ga Oscar's Adventures: The Days' Doings

March 15, 2009

The Days' Doings

This post is a two-for-one special because I'm a bit behind. And I'm very knackered. So enjoy this double-strength blogisode.

Saturday: we're both nearly through the jetlag barrier. We woke up at 5:30am and had coffee and TimTams in bed together. Oscar eventually stirred at 6:00am. He, at least, knows what a lie-in on holiday means.

After a cooked breakfast of fried eggs and the world's biggest rashers of bacon* we headed out at 9:30am and rode the monorail to famed Paddy's Market. Supposedly this is a melting pot of cross-cultural Australian traders but all we saw was crap. The stalls, which mostly flog heavy metal t-shirts, tatty Australian souvenirs and cheap toys were run by ubiquitous Asian traders. If I wanted to spend money on any of this I'd just get up early on a Bank Holiday morning and drive to the nearest rainy, windswept field where the same shite would be on sale. And another thing: if you look at the Paddy's Market website you'd assume that the market was frequented by locals (WASPs for the most part) but one quick look at the actual market is enough to tell you that it's just tourists (WASPs on the whole) that get lured there. To be fair the food court upstairs is pretty good and I had an excellent smoothie.

After an hour we were alighting the monorail at the city centre and making our way to Sydney Tower. I'd read ahead and wasn't expecting to find it the execution site of countless convicts. What it was is (ugh, clumsy tenses) a very tall viewing gallery, which is accessed by a very fast lift, built on top of a mall. Pretty much everything in Australia is built on top of malls; I wouldn't be surprised to discover the Westfield Ayers Rock underneath Uluru. Not surprisingly the experience begins with a lift ride. Both Rae and I thought we'd exit the lift to be greated with an amazing view of Sydney. But no, it was just a short ride to the lobby where we bought our tickets and waited for the touristique Oz-Trek presentation. For anyone who has been on the Oz-Trek ride: aren't the last 10 minutes gut-wrenchingly aweful? For anyone who hasn't been on the Oz-Trek ride: I hope you enjoy the last 10 minutes because they are the most memorable. All kidding aside the views from the top of the tower are stunning - neither words nor photos do it any justice. So that's enough of that.

I was feeling pretty queasy from the Oz-Trek ride so we three went back to the hotel for lunch, before returning to the centre (yes, by monorail) and enjoying a gentle perambulation through the Royal Botanical Gardens. As well as some very interesting flora, the fauna was pretty eye-catching too and included a large number of fruit bats hanging from the palms and banyans. Unscathed and rabies-free, we emerged to continue our walk until we reached the Opera House. Given that I have no interest in the operatic arts I didn't expect the spend a great deal of time there, but I had hoped to get up close and personal with the building. But out progress was barred by an ungodly amount of steps (so many that I'm sure Ricky Balboa would have baulked) so we jsut stayed at the bottom and enjoyed the view. From ground level the Opera House doesn't lend itself to photographs so most of ours were from the Harbour Bridge, where we went next.

Forewarned is forearmed they say. Despite this we still made our way through the pushchair unfriendly streets of The Rocks and up to the start of the footpath that crosses the bridge. I'd originally intended to climb Pylon Lookout but, again, my feet rebelled at the thought of 200 steps up and 200 steps down for virtually the same view as can be had at bridge level. (As you can tell me feet are very opinionated so don't get them started on the price of petrol.) Halfway across we looked back at the CBD to see the sky turn black with ominous rain clouds. Then flash, bang, wallop there was a electrical display the likes of which I had never seen before. Lucky for us it was all happening 10km to the south because we were standing on the biggest lightening conducter in the southern hemisphere.

To make a long story short when we had crossed to North Sydney we shelved our plan to take the ferry back, and voted to catch a train back across the bridge and then grab a monorail to the hotel. By the time we arrived the storm had moved north and the streets were inundated.

Sunday: I'm going to make this quick because it's getting too late to continue much further. I'm pretty sure we are passed the jetlag because we all slept in to 8:30am today. They (as in sleep-deprivation specialist and experienced world travellers) say that you need a day to recover for each timezone you have to adjust too. I say poo to that, because it has only taken us 3 days to match our body clocks.

Today was hecticly uneventful. Our lie-in mean we were late in getting out the door and on the train to pick up our campervan. By the time we got to the rental site the one we'd reserved had been given out by the hire company. The rationale for doing this was that since our booking was for 2 adults then we'd get downgraded and have to put up with a smaller vehicle. When we got to the depot they realised the error of their ways when they saw we accompanied his esteemed Pickle so we got an upgrade to an even better vehicle. (How they came to the conclusion that it was just Rae and myself - when I'd booked a child seat for the duration of the hire - I'll knever know!)

Once the keys for the campervan were in our (or rather mine because Rae refused to do any of the driving) hands we shot off to the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall. According to my satnav it would take thirteen minutes to do 10km. My arse it did. Australian road rules might be the same as the US and UK but their "style" of driving is much closer akin to France. The end result was tailbacks and blocked junctions because no-one has the time/sense/patience to let the traffic with the right of way through. I know that this is no different to Britain, but at least we know how to queue. We invented the orderly line!

So after 2 hectic hours dashing through the Westfield Bondi Junction (a beautiful mall BTW) we found that we had 15 minutes to do the same 10kms that had taken 30 minutes earlier in the day otherwise we'd be locked out the rental company and wouldn't be able to leave the camper in their secure compound for the night (owing to the fact we weren't actually making our exodus south until Monday and didn't want to park it overnight in the CBD). So I drove like a local (aka aresehole) and covered the distance in the prescribed 13 minutes. Result!

Afterwards it was back to the hotel, by train again, in time for Mr Pickle's tea. A quick wash and a long rant at reception (for not fixing our cooker even after nagging them senseless for 2 days) we took Oscar to Sydney Aquarium where some dudongs/manatees were on display in a specially converted barge. He really enjoyed it and spent to whole time pointing at various fish, marine mammals and crocs making a cooing noise. We didn't see any platypi (that ones for you Jase) though. Our final comment on Sydney Aquarium: it's an amazing attraction but it isn't Monterey Aquarium.

* Guinness Bacon: seriously, these were big pieces of bacon. I estimate that it was at least a foot in length. Based on the fact that European rashers are 9 inches long and the pigs are 8 foot from snout to curly-wurly tail tip, then Australian grunters should be breaking the 11 foot barrier!


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