Category Archives: Travel

Australia 2011 Part 2

Wednesday 6th April

Today we’re feeling pretty jetlagged. We woke up at about 8am which isn’t too bad given the time difference but still felt knackered. We went on the hunt for food and found a lovely café called Zinc Café. We got a really nice fried breakfast. How English?!

After that we scouted for an internet café, went to find some food for the flat and had a bit of a wander. All the cafes here have roadside eating which is quite pleasant. Much better than everyone being crowded inside. Just not sure how feasible that is in the UK when it rains on your dinner every five minutes in August. At least our cafes have wifi!

What I’m surprised by is how expensive everything is. Like I said in part 1, we’re staying in a nice area but round the corner is a bit sleazy so I expected some dirt cheap backpacker cafes. With that in mind, two coffees and sarnies regularly comes to $35+ here and in the city centre it’s more like $50+. I suppose we’re just suffering because the pound is worth the equivalent of a shit in the ocean at the moment. The biggest surprise was a kg of bananas costs $14!!!!!

One of the really cool things food wise has been all the different chocolate. Junk food here is hella expensive. $2.50 per choc bar. Although in the UK I noticed it’s now about 70p! So far I’ve had Tim Tams, a Milo bar (awesome) and a Cherry Ripe. I wonder if it’s deliberately expensive as a tactic to avoid obesity?!

Getting around is pretty easy here but for some reason it feels like the map is upside down. I think I’m turning left but on the map it’s right and vice versa. I’m a map geek and this confused me greatly at first but I’m pretty used to it now. Also, I checked which way the water goes down the plug here and it’s definitely the other way round. I haven’t just been lied to all these years.

On our trek we took a massive detour and scoped out the impressive botanical gardens, the opera house and the circular quay where we got ripped off. Two choc bars a juice and some suntan lotion. $55. Crazy! Needless to say we have been better prepared the rest of this week.

We’ve been quite lucky. We’re here in April which I believe is their October. The weather has been amazing for the most part. No idea what temperature but it’s been very warm and a pleasant change from the 8 month winter in the UK. The birds and the wildlife here are just gorgeous. They’re just completely different, right down to the common pigeon equivalent.

Here are some pics from today. Some areas explored further later. Today was just a reccy. All pics from this trip are going to be larger than usual so click to enlarge.

Not many people will get the significance of the name of this!

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…

Fings I Like Friday (13)

This week I’m opting for a slightly different take on Fings Friday. Today is my birthday. I am 29. That means I have a year before I’m 30. I can haz do the math!

Now, before you start, I’m not freaking out about this like most folk. For the most part, my 20’s have been a lot of fun. I once came home from the pub in the boot of a car. Without the driver’s knowledge. That said, there’s still a few things I wish I had done by this point in my life.

So I’ve decided to come up with a quick list of Fings To Do Before I’m Firty. I hope to achieve everything on this list in the next year but if I don’t, it’s no biggie.

1) Go to Australia. I have my visa sorted for this already and it’s planned for April 2011. Buying the tickets soon.

2) Go skydiving. I reckon I’ll do this in Oz. If I’m going to plummet to my death I’d much rather do it over a nice view of desert than English fen!

3) Get another tattoo. I really should have more than 3 by now but I went on a funding hiatus. Foolishly. The next one will be something that represents the last 10 years. Perhaps a tattoo of a bottle of Jack Daniels.

4) Give blood. It is beyond sucky that I haven’t done this by now. Seriously!

5) Buy a digital SLR. I worked at Jessops a few years ago and got into photography in a big way but haven’t been able to afford an SLR. Until today. I actually went out and bought a Nikon D5000. Because of this list. More on this in another post over the weekend.

6) Take a picture of myself every day and make a montage video thing at the end of the year. Started today. It may also act as an interesting way to track my mood.

7) Go on a proper photography course. Always worth learning something new.

8) Ride a motorbike. Never done this but I probably should’ve done this. How badass would I look on a scooter?

Then as a catch all, I’m going to just generally be open to doing more things and not worry so much.

Goin’ puntin’ goin’ puntin’

Ok, so we decided not to do the open top bus thingie. It was far too nice a day to be sat on a bus yesterday. Instead, we went puntin’!

Cambridge is pretty famous for its river punts and I’ve always wanted to go but the weather is usually pretty awful. Well yesterday was fabtastic and we made sure we took advantage of it. £10 per person to just float up and down the river. Well worth it!

We also had the tour and were given all the information behind each of the colleges. It was quite interesting actually.

After that we had some lunch in a pub garden and then a BBQ in the evening. I spent far too much time in the sun and was in bed by 9.30pm!!! Rock and roll!

Here are some pictures:

Fings I Like Friday (11)

It’s here again!

1) The open top Cambridge tour bus. I’ve wanted to go on this for ages. We are doing it tomorrow!

2) Tomato Plants. We have grown our own tomato plants from seed. They are now huge!

3) Today my Australian travel visa was approved. This brings us one step closer to going in April next year.

4) BBC’s Walk on the Wild Side. Saw this for the first time at the weekend. It’s hilarious! Check out these marmots:

5) The missus. For always smiling in the face of adversity. She’s had an awful week and mine hasn’t been much better but she’s kept us both in good spirits. Mainly Jack Daniels and caramelised Vodka! *hiccup*

In other news, I am 29 in exactly two weeks. There’s a ton of stuff I haven’t done and probably should’ve before I turn 30. I am therefore compiling a list of Fings To Do Before I’m Firty! Suggestions welcome! Final list will be announced on my birthday.

I sing to myself that I’m gonna be free

…but the road I must travel, it’s end I cannot see.

This week I went to London. Without meaning to be too negative…what a soul sucking place it is! Whenever I pass through our great capital I get overcome with sadness and exhaustion. It really does suck the juice out of me. A lot of psychic vampirism going on there.

I was visiting HQ and had to stay over for a couple of nights. Due to an oversight in negotiations I have to foot the bill for travel and accomodation so I have to buy cheap. Last time I went, I stayed in the Travellodge in Tolworth. It was awful. This time I stayed in the Travellodge in Kingston. It was equally, if not more, awful.

Wednesday morning I woke up and went in the bathroom and set the shower running. I went to grab a towel and when I came back the shower had overflown. The plug was blocked. I had to dig out the contents with a spoon. I’m not going to go into the details but ew! It’s bad enough when it’s your own bathroom but clearing out other peoples “stuff” is just gross.

I complained at reception. They gave me a clean spoon. I kid you not.

I think I’m out of cheap places to stay and next time I’ll have to stump up more cash and stay at the Holiday Inn. Do you think there’s a direct link between it costing more and actually being better?

Also, what happened to Kingston? When I first moved there it was a really vibrant town centre with plenty of places to eat. This week all I managed to get for take out was a Subway. Everywhere else had shut down. Such a shame.

In other news I developed a really bad cold. I’m sure I made a great impression with my new assistant, just snotting everywhere during training. I tried some Beechams Cold capsules and they have worked a treat.

Tomorrow brings another installment of Fings I Love Friday. Stay tooned!