Saturday, December 10, 2005

Day 183 - Sydney - Waikiki, Hawaii, USA

Day 183 – 8th December 2005 -10:00 GMT Total Miles 36552

Today is going to be the longest day I have ever lived through. We got up around 8am and packed up our bags we then went and had breakfast in the hostel and then checked out, put our bags in storage and booked a Shuttle to the airport for 4pm. We then sat in the TV area and watched the film snatch on video, then watched the start of the Australian Open. I then went for a walk around Kings Cross Area and along Darlinghurst Road. Jill and I then went to Joe’s a small café for a fry up, we then chilled in the hostel for a couple more hours until our shuttle turned up. We arrived at the airport around 5pm but were told we could not check in until 5:50pm, this was due to it being a flight to America and they need to search everyone’s bags. So we hung around for an hour then checked in, got through Customs and security and sat down by our gate. The plane started to board at 8:20pm and we were due to take off at 8:50pm. When we got on the plane we were informed that there was a mechanical failure and an engineer was onboard and they were trying to source a spare part. After an hour we were informed it was fixed and we took off closer to 10pm. We were served food pretty quickly and I watched the film Transporter 2 while eating and then fell asleep for a couple of hours. When I woke up I watched the film The Brothers Grimm and then a couple of TV programs. After 9 and half hours of flying we landed in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is 9:30am and still the 8th December because we crossed the international date line. We got through USA Immigration and customs and then caught a shuttle bus to out hotel. We checked into the Hawaii Polo Inn and our room was ready. The hotel has a small swimming pool and decent size rooms, our room has two double beds, a TV, Video, Fridge, Coffee Machine and a Balcony. We are about a 5 minute walk to the beach and close to the shopping centre. We are all shattered due to hardly sleeping on the plane so we all go to sleep. We wake up around 6pm and decide to go out otherwise we will not sleep tonight. We walk along the beach to the centre of Waikiki and then have a wander around the town, we choose a restaurant and eat and have a beer before walking back to the hotel. We watch a couple of Bill Murray films on TV and then go to sleep. So today was 46 hours long for me, 21 hours until I caught the plane 10 hours on the plane and then 15 hours in Hawaii before midnight, one long day.

Day 182 - Sydney, Australia

Day 182 – 7th December 2005 +11:00 GMT Total Miles 31457

Jill and I spend the day on our own again as Reece went out some guys he is sharing a room with. We caught the train from Kings Cross to Circular Quay and booked ourselves on a cruise at 12:45pm, so we decided to get a cold pint of Stella while we were waiting. We boarded the boat around 12:40pm, we sat on the top deck but under the shade as the temperature is over 40 C today.

The Rocks

Opera House and Harbour Bridge


The cruise was well narrated and took an hour and half to go all around the harbour, it made one stop at Darling Harbour for those who wished to visit Sydney Aquarium.



Sydney Opera House

When the boat docked again we went for food at a food court. Then Jill and wandered around the shops, I bought a couple of Dan Brown books as they were on sale. Since it was so hot we decided to go to the cinema and experience some air conditioning for a while, we saw the film “Domino” which was pretty good and was an autobiography film of a bounty hunter loosely based on a true story. By now I had a really bad headache probably due to the heat so I went back to the hostel and slept for a few hours. When I woke up Jill pointed out a huge, and I mean huge (size of my hand) spider sitting on the skirting board. I took a closer look and it looked mean an poisonous. Now 85% of Australian Spiders are highly Poisonous, since I would not let Jill kill it, we spent the next 1 hour trying to catch it, we did catch it once and it out through the window but it just ran back in. So we finally caught it and had to go down to the ground floor and out the front of the hostel to let it out onto the street. We then could finally go to sleep.

Day 181 - Sydney, Australia

Day 181 – 6th December 2005 +11:00 GMT Total Miles 31449

Jill and I walked to Kings Cross Station and caught the train to Central Station and then walked along Pitt Street and Broadway to visit the Apple Shop. They had a service centre here so they tried my Ipod and said it was fried. They can’t replace it unless they give it a full service which takes 7 – 10 days. They checked the warranty and said it expires on the 17th December (although I only bought it in April) so because I am mot home buy then they said I should buy an extended warranty so I had to spend $100 on an extra years warranty. Jill and I then stopped at a crepe shop and I had a country Tuna Crepe and a chocolate milkshake, the food was good. We then walked to Haymarket and bought a day pass on the monorail, and travelled around on the monorail to Harbourside stop.

The Monorail

We had a walk around Cockle Bay and Darling Harbour.

Cockle Bay

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour

we walked through Tumbalong Park and to the Chinese gardens.

Tumbalong Park

Chinese Gardens

We then caught the Monorail to World Square and wandered along George Street and had a look at the Town Hall. We then got the train back to Kings Cross and walked back to our hostel. We chilled out for a couple of hours and then we went to a pizza parlour and ate before returning to the hostel for the night.

Day 180 - Sydney, Australia

Day 180 – 5th December 2005 +11:00 GMT Total Miles 31442

Today Jill and I decided to visit Bondi Beach, so we caught the train from Kings Cross to Bondi Junction and then caught a bus to Bondi Beach. We walked along the road and stopped at a café for breakfast, I had a full Aussie Breakfast and Jill a full Vegetarian Breakfast. We then found a nice spot on the beach surrounded by topless girls and we laid out a blanket and collapsed in the sun.

Jill on Bondi Beach

Me on Bondi Beach

I read my book for a while and then had a splash around in the water. The Waves are great and fairly strong, so half the beach is full of surfers and boogie boarders and the other half full of swimmers.

Me on Bondi Beach

I then read for a bit longer while I dried out and then we decided it was time to head back before we burnt to much.

Bondi Beach

We visited Bondi Junction and had a wander around the shops before returning to the hostel. When we got back Jill noticed she had been burnt a little, and when we saw Reece who had also been at Bondi for the day he had not put an sun tan lotion on his back and was so badly burnt. The three of us went out to a Indian Restaurant nearby the hostel in the evening where we had some good food and a nice bottle of wine. It was so hot at night that Jill and I could not sleep so stayed up late reading.

Day 179 - Sydney, Australia

Day 179 – 4th December 2005 +11:00 GMT Total Miles 31432

Woke up early as I am not used to the time difference, so had breakfast at the hostel. Jill and I then had a wander around the city, we started off by walking down William street and visiting Hyde Park and seeing St. Mary’s Cathedral.

View of Sydney Tower from Hyde Park

St. Mary’s Cathedral

There is a huge Christmas Tree outside which is a strange sight for me with the temperature being in the mid 30’s Celsius.

A Christmas Tree

Strange Birds All Over Sydney

A Fountain

Hyde Park

In Hyde Park they had lots of tables setup with various stalls selling Iron Bru, Short Bread and other Scottish items. After Jill bought some Iron Bru we chatted we the stall owner and he said it is Scottish Heritage week here in Sydney.

Scottish Heritage Week

Then we walked passed Sydney Tower and down Pitt Street stopping for a browse at several shops and to listen to the Christmas carols being sung.

Another Christmas Tree in Sydney

At the End of Pitt Street we reached the harbour so we stopped for a beer.

Jill and I with a cold pint of Stella Artois

We then walked along the waterfront to Sydney Harbour Bridge and then walked across the bridge to North Sydney and back.

Our First view of Sydney Harbour Bridge

Me and my Ice Cream by Sydney Opera House

Me by Sydney Harvour Bridge

View of Opera House from Harbour Bridge

Sydney City Centre

Sydney Harbour

We then visited Rock Market which is a wonderful market selling many arts and crafts. The Rocks is the oldest part of Sydney, where the first Jail was, the first liquor shop and first brothel

The Rocks Market

The Rocks

Next we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art which had a exhibition of Erwin Wurm many of which pieces featured in the Red Hot Chili Peppers Video. Only two floors of the museum were open so it only took 30 minutes to look around and entry was free which is always good.

Erwin Wurm's Inflated Porsche

Erwin Wurm's Inflated Porsche

We then walked around the Harbour and stopped for lunch besides Sydney Opera House, we ate outside on the wharf.

View of Opera House from Harbour Bridge

We then had a walk around the opera house and then walked across the Royal Botanic Gardens back to the hostel.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Botanical Gardens

In the evening we went to a Czech and Slovak Restaurant which served great beer and great food. We were now both very tired so fell asleep quickly.

Day 178 - Christchurch - Sydney, Australia

Day 178 – 3rd December 2005 +11:00 GMT Total Miles 31429

Packed up my bag, not quite sure how I manage to fit everything in my bag each time but some how it fits. Checked out of our room and put our bags in storage at the hostel. We then had a wander around the city and saw an army ska band playing at cathedral square and then had a browse in a book store. We then found a bar and had a pint and played some pool for a couple of hours. We got back to the hostel just after 2pm, at 2:40pm our shuttle bus turned up for the airport which was 20 minutes earlier than we had booked it. We arrived at the airport at about 3:15pm in plenty of time for our 6:45pm flight, but when we got there all the check in desks for Qantas were closed. I found a Qantas employee who checked on the computers and informed us that our flight had been cancelled two months ago and we had been re-booked on the flight at 6:45am this morning which we had missed. After talking with ticketing we got a late check in on the 3:35pm flight but we had to hurry. So we had to check our bags and get our boarding passes, then we had to go to the bank and pay departure tax of $25 each to leave the country, then run through the airport to security, go through security and then get to the gate and get on the plane. It was a very hectic 20 minutes and probably the shortest time I have ever had to wait for a plane. Due to our late check in we had separate seats at opposite ends of the plane but the stewardess shifted a couple of people around and manage to sit Jill and I together. Due to the changing of planes Jill did not get a vegetarian meal. Anyway we got into Sydney three hours earlier than we were suspecting and our bags were first off the plane. We caught a shuttle bus to our hostel which is Eva’s Backpackers in Kings Cross and checked in. We got a decent sized room and they have free internet and a garden on the roof. We rested for a couple of hours then had a walk around Kings Cross area, Victoria Street reminded me of being in Paris and the rest felt like being in London. I got a real good vibe about Sydney. Jill and I got a bite to eat and bought some beer and sat in the roof garden and had a drink and chatted with some German and Swedish guests for a couple of hours before going to bed.

Day 177 - Christchurch, New Zealand

Day 177 – 2nd December 2005 +13:00 GMT Total Miles 30099

Jill is still not feeling to well so Reece and I headed out on our own.

River by our Hostel

We walked into the city centre and caught an airport bus from Cathedral Square to the International Antarctic Centre.


Cathedral Square

The Cathedral in Cathedral Square

The International Antarctic Centre is where 70% of the flights to the Antarctic come from and is the training and preparation place for most of the people who go there.

The Antarctic Centre

We paid for a combo ticket and started off with a ride on a Haggland vehicle which they use to drive around the ice in the Antarctic. The ride drove us over very steep hill and over crevasses and along at strange tilting angles and then through a 3 metre deep water, where the Haagland Vehicle actually floats. The Vehicles cost half a million dollars each to buy.

The Haagland

After our ride we entered the main centre and learnt about the camps they have out in Antarctic and the various research programs they do there.

The Antarctic Centre

The Antarctic Centre

We saw several films and got to go into a room full of snow and ice which is at minus five Celsius and experience a blizzard where the wind chill drops to minus 18 Celsius, so had to put on rubber boots and large wind proof jackets, you then had the option of standing in the open or hiding in one of the shelters, they had an igloo and a tent, Reece and I both stood in the open and braved the full force of the storm.

Realo Snow and Ice in Antarctic Centre

-5 Celsius

-18 Celsius - it's cold

The Antarctic is the coldest, and Driest continent, the South Pole only gets 5mm of snow fall a year which is almost on par with the rainfall in the Sahara Dessert. We then learnt about the animals and vegetation in the area and about the ozone, as there is a huge hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic. We then had a bite to eat at the centre before catching the bus back to the hostel. I cooked some soup and chatted to a few of the hostel guests then Jill and I watched “Chris Rock – Never Scared” DVD.
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