A Slow Meander Through Life

Friday, June 02, 2006

Oz Part 1 - Being sick in Sydney

I was chided yesterday for not having written anything about my trip to Australia. It seems like quite a daunting task, so the plan is to split it into manageable chunks (how I approach my life). There's also some writing that needs doing about the golfing holiday in Newquay, but a lot of that was a blur, so I may struggle.

I went over to Oz with my mate Chris. I went to school with him, and we were off to visit Tim, another schoolmate. Tim moved out there for a year or so to be with his girlfriend, Alex, who had gone out there to work for a law firm. It's unsure as to how long they're staying, but they're basically having an amazing time out there. The invite had been there for a while and we realised that we'd be fools not to accept. Chris sorted out the flights and we were on our way.
We flew with Singapore Airlines via Singapore. It was the longest flight that I'd ever been on, but we were reassured when we discovered that we had three seats for the two of us. A little extra space is always a good thing. My head was a little sore after our 'pre-holiday drinks', but we were up and away and heading on our big adventure.
I don't spend much time with Chris these days as I moved away years ago, but he's the main person that I keep in touch with from Formby. We settled into the in flight entertainment and did our best to sleep at the correct times; we failed totally, of course.
The eight hour flight from Singapore to Sydney seemed a doddle compared to the previous 14, and we had soon crossed the sea to reach Australia. The vastness of it is quite something: just miles and miles of nothing as far as the eye can see.
Landing was fine, but passing through immigration was a nightmare; they're very choosy about who comes through and who doesn't. We were waiting for ages to be allowed in. After that we had to pass through quarantine to ensure that we weren't smuggling in anymore rabbits. That wasn't so painful.
Sat reading his copy of the The DaVinci Code, Tim looked no more tanned and healthy as usual, the bastard. He greeted us and took us across Sydney to his and Alex's appartment. It was an odd journey. They drive on the left in Australia as we do here, so it wasn't too much different.
It was great to Alex again. She is, quite simply, the most fantastic person in the world ever. Her accomodating nature and completely organised life are something to behold and be envious of. Tim is a very lucky man! We opted to stay in for a couple of cheeky drinks, and before long we had opened the litre bottle of Jameson's that had been purchased at Singapore Airport. At 3am I decided it was time to pass out, happy in the knowledge that there wasn't much on the agenda for the following day. How wrong a man can be...
I was awoken at 9am by an overactive Chris. I felt very bad, and had unfortunately been sick during the night (in the toilet, I hasten to add). It was at this point that I realised that I hadn't read the itinerary that Alex and Tim had put together, as I was told we had to make a move to do the whole 'Harbour Bridge / Opera House thing'. Before this would be breakfast at a local cafe. This didn't stay down. My first day in Australia was blighted by me being sick at every available opportunity. The 'photo that everybody takes when they go to Sydney' of me in front of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House sees me looking like I'm actually dead.
At around 2pm we went to Lenin's Bar for a drink; I began to sweat and had to make a dash to the toilet to empty more out of stomach. At this point I feared having to cancel our bridge climb that was booked for 4pm. I had visions of Alex and Tim calling friends to see who wanted a free walk up the Sydney Harbour Bridge because their latest guest couldn't keep anything in his stomach. However, I pulled through and enjoyed a great walk up the bridge. It is the most organised business I have ever seen, and if Australia ever needed to invade another country I would suggest that it is organised by the bridge climb people.
Tim picked us up after the climb to take us back to the appartment. I hadn't really appreciated the beauty of where they were living by this point. In Darlinghurst, just a minute's walk from the Coca-Cola sign that signifies the start of King's Cross, their appartment offers the most fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. We showered and changed ready for the evening: meeting Sue (a friend of Alex's), grabbing some food and then going to see James Blunt in concert. I had made a full recovery by this point; I had vowed never to drink again and was scared by the sight of alcohol at the concert. James Blunt was great; I'm not a big fan but it was a great performance. Tim took his super-expensive camera and has some amazing pictures to show for it. We walked back afterwards and ended up in a very nice bar not far from the appartment. I had a great chat with Sue and started to relax into the holiday. Chris had managed to woo three girls at the concert and had digits, but that was never to move any further.
The following morning we were joined by Mike (the captain of the English Shanker's Cup team). He was to be with us for the two weeks, and everything was set for a great holiday. Our first foray into Australian life was due to happen; we had a day at Manly Beach planned and Tim had booked us in on a surfing lesson. Unfortunately we arrived at the beach on the only day of the year where there wasn't a single wave. It was like a pond, and we spent the day playing volleyball and catching some rays. The day was broken up by an announcement over the loudspeakers from the lifeguards (assume a laid back Australian accent for the next bit):
'Erm, g'day ladies and gents. We've had a report that there may be a few sharks in the water, so we reckon you probably don't want to be in there.'
No panic, no fuss: just fact. It was very funny to say the least.
I was clearly suffering from a little bit of jet lag, and we found ourselves in a bar in Manly by the harbour. The plan was simple: drinks some beers and then catch the ferry back to Circular Quay. I actually fell asleep in the Manly Harbour Bar, and with the girls having decided to head off, I thought that I could join them and have an early night. This wasn't acceptable to the lads who had said that they were going to have one more anyway, and then we could head back. A great plan, I thought. Tim decided that we should have our last pint at the Belgian Beer bar, and instead of ordering the schooner that I wanted, I ended up with a stein of beer, equivalent to 1 litre. That's roughly 2 pints in one glass. I wasn't happy. What's more, the round came to 80 dollars, so we all had to chip. Wanting to kill Tim, the only solution was to follow Mike's lead. He's quite the drinker, so I figured that if I followed every sip he took, I finish the beer of no problem. Amazingly enough it worked, and we soon found ourselves ordering some more. 4 pints later, we were rather drunk, and we wanted to catch the ferry back. We walked down to the terminal only to find that we'd just missed it. On return to the bar we weren't allowed entry because we were too drunk! We'd done our best to explain how much money we'd spent there, but the guy wasn't having any of it. We ended up sat in a chinese restaurant to squeeze in an extra pint before we just made it back to the ferry to head back to Circular Quay. I slept on the ferry, and passed out pretty quickly once we returned to the appartment. The next day would see us fly up to Byron Bay, so it was another reasonably early start.


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