I remember the conversation well. It is one that will stay with me until my last breath, of that I'm sure. This is how it went down:
"You should take a day off either side of the Labour Day weekend, and we can go to Sydney for Mardi Gras and your birthday."
"Wha... My birthday is on Labour Day weekend this year AND Mardi Gras - that never happens."
But apparently it was happening - so without actually validating any of these facts I applied for time off work, was granted the time off work and then discovered that the fucking Mardi Gras was a week before that. Jesus. Fucking. H. Christ. Onamotherfuckingpushbike!
Bah, whadda ya gunna do. I've still got a five day weekend, and so we ran with it, but at every opportunity I reminded my travel companion, the Big Poof, that he sucks for taking us to Sydney on the wrong weekend. The truth was I was so excited that he offered to take me to Sydney for the weekend of my birthday that I probably couldn't have cared less what was or wasn't on that same weekend!
And so it was on a grey looking morning in March I found myself at Tullamarine Airport with the Big Poof, waiting to climb aboard this big bastard:
So it's getting juiced up here, departure time has been pushed back by fifteen minutes, all good right. Oh, departure is now half an hour later, no biggie. What's that, and hour later? Uh, sure.
So onto the plane we trudge. I'd already read most of the fucking magazine I bought to read on the flight, but that's okay. Ooh, an announcement from the captain! Yeah so we're an hour late because the cabin crew hadn't arrived in Melbourne on time, and now all we have to do is wait for an exit slot out of Tulla, as there's only one runway operating, but the good news is our flight is number twelve in the queue and we should be taking of in an hour.
Fuck me swinging - we should've driven up! As promised though, two hours after the scheduled departure time, we were up the the air and I was tearing pages out of Motor magazine, turning them into paper plans and pitching them at Big Poof.
My enthusiasm was in no way dampened though. I was pretty excited about Sydney and in the taxi on the way to the hotel, as the city unfolded before me, I was wide-eyed and stuck to the taxi window like a Garfield doll!
Even though it wasn't huge, our room was pretty fucking nice, and if it wasn't half-price there's no way in hell I'd have been there, but I was and it was pretty - also impossible to photograph, but at least my view was of the city high-rises, I like them!
Amazingly the green bits at the bottom of the picture are a rooftop school play ground. I thought that shit only existed in the movies, but nope!
So with check-in complete the next trick was:
A pint at Darling Harour! We also decided on a chicken parma while we were there and spent the entire frigging meal sucker-punching sea gulls in an attempt to defend our feed. Good times!
If there is one thing Sydney has over Melbourne, its that you can't possible take a bad photo in or around the city. It might have been laid out by an epileptic with a box of crayons, but the changes in elevation, curved streets, rolling hills and pretty buildings make it breath-taking at every turn. Also just like Paris and the Eiffel Tower, there's no place in Sydney you can't go without looking at the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House, seriously!
The traces of rain you can see on the pavement, combined with Sydney's legendary harsh sun meant that for me with a backpack on in a pair of jeans, it was akin to being stuffed into an industrial sauna. I still found it hard to care though. I got a ripping day for my arrival and that's all that matters. I must remember to pack more shorts in future though.
More proof of that Brige/Opera House theory, then again it might just be because I'm in The Rocks:
Anyway after walking for hours, taking a photo of every stationary, moving, illuminated, pretty, architectural or other item on the way we finally arrived at Circular Quay, just in time to see our friends Jason and Jason take off on a cruise on the Pacific Pearl for a week of tropical sunshine and all the piss you can drink. They'd already made a start as the boat pulled out of the harbour.
Our next few days meanwhile were spent walking EVERYWHERE, with me playing annoying fucking tourist by standing in the middle of busy thoroughfares to take the same photo as a million other cunts before me. Like Town Hall:
If you walked to the window of our room and looked down you can see the top of it, but its big and pretty, as is St Andrew's Cathedral beside it. Between these two buildings and the Queen Victoria Building I think I took something like 300 photos to satisfy my appetite for architecture. I promise I won't bore you with them all.
Big Poof and I had to hustle to get to our next adventure planned for lunch... A family dinner. Shock. Horror! Actually, nothing that bad at all, Big Poof's amazing big brother (and his gorgeous wife) took me to Chowder Bay for a fantastic lunch at Ripples restaurant, at the old HMAS Sydney naval base. We sat outside in the sunshine, drank, ate, laughed and soaked up the sun on a fabulous day, in a gesture that meant the world to me. Thanks so much A and L.
Just so you can be truly envious the view looked like this:
Oh yeah, that really is blue sky, blue water and boats sailing by. I also had to run around the corner and take this photo at an awkward angle to capture the rooftop and razor wire for artistic merit. Our actual view was unimpeded all the way back to Sydney Harbour. After lunch we decided to mosey on down to Bondi Beach, my first time there.
I see why the tourists flock there like flies to a steaming turd, it really is a pretty beach, but if you can put all the sand and fucking water behind you the place is crawling with smokin' hot men. That's my kinda beach! Even on a sunny, but not baking day the place was full as fuck!
Of course if it's beaches you want the next day was all about an early start to head over to Manly on the ferry (first Sydney Ferry ride) that was a whole lot of fun, and of course I was the guy hanging off the ferry at dangerous angles taking photos of absolutely everything. I'm not sure why I chose this one to share with you though, I just like it, what do you think?
Sadly, becuase he was out of town I didn't get to catch up with Muzbot, but on his recommendation we tried the Ivanhoe hotel for lunch. Seeing as it was a late lunch we were fucking starving. I was really looking forward to laying my ears back and ripping into my club sandwich when it arrived, but after my first mouthful I watched a dirty fucking worm crawl out of my sanga and my appetite instantly vanished. Fuck.
The staff were pretty good about it all, but there was no way in hell we were eating there, so we settled on a pizza slice from the kebab shop instead. Sigh. Still after lunch there was beers overlooking the beach, listening to live music at Shelley Beach and I was happy and sunburnt, but mostly just happy.
Before the sun sank too low though it was time to go home. Goodbye Manly, thanks for the grub!
Oh, and even though we missed Mardi Gras, we were still lucky enough to find a few late partiers riding the gayboat:
That's the spirit ladies!
More exploring of Sydney took place, this meant more walking and more photos, coupled with more fucking walking. Seriously, who had the barmy idea of building this city on such uneven ground? Anyway, because I have a revolving restaurant fetish Big Poof took me to lunch at the Centrepoint tower in the city on the day that commemorates 27 years since I punched my way out of the uterus.
I took a photo of each degree of the journey around, again I won't bore you, but seriously, isn't this amongst the more ugly city landmarks you've ever seen?
Hmm, maybe I'm the only guy who thinks so. Everyone in Sydney seems happy with it.
Anyway before I bore you all to tears I'll speed this up a bit. Near Parliament House there's an old court house built in the early 19th century to process convicts, and still used as a law court into the 1970's. Looking at it now its crazy to think how shitty it must've been to work there in its latter days, but I'm sure the multi-storey eyesore that replaced it is even more soul stealing. Meanwhile have you ever seen anyone so happy to be in court?
Big Poof, like me gets excited by obscure shit and together we orgasmed multiple times at this history-rich site, which now stands to educate the public about Sydney's criminal-processing history. Of course here he was just doing his best Few Good Men impression
We were also lucky enough as we passed Parliament House, to catch the opening of Parliament (at least we think it was) this means that the Governor appears and declares that the show is on the road or something. There was much pomp and ceremony which was great to see, but for me this was the very best thing:
That my friends, is the Governors car. As she is appointed to the Queen she gets an even better number plate than the Prime Minister. Bit of a shame they couldn't hide the mounting screws a bit better. So, a few things struck me as odd about this though. The car is a latest model WM Series II Caprice (the rear camera in the bootlid garnish gives that away) yet it isn't a top-spec Caprice V. That's kinda weird. It's also a V6, not a V8 like I would've expected. Anyway - car geek moment over.
Yet again, more proof that Sydney looks good from every angle:
But, what's that white thing off in the distance? Oh yeah, the Opera House! See what I mean now, it's fucking everywhere!
Now the most fascinating thing about Sydney to me is a particular building, standing in the shadow of the harbour bridge, which is considered an eyesore by many, but is a source of wonderment to me, Seriously, who lives here, is it a commission flat, is it architecturally designed, and what's with the uncommon for its era leafy communal rooftop gardens?
What say you, love it or hate it? I can't help but think before the water staining it was probably pretty hot, there's quite a bit of variation in the look of it as you approach from each side. Maybe all it needs is a coat of bondcrete and some fab new colours. Anyone up for a working bee?
So, the big deal is I had a ripping trip to Sydney. Days filled with exploring and nights of gay bars are just what the doctor ordered. I probably would've sat at home and ate an entire ice cream cake by myself it wasn't for Big Poof making me feel like the most important Little Poof in the world on my birthday. Thanks Monkey, you're the acest!
Crossing Sydney Harbour