October 3, 1998 Why I Love Air New Zealand, Part 2
We got to the airport a little early (as usual so
it seems) so we went to check in our bags. There was no one even in line
yet. We had our seats already, but we figured we'd ask for better ones,
maybe near the exits? The guy behind the counter said, "Oh, I already gave
you really good seats. The flight is full so I bumped you into Business
Class." He said it was because we were so "tidily dressed". Nice, eh? And
I thought their Economy Class was good, Business Class blows it away. Better
food, better wine, bigger seats, private movie screens. It's the
difference between plastic cups and glass and china. So, I sat back
and watched Lethal Weapon 4, and David proceeded to drink his way
through the flight.
When we got to the airport we set about trying to find a place to stay. Turns out not only is today the first day of school holiday here, but it's also a three day holiday weekend. First we went to the accommodations booking desk, but they said they didn't book budget, only 3 star and up. But, she had a room available in a nice 3 star for $A75 a night. Out of budget. So then we went over to the big accommodations board and called a five or six of the hostels. Full, full, full, full, and "yeah, we have one twin share ( two beds) left for $A50 a night. At that point it wasn't a very hard choice, hmmm, nice hotel with big bed, our own bathroom, TV, phone...or youth hostel? What would you do? Yeah, here's my credit card.
The hotel is called the Rex and it's in an area called Potts Point, right at the edge of Kings Cross. In fact most of the hostels we called are right around the corner. Luckily for us they had vacancies and book what they call "standby" here. I think this room normally goes for over $A200 a night. Anyway, turns out to be a really nice hotel in a decent area. Loving it!
The area known as Kings Cross on the other hand reminds me of Times Square in NY before they cleaned it up. Strip bars, prostitutes, junkies, sex shops, fast food, backpackers and transvestites. I don't really mind the transvestites but the rest I can do without. Sydney is a very interesting city, it's quite large and spread out, separated by harbors.
Our first night here we went out on a quest to find dinner and found a great Japanese noodle shop right down the road (where we actually didn't eat noodles, but had great gyoza).
October 4, 1998
Today we walked
around and wound up down at Darling Harbor which is a nice, touristy area
that has the Sydney Aquarium, Maritime Museum, and an IMAX theater. We
walked around, enjoyed the nice weather and then took the ferry to Circle
Quay and the Rocks area for more strolling. Sydney has a metro system,
which we used to get back to the hotel, but it's very confusing.
October 5, 1998
We discovered that because of the holidays there
are no trains available to go to Cairns. This made us a bit nervous so
we went in search of airplane tickets. We wound up at the Backpacker's
Travel Agency on Victoria St. in King's Cross where we bought plane
tickets, booked a 3 day dive boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and a
3 day jungle trip up to Cape Tribulation from Cairns. Good thing we did
too, because the dive cruises were all starting to book up full and it
was more a process of elimination than picking the one we wanted. Zoe at
the Backpacker's was a wonderful help and oh so patient with us as we agonized
over our choices. She was a fountain of information and advice and was
the one that recommended the Cape Tribulation trip to us. She also booked
us into youth hostels for our various days in and out of Cairns.
David's very excited about the dive trip which has 10 dives, including one night dive. I'm nervous. I just hope I remember to breath properly and not rise to the surface too fast. What's this facination/obsession that all divers seem to have about seeing sharks. That seems to be the big draw everywhere, "Dude, did you see a shark? I did and it was huge!" I'd rather see some pretty, colorful fish that don't bite!
We had a great meal tonight in an Indian restaurant called India Down Under! (44 Macleay St., Potts Point). We had Naan, Raita, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Lamb Vindaloo. Good food, excellent service.
October 6, 1998
Today we went to the office of PADI Australia to
pick up our official PADI certification cards. Two train rides and one
bus later, way out in the suburbs, we had our cards in our hot little hands.
It's great when a plan actually works (we were afraid after getting certified
in Fiji and sending the application from NZ, that they might not be there).
We also went to American Express here to get some cash and while we were there decided to buy a little Indonesian Rupiah for our upcoming trip to Bali. Only US$60 equals 500,000 Rupiah! Wow! We're almost millionaires! Bought the Lonely Planet, Bali today too. We didn't really like the Rough Guide we bought for Australia so we thought we'd try the old standby.
Back to the unnamed noodle shop tonight for dinner for some yummy yaki soba noodles and miso soup.
Tomorrow up to the Great Barrier Reef.....