Tag Archives: hostels

On the road in a Transformers van

After a night in jail, we made our way into central Christchurch yesterday to pick up the camper van, which is painted with a Transformers theme.

First stops were petrol and groceries. Then down the coast a bit to Banks Peninsula, where we found a campsite next to a beach at Okains  Bay. The roads there wind you this way and that, taking you over and through some beautiful scenery. It was very nice indeed to be out of the city.

Even though the campsite was full of people, especially families as it’s the school summer holidays here, there was still a calmness and tranquility to the beach. Very nice. This morning Jode opted for a dip in the cold sea, but I went for the $2, 4-minute shower option, and waited until a bit later when it had warmed up to dip my toes in the sea.

We drove a winding path back towards Christchurch, stopping off at a pretty little bay to make some lunch. I immediately spotted a rope swing on the beach, suspended from a tree, and made a beeline towards it so I could give it a go. Fun fun fun! I returned to it after a tuna sandwich for more (who could resist?) and also took a masterclass in skipping stones. I am very bad at this endeavour but today finally managed three skips, and without emptying the beach of all its stones in the process. Which has to be a good thing.

We eventually made our way back to the city and parked up next to the big park here for some coffee, then moved to a more picturesque place in the park to make dinner. We do a mean stir fry. I got the urge to play tennis, as we were near some courts there, so we may do that one day if we find a place. Meanwhile, hoping to pick up a cheap football somewhere for kicking around (naturally). One must caper, after all. Like the lambs of NZ perhaps? Hm, yeah…

Anyway, am now sitting in a an internet shop trying to type. We came into town thinking we’d catch some performances from the World Buskers Festival but nothing much is happening until tomorrow. So probably heading out of the city in a bit to find somewhere to park up for the night. “Freedom camping” is fine here, just as long as you don’t choose someplace where camping is actually prohibited. I had my $2 shower so I’m all good and clean for a bit anyway. Will be heading north up the coast towards Kaikoura, where there are things like whale watching and swimming with dolphins to try. A very popular spot.

Apologies to anyone reading for the lack of flair in these entries. For one thing, the computers I’ve been using lately are rubbish and cramp my style! That’s one excuse anyway.

Greetings from very sunny Sydney

I’ve been in Sydney for five days now. I have seen so much and been through some loneliness and jet lag, as predicted, but it’s been great.

So, about that 14-hour flight. It went really fast, believe it or not! I forced myself to “sleep”, using my silk and lavender eye shade (thanks, S!) to create a fairly continuous nighttime for an unfeasible number of hours. All I know is that soon enough it was time for breakfast (ugh!), thereby signalling the final three hours of the flight. I could go on and on about flying. Yawn. So I’ll cut to the chase. With one and half hours left I was full of beans (literally and metaphorically) and very excited to see Sydney. Later, we came in over the city and I had my first view of that famous opera house. Very cool.

I had booked a night in private room in a particular hostel, which I had later decided, before departing England, looked pretty grim. I was stuck with one night there (or lose my deposit) so went in with the attitude that it wouldn’t be great but it’d do for a night. And so it was.  The location was good, though. Moments from Bondi Beach.

Now Bondi Beach is full of the young and the beautiful. Which is outrageously intimidating if you’re me and you’ve just got off the plane and you’re stuck wearing your specs (and not your glam made-for-Australia-in-the-summertime sunglasses, boo hoo!) on day one because of a boring mishap involving contact lens solution. Plus everyone here seems to be into exercise. Well, they have the weather for all kinds of pursuits here. I went for a walk and there were even people (well-toned males) using pull-up bars and the like dotted along the walkway. But I’m getting distracted. Where was I? Ah, yes. So my first stroll took me to North Bondi and some rock pools. I couldn’t fail to be impressed by the colour of the sea, the incredible heat and the sheer summeriness of everything around me.  Later I explored a shopping area, bought some organic nectarines and nearly had to take out a mortgage (didn’t someone tell me fresh fruit was expensive in Australia?).

Later on, jet lag strikes and I’m counting down the time til I’m “allowed” to go to bed. I go out for a makeshift dinner of pizza on the beach and then go up and down the beach barefoot, massaging the travel tension from my feet. Lovely. Then to bed in the scroungy, unfriendly hostel. Moving day tomorrow!

So Saturday I’m up nice and early and looking for trouble. I head to a cafe for breakfast and learn the term “flat white” (it’s how I like my coffee). Later I move my luggage to the new hostel (YHA Bondi Beachouse, which is lovely) and embark on the coastal walk between Bondi and Coogee. The walk is very beautiful but because I am me, the first thing I am going to tell you about is that I saw a sign that said “If you dog does a POO please put in the litter bin”. I like this because you wouldn’t see this in the official signage of either America or Britain. But back to the scenery. Have a look:

I do this walk both there…and back. Which is great but I am knackered by the end of it. But the walking and exerting is not over for the day. For I discovered, back before I even left Arizona, that it was Sydney Festival First Night on the 9th. Lots of free entertainment, a big party throughout the centre of the city basically. As I have decided to go, I feel I must go. So I go. And it is exhausting meeting the city after dark, as it’s hugely crowded and I’ve walked so much in the day. But I get myself into these things, don’t I. I was disappointed to not gain entry to the venue where Al Green was performing – the Domain reached crowd capacity before I arrived. So I watched some fantastic circus performances instead, people watched, enjoyed the festival atmosphere. But I had to get back to the hostel, and this turned into a marathon search for the bus stop (my feet ache just thinking about it) and then being severely scolded for not having my money ready (well I’d only just then located your bus stop, you crabby Aussie bus guy, give a girl a break). When I entered my room I couldn’t see unless I put on the light and so then got scolded by a slumbering roommate for doing this (“You’re in a hostel.” Yes, dear, but so are you, and seeing in the dark isn’t my superpower. My superpower is telling longwinded stories…and using lots of parentheses.) You have to laugh.

So having met Sydney on a festive Saturday night, I decided to go back for more on Sunday. By the time I’d dragged myself/walked/trained it in to the city, it was early afternoon and time for another flat white, this time just outside the botanic gardens. I then walked through part of the gardens and emerged with my first non-aerial views of the opera house and Harbour Bridge. Hurrah! Hackneyed shots but sometimes you just have to be a tourist. It’s fun.

I walked to Circular Quay and bought a ticket for the ferry to Darling Harbour. Then I walked to The Rocks where they have a fantastic market. I ended up buying myself a pretty sparkly thing for my hair. Costume jewellery is a bit of a weakness for me, but what a nice souvenir. Then back to the quay to take the ferry – what a perfect way to see the sights of Sydney. Insert more typical shots from typical visitor doing typical things. (It’s great!) Darling Harbour is full of colour and people. Children running through water features, making me wish I were several years younger, or at least wearing a swimsuit, so I could join in. Made it to Chinatown, had a quick look at the Paddy’s markets. Then collapsed in the shade somewhere and tried to get my blisters to disappear by denying their existence. This didn’t work but I waddled back to Martin Place station and took the train and the bendy bus in a well choreographed number I like to call “good timing”. Didn’t get told off by anybody.

The next day, after enjoying some time sitting near the beach reading a book, I went back into the city to visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I had a nice time but my feet were hurting quite a bit. I noticed I’d gotten well enough acquainted with this part of Sydney to not even need my map at all times. Back in Bondi I had a lovely, lovely dinner with a “connection” from home (thank you, Z).

Then today I went to the Blue Mountains. I am running out internet time so that will come in the next installment. I’ve written quite a lot already and wittered on about some odd things. I have just received my five minute warning from the computer – will update again soon!!!