1 – Sydney

View of the opera house

Up early enough to have some of the really good waffles which were now available at reception. Loaded up and got the airport shuttle bus. Plenty of time at the check in. Turned out to be a good thing. They asked if I had a visa for Australia. Responded in the negative. Never though to inquire if one needed a visa to visit there. Apparently one needs to go online and get one for $10. Now, at the airport, it was$50. Ouch, but…gotta be tough to be dumb eh? Had to go to another booth and have them enter the online info. Back in line and checked in. Now for security screening.

Had carefully gone through my carry on for liquids and sharp items. Felt confident it was all good. Didn’t last. I was also carrying my rolling food suitcase with me for the overhead bin. Knew there was nothing dangerous in there as it was just food. Surprised when Mr Customs man call me over to the food suitcase. Huh? Oh. Liquids. Darn. Had previously made sure to empty my water bottle so there would be no hassles. Never gave a second thought to the cooking oil, the milk cartons or the peanut butter. Peanut butter you say? Yes..they said it could be a plastic explosive. Oh. Maybe should have gotten the smooth instead of the crunchy. Oh well. Such is life. Win some, lose some.

Got through it and on the plane. There’s where we had a small problem. They pushed the plane back with the motorized vehicle. But then …nothing. We were stopped dead. After a few minutes the pilot came on the pa and told us that the push vehicle was stuck to the plane wheel and it would not release. Funny that. After about 15 minutes they “had it sorted” as the British might say. The rest of the flight was a good one of only a few hours in duration.

Landed in Sydney. Welcome to Australia mate. Went through immigration with no problems. Expected the customs to tear me apart as food items were listed on the entry form. Had heard they were really tough. Gave it to the customs man and started to put my bags on the conveyor belt to be x-rayed. He said “Ah don’t bother mate” and waved me through without a glance. Cool. Thank you Jesus, thank you lord. It was as if someone told him “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…move along” the force was with me. And now on to the city proper with the airport shuttle. Had read online that if one took a shuttle you could get reimbursed the fare. Arrived at the hostel in the downtown area. Nice folks at the Base Backpacker did just that. They also gave me lower bunk. As there were other people in the other rooms, she gave me an empty room so there would definitely be a bottom bunk available. What a sweetie. Private room for the first night, Worked for me. Still had the damn persistent dry cough and would rather not keep other people awake.

It was late afternoon. Went out into the city to taste it’s flavor. No particular destination. Literally tasted it in a dim sum place near Chinatown. The had Singapore soup dumplings. Little dumplings filled with soup. Takes a certain amount of technique to eat them without getting them all over. Best way is to nibble off the top then suck out the soup all the while holding the dumpling in large spoon to minimize soup loss. Once this is mastered the texture and timing are a factor. One must be careful to not burn one’s tongue on the hot soup. Ouch…Yum. Went north for a glimpse of the iconic Sydney Opera house. Pretty wild architecture.

Harbor from the park

It was to be the last sunny day in Sydney according to the weather report so got in some outdoor exploring. Went to the harbor bridge then back through the botanical gardens.

They had an exhibit of carnivorous plants. Cool flower bed.

Carnivorous plants featuring Audry

Large botanical garden. Hot and sunny.

Botanical garden – Sydney

Transformed my old faithful north face zip-offs pants into shorts while on a park bench and enjoyed the cooler wardrobe. Had I been a little more careful I could have averted the tragic situation which developed later. Checked out the houses of Parliament then the state library. Many people there. Busy place. Good internet. Caught up on some journal. Returned to the hostel to call it a day and tried to find the pants legs for the old faithful trousers with no luck. Tried to think where they could have fallen out. Oh well. Early night. Would explore more tomorrow

The morning was gray and rainy as predicted. Thought I owed it to my old faithful trousers to at least check some of the places they may have fallen out of the day pack. Visited a few places where the day pack had been opened. No luck. Checked into an outdoor store to see how much a replacement pair would cost…$130 here. Oh. Raining harder now. Had to put on the rain pants. Still a busy city even in the rain and wind. Lots of maimed umbrellas in the trash cans

Kept walking with little hope all the way back through the botanical gardens to the bench where the legs had been sipped off. Saw something in the distance…rags…no…hard to see in the pouring rain..then…YES! There they were the legs of longing. Soaking wet and wind blown not too far from the bench…but life was good again. As one of just a few pairs of pants in the pack they were an important aspect of the travel wardrobe as only one pair of shorts had been allowed in the pack. Still seems like a lot of stuff to lug around but it has all been used and useful.

That said…an opportunity presented itself here. By returning to Sydney for the flight home stuff could be left in the storage. Would like to leave the tent and some winter warm gear. To protect the backpack there is a cover which goes over it to make it a strapless duffle bag. Normally would just use the pack cover to put the unnecessary extra stuff in and leave it there. Thought the pack cover would be really useful to have protecting the pack for three weeks of on again off again bus travel. Asked at reception if they might have an old bag or suitcase in the lost and found. The guy was nice and helpful. We went down to their lost and found. There was some small stuff but also a large, almost new, rolling clam-shell duffel! He checked the tag and saw that it had been there since July. Asked if I could use it. He said he’d check. An hour later checked back with him. He said the manager said it was OK to take it. Score! Now I’ve heard of a lot of different things being left in a room. Laptops, tablets, jackets wallets…but who forgets their suitcase? Only thing I can figure was that it was someone who decided the damn thing was too big and uncool for them and they went out and bought a backpack. Who knows?

Took the prize back to the room to decide what to leave. Occurred to me that the actual backpack was no longer needed as no treks were planned. Why not leave it with the other stuff and move into the larger rolling pack? Didn’t look cool as the thing was gia-normously huge…but real easy to organize and access all the stuff. Decision made.

The process of rethinking the travel load was made much easier by the ample space of the duflfe. Since everything was sub-packed in packing cubes it was a breeze to just toss them in. Only decisions were what stuff was to go into the bottom half and what on top. In no time this was done. As the weight limit was 30 kilos the extra rolling bag previously used for food storage was also left behind and the food packed into the main bag. Had I read the fine print of the bus agreement I would have known that the weight limit was restricted to two bags of 20 kilos each. But hey…how could I be the bumbler if I read all the fine print? Such was life…departed the next day with the one big rolling bag and my little day pack for the plane.

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