That’s “Hi friends” in the Australian language! Yes, I know they speak English but they love their slang and to shorten common words. Why? Because, well just because maybe it saves a little time or as they explain it, we are a simple kind of folks. Those slang words often end in either o or ie, for example, the word arvo is a shortened version of afternoon, servo is slang for gas station while mozzie is short for mosquito and barbie is slang for the barbecue grill as in “throw some meat on the barbie.” Did you know that the phrase “it’s my/our shout” means they’re buying, that grog is short for liquor, booze or beer, and that a stubby is a bottle of beer? Well, neither did I before heading off to Australia about a month ago. For the next several weeks, I’ll take you on my journey to “the land down under,” a reference to it’s position in the southern hemisphere “under” Asia.
Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that four years ago this week, on November 13, 2015, I posted my first blog article. It was also the day that a group of terrorists killed 130 and injured over 400 in a coordinated attack in Paris. I was so moved by this terrible act on a country I recently visited that I posted my second article on my travels to France the very next day. Since the beginning, I’ve published 210 articles about my travels both near and far along with thousands of photos. So as I begin my 5th year of blogging, I thank all the folks that follow, read, and comment on my posts. While I would write this blog anyway for my own personal edification, it’s nice to have you ride along and help to make me better at composing my thoughts and sharing my experiences. So salute or I should say “ta” Australian for thanks!
My journey to Australia started on a Friday about a month ago, but to say it started off on the wrong foot would be an understatement. Since my traveling partner was spending a few weeks away on family business and then taking in the International Quilt Show in Houston, I was making this trip totally unsupervised! First, the week prior to the start of my trip, a series of things didn’t go right but with persistence those things were “sorted out” as they say in Australia. Come to the day of departure, Delta cancelled my afternoon flight out of Madison, rescheduled me on a later flight making my connection time very short, then delaying that flight by an hour guaranteeing that I’d miss my connection and delay my arrival in Australia by one day. After an hour on hold with Delta, I was able to get a flight out of Milwaukee that would allow me to make all my connections and arrive as scheduled. This meant driving to Milwaukee and leaving the Red Rover in long term parking until I could arrange to have someone pick it up and return it to Madison. After all that anxiety I was finally on my way to Minneapolis and Los Angeles for the long ride to Sydney.
After arriving in Los Angeles, I joined the cue to board the 14 hour flight on Virgin Australia to Sydney.
Fortunately, I booked an aisle seat that allowed me to get up and move around some during the flight. While I did get some fitful rest, I was mostly awake either reading or watching the minutes slowly tick off on the flight tracker, none of the inflight movies were of interest to me. Once I startled awake thinking we must be near the end of the flight only to find out that there were 6 hours remaining! Towards the end of the flight I struck up a conversation with the person seated next to me. Meet Nicole from San Diego on her way with her significant other to spend 9 days touring Australia. She operates an in-home day care and has a dream of owning her own freestanding child care center. She likes to write so we had a lot in common.
We arrived in Sydney at 8:30 AM on Sunday morning, in essence traveling into the future after crossing the International Date Line and the Equator. After clearing immigration and customs then tapping an ATM for some Australian dollars and adding funds to my Opal card (for riding the transit system in New South Wales), I headed to the airport train station.
The train into the city was packed, I thought unusual for a Sunday morning but hey it was a beautiful spring day and people were taking advantage of the fine weather. Or maybe there was a rugby or soccer match to watch or shopping to do, regardless the train was full. My station stop was Sydney’s Central Station where nearly all local transportation originates.
My Airbnb was located about a half mile from Central Station so off I went trudging up the street with my luggage. About two blocks from my destination, I couldn’t decide whether to turn left or turn right, a nice young couple stopped to help me and got me on the right track. I have to say that I found the Australians to be very helpful and friendly, in my over three weeks of travel I didn’t encounter anyone that was grumpy or snapped at my many questions or foreign accent! Just super nice and beautiful people.
Since my room wouldn’t be ready for a few hours, I dropped my bags at the Airbnb and then headed off to get some lunch at a place I read about in the Sydney guidebook, the Bourke Street Bakery. There was a cue for both food and coffee that told me it was a good place to grab some nourishment. After a meat pie, croissant and a good cup of coffee, I was ready to begin my exploration of the city. A few blocks from the bakery, I noticed this sign for the Patroness of Australia. Curious, I opened the gate to the courtyard of the church and found Mary and Jesus locked up! I wondered about the symbolism of that separation between the patroness and the masses seeking her guidance. Go figure.
One of my observations on this fine Sunday was that there were lots of people out and about. In this small park there were families with their kids playing, people having a picnic, while others were relaxing and reading. It was nice to see and told me a lot about the people and the abundance of green space available in the city.
Also near the bakery was an area devoted to the arts with shops and galleries. Note that by and large, the streets and sidewalks are very clean with very little litter tossed about. In all my travels in Australia, I didn’t see really run down housing or observe any bad parts of any town or city.
As I walked along, I took some photos of what I thought were some interesting buildings and signs. At the Shakespeare Hotel, the bar was called Shakey’s! And the add on the side of a building near my Airbnb made me look.
The Australians do like their grog! There’s an abundance of “bottle shops” as they call them that seem to do a thriving business. In the second photo, note the empty beer kegs or barrels sitting on the sidewalk outside this establishment, must have been a good Saturday night!
Well, that’s enough for this week. Stay tuned next week for a visit to a memorial, an opera house, and a bridge plus sites in between.
Until then, happy travels!