Thursday, December 29, 2011

Departure of the Fam

The last few days we had been working our way back towards Sydney, making an overnight stop at Port Macquarie to break up the journey. Fortunately the looming threat of storms due to the cyclones in the north held off until the evening, allowing us to go to a Koala Bear Hospital on the edge of town. Danelle finally got to see her Koala's, and plenty of them. We spent about an hour and a half waking around the outdoor pens that held various Koala's with various injuries, some being rehabilitated and prepared to return to the wild, and some being too severely injured to ever leave the hospital.

We returned to Sydney to make a frustrating navigation of the city, to a hotel we had found near the airport. I must once again reiterate how F'd up Sydney's roads are. If you haven't drove on them before, don't. We arrived at the hotel to realize there was really nothing around, so after a couple hours of lazing in the room we caught the train to Darling Harbour to have a few drinks and some dinner. Thankfully for Danelle we didn't encounter any more large insects of arachnids during her last two days in Australia.

And that brings us to yesterday. We checked out of the hotel and said our goodbyes, the end of a great visit and great trip around Australia. It was great to see Mom and Danelle again, and it being the Christmas season made the visit so much better. Being away from family for one Christmas is enough for this guy, I don't think I would have done two in a row. Family is too important to not spend the holiday season with. I am sad that their gone and will miss them dearly, especially since the prospect of another year without seeing them lies ahead, but the powers of Skype and email will keep us close. Love you guys!

Last night was my first night in my new pad. I won't go into much detail, instead I'll do up a post about it in the New Year, complete with pictures. I'll just say that so far my roomates seem cool, and it should turn out to be a good place to live.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Best wishes to all my followers, straight from Australia! Thanks for taking the time to follow my adventures while a galavant around the globe. May you have have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Time Is Here!

Ok I know this post is a little overdue, but here it is:

Our last two days in Sydney were packed with beer and food in Darling Harbour, followed by fireworks, shopping for the women (I split off and took a walk), and the Sydney Aquarium. One day we did a trip to the Blue Mountains, about two hours by train from Sydney. It turned out to be a great day despite the overcast weather. The mountains themselves are more like plateaus that drop down to a narrow valley below (they call it a canyon). We checked out the Three Sisters viewpoint and walked on to one of the Sisters (three rock spires). The town of Katoomba was really picturesque and cozy, with a main, cafe lined street that lead to the viewpoint. I thought at some point I would like to spend some time in that town.

On Sunday we rented a car and headed out for the town of Black Head, where the parents of my Mom's co-worker Allison kindly let us use their beach house. I'll start this off by ranting about Australian roads, just so we can get this out of the way. I didn't have much of a problem with the other side of the road thing, well except for hitting the curb and scraping up the hub cap the first time parking the car (I can feel a comment from Uncle Richard coming). Sydney's roads are complete chaos. Lane's end and form everywhere, light systems and unpredictable, and you constantly have to be vigilant due to the lack of signs. The highways are even worse. The main highway of the country, highway 1, is only divided double lane for half the way towards Brisbane, and is frequently punctuated by traffic circles and towns that bring the speed limit down to 50. The weirdest thing in the passing lanes. Of course since you drive on the left you keep left except to pass, but the passing lane doesn't end, the slow lane does! The left lane is forced to merge into the passing lane. Does this make sense to anyone? Because it doesn't to me. Ok I'm done.

The beach house was amazing. One hundred feet from the beach, it was a quaint cabin style beach house that has been in their family for seventy five years. The town itself is small and quiet, a perfect place to kick back and decompress from the hustle and bustle of Sydney. On Tuesday we were invited by Allison's parents, Errol and Pauline, to be shown around Forster/Tuncurry. A small beach side city who's mainstay is oyster farming and retirement, it's beaches were incredible. We would have never seen a fraction of what we saw if it hadn't been for those very pleasant people. Add another place where I would like to spend some time.

A couple more days at the beach house were spent doing exactly that: the beach. One of the most hilarious things was the nightly freak outs from the girls about the semi-outside bathroom. Not quite an outhouse, it was a fully plumbed and tiled bathroom, but a backyard stairway journey from the house, which becomes full of insects by nightfall if the light is left on. I became the Orkin man for the bathroom, having to kill bathroom cockroaches nightly.

And now we are in Byron Bay after a long, tired, frustrating car ride in the sweltering heat and humidity, trying to avoid using the air conditioning due to sore throats that Mom and I have had the past few days. The hotel we are staying at is pretty nice, a little ways away from the turmoil of Byron Bay. Danelle and Mom were very happy to have an attached bathroom. That night we had a good meal and beers at a local pub, and retired early. Danelle's bathroom rejoicing was quickly dashed. I got up in the middle of the night to take a leak, and in the process of turning on the light, triggered the need for her to do the same. I climbed back in bed only to hear a heart stopping gasp from the washroom, and Danelle's "holy fucking shit! Kyle! Kyle! Come here!". Not quite Huntsman size, it was one of the bigger spiders I've seen on my trip, about the size of the mouth of a coffee mug. It was time for Mom and I to swap bug killing duties, due to my dislike and fear of spiders. She did a hell of a job, first inhibiting it's mobility (partly) with hair spray then mashing it with the toilet brush. She instantly became our new hero. Now Danelle is completely on edge, and just about lost her shit when she opened the curtains and saw a spider on a web outside the window.

Today is Christmas Eve! We're not sure what we're going to do today, but tomorrow is going to be all about a huge seafood dinner. If I don't make it online tomorrow, Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Fam

I awoke early on Sunday morning and caught the shuttle to the airport arriving just before my Mom and Danelle's flight. I took my spot at gate D in the arrival hall, where they would be exiting from, and waited. And waited. After an hour and watching a couple thousand people walk by, I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned around to see: Danelle! And Mom! Hugs followed.

After that we took the shuttle back into the city, to the apartment that Mom had booked for us to stay in. It was a shared accommodation type deal, where the owner of the apartment rents out rooms for people to stay in. So far the guy has been nice, but is obviously a reclusive nerd since he has hardly left his room for the three days we've been here, and isn't anything remotely close to social. Fine by me though, we can enjoy his very nice apartment in peace!

The past few days I've been showing Mom and Danelle around Sydney, being the valuable guide I am. And that's not an understatement, I (and they) can't imagine them(selves) negotiating the Sydney public transport system alone. Fortunately I am experienced with this system and can use it quite proficiently to my advantage. The first day we trained it to the Rocks, where we had a couple beers and walked around the outdoor markets, circling around below the bridge back to Circular Quay, and then down George Street.

The second day we headed back along George Street, mainly to the Queen Victoria Building, where Danelle had become mesmerized by the amount of shopping to be done there, and to Myer so they could buy an umbrella for the crappy amount of rain that had been coming down. After the shopping spree, we walked along Hyde Park and had a coffee, before returning to the apartment and heading out for some delicious Thai food.

Today the weather finally broke, allowing us to head to Manly after a walk around Chinatown and a meal of Dim Sim. The ferry to Manly was a little chilly but otherwise the weather was warm and the sun was shining. Unfortunately upon departing the apartment we didn't think the weather would have been this nice, and didn't don our swimwear, so we had to sit on the steps of the Manly Beach instead. After that we had a pint on the wharf, caught the ferry back, and wandered around until we had some pizza and called it a night!

As today exceeded our expectations in weather terms, hopefully tomorrow will as well. Bondi awaits!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Up Date

Less than twenty four hours until my Mom and Sister arrive! Yesterday was my last day of work for three weeks, and I did it on a hangover and two hours of sleep. Fuck I make bad decisions when I drink. Thankfully I still have some scrap of my youth that allows me to pull through these heavy sessions. As far as work goes, things look good on that front. I was invited to come work there after the New Year, which I will most likely do simply for the paycheck. An update on the TasRail job: after I was called by the lawyer saying that their calls to TasRail had not been returned, I lit a fire under they're asses and now the visa application has been filed, one month behind schedule. Hopefully next week I should find out if the first step is approved and if the next five month step will go ahead.

One more update: I got an apartment! Not one of my own, Sydney is too damn expensive for that, but as long as it's not a hostel, it's all good. It's a new, modern apartment in Waterloo that has a massive balcony and amazing views of Sydney. I will be sharing a room with one other guy, and there's six other people in the large, three bedroom apartment. The complex has a fitness club-sized gym with a large pool, sauna, and hot tub, which I think will be a great place to meet new people.

Tomorrow I go to meet my Mom and Sister at the airport, and from there we will head to an apartment in downtown Sydney to spend a week at, touring around Sydney and hopefully making a trip to the Blue Mountains. On the 18th we head up to Blackhead to stay at a beach house that is owned by the parents of my Mom's coworker. On the 22nd we head up to the famed Byron Bay to spend Christmas!