Sydney? Feh! You can keep it
Other than Jeff’s ever-charming hospitality, Tuesday’s Sydney experience was... uninspiring. Coming from dry, comfortable Perth via a dry, comfortable aircraft*, stepping out into Sydney was like walking into a sauna.
Then the trains wanted AUD$4.80 to send me one measly station! Bah, humbug! AUD$4.80 will get an adult from Armadale, Midland or Clarkson to Perth (or vice versa, call it 25km) in WA. Definitely not worth it, even for sorta-half-double-decker trains running through double-decker stations. They were not comfortable trains. Us all Perthites have no idea how badly we’re spoiled (whine, grizzle...).
One of the many “inspiring” street scenes I noticed on the way to jdub-land was a chap, not particularly shabbily dressed, fossicking through the ashray atop a public bin, looking for enough tobacco to assemble a rollie.
I found out that our telco aren’t as helpful as they seemed to be, sorted some financial stuff, caught up a bit on the news thanks to Grand Hotel Waugh and the Amazing Invisible Access Point. Jeff was happy to discuss astronomy, WAPs, Marksmanship and load me up with six kilos of LA tee-shirts to ferry across to Aotearoa.
Then it’s into a taxi and AUD$20 later to get back to the airport, where I have to walk about a kilometer (hands up if you think I jest) to my check-in, wait half an hour in a queue, then discover that – despite being an hour and a half early for checkout, there are no window seats left. And they want a paper visa, but manage to find an electronic one in their system and settle for that.
En route to check-in, I notice another smoker, this one in a neat business suit, stubbing out his lung-blackener on the edge of a public bin and carefully leaving the butt there instead of dropping it in.
To add injury to insult, the money changers, as well as charging ~10% for the actual conversion to NZD, reached out from the temple court to ding me a further eight bucks for having the temerity to change less than AUD$400. The post-Customs drink machines wanted over three bucks for a 300ml soft drink! Ten dollars a freakin’ litre? Gimme a break! That was probably duty-free pricing, too.
A Qantas jet whisked me away from the City of Gimme All Ya Money (but wait! You have to spend 23 minutes ginning about on the taxiways first!) to deposit** me in Christchurch two and a quarter hours later.
* with video on demand, so after I was done typing stuff I watched Valiant – a bit too cartoonish and shallow, but an excellent video for kids old enough to deal with the nasty hawks being mean to the sweet little pigeons. And really, really nice chocolate biscuits.
** the cabin staff were excellent, tip of the hat to Stephanie, Olivier, Warren and the dude who had half of the plane in constant stitches while he explained the safety features (better than Steve Irwin and Paul Hogan rolled together; talk about laugh! I don’t think anyone was watching the other hostie...). The video was most definitely not “on demand”, and the movie turned out to be Looks like Heaven, which I enjoyed a hell (chuckle, chuckle) of a lot more than I expected to.