I have never been so wet since the last time I fell into the lake fully clothed… and we will never again speak of that incident, do you understand? Thank you. Anyways… yes, for a continent in the middle of an intense drought, I’ve never walked through deluges like this in my life. Of course, if I ever ventured out for a walk in a downpour, I might not be able to make that claim. Laurie and I arrived in Sydney late Wednesday and carted our luggage allllllll the way around the central railroad station to the Railway YHA which is actually attached to the station. Talk about an exhausting trip! Can you just smell the sarcasm in that statement? Actually, it was a rather tiring trip, considering the amount we were carrying and the fact that we had just finished a five hour bus ride followed by an 8 hour train ride. Travel is exhausting… don’t roll your eyes at me! I find that full travel days like that are often more tiring than a day at work. It didn’t help that the emotions were running high with having to leave behind our new family of Bourke.
Getting back to the rain. We arrived to clear skies, checked into our hostel, and managed to climb into bed by around 10pm. VERY early the next morning, one of our roommates came in and started putting away her stuff, I was certain it was about 4am… turns out she arrived at 8am… yes, we were both quite tired. Sometime around 930 we rolled out of bed, claimed our free breakfasts, which we get all week (every little bit of savings helps), and chatted with our American roommate. She assured us that New Zealand won’t be half so cold as everyone in Bourke adamantly insists it will be by the time we get there, and that with a fleece jacket and a scarf we’ll be fine… we’ll be listening to her advice. She also mentioned the fact that it was supposed to rain that day, but looking outside it was clear and sunny.
We ventured out with light jackets, long pants and running shoes, planning to get business done with the travel agency and the nursing agency. All of that went smooth, and we decided to make our leisurely way back and venture through random stores along the way. Oddly enough, even though I knew which direction the hostel was in, I had it in my head that to get back we needed to go towards the harbour, and managed to convince Laurie to go in the direction I suggested. As she tends to get turned around more often than I do, she went along. Later on that afternoon, the rain started coming down, gentle at first. As the rain got heavier, we ducked into more shops, and walked under balconies as much as possible. As we were passing the Four Seasons hotel, we looked up and noticed a large sign announcing we were approaching the Rocks district, which is an old part of the harbour, and has some really great character. By this point we’d been looking for a place to eat lunch for about an hour already. Laurie charmed one of the parking attendants outside the hotel, asking if there’re any good places to eat around the area. He sent us inside, and so we got good advice from the concierge at the Four Seasons hotel, and a map of the area. Off we trotted, through the light rain to explore the Rocks and find food. We hemmed and hawwed, nothing seeming quite right…we noticed an Italian restaurant with red checked table clothes that we both liked the look of, but decided to first check the places recommended to us. Finally, upon realizing everything either wasn’t what we wanted or was closed, we wandered back to the Italian restaurant…only to see the closed sign in the window, AND the chef and waiters sitting in the front window chowing down on their pizza. One of the young men (?Italian?) jumped up from the table when he saw us peeking in, opened the door and said “come back at 5”. We wandered back through the restaurants we had thought might be good, but really didn’t want anything but that Italian place. (Plus, as we’ve found out, anything other than McDonalds closes between at least 3 and 5pm daily) So we agreed to wait until 5… No rolling your eyes yet, it gets better!
As we were wandering, the rain began to come down in sheets, and the shelters were few and far between. We ducked into the Museum of Contemporary Art, which has free admission and was the closest accessible shelter at the time. So we dried off a bit in the bathroom, wandered through the gift shop, and on noticing a break in the rain decided to try and make it the 200metres to the harbour area where we’d been told about possible small shops/restaurants. Halfway in between, walking at a normal pace, we noticed the rain restarting, and it was hitting the ground awfully hard…actually it turned out to be pea-sized hail, and so we ran… carefully because the ground was wet and slippery… to the next sheltered overhang… and learned there really weren’t any shops to duck into in that area. The hail stopped in a few minutes, so we continued on from one overhang to the next, getting us nowhere of interest, other than a little closer to the harbour bridge. Finally we realized we wouldn’t even find a little place to sit and snack on the bread and sandwich meat we had picked up around noon that day. We found a little shelter, ripped apart the bread and stuffed it with meat, chowing down to stop the hunger pangs.
Satified for the moment, we found a nice little furniture shop to browse through for a bit, before it was finally time to head back. The pizza and soup were well worth the wait. The waiters were so amusing that we couldn’t help but leave a tip. We were only about a 20minute walk from the hostel, but the rain was steady and strong, so we took the monorail back to the hostel. Soaked through our jackets, and with shoes that “squidged” with water at every step for about 4 hours straight… we were very happy to wash our feet in hot water and find some dry clothes.
Friday morning, the rain was still threatening, and we still had no rain jackets or umbrellas (okay, so maybe we didn’t pack so well for this trip, give us a break already!). Our shoes were still very wet, and while it’s been cool, it’s not cold… so we put on sandals (and fleece jackets and scarfs, I wasn’t cold all day!) and set off to find Laurie a travel backpack and possibly some rain jackets for both of us. Splashing through puddles and small torrents of water all day made the sandals the best idea yet, as they dry swiftly. Mission accomplished, we came home with lovely waterproof jackets and a new travel backpack with wheels. We changed into our rain jackets and went back out in the steady rain to the movie theatre where we watched Pirates 3… Yup, good. As we left the theatre, we stopped to pull our hoods up. The steady rain had become a literal downpour… two blocks and my pants were soaked through from ankle to thigh as though I had just fallen into the lake. My feet and sandals were so wet that as I went through the parking lot of the hostel, I managed to accidentally slide right out of both sandals… laughing hysterically the whole time. Laurie wore her shoes out to the theatre…they’re still wet. I must say though, the rain jackets proved themselves to be waterproof!
Today, we woke up with the belief that maybe, just maybe the rain would be finished…lol. Ah, the sad hopes and dreams of the traveler. As it was still raining, we decided another day of shopping might be called for. We walked to a nearby mall, wandered a bit, and realized that neither of us felt like shopping. So we ducked into a little coffee shop, and had some coffee, soup and garlic bread. Refreshed, we chatted and decided it was time to find a hairdresser. Now, I know Laurie has promised many of you she will get dreadlocks. It’s been discussed many times on this trip. See the pictures to discover what really happened:
These are a quick preview, taken at the triple oh ball, from when Laurie's hair was still long... now on to the hairdresser's:
And so, my hair a few inches shorter, and Laurie’s now REALLY short, we were finally in the mood to shop. And man, was it ever hard to talk Laurie out of buying 230$ jeans!!! (She may buy them later though)
As a side note, I should mention food choices… we found a great little Chinese restaurant yesterday, where we sat for a couple of hours chatting and chowing down on wonton soup etc. It was great, especially notable was the fact that we were the only non-chinese there, which seems to denote more authentic Chinese food. We had just enough left-overs for a great supper that evening. Today, we decided to go for a Spanish restaurant, and man, I don’t know if we’ve spent less that 2 hours at a restaurant yet this week. The calamari was the best I’ve ever had… I guess places like Red Lobster are really no comparison though. For all those questioning the restaurants and shopping and how that fits into a budget… think “bonus” that we got from the nursing agency. Actually, the shopping has been mainly practical, jackets, longsleeved shirts, conditioner, postcards, etc, and any splurges we have to be able to justify to the other person, which is actually a pretty good stop-check.... Note the mention of jeans, she has to be sure she reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeealllllllllly wants/needs them, and we need to check other stores to make sure there's nothing else that will fit as well. (Laurie can't believe she's letting me write this, shaking her head, sighing excessively, you know how she gets! and now I'm a pest! insert cheeky grin here!)
I better stop before I bore you…or get attacked by Laurie...OW! too late! got punched! it's gonna bruise! Watch out, she's violent! Now apparently I'm making her out to be something she's not...she wants me to stop writing now. tune in for more adventures sometime in the not-so-distant future when she's not reading over my shoulder.