It’s now a whole 10 years since we threw in our proverbial towels, packed our bags and set off on what remains our longest and most thrilling trip; first to New Zealand and then on to Australia. And while we were to be away for almost 3 months it felt like a real adventure, rather than a ‘holiday’.
I’ve described our trip around New Zealand, and how we were to visit plentry of spots that many New Zealanders have not seen, especially those who live on North Island. We’d timed the visit to coincide with the Rugby World Cup that year but gave ourselves enough opportunity to see the country. Even so, there remain places we missed!
Nevertheless, before the final of the RWC we’d planned to move on- not to return home, but to return to Australia for a look at as many iconic and well-known sights as we could fit in.
Arrival to Sydney from Auckland was late, and by the time our transfer had dropped us at the opulent ‘Seasons Darling Harbour’ hotel it was too late to see or do anything [we’d been last to drop off on the transfer bus]. At check-in to the hotel we were told we’d been booked in the previous year and marked as a ‘no-show’. This was our first hitch of the entire excursion and a real blow, since there were no rooms available, apparently, although the receptionist rallied and offered us a ‘suite’ somewhere high up in the high-rise hotel. This was all very pleasant as the suite comprised a living room as well as bathroom and bedroom, although we were only booked in for the one night!
The following morning, as I sat on the high rise toilet and contemplated the stupendous view of Sydney Harbour I heard a loud rushing noise which was quickly followed by the monorail swishing past the window. Who knew? The commuters would have a tale to tell their colleagues.
Realising we should have given orselves more time to view Australia’s iconic city before collecting our first Australian van, we asked about reserving a second night, only to learn that the price would entail taking out a mortgage, upon which discovery we checked out to seek a cheaper option. This, sadly, turned out to be the ‘backpacker hostel’, providing as stark a contrast to the previous night’s stay as it is possible to describe. Nevertheless we wanted more time to see Sydney and had little choice but to check in.
Wary of the greyish sheets on the bed and the sticky carpet, we left our bags and set off to see the sights, which were, admittedly, quite wonderful- Sydney Harbour Bridge standing stately over the glistening water and the iconic Opera House presiding over all. The waterfont is all you would expect. We took a ferry over to Manly, mainly for the views.
Eventually, after a long day of tourist sight bombardment, we returned to the skanky hovel of our accommodation and made the best of it.
In other areas, our travel fortunes continued to be rocky when a cash machine denied my card and refused to cooperate, which was yet another blow. Without card use or cash we were proverbially stuffed. We gathered together such change as we could muster and bought a phone card which we used to call my bank, who, I was at pains to explain, had been thoroughly apprised of all our travel plans; at which, yes, they did restore my financial capability. Phew!