Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ben's Adventures in Sydney: The Motion Picture

Having ran out of Star Wars film titles I've had to resort to Star Trek.

I heard something somewhere, I'm not sure where actually, that dick Cheeny is in town and that traffic would bad , and no trains would be running. Which is why I am sitting here now at an airport internet kiosk. My flight starts boarding in about 40 minutes. The bus ride to the airporst wasn't too bad actually, thank god they only charged $2.40 instead of the usual $15 to use the airport train service.

A bit of a sour note is that I lost two T-Shirts I bought in the hostel somewhere (either that or they were stolen!). I didn't realise until I packed up my stuff and left the room. I lodged a report with reception, I'm positive I didn't leave anything behind in the locker in the room. I've even checked my bag twice. I'm a bit pissed off actually.

The other thing is that after getting back from the Blue Mountains last night I just felt sick in the stomache and had a headache. It was an exhausting (but good and totaly worth it) day. I just curled up on my bed and well just lay there. Eventually I decided I needed something to eat, and rememered that KFC is a good medicine for sick stomaches. I know it sounds strange, but it worked for me once. This time it worked with middling success. I did feel better, but still not real well. I felt the pain move through my intestines through the night, it started high but by early in the morning it was low, and was gone by the time I woke up. I can feel it coming back now, I hope I don't get airsick.

I suppose the good news is that I have a window seat for the flight back to Melbourne. I'm really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again. I put fresh sheets on it the day I left. I will not miss the hostel, in fact I don't think I will stay there again. They claim to clean the rooms thoroughly, but I doubt it, and the bathrooms are small and grotty. But yes, Mum's cooking and my own bed beckon...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ben's Adventures in Sydney: Train and Shopping Day

After toying with the idea of going to the Blue Mountains, I realised that I had missed the most appropriate train to get there (it takes 2 hours so you have leave early-ish to get the most out of the day). So I went with plan B which was to begin with watching freight trains pass Canterbury Station. From what I have read on the internet, there is a steady stream of freight trains passing here throughout the day. I was not disappointed. In a little over an hour and a half I saw 8 trains on the goods lines. I took quite a few photos, and even photographed a few sparks in the downtime. It was good.

Getting a bit bored, I decided to move on. The other train related thing I wanted to do was ride on the Carlingford Line. This blue line on the Sydney rail map has always intrigued me. To get there I needed to get first to Lidcombe, which necessitated traveling thorough notorious suburbs such as Lakemba and Bankstown. Much to my surprise (when considering how this area is portrayed in the Media) there was hardly a Muslim extremist to be seen. Instead there were many people from any number of faiths and ethnicities. Once at Lidcombe I needed to find a train heading west that stopped at the junction station of Clyde, only two stops further on. Eventually one turned up after nearly half an hour and I was on my way.

Branching off the main western line at Clyde it off up into the hills terminating nowhere in particular (as I found out it starts nowhere in particular as well), when most lines in Sydney seem to go somewhere, or at least loop back on themselves. I wasn't disappointed however, as it passes through an area of Sydney I was totally unfamiliar with, the most notable highlight being Rosehill Racecourse. The frequency is appalling and I risked getting stranded for an hour getting out at Carlingford to take a photo of the train, luckily there was about a 5 minute turn around. I would compare it with the Alamein Line in Melbourne except that it's longer, has a worse service and appears to traverse less well-to-do suburbs.

Back at Clyde I decided to go to Paramatta, don't know why but it seemed the logical place to go when searching for food in that part of Sydney. I ended up in the Westfield Shopping Centre, but nothing in the basement level food court took my fancy at the time so I went seeking the other food court. This place is huge, it's got at least 5 levels (although they are all narrow and head in the same direction). I ended up wasting a few hours here. Upon re-emerging into daylight to get the train back to Sydney (an express to Gosford stopping at only Lidcombe and Strathfield) I discovered that the clouds had rolled in and it was raining. No complaints from me, it was refreshing.

Once back in town, I took some time to re-group in the hostel before heading over to Market City in Hay Market where I ended up buying some T-Shirts which subsequently got lost/stolen. Gunzel time again struck when I took some time to photo some Sydney trams/light rail. Becoming lazy I opted for a light dinner at Darling Harbour, before just vegging out on a step overlooking the water for an hour or so. Again I took the light rail back to the hostel, but decided to forgo the beer because I decided that tommorow was my last chance to go to the Blue Mountains before returning home.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ben's Adventures in Sydney: Train and Ferry Day.

Wednesday, ah yes, I slept in 'till 10 I think. I decided to take it easy and start off with a train ride. I ended up at Berowra via the North Shore. On the way back to the city I stopped off at Waverton and Wolstoncraft for a bit of gunzel photography (I'm a sucker for a curved platform), although I wasn't really into it and the results weren't too good.

By the time I got back to the city it was about 2:00pm. After a quick bite of lunch I decided to hit the ferries for the afternoon. Focusing on routes I haven't been on before, I chose Woolwich and Mosman. Having missed the Mosman ferry, Woolwich was the go.

I always enjoy the ferry to Darling Harbour as it goes under the bridge and through the less well known parts of the harbour. The Woolich ferry was no exception, passing all kinds of boat yards, and more "mundane" harbour side suburbs. I just love the "industrialness" of this area. We called at warves such as Birchgrove and Grenwich before arriving at Woolwich. At Woolwich we appeared to suffer some sort of engine trouble and the captain came down to inspect the engine. It can't have been too serious as we were soon on our way back to Circular Quay, via a few extra wharves in Balmain and the like.

Once at Circular Quay we appeared to play chicken with a number of larger boats before berthing. These included cruise boats such as Captain Cook and Matilda, as well as the larger Manly Ferries. I wasn't complaining, I was enjoying my cruise. Once on the wharf I needn't have exited the barriers as the Mosman Ferry departed from the opposite side.

The Mossman ferry was an experience and a half, it's like Toorak with water up that narrow inlet. Certainly a very nice part of the world to live, but limited to the privileged few. I'll add that to places in Sydney I would live if given the chance (yeah right!).

From there I decided to go and check out Kings Cross and Potts Point. Taking the train, I went the long way via Museum meaning I had to change at Central instead of Town hall. My main reason for going there was to have a look at some accommodation I considered staying at, both places seemed reasonable, and I might stay at either next time.

What struck me the most was the Contrast between Kings Cross and Potts Point. You walk out of the Kings Cross train station and turn left, passing all the sex shops, backpacker oriented shops and homeless people as you go. Then you turn the corner in to Macleay Street (it's the same street, but there's a bend) Potts Point. Everything is neat and very up market, the people are well dressed and there's luxury cars driving down the leafy street. It's almost like there's a line drawn across the road and the footpath, odd indeed. Back into King's Cross and heading south down Victoria Street I did consider eating at one of the two Thai noodle restaurants nearby, but decide I was not hungry enough.

Next stop was Bondi Junction for a bit of a look around, but by the time I got there, all the shops were shut. So after a brief walk around the Mall it was back on the train to Town Hall. When I got there I decided to take the Monorail to Darling harbour. It's clearly targeted at the dumb tourist and priced to match, but for me it's one of the things to do in Sydney. I could have used my daytripper on the bus instead, oh well.

So after wandering around the Harbourside "Tourist Trap" shopping complex I had Oporto for dinner. After wandering around a bit more I ended up at Star City Casino. By now I was buggered, so decided to tram it back to the hostel. On the way I got a little side tracked, and ended up having a few beers at a bar in Haymarket before going to an internet cafe I was familiar with in George Street for a while.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ben's Adventures in Sydney Episode 2: Attack of the Queens

No, as I said in a previous post, not the queens normally associated with Sydney around this time of year.

So my day was pretty much taking in the sights of the harbour. I went for a couple of ferry rides. The first was to Kirribilly (Hi John) and Neutral Bay. This ride gave a pretty good view of the Queen Mary II which was docked at the Garden Island naval base 9it's not actually an island, I checked). GArden Island was used because it waas to bid to fit in to the passenger terminal at Circular Quay. one time when I was in Sydney there was a US aircraft carrier berthed at Garden Island, which would make a good comparison with QMII. I would probably describe her a 3 or 4 appartment buildings and then some.

The other ferry ride ws to Watsons Bay. Here I went for a walk along the top of the ocean cliffs to the lighthouse. Having missed the last ferry back to the city, I decided to hang around and watch the QE2 enter Sydney Harbour, something I don't regret. I had a very good vantage point, the photos which I should post soon tell the story for themselves. I even got to have doyles fish and chips for dinner. For $10 you get some of the freshest fish (from a fish and chip shop) that you'll ever have and a mountain of chips.

Getting back to the city wa another story. Eventually the 8:15 bus to the city arrived to the applause of some of the 30 or so passengers waiting at the Watsons Bay Bus stop. The ride in was ok, but busy until we hit traffic gridlock at Kings Cross. It took us ages to turn into William street and then another 30 or so minutes to reach circular Quay. It might have been quicker to walk, but I was content to just sit there. In all it was just surreal to see a traffic jam of this size at 9:15 pm on a Tuesday evening. Apparently all of Sydney wanted to see the Queen Mary.

I was lucky enough to watch QMII leave sydney from the walkway on Sydney harbour Bridge. Getting back to the hostel was not easy as I missed the last train for the night from Circulay Quay. I ended up riding a bus down George St and got off just around the corner from the hostel. You gotta love the Daytripper (except for the price! (by Melbourne standards anyway)).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ben's Adventures in Sydney Episode 1: The Virgin Menace

They frigging well canceled my flight. So I spent a few more hours than intended at the airport. When they announced the delay, I had vision of various UK TV shows such as "Airline" and "Airport". No such luck, they were very good with how they handled it and after spending half an hour in the checking qeue ( the real one, not the blue check one) I was on flight that departed Melbourne 2 hours after I should have arrived in Sydney. I even got a $6 voucher for food while I waited (the pasta I had for dinner was dry anyway).

The flight itself was uneventful. I saw the baggage crew load my bag on to the plane, good thing I didn't pack the good china. The people sitting next to me sounded surprised when I told them I was from Melbourne, after they asked me how long my stay in Melbourne was. One of the flight attendents had a massive VPL (I would have thought there would be a regualtion against that sort of thing on Virgin Blue). I just listend to my MP3 player for an hour, like any other bus ride.

From Sydney airport I made my getaway on the train and was checked in to my room within half 45 minutes of stepping off the plane. As I'm cheam I'm only staying at a backpackers (a more reputable one I might add. So far there's no sign of lice or bed bugs, and no sign of tinea from the shower.

This post has been backdated.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mixed news

The good news is that the change has hit.

The bad news is that so far there is no railn

No wait, it's raining now, hope it lasts.

It's all good.

A few thoughts

I can't believe I haven't blogged at all this month, oh well.

One day not so long ago I came to realisation that I have a man-bag. Well it's a backpack, but I just carry around so much crap in it, mostly stuff I don't need on a day to day basis. The main things I have in it are a water bottle and my camera and assorted public transport timetables. I feel naked if I don't have it with me.

I learned this week that one of my friends quit his job and is moving to Townsville with his girlfriend and taking up a new job there. It's a 9 month contract so he doesn't have to stay up there if he doesn't want to. He had a bit of a farewell shindig on Friday night at his parents home (parents weren't home). He says he's either going to start up an email list or a blog while there, which should be interesting...

Some sad news is that my cousin's wife died from cancer early last week. They were married not quite 2 years ago in a very nice (despite the rain) wedding at Healsville Sanctuary , which was very fitting as she was a vet. Keeping with the bush theme all the guests at a wedding recieved a small native shrub as a gift. I believe there was a small private funeral, which we weren't invited to (not many of the extended and even close family were). Next week there will be a memorial service, which some/most of the family won't be attending (not because of any family disagreements either), myself included. In a way I'm glad our part of the family wasn't invited, I don't do too well at funerals, but who does really.

Finally, Ben's Adventures is off to Sydney to see the queens (no not the queens usually associated with Sydney at this time of year) this week. I may or may not post while I'm there, depends on if I can be bothered paying for the privilege.

Right now I'm sweating like a pig waiting for the wind change to arrive, it may be cloudy and there may be a bit of thunder, but it's still bloody hot.

That's about it really