Australia 2011SydneyTravel

Australia 2011 Part 1

I have just been to Australia. It was brilliant! There was pretty poor access to the internet over there so I blogged it all in Word as I went along. Now I’m uploading it all. At the end I will create a summary post with all the links so you can read in order. Bear with, bear with…

Sunday 3rd April > Tuesday 5th April

I am writing this blog entry from a flat in an apparently exclusive area of Sydney called Elizabeth Bay. Nicole Kidman lived here. Flats go for around $1.5million AUD. Just around the corner is Kings Cross. It is much like Kings Cross in the UK. Betting shops, hostels and titty bars!

I’m presuming the price tag around here is because of the absolutely stunning view you get over Elizabeth Bay. You do not get a view like this in the UK. Even on a good day!

Needless to say, after only 3 days here, I have fallen in love with Sydney.

Let’s start at the beginning though eh?!

Sunday, up, finished packing, dragged all the bags downstairs and finished clearing out the living room as the decorators are in while we’re away. I do hope they don’t get paint all over my lovely sofa! Waited for the missus to get home from yoga as I wanted to set off super early! We got a cab to the station (when did I start using cab regularly?!) and the train and tube to Heathrow. People, listen up, the Heathrow Express is not the quicker option. You still have to arse around getting to Paddington, we just got the Piccadilly line from Kings Cross. Certainly much simpler if not quicker.

We stayed at the Hilton. I have to be honest, I was expecting a little more class. I’ve stayed in better. The food was good though and it didn’t actually cost that much, maybe if I’d upgraded us to the executive suite for an extra £20…

When I booked our hotel a few weeks ago, I read about how difficult it was to get to/leave. It wasn’t. I am never paying attention to online reviews ever again. The people who write them are idiots! One person said it took them 45 minutes to get from the Hilton (in terminal 4) to terminal 3. I just cannot see how that’s possible, short of walking down the side of the motorway, bags in tow!

So you leave the Hilton, you go through the covered walkway, 5 minute walk back to T4, turn left, lift to train platform, FREE (yes FREE) tube ride direct to terminal 3 and tada! I’d say about 15-20 minutes door to door AND it was a doddle! Some people shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house.

We had an early check in so we skipped the free brekkie and headed straight for the Qantas desk. All queued up and then they ushered us all off to some self check in boarding pass print stations and then we had to queue up again to check our bags in. It was a massive waste of time and we all lost our places. Humph!

All checked in and about 3 hours before take-off. Fortunately that time “flew” by. Steady on, I’m pretty sure I’ll use that joke again before I’m done. I think that while airports are incredibly busy and there are lot of security checks, they are very well organised. You literally flow through the process like a fish in a stream.

After check in we got through the hand luggage checks. Toiletries in a plastic bag, shoes off, belt off, scanned, all ok. Then in a mass panic you have to grab all your stuff and move out of the way to put your shoes and belt back on and repack your bag. I think my only criticism is that there isn’t space on the other side to get your shit together before you move on.

By this point we were pretty hungry so we just went to one of the bars in the waiting area and had a lovely fried breakfast with a juice. It was called the Bridge Bar I think. Bit like a saloon. We loitered until our gate was open and then off we went to sit in the little Qantas lounge. Then we boarded the plane and then it took off. All very routine except they had a flight path monitor in the seat screen and, and this is particularly awesome, a skycam view which was a camera on the plane’s tail!!

Now, by this point, I was quite excited. Yay, we’re finally going to Australia, woohoo! That didn’t last so long. That flight is a killer! We opted to do it all in one hit, with a quick change in Singapore. It was about 13 hours to Singapore. The first 3 hours were ok, we got fed, played with the impressive digital entertainment library, then the next 4 really sucked but then the next 6, wait for it, they “flew” by! If we come back, we might go the other way and stay over in LA for a few nights rather than doing one big flight.

I wasn’t too happy about the plane being put into night mode i.e. they turned all the lights to very low. I didn’t really want to sleep on that flight and I could tell not many others did either but they did it anyway. In a way it was good that I stayed awake. On the second leg to Sydney, that was 7 hours and I dozed off a little but forced myself to watch a film. Then we landed at 7pm here, got a cab to the flat, had showers to get rid of travel stink and then went straight to bed. We were both exhausted and had a good kip which made getting up at 8am Sydney time a little more bearable as it was only 11pm the previous day in the UK.

I’ll tell you now, it’s a really strange feeling losing a day. Like, seriously, where did that day go? It’s not like I’ll get it back on the way home either. The flight was just a blur of lost time. I can’t sit and watch 24 hours of telly either. It would’ve been nice to read or do some puzzles but instead I just had to switch off but without sleeping. A bit like a forced meditation. To the sound of a jet engine!

So, that’s part 1 over and done with. I’m going to split this down and post in bits as Sydney has next to no free wifi. Weird huh?! We have to use an internet café at $4 an hour. As I sit there surfing I can’t resist but think how much I could improve their setup with Citrix XenDesktop and scheduled overnight rebuilds and all the latest security patches. But I’m on holiday and I shall leave all that shit behind!

Stay tuned for part 2…

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