Catsnstuff Down Under – 1: Sydney

As you may or may not know, I’m in Australia right now, and I will be using my usually cat-filled blog with travel stories. To all my Dutch friends: I’m doing it in English because my blog has always been in English. Hope it’s ok! Get a cup of tea or coffee, because this is not what I would call a short post.

I left on the 24th of May and had to catch my plane in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s easy to get to from Amsterdam, but of course I chose the day that the Dutch Railway decided it would be a great time for some maintenence on the high speed train tracks. Lovely. Because of this, I took a train earlier, just to make sure that if there would be some delay, I would be okay. That train did not run. I sat in it waving at Gerthein for ten minutes

Dag lieverd!

when they announced there were some ‘personel problems’. This hardly ever happens, and the last time it happened when I was in the train I later heard that the machinist had had a heart attack. So I’m afraid something went really really wrong. Thankfully the next train was not too badly delayed and I was on my way. I discovered that travelling alone makes me way more relaxed, because even though I was slightly nervous, I wasn’t fretting like I normally do.

My first stop was Dubai Airport, which was already quite an experience. There was a great mix of people there: from men in traditional muslim garments to stinky backpackers like myself to the Dubai jetset, which includes women with enormous fake breasts and duck-like lips to women in burka’s. I thought Dubai would be hugely expensive, but I managed to buy a bottle of water for € 0,25. Eat that Schiphol!


Palm trees @ the airport, of course.

From there, I flew on to Bangkok. I had three (!) seats to myself and a mind-boggling choice of films, television programs, games and CD’s. The food was really good too. Tip: fly with Emirates, you won’t regret it. I changed in Bangkok, and again had three seats all for me. I slept quite well on the airplane, which usually is a bit of a problem for me.

When I arrived in Sydney, it was really early, around 5:30. I jetlagged my way to the hostel and decided it would be best to just go for it and head into Sydney. My plan was to go to sleep no earlier than 19:00, to beat the dreaded jetlag. So, into Sydney I went!

Like any good tourist would do, I bolted for the Opera House and the Harbour bridge trough the lush and wonderful botanical gardens. You would love parks too with signs like this:

I stumbled upon a commemoration called Sorry Day, a day that remembers the practise of the Australian government of taking Aboriginal children away from their parents and placing them with ‘good’ white parents. It was very beautiful, loads of music and dance, and very touching.

I decided to grab a coffee to stay awake and soon found out that the Australian government must put stuff in the water, because people are so NICE EVERYWHERE! The coffee man and women beamed at me when I entered the shop: “Where are you from! Holland, that’s great! Welcome to Sydney! See you later darling!”. At first I thought that they were just an exception, but everywhere I went I was greeted in the same way. They are really so nice here, it’s just sick. I think Amsterdam will seem even more miserable when I come back. After the coffee break I walked around and saw the Opera House from 100 more angles.

before crossing the Harbour Bridge.

I ended up at the Luna Park, which was really scary and made me understand even more why people hate clowns and have carny nightmares.


I look so old here, that jetlag really did me in.

I was starting to feel very tired all of a sudden, and decided to take the train or bus back. It was then that I experienced the most tired feeling ever (except for the time I fell asleep on my bike after handing in my thesis and after two night shifts at Dynamo Open Air). I for the life of me could not get it together and figure out the transport system and decided to walk back over the bridge (asking someone did not occur to me…). There were little dimples in the bridge, that became potholes in my mind and really freaked me out. Part of me kept thinking I would fall in and the other part kept calling me a jetlagged looney. Thankfully, I met a nice man that gards the bridge halfway, and he helped me pull myself together a little bit. Back in the hostel, I just crashed and had a long but rough night’s worth of sleep.

On the 27th of May I woke up at 6:30AM (grumblegruble) and walked around Sydney some more. And by some more I mean heaps more. HEAPS! That’s what Australians call ‘a lot’ and I just love the word so much. Anyhow, I went to Chinatown, Haymarket, Darling Harbour and Glebe. It was another very sunny day, so I had a great time.

Hallo Darling, Darling harbour

At night, I went out with the people from the hostel to a karaoke bar. I even did some myself, with three nutty Germans and sang 99 Red Balloons. The best karaoke experience of the night was a Japanese girl who sounded suspiciously like a chipmunk (as in Alvin and the Chipmunks) and sang Like a Prayer by Madonna. The whole bar was laughing, and she got loads of free drinks because of the immense entertainment factor. I left after two hours, because not drinking and seeing everyone around you getting shit-faced is no fun. After that followed another bad night of sleep, with my bunkmates coming in and out a lot.

The day after that I went to a suburb called Manly and walked around the National Park by myself. It was gorgeous there, with loads of birds like parrots and cacatoos flying around.

I watched the surfers for a bit and then headed back to Sydney. The 29th I took a took tour to the Blue Mountains. They’re called blue, because they appeared to have that colour when Europeans first spotted them. The Eucalyptus trees emit a sort of fume that gives off a blue haze. I went with David, a French guy I met in the hostel and a bunch of other people I hadn’t met before. We had an excellent ADD tour guide named Shane who talked so much I thought my head would explode. He showed us some beautiful scenery, and wild kangaroos!

Blue zegt u?!

Three Sisters:

Kangaroo zegt u?!

We walked down from the top of a mountain and took the steepest railway in the world back up. At a 52% angle, it felt like I was going to fall out of it any second. They made the trip even more exciting by playing the theme from Indiana Jones while going up. Now that’s good marketing of your new movie, Lucas! Even got your grubby hands on the Blue Mountains.

On the 30th, I was due to leave Sydney by bus to Melbourne. The bus did not leave until 19:00, so I still had some time to kill. I decided to get a tour through the Botanical Gardens, since it was my favourite place and it was free. Just a little side track: I based my budget for this trip on erroneous information, an old Rough Guide. My brand new Lonely Planet told me that the daily expected budget for Australia is not 60 AUS (€ 40) but more around 80 AUS – 100 AUS. OOPS! Thank goodness I got some money from my dad, his partner, and my mother-in-law before I left. Anyway, I’m doing everything that’s free, and a tour through the gardens was one of those freebies. My tourguide was a pensioner named Noel, and I was the only one taking the tour. He knew a lot about plants and trees, but was also a little distracted most of the time. I kid you not, he had a little spider living in his hair, which had even managed to spin a web between Noel’s forehead and his glasses. When I saw it, I had to turn around for a minute and laugh discreetly. Thankfully my laughter was drowned out by the TONS of bats in the garden, it really was like the batcave there.

And also, I saw a Kookaburra in the centre of Sydney!

Well, that’s about that for now. This night I took the bus from Sydney to Melbourne, which took 12 hours. Another bad night of sleep, not helped by the fact that I have a lovely throat infection yet again. I guess I can’t travel without one. Bacteria need a vacation too you know! Thankfully it’s not as bad as it was in Mexico. Hopefully, I’ll finally get a good snooze tonight.

My cat count is three so far, but I haven’t managed to catch one on camera. Right now, I’m staying in a place that is rumoured to have one. Fingers crossed! Next update will be in a week, about my time in Melbourne and hopefully at least one cat. I’ll leave you with my favourite sign in Australia so far:

Bandiwat!?

Very specific no?

And best use of public marketing:

No shizz

If you can’t read it: it says something like: “Schnitzel for Shizzle.” Classy!

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2 Responses to “Catsnstuff Down Under – 1: Sydney”

  1. shussmallworld Says:

    Your photos are spectacular and your writing wonderfully evocative! I feel I’m on tour with you! Thanks so much for sharing, and I will be waiting for the updates! Take Care.

    Shu

  2. catsnstuff Says:

    Thanks Shu! I’ll catch up with your posts when I get back, I’m missing them a bit already :-).

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