Australia, Sydney, Vacations

Sydney: There’s No Way I’m Climbing That Bridge (Day Two)

The top tourist attraction is the bridge climb in Sydney. It’s where they strap you in a safety harness and connect you to cables so you don’t die if you fall. It’s where you walk up a narrow walkway and go up about a gazillion stairs to get to the top. It’s where it’s super windy because you are very, very high and on a bridge, dinkus. It’s where you can’t even take your own camera, because if you drop it you’ll probably kill the people below you. Or something. A few of our friends told us it was a “must do!”. These friends obviously don’t understand how afraid of heights I am. The fact that it costs $200 USD to do it is just the icing on top of a horrible cake. I’m afraid of heights, and I like my life, so no bueno. I don’t need to pee my pants in front of total strangers. Or have a heart attack. You can, however, walk the bridge at the pedestrian/car level and still have great views. And it’s free! So we decided to do that instead.

We woke up to a sunny day after our 9.5 hours of sleep. We still woke up when it was dark, because we went to bed at 7:30 p.m. like centenarians. We found a little French cafe near the hotel for breakfast and it was the first time I’d ever had a chocolate croissants right out of the oven. Game changer. Apparently the chef had started baking later than normal, so I was the benefactor. Very lucky because it was oh so good. We finished eating and went to pay and the woman asked us what our plans were for the day. Like I said before: these people are genuinely friendly. She said if we return to the restaurant she wanted to hear what our favorite things were that we did. So she was friendly AND smart, luring us back into her establishment for a chat about Sydney’s best attractions. Madam, you already had a guaranteed repeat customer at ‘warm chocolate croissant’. We headed out and made it maybe four blocks before stopping for more caffeine (for the walk) and a snack. Hey, we still weren’t working at 100%, so…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

We stopped at a little park on the way, as I kept spilling my tea trying to walk and drink at the same time. No comments on that one, please. Anyway, at the park look who showed up:

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bin chickens

I tried to shoo him away, but he noticed I was eating. Then I made the brilliant decision to give him a tiny bit of my treat. Real smart. And by ‘real smart’ I mean ‘real dumb’. He started following me. Did I mention these guys aren’t exactly tiny, and they are aesthetically challenged? I started high-tailing it out of there (pun intended). Sal helpfully laughed and took a pic.

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(Nic you would hate these creepy birds. They even scare me a bit.)

As you can probably guess, we left after this incident. We made our way to the stairs to get to the pedestrian walkway for the bridge.

Continue reading “Sydney: There’s No Way I’m Climbing That Bridge (Day Two)”

Australia, Sydney

Sydney: Initial Impressions (Day One)

We landed in Sydney at around 7:30 a.m. There is e-immigration here, which was new to me. It worked for Sal, but not for me, as my picture didn’t match (probably because I had my glasses on). It didn’t matter, because I only had to wait about 2 minutes to get it sorted and go through. Easy peasy. No stamp, though — boo! To top off the good luck, our suitcases were the first and fourth ones off of the belt. That has never happened to us before. Someone was throwing us a bone after the extremely long travel day. Customs just took our forms and waved us through. We’ve never gotten through customs and immigration in a foreign country so quickly. Thanks, Sydney! Points awarded!

We got out cash and decided to get an Uber and save a little money for the company, since this part of the trip is a work trip and they are paying. The Uber app didn’t tell us where to go to meet for pickup, but the airport is well signed and it was easy to find and not far from where we exited Customs.

It was an 8 minute wait for the Uber, which is about normal-ish back home at the airport, I guess. Our driver was a nice man originally from Cambodia. I don’t know if it was the jetlag or his strong accent, but I understood about 62% of what he said. (Those were the mathematically precise numbers my jet-lagged mind determined that I was comprehending.) He would say something and I would wade through the fog that was my brain at that point, and try to translate it. I did a lot of agreeing and saying, ‘ahh!’. Lord only knows what I was agreeing to 38% of the time. I did ask him if he could take us past some kangaroos. I’d like to think if he would have been an Australian native I wouldn’t have asked him that, but I doubt it. I guess we’ll have to wait until we get up north!

Continue reading “Sydney: Initial Impressions (Day One)”

Asiana, Australia, Flights

Who Keeps Farting In This Plane?

We had never spent so much time to get somewhere.

1.25 hours to JFK
+45 minutes through TSA (ridiculous!)
+14.5 hours to Seoul
+3.5 hours in Seoul
+10.5 hours to Sydney
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A really long time.

So on the ride to JFK we ran into traffic. Luckily we had a nice, fun driver to keep us distracted.

TSA was a complete joke. They were the worst I’ve run into, probably ever. So incredibly slow. They were pulling people’s bags if there was food in them to scan. There were more bags pulled to the side for searches than actually went through. One embarrassed woman had nine small bags of pretzels. I didn’t have food, but I had tums and my bag was scanned. Seriously? Tums?? It was at least 10 minutes between when my bag was pulled and when someone finally started checking it. I was biting my tongue the whole time. Thankfully we always leave early for flights because I’m paranoid about stuff like that happening, so time wasn’t an issue.

We flew Asiana again. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly concerned after my flight with them last time. My goal was to stay awake the first flight and hopefully sleep the second. Oddly enough, the only time I felt like the flight was dragging was when there were four hours left. I only watched one movie. I listened to podcasts and read a bit. I wasn’t that interested in the available movies. Sal got a few hours of sleep. The flight itself was fine; I did note that I am not really that much of a fan of Korean food. I prefer Thai/Indonesian/Vietnamese. The plane was a newer model, though, which was pretty good and it even had a little ‘lounge’ area with a small wall of couch seats (with seat belts) and windows.

This was our second time in Seoul in a year. We had a transfer there last year on our big Asia trip, but that time we got there late at night and this time it was in late afternoon. The place was hopping.  We’d already decided to do some wandering and get some steps in to stretch our legs. It’s interesting that at a certain point in the airport they have the exact same stores again, in the same order.

airportteddy
Is it just me, or does this bear look a little jetlagged, too? At the very least he’s not happy to be at the airport.

There was a quartet playing; we heard Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars, and Lionel Richie while we stopped and walked around. Eventually the crowds and stores were the same so we headed to the lounge. It was super crowded and we were quite sleepy at that point.

The second flight was in an older plane, and it showed. The bathrooms weren’t as nice and the seats themselves were pretty uncomfortable. This time I got the western food and it was not very good. Luckily I was still full from the first fight. I kept smelling gas (not petroleum) on this flight. It was bad. Thank goodness I had a scarf to cover my nose when it got so bad my nose hairs felt like they were curling. I couldn’t sleep until the mystery farting stopped. Sal fell asleep pretty quickly. He claims he wasn’t the guilty gasser. I was listening to music and playing a game on my phone when I started hearing a familiar sound: Sal snoring. I didn’t have the heart to wake him up and eventually he stopped. I slept a few hours on the flight. Not as much as I wanted to, but at least I got some sleep.

We arrived in Sydney extremely tired, but when we landed we got a second wind. It was exciting being in Australia for the first time and on a new-to-us continent. Next up: Sydney!

 

Australia, Planning, Vacations

An Unexpected Upcoming Journey

Once we decide where we are going each year, the first thing I check is if we need any immunizations. For the most part, the shots aren’t really a big deal. However, when we had to get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccinations (multiple spread over a period of time) before the big Asia trip, I got a little sick each time. This immunization basically expires after two years, so my goal was to never have to get it again. Luckily Japan was high up on our list of travel destinations, so Japan it was.

I started my research and started to come up with a broad itinerary. I downloaded an app and every day I’d spend a bid of time trying to learn how to read Japanese. Of course I spent a lot of time on TripAdvisor, as well. Things were coming together until…

Hub found out he was going to speak at a conference in Sydney.

Now Australia was on the list, but it was not high on the list. It’s very far. But it would have been silly not to take advantage of the fact that we could combine work and vacation, meaning work would pay for a significant amount of expense. So Sydney it was/is.

Suddenly I had to start from square one with the research, and semi-quickly, because we were leaving in three months.

Did you guys know that a lot of things are trying to kill you in Australia? And speaking of that, don’t get me started on the crocodile stories. I made the mistake of doing some research, and now my Google news feed blesses me with any new horrifying crocodile stories that happen in Australia. Great!

But the more I researched it, the more excited I got. And all of the sudden, it’s next week. We will be on planes for over 24 hours. Whew. This will definitely be the furthest we’ve gone. I will try to take you along for the ride and hopefully share some of the amazing things I expect we’ll be seeing and doing (WiFi permitting).

So buckle up, people. We’re headed to the other side of the world.

Click here!