylight for more sight-seeing so will blog again at a later point about the places and things I’ve seen today… Two observations to leave you with though. Firstly, Sydney is fitness-mad. Every second person seems to be dressed in sports-wear and is power-walking/running/stretching/cycling etc. Secondly, there is a big Thai influence here, seen in an abundance of restaurants and massage shops, and it is seriously whetting my appetite for the final Thai leg of my travels… 🙂