We arrived very easily into Australia, the immigration was very quick and painless with no queues at passport control (literally no queue, we walked straight up to a booth – very different to the UK!) having collected our luggage straight from the carousel as we walked into the hall, we also had no problems at customs, despite ticking the something to declare box (a packet of dried chilli powder), he had a quick look at the soles of our boots and we were through. The only problem we had was checking in as we were both 2kg over allowance in our hold baggage, with him threatening to charge us NZ$82, but after some phone calls to his office it was waived (thankfully!) He even checked our hand baggage, which we also both 2kg over, but after shifting some stuff into pockets of our coats we just about got away with it!
|This picture needs no explanation|
Anyway, we arrived at our hotel via a ‘super shuttle’ bus that we had to ourselves then went to do some supermarket shopping, mobile phone and ‘dongle’ shopping (what a nightmare that is!) then a meal in a food court of the Chinese quarter. Salubrious it wasn’t, good food it was, and full of old oriental people which we took to be a very good sign. Stopped off at Mums hotel to leave her a note telling her where we were (which sadly she didn’t get till too late) and off for an early night as we both felt like we’d been travelling all day! Not like Mum, who landed at 0600 and had been travelling all day (and night).
|St Marys Church from Hyde Park|
She found her way to us, without the benefit of the carefully marked map and we had breakfast, before heading off, too early, to the campervan city depot. We wandered around Kings Cross (the seedy ‘Soho’ area) killing time, looking at the Coca Cola sign which claimed to be the equivalent of the Hollywood sign! So underwhelmed were we, B didn’t even take a picture!
|Ibis in Hyde Park|
The campervan bloke was lovely, didn’t really answer most of my questions, but did decide that we’d all be better off if he upgraded us to the newer more expensive model (who were we to argue, on my birthday and all!) At this point Mum ‘hit the wall’ so went to the hotel where there was a room for her by now, so we wandered up through ‘the Rocks’ a lovely area with a w/end market to the bridge to walk over it, and then to walk back! Collected Mum and off we went for dinner – a nice little Thai place we’d spotted, very pleasant birthday dinner.
|The first 'nasty' we've seen|
Woke up to do ‘jobs’ register with Medicare (to avoid having to pay costly medical bills should the need arise!), attempt to sort out phone and internet connection etc. Then had a lovely day with the three of us walking up though Hyde Park and the botanical gardens to the Opera house, visiting Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, though the view to the bridge and Opera House was probably not the one she was used to! Had a good chat with a policeman in the Governor’s residence, even if he did refer to us as ’rif-raf’ before dropping mum off for a quick doze while we went to sort out the internet (are you getting a picture here?) Took her back to our food court for another good (and cheap) dinner.
|Outside the Govenors Residence, taken by the policeman|
Met up with Mum this morning, after getting B’s stitches out, the Dr had looked and decided all was well, the nurse wasn’t so happy with the slightly swollen look and the slight leakage so asked a passing Dr for a second opinion, he seemed to think antibiotics were the order of the day, but we weren’t his patients. Come back after lunch the lovely nurse said, and ask for him. This was the plan, having finally sorted out the internet, and wandering through ‘Bohemian’ Surry Hills looking for ‘op shops’.
|'The girls' on Mrs Macquarie's chair|
We now posess two wine glasses, a duvet cover and a plunger (caffatiere). Back to the medical centre, queuing up, to embarrassingly be greeted by the Dr we’d seen earlier, he remembered our name so we had to explain that we are heading off to the wild blue yonder (well probably the Blue Mountains) tomorrow so really would quite like some antibiotics!
|The opera house and the harbour bridge in late afternoon sun|
Off now to meet Pete, the son of a friend of Mum’s, she met him last time she was here, and again has a parcel of pants, chocolate and jaffa cakes to pass over. Hopefully he’ll know somewhere nice for dinner and we’ll have a lovely time!
|Murray, have you seen this? Bob's escaped!|
|Emperor's Puffs! We just had to have some - and nice they were too!|
Last minute note: just back from dinner with Pete, had a great night at a nice little Japanese restaurant he knows. Ordering is via a touch screen TV at the side of the table, complete with pictures, just press your choice and it arrives within seconds, so experimented with a bit of sushi, some squid rings, chicken curry and some local beer, all very excellent. Pete is a very outgoing guy who is head of vehicle maintenance at the docks (Botany Bay rather than Sydney) and is in charge of all the heavy plant and about 20 workers. Seems to have his head screwed on and knows what he wants and where he’s going (which seems to be towards the Australian mining industry, which is where all the big money is).
|Brian, Pete, Jackie and Pauline|
Slightly more worrying is that he used to work in the campervan rental business and knows the Travellers Autobarn company we’re renting from, having worked for a rival company. Reckons they are ‘rip-off’ merchants, so advises we carefully note every scratch and dent on the vehicle before we drive off as they will make every effort to reduce our bond on return. Will have to take lots of photos on pick-up to prove its condition, but hopefully we’ll be OK.