Australia - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 357 (167)

Sydney

Monday 28th February (2005)

We crammed a lot in yesterday and that has left us with fewer things on the to-do list today, which was made evident by the relaxed start to the morning. At eleven-forty, I should probably be calling it afternoon, as that is when we finally got out of bed. We didn’t really have a specific plan of attack for what we were going to do with ourselves today when we finally did leave the building. We figured we’d just make our way over to Darling Harbour and let inspiration catch up with us.

Before leaving, I asked the receptionist about a shuttle bus into the airport for tomorrow morning. Our International flight leaves at nine-thirty and so we will be picked up from here tomorrow morning at seven to get us there on time. I was able to use our key deposits for payment for the shuttle service, which came it at AU$9 (€5,50) each. With tomorrow being a flight day, I figured we would at least allow ourselves a break on lugging our backpacks half way across town.

I don’t know if it is just Sydney but it’s surprising just how difficult getting from one part of town to another can be when you don’t know which bus or train to catch or in what direction to catch it. Somewhat foolishly, we left the building and headed out down the street and around the corner this morning (excuse me, this afternoon) without first asking where to catch the right bus. We figured we’d just try to find a bus stop, any bus stop, and let the driver of the next arriving bus guide us. We probably won’t be doing that again. It took us a while to find a bus stop that was on the side of the road in which traffic was flowing in the direction we thought we needed to go but ended up waiting there for over twenty minutes in the blistering heat of the day for the first bus to arrive. We could have caught about four different busses over on the other side of the road. Quite annoyingly, it turns out that there are no bus routes that run between the Kings Cross and Darling Harbour areas of the city. Worse still, you can’t just get onto a Sydney bus and buy a ticket to a destination that requires a bus change; you have to buy a separate ticket on each bus. As if that wasn’t bad enough, our driver informed us that we would have to take the bus to a completely different part of town altogether before we could change to one that would take us to Darling Harbour – and then had the audacity to tell us that she had no idea which bus we then had to take. And they call Sydney a major metropolis!? Anyway, we got on and checked our map as we made our way across town and noted that by getting off half way through the journey, this would leave us with no more than a five to ten minute walk to get to Darling Harbour, so that’s what we did.

This being Monday, and now lunchtime, it seemed like every single Sydney commuter was out in force and filling up the pavements between the skyscrapers. The whole place was abuzz with vibrant hustle and bustle. We found our way to Darling Harbour and took our time exploring all its nooks and crannies. We were tempted to see an IMAX film but we are running low on cash and I wanted to make sure we kept enough to see us through tomorrow before we take off for New Zealand. In fact, I did end up having to withdraw another AU$100 (€61) to see us through to the end of the day.

Having now made our very last ATM withdrawal here in Australia, I can at last accurately reflect on just exactly how much travelling through this vast country has cost us altogether – excluding our already pre-paid airfares. Excluding our diving budget (which came to €755) and also excluding our separate luxury budget (such as family Christmas gifts, special souvenirs and non-travelling related expenditure), we’ve spent exactly €7,822. Over the seventy-nine days, that has averaged out to be near enough exactly €99 per day. This is within €50 of my original estimated budget for this country. I’m quite pleased with this. If anything, it’s perhaps a little more than what your average round-the-world traveller might spend but we’ve afforded ourselves lots of luxuries such as a rental car for almost everywhere we’ve been, lots of eating out at nice restaurants and plenty of up-scale hostels. We were also comfortably loose with our money whilst in Melbourne. I’m quite sure we could have trimmed this average a fair bit if we really wanted to but we’ve had a thoroughly good time enjoying ourselves whilst here and I don’t consider any money spent wasted by any stretch of the imagination. As was the case with Australia, I’ve self-imposed a €100 daily budget allowance for New Zealand too. If anything, I suspect New Zealand will be a little less expensive than Australia so we should do well there overall.

So, back to Darling Harbour again. As we wandered around the area, absorbing the atmosphere, we stumbled into a Chinese street artist that was painting people's names on long sheets of white paper using brilliantly coloured letters that he drew with multi-coloured paintbrushes in the form of animals and other free-form figures. It looked really nice and we decided to get our names done too. For an extra few Dollars, he obliged us by working into the artwork a number of the animals that we’ve seen so far in Australia, such as kangaroos, snakes and cassowaries. The resulting thirty by one-hundred centimetre posters were then each laminated with a machine that he had with him and these will make a nice little extra souvenir as a reminder of our time here in Sydney. The two of these brightly coloured, custom, hand-painted originals cost me AU$50 (€30,50).

Although Sandy is now moving into her second trimester, she is still easily tired by all the traipsing around, who wouldn’t be, and on a couple of occasions throughout the day, we found ourselves simply sitting or lying down on a bench of whatever to catch our breaths for a few minutes of forty winks.

We were still largely aimless about what we did and where we went this afternoon but I was keen to have a closer look at the submarine by the Maritime Museum and so we made our way over there to check it out. Neither of us has ever been inside a submarine so it seemed like a worthy endeavour. We were able to buy our way into the sub for the student discounted rate of AU$9 (€5,50) each. I had to check the day-pack into the free cloakroom in the museum before being allowed onto the sub but it was pretty clear why once we were inside. It’s extremely close quarters all throughout the sub and certainly not for anyone with even a trace of claustrophobia. If I had the day-pack strapped to my back, I would have been catching it on everything everywhere I went. It was a fascinating experience and I can think of a few friends who will enjoy the many photos I took from inside, even if the sub and all the technology used within it is now very dated. After examining its innards for a while, we moved on to explore the navy gunship that sits beside it in the harbour and then finally to the free museum itself.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring Darling Harbour and the museum but the heat of the day and all the walking around was now taking its toll and we decided to head back to base. Once again, the absence of any useful bus route information meant a lot of walking before we found our way onto the correct bus. The public bus network is probably the one thing I would have to criticise about Sydney if forced to.

Goodbye Australia – watch our New Zealand, here we come!

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