Unlike most people who come to Australia, part of the reason they want to come is to expirence Christmas and New Years in summer, in Sydney. As I was traveling down the East Coast from Carins to Brisbane from late October to mid December, as it got closer to the end of the year and as I got closer to Sydney, all talk turned to the holidays. European accents increased chatter as did packages and prices for spending the week in Sydney. Rooms in huge dorms, minimum 7 day stays complete with dinners and activities were costing upwards of $1000 (AU). No thank you! As a native of Los Angeles, BBQ’s and beach parties aren’t totally uncommon for New Years, so doing that in 100F degree weather complete with packed partiers was not appealing to me at all, so I arranged a month trip back to New Zealand.
But since my Australian visa didn’t expire until the end of June, I left most of my stuff in storage in Sydney for 3 months. I planned to came back in mid-January to retrive it and move down to Melbourne and try my luck with work down there and for a change of scenery.
I booked the first flight of the day out of Christchurch and since it left at 7am and is technically an international flight, I knew I would have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before. Instead of wasting money on a hostel for a few hours, I checked out Sleeping in Airports and the reviews for the Christchurch airport weren’t that bad, so I decided to just take the last bus from the centre of town to the airport and camp out there. Turns out, it was a great idea and I wasn’t the only one with the idea! The arrivals hall in the international terminal had about 20 people set up for the night by the time I arrived, a mix of people who had just arrived and were trying to save on accomodation for the night and people like me, waiting for the first flights out. Most people were camped out with sleeping bags, but I had to make due near the door with just my jacket and various sweatshirts. The lights didn’t go off, but it was very quiet and the floor was pretty clean (from what I could tell) and carpted. So while not the best, it could have been way worse.
My flight back to Australia was on AirNZ and was awesome as usual. They had just recently started their fancy new planes with individual tvs on this route and I was thrilled to catch up on American TV for a few hours, tv that hadn’t even aired in NZ yet!!
I arrived back into Sydney and being semi-native, I knew to catch the shuttle back into town instead of the train. When I got my ticket, prices were more then I thought, so I asked if train tickets went up too and they said yep! So random. Seriously, only city EVER where public transport is more expensive then the private option. Anyway, I just waited until the next shuttles were going into town and since I wasn’t going to a specific hotel, but to the building were I left my bag, I was the last person to be dropped off. Since I arrived so early in the morning, at the same time all the planes from the US were also arriving, I ended up in a shuttle with a bunch of Americans! Was super nice for me, as I hadn’t been around Americans in a while. One girl was my age and was just around for a few weeks and I gave her some tips. And an older couple were getting onto a cruise ship in Sydney to cruise around New Zealand. They asked if they had to change money or if places accepted US dollars here. Um, no. This isn’t Canada, Mexico, Israel, etc. I gave them some suggestions, since they weren’t staying here very long. After the grand tour around town dropping everyone off, I was finally dropped off on George Street.
I wanted to drop my duffle off for the day as my bus to Melbourne wasn’t leaving until the evening for the overnight ride down south. Apparently prices had gone up at the storage place in the new year. Luckily, I had prepaid for my larger bag as prices went up quiet a bit. Leaving my bag for the day cost about the same before as it did to leave my big bag for a month. I talked them down a few bucks but in the end, it ended up costing more then I thought. Oh well. I had big plans for the day! Pies at Harry’s, chocolate at Max Brenner’s and just hanging out at the Opera House. By the afternoon, I was back at the Opera House, napping on the lawn of the Government House under a tree, curled up using my sweatshirt as a pillow, just enjoying the heat. I fell asleep for an hour or so, until 6pm to get my bags and head to the train station. Since I was travelling during rush hour and had tons of stuff, I took a cab to the train station, which is so unlike me.
I took the Greyhound bus from Sydney to Melbourne for a few reasons, the main one being all my stuff. Since I booked my bus ticket so far in advance, the ticket was pretty cheap, even though airline flights can be cheap too. But there was no way I was getting all my stuff on the plane without tons of oversize bag fees. I figured it would be easier for me to “sneak” it all on the bus, as there is a limit there too. My bus was packed and it seemed like everyone else had similar ideas to mine. I waited to board near the end because it looked like I had some of the most stuff, just in case it didn’t fit and some of it would have to go on the bus the following day. The driver was awesome, as always, and I apologized for all my stuff, but he squeezed it all on! It was funny, as I was waiting in line, I guess I have been riding buses too long as I knew what I had to show to get on. The girl behind me was brand new and had her ticket and ID, but my brain farted out and I didn’t have my ticket as I didn’t want to pay for printing and unconsciously only had my ID out, which worked too. Showed the driver, he told me my seat number, loaded my stuff and I was on! The ride was fine. I actually got a lot of sleep on the bus. We stopped in Canberra to drop some people off and then at a truck stop, which I got out and walked around for a moment as my knees give me some trouble if I sit in a position too long.
After arriving in Melbourne, I took a cab to the hostel I had booked, Elizabeth Hostel. After dropping my stuff off, I had to wait until close to noon before I could check in and spent some time at Hudson’s Coffee down the street and light internet time at the nearby Global Gossip. I finally unpacked my large bag and found stuff I hadn’t seen in months and had totally forgotten about! I love it when that happens. I showered for the first time in days, made an appointment with a temp agency I was signed up with in Sydney to meet and sign up with them in Melbourne for the next day, took a 4 hour nap, which I NEVER do, grabed some dinner across the street at McDonald’s, talked to my sister for the first time in weeks and then fell back asleep for the night.
Moral: Oy, what a busy few days! As much as I love New Zealand, I was excited for the next stage of my travels in coming back to Australia and hopefully Melbourne would bring something better then what Sydney left me with. I was happy to be back in Sydney for a day and enjoy all the things about the city I love, pies, chocolate and napping in front of the Opera House. I made a good choice in taking the bus with all my stuff and was excited about being somewhere new again.