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Day 43 “Bondi Beach” (Thursday 18th April 2013)

Today I woke up at 6am because the girl next to me woke up at 6am she was packing and getting ready to leave by the looks of things. I went back to sleep but was up each half hour or so until 8:30 when I got up and went down for the free breakfast. There was toast, cornflakes, tea and coffee on offer so I had 2 slices of jam toast which i you make yourself and then was up after ur done. I then came back to the room and packed my bag for in preparation to go to Bondi Beach, I have subsequently been to the toilets and cleaned my teeth where I bumped into the first English guy I chatted to yesterday in the social room. He said a group of them were going to Bondi beach did I want to come and I said that would be perfect because I planned to do that anyway.

I’ve now come back to my room and am currently waiting for him to get ready. (he hadn’t even had breakfast yet and he had 3 minutes until it was meant to finish) While waiting I decided to start this diary (might be out drinking tonight on the pub crawl so I may not be able to do it tonight so any now is a bonus) and book some more accommodation because I’m only meant to have one more night here. I’ve been looking online but I’m just about to go down and check there prices here… Its 11am now and I haven’t seen that guy since, hope he didn’t forget me, oh well to Bond I beach I go anyway.

I caught the train to Bondi junction and then had to find what bus I needed that was a mission cos once again the signs make no sense but at least they put them up everywhere! Then when on the bus had to guess when I had arrived, (Never really caught buses back home- Thanks Mum) luckily the clue was in where I was going beach, so when I saw the sand and sea I got off. The beach was far more vast than I thought so after I crossed the road I decided to go and sit on the beach to take in the sight while basking in the sun. The weather was warm at times but there was a really strong wind and mixed with sea breeze it was also chilly. I stayed on the beach until the sun disappeared behind the clouds which was about 30 minutes then walked along the long sea front paddling as I went. After I did that I googled some sea walks and saw there was an East coast walk so I thought I’d go and find it, but before I headed out I went and picked up my first backpacker lunch… Anything on offer in a supermarket. (Brown bread, ham and a banana. I also picked up so biscuits and soup for later) I then ate my lunch at a picnic area before heading off. The walk was really good and gave some stunning views so I took load of photos, it went round to an extra beach which was beautiful but empty. (I do realise it was a week day and I heard it rained too but I was still surprised) From there you can make the decision to carry on which I did and it was another spectacular route and ended an another beach this time with a few people on it. (and in a sea pool, which I noticed at Bondi beach too) After this the marked out route was finished but I wanted to carry on and found a sort of route (over some wooden steps and walkways) so followed that right round to another little bay where i took more photos. However fearing it was getting later and the fact I was in the middle of nowhere I decided to catch a bus back to Bondi Junction. (There was one on the hill just before going down to the bay and I didn’t know when I’d see another one) While on route back I googled the sunset times in Sydney and at about 5:30 it goes down so I thought I’d try and see the Opera house in sunset before going back to the hostel.

The journey from where I was to circular quay (where the opera house is) via Bondi junction (plus the fact I couldn’t find the right bus stop or understand the signs again) took longer than I expected so the sun had set and it was more dusk, but while I was there I thought I may as well take a quick boat tour using my pass. (meaning it free) After a quick look at the guide and working out which boat route got closest to the opera house, (not sure I could directly get a tour so I was just getting a boat past it) I boarded ready out on top deck ready to take some more photos. (as if the 100 I already have wasn’t enough) The boat trip was only about a 15 minute ride to the other side then a similar wait before coming back. I’m glad I did it but I do want to go back and do it at sun set if I can.

Once I’d finished on the boat it was about 6:30pm and there was a pub crawl at 9pm that I wanted to be on so I came back to the hostel to have a shower the packet soup I bought earlier. I had to catch the train back and I worked out I could stop at Town Hall (the stop before central) but this new station to me was another complex affair that I wondered around in ages before finding the right platform. (its got 2 floors of stations!) When back I made the cuppa soup and then went to buy a padlock for a locker at the hostel (only about 8 lockers here and 60-70 people, but I had seen an empty locker) and alcohol to pre-drink on the cheap before going out. With time getting on I rushed around getting showered, dressed and getting my contact lenses in with 2 minutes to spare. Now about 9pm I headed to the meet point downstairs but no one was there and the person on reception (a fellow hosteler) said they now meet on the roof so I went up there only to find people don’t usually leave til later! Gutted I rushed around. This did at least give me chance to get dressed smarter and pre-drink with Mitch (the guy from yesterday) and his mate Mark. (There were others to but I didn’t really speak much to them)

At about 10:30pm we headed to the first pub and got free entry, 1 free drink and $5 drinks up to midnight. A lot of the people on the pub crawl knew each other or were with new roommates and were making friends but my room mates don’t seem to make the effort so having to start from scratch on a night out is hard. I did try and join it but when it came to dancing I left them to it and at midnight we moved to the next club. Again it was free entry and $5 dollar drinks but nothing free however it was bigger and more full than the other place. After a few drinks and speaking to a few people I was ready for a dance. The night just seemed to fly by after this and before I knew it the time was 2am and I was there with just one person I knew in the hostel. He had lost his driving licence so we looked for that for a bit and I found $20 on the floor so I said I’d get us a souvlaki. The bloke got the clubs number and said he would come back tomorrow to check again. (Technically today but you known what I mean) We then walked up the main street in Kings Cross which was an experience… Prostitutes and bouncers every other step but we did eventually find a souvlaki place and I haggled them down in price in my drunken state.

From there we walked back to the hostel eating out kebabs in a wrap and managed to walk past the place before turning back to it and going straight to our rooms. I bumped into a room mate on the stairs waiting for her boyfriend so I didn’t feel to bad I was going to wake my room, now the 3 of us had shared responsibility for waking the other 4. (yeah there is now 7 of us an extra German bloke came earlier today but like the others in my room doesn’t seem to socialise well) Not that waking people up seems to matter, its just part and parcel of sharing a room. (I got woken in the morning early than I would have wanted for example) I then got ready for bed in the dark and went to sleep, overall it had been a good day. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Day 42 “Here I Go” (Wednesday 17th April 2013)

Today was the day I would be leaving and believe it or not I was pretty ready. Bag was pretty much packed and clothes ready to get dressed into, but I still wanted to wake up early just in case. Avril woke me up at about 9am but I didn’t actually get out of bed until 9:40 when I had a shower then made my last minute packing adjustments. I then ate some breakfast, cleaned my teeth and that was it, time to leave Avril and Peter in peace!

I said good bye and thanks to Peter as Avril took me to the airport (I would have let that car journey go on forever… I was so nervous) and once in the airport I realised just how heavy my backpack was as I checked it in. (It was 15.4kg and was only meant to be 15kg but I got away with it which I’m surprised about because Jetstar usually charge for anything!) Avril came right to my gate, (through the sensors which I didn’t even think was allowed- but apparently you can for domestic flights here) where I then said good bye and thanks to Avril and that was it I was on my own… Here goes nothing!

The flight (when it finally got called- we left about 30 minutes late) wasn’t to bad, slight turbulence but the flight was over just as it was beginning I did manage to write some diary though. Once in Sydney I though I’d go looking for the Hostel even though it wouldn’t open til 4pm but it was nearly 3pm because of the delayed flight. I also made a slight mistake in the airport and found myself at departures instead of the trains. (Departures upstairs Train were down… Easy mistake!) Then at the trains I had to pay to leave the airport, about $15 and then I bought a multi card for a week, which means I can use as much public transport in Sydney (Ferry, bus, train, light rail and tram) for the week and that was only $40.

Getting on the train was easy at the airport but I then had to know where I wanted to stop so I began to use the saved files I had on my tablet while on route. I found the station I needed Central but that was a minefield of lines so it took me a minute to discover what platform I needed- think there was 25 ish to chose from. The trains here were double storied so you go in and can go up or down from there, it wasn’t too busy so I had a seat and from central made it to Kings Cross. (has a bit of a reputation for being sleazy) When there I turned out of the station and walked along the street a bit finding a McDonalds where I planned to use their free wi-fi. Unfortunately it wouldn’t work so I just had some food instead and decided to use my phone for Google maps and find the hostel. It was the opposite way I had walked from there station and then the opposite side the road to where I looked but after crossing the busy crossroad 3 times (3 sides of the square as the 4th wasn’t available) to get to the hostel I had made it! By the time I got there is was about 4:30pm so I checked in and went to see my room, there was a slight feety smell but nothing I can’t deal with. When I arrived there were 2 girls inside how said hello but that was it, (I later realised they weren’t English or even speaking it to each other) I then sent a few texts, whatsapps and a Facebook update to let people know I had made it… They were all telling me to go out and explored so I took there advice and headed to the one place I’d heard of, Sydney opera house.

I headed back to Kings Cross station and headed back to central where I got around the minefield again, also to make things a bit harder it was now rush hour though and people finishing work flooded the trains. I had a seat not that I really needed it for the few stops up to circular quay. As I exited the train the opera house was in front of me and I couldn’t believe I was seeing it, I was in a state of shock and happiness but I managed go get a few photos and asked a couple to snap a picture of me there too. I then decided to walk around to Sydney Harbour bridge, so excited down to the street and snapped loads photos while walking alone the quay. I meet some people that helped me take picture and the second couple (elderly- best people to ask to have your photo taken) had been to Australia loads so I asked where to go and what to see they recommended Bondi beach and a fort where the convicts were kept. It then transpired the husband was originally from England (some where near where I live) and that they had lived in many countries like England, Australia, Canada and now live in Florida.

After this I carried on along the quay taking photos and videos, then some joggers went past so I thought they would be doing a bridge run and followed them. (there was hundreds going past the whole time) I walked for miles before realising they weren’t doing a bridge run, on the upside I did have photos of the opera houses from all sorts of angles. I then took the decision to go looking for a route onto the bridge and I finally got up high enough but was the wrong side to walk so had to walk a really long way around just to find the footpath. Just as I was getting close it looked like you couldn’t even walk the bridge but out of nowhere a new path appeared and I was walking along the Sydney Harbour bridge… It was high, very high and the sweats had kicked in but I did still manage go get 10’s of photos of the Opera house from this vantage point. Once half way across there was a look out a cage around so I had to go close to the edge to get unobstructed photos. I also asked a bloke to get a photo of me with the cool architecture of the opera house in the background. He turned out to be from close to Brighton and he had heard of Tunbridge Well’s! (Crazy to think I could come around the other side of the world and on my first day travelling me a guy that lives that close to me) We chatted for a bit looking at the great view before heading back down to the train station, he had come up the quick way so could show me how to get back down just as fast. (It was much quicker than the route I had taken!) He then went to get a bus as I headed back to the the station and caught the trains back to Kings Cross. I was already getting used to the trains but still found the signs and navigation more confusing than they needed to be. (Like telling you what line to catch but not telling you were it was or even what stations a were on the line and didn’t put a train map up either!)

When I walked back to the hostel I decided to check out the social room but there were only about 3 people in there and 2 of them were foreign but could at least speak English. It wasn’t particularly social so I started to have a nose around the room and notice board outside the room then went I went back in and heard the English guy speak so asked where his accent was from. This started a convoy, he was from Cheshire but had been travelling Asia before coming here and today was his first night in Sydney too. As he had caught a flight into he was tired so went to bad before me. I stated in the room where I started this diary. Later another guy came in who also had an English accent so I asked him too, it was just south of Birmingham… Turns out he had been hear a month already and he knew a lot of people in the hostel. There’s a pub crawl tomorrow that I’m thinking of joining them on. His name was Mitch and he had started at Perth went up to Darwin, down to Alice springs, into Adelaide, across to Melbourne and then up to Sydney. An incredible journey all using something called vehicle relocation which is like car hire only much cheaper and he was lucky enough to get a mini camper, (guessing a VW shagwagon) which he shared it with a mate. (not sure where he is now) He then went to bed leaving just me and 1 foreign guy, others had been in and out of the room, some drunk but had all left. As there are a lot of foreigners here most with friends it can be quite excluding but this last guy had also been on a laptop all night booking his plans for tomorrow. Turns out he’s last day is Thursday to fly back go Melbourne and then Friday out of the country and he had booked a blue mountain tour to do before he flew back in the evening. We chatted on the way back to our rooms and we wished each other well before I came into my room at about 1am where the other 4 backpackers were sleeping (this room could sleep 8!) I tried not to make much noise as I got into bed but it was a very creaky metal bunk bed… Not the most comfortable but it will do, I had now completed my first day of travel. ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 41 “Filling the Backpack” (Tuesday 16th April 2013)

I had set my alarm to wake up today at 10:30am but managed to turn it off and sleep a little extra, not the wisest decision given the amount of things I’ve got to do today. It was about 11:30am by the time I was up, dressed and eating breakfast and Avril was out with David (her Dad) and Peter at work. The first job I did was get some of my clothes I thought I might be taking into the washing machine.

I then proceeded to get on the computer and book my first hostel so that I would have a bed in Sydney at least for the first couple of nights. I spend a long time looking for cheap but still good reviewed hostels in the end I opted for a $20 a night in 8 person sharing room- this would give me a chance to meet some fellow travellers. The hostel also offered free breakfast and had average reviews (one from 2009 wasn’t so good though: “I didn’t dare check what the brown stains on the wall were”) so I’ve booked two night and will decide from there. The hostel I’m staying in like a good few say I mist be out by 10am so I’m really going to have to change me sleeping patten and start to shorten these entries. I also get a locker and internet if I pay a little extra but can work in the hostel to pay for a night etc. There supposedly a roof top view with BBQ, a lounge room and kitchen facilities as well.

After this I switched the load in the washing machine into the tumble dryer and put on yet more washing I planned to take! (Never have been the most organised when it comes to things like this) Next I wanted to check my money situation with my bank and at last my funds had arrived from the UK, so I swapped them around a bit making sure I would get the best interest rates. Now I began to put things on my bed that I wanted to take… There looked a lot and the realisation of having just a backpack was kicking in. I spend the next part of my day checking timetables from the bus company to see if they had updated. One of them had so I was pleased I checked and downloaded it, I then went to Oz experience on Facebook to see if I could meet any fellow travellers but with under 5,000 likes and only about 50 comments on their wall I began to wondered if anyone would even be on this tour. While on Facebook I also updated it with a picture of my packing so people could see in was about to begin the next phase of my year here.

The final washing was now done but needed drying and I didn’t want to begin packing until I have everything in front of me. While I waited I decided to check in online for my flight which didn’t actually take too long and just as I was printing it out David and Avril arrived back home. (They had been having lunch at a couples house had taken David’s dog when Joan said it would be best from them to give it away) David didn’t say long and after he had gone I got some quick lunch (the fried rice left over from yesterdays stir fry- which Avril had made so it was like the one I had a few weeks ago… Divine!) and afterwards started on another diary entry as later I wanted to upload what I had done so far on to WordPress. People back home only had up to day 9 and I though I best upload some more days before I go travelling, so that people back in the UK could read roughly what I’d been up to. (This meant that I had to upload draft copies with mistakes and notes galore- I would edit them and add photos when I returned, but I figured something was better than nothing)

Just as I was doing this Mick and Alex arrived it was now 7pm and they had come round to have a meal with me before I leave for Sydney. (also because I now had the money from England I could pay back Mick as well) The day had really flown by I did now have my hostel booked but I still needed to pack! The 5 of then had pasta carbonara which I loved (Avril wanted to give me a special meal before I went) with garlic bread and for desert (or pudding as the English would say) was a home made (by Alex) lemon meringue pie which was top draw. I had another good evening in Melbourne but it was almost time to say good bye to it for a while. Before Mick and Alex left they had a look over my bus room and Alex was giving me pointers and places to stay. (but I was planning on checking out each place so I was suddenly worried about some of the stops) It was decided I would Google ahead each stop to see if there was a hostel and if so I would stay because although some people may not like it I may as well check it out while I’m here. (Its not that I don’t believe Alex but I could meet some great people in a similar situation and we get on so much we carry on travelling together- doubt it but it could happened) That said I may also built up knowledge from other travellers on route too… Who knows this is all still new to me and something I hope to work out on route.

Just as Mick and Alex were leaving I remembered I needed to take the photos off the camera Alex had let me use when we went to the MCG on Sunday. (I was testing the camera out as the one I had seemed to blur certain images) I did like it and may look for one similar one on route but then again I may just use my phone camera. Once they had left I also opened a new account with my bank so that I could earn even higher interest with regular savings. I set up what’s called a goal saver (saving money each month earns extra interest) but a regular transfer was a bit harder so I decided I’d do it manually each month to get the reward of extra interest.

Avril and Peter had been watching TV while I sorties my account then they we to bed as I began to pack with my now washed and dried clothes. It was gone 9pm so I really had to crack on and started to roll my clothes (heard it takes up less room than folding so its worth a try) and put them in the back pack which had the main pocket and loads of other smaller storage pockets. My friend Carl had lent it too me and it was a pretty posh bag… It took a while and the bag was very heavy but I managed to fit everything I wanted in all but 1 pair of denim 3/4 lengths (that were heavy anyway plus Roger had said 3/4 lengths had gone out of fashion in 2002 about the same time as Adidas poppers!) Now about 11:30pm I decided to finish the diary I had started earlier and then get to bed ready for the early start tomorrow… All in all a productive and good day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 40 “Not Enough” (Monday 15th April 2013)

I really really woke up late today it was gone 12pm, I have actually set an alarm for tomorrow now because I don’t want to waste my day here in bed and I have a lot to do tomorrow. In my defence though I do have late nights (meaning I have my day at different times to the norm- breakfast at lunch etc.) and I was still recovering from Saturday night. Once up I caught up with a UK friend called Alex that’s currently in Tokyo and ate some breakfast, I also sent a messages to Luke and my Dad in the UK who had messaged me while I’d been asleep.

Avril was preparing the food for tonights dinner (Pork and vegetable stir fry) because David her Dad was coming round but she still offered to do something with me today if I wanted. I declined because I wanted to make some more progress with my travel plans including starting my packing and booking my first nights accommodation. Also we would have only gone shopping and after speaking to my parents last night they said it would be sensible to pack what I want/ need and buy the other things as and when I need them rather than trying to fit them into a heavy backpack and I tended to agree with that so didn’t need to shop today. I also then offered to help Avril but she was fine and Peter was at work.

Now contemplating going to Ayres rock after my travels I looked up cheap places I could fly there from, Avril also checked after she had prepared the dinner. The best we could find was leaving from Sydney (so was now thinking I’d go before beginning the bus travel) for about $700 for 2 nights plus I’d need to buy a tour of the rock if I wanted one. (that price was only for return flights to Alice Springs, transfers to and from the airport and 2 nights in the cheapest hotel) When I actually looked into dates to leave (which was hard as there didn’t seem to be daily flights and I wanted them for this week/ next week, while I’m in Sydney) and adding the tour it got even more expensive. (nearly $1000 for just 2 nights) In the end I thought I would sort that out after I travel the East coast because flying from Melbourne isn’t that much more expensive than Sydney plus Avril and Peter have never been and might come too.

After this Avril went to curves, her gym, while I started to pin point some places on Google of the places in Sydney, that the Geordie Shore cast might be. It may have been sad but doing it helped me realised I could save maps offline so I decided to do this for key towns and cities on the East coast meaning I could get around the big places even without internet. After this I made lunch another toastie, man I gonna miss those when I leave, then Avril came back not long after. We were expecting David anytime from now so I went and had a quick shower and got ready. I also thought I should start my packing or book my first hostel but for some reason I procrastinated and ended up starting work on a diary (ironic because I’d usually do anything to get out writing those!) while also whatsapp’ing my friends back in the UK. It wasn’t all bad though because I hadn’t spoke to some of my friends for a while so sending a big group message meant I could update a lot of people at one about my travel plans and some people replied meaning I was on my phone for a large part of the evening.

It then transpired that David wouldn’t be coming today so Avril cooked the pork stir fry for just the 3 of us and we ate the delicious meal around 7:30pm. Once we had finished Avril and Peter moved to the sitting room with the bigger TV to watch a pretty recorded ‘Downtown Abby’. This left me in a nice quite room so I carried on replying to my friends and even updated my status Facebook to let other mates know I was leaving too. I had also agreed to Skype Roger, which we did for over an hour… catching up with him about his wedding, his work plans, my travel plans and what I’d been up to recently. I really enjoyed chatting with Roger (all bit it the few technical problem/ crashing we had) and because of the serious operation he had 5 weeks ago he’s still off work, so even though today was a weekday I could chat with him. Plus I leave this Wednesday so it was good to squeeze in one last chat before I go because when travelling I don’t know how much data video calls use or how often I’ll find free Wi-Fi so not sure how often I’ll Skype. I should still be available via text, whatsapp, Facebook, email and phone call though. (signal dependant)

After the Skype call I continued with the diary I had started a long while ago and Avril and Peter came through to say they were going to bed. I was meant to pack and book my hostel today but I hadn’t done either so its gonna make tomorrow busy… At least I let my friends know I’m off travelling (well technically I’ve already travelled round the other side of the world but now begins the next chapter- doing it without friends or family) and caught up with family before I left. I’m now finishing this diary in my room and will be going to sleep soon because my alarm will be waking me up tomorrow. (I have a lot to do and can’t waste it sleeping) Also I’ll probably use alarms in the foreseeable future too because Wednesday I need to be at the airport in time for my lunch time flight and when travelling I won’t want to waste my days sleeping and probably won’t be allowed to in the hostels either. ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 39 “Aussy Rules” (Sunday 14th April 2013)

Today I woke up in a sweat at 10:30am because Mick had turned the heating on and fallen asleep. Bearing in mind I didn’t get to sleep until gone 5am, so still tired I went downstairs to sleep on the sofa as the heating wasn’t on downstairs. Alex came down at about 11:30 and I woke up again then feeling a little worse for well after last night. Mick came down as Alex and I were watching TV, then Alex offered to cook us all bacon, egg and brie breakfast muffins which was so nice!

Alex invited me to go and watch the Aussy rules football today and I really want to like the sport plus check out atmosphere and stadium (MCG- Melbourne’s Cricket Ground) so I said I would go. Now about 12:30pm and the Kick off at 3:20pm, Alex rang her sisters fiancรฉ Glen, to see if he wanted to come because Collingwood (Alex’s team) was playing Hawthorn. (Glen’s team) Greg leaves in Monbulk about an hours drive away but was a bit closer with Sam his fiancรฉ (Alex’s sister) so she gave him a lift round. Until he came round I was messaging Luke my mate in England and when he came round we chatted outside in the garden for a while until Alex said we should leaves around 2:45pm. Mick had stayed inside so far today, wasn’t feeling great and didn’t fancy coming to the Oz football so it was just Alex, Glen and me.

The traffic was pretty bad and there wasn’t any parking so now late for the game, Alex just parked in a restricted area and we walked down to the stadium. The first observation I made was that the stadium was huge and the second was the fact that we could buy tickets on the day, its as seats about the same amount of people as Wembley Stadium in England. The tickets cost about $22 each and meant we could sit anywhere… Well I say anywhere I mean any place with general admission which just so happened to be at the top of the stadium in the so called nose bleed section as it was pretty high. For the remaining first quarter and the whole second quarter we stayed up in the gods with me asking Alex and Glen a barrage of questions about the sport… The main one being why call it football when they hardly ever kick it, but Aussies get pissed off at that and say they kick it all the time! I took some photos too and enjoyed the game and atmosphere- the stadium was packed over 80,000 was what I heard on the radio, I would definitely go back!

Something different I noticed though was how social it was in comparison to the football I know and love in England, for example; home and away fans sit amongst one another, beer is allowed in the stands, people chat and talk during the game as they isn’t any chanting and the best one you’re allowed out the stadium as at half time (and maybe at other times to) and then back in. Going back over some of those points, the fans sitting together means families/ friends of different supported teams can go and still have a great day out (like what Glen and Alex were doing) with there opposite replica AFL (Australian Football League) tops on. This sport also has a large woman support base (compared to English football) which means husbands and wives quite often support different teams but can still go together. The fans among each other still cheer goals/ get pissed off but people are there for a good time rather than arguments, in an odd way it adds to the buzz but at the same time the lack of football songs and chants (as they is no one to aim them at) is strange… Then again there always seems to be noise to hear and people tend to make ouch sounds when they ‘feel’ the tackle and give the umpires stick! The beer allowed in the stadium did recently have to be reduced percentage (as people were getting too drunk- its a long game, about 3 hours in total) but the drinking culture here like I said is more about the enjoyment and when people are watching this sport they want a drink. As for the talking I find this strange because its quite fast paced game you can end up missing things but because its such a high scoring game people don’t seem to mind so chatting/ texting and missing things just seem part and parcel as well… I mean we were late for the game but we weren’t the only ones there were hundreds of us still going in, I just don’t understand but this might link to it being a long and high scoring game. Finally the leaving the stadium seemed crazy to me at first but the ticket are barcoded and scanned by a machine so as long as you scan out, you can scan back in, this links to smoking because the MCG is no smoking you have to leave to do it and being a long game people want to come out the stadium for a cigarette. Also the Aussies bring football’s (rugby ball shaped- have to confuse us don’t they!) to the game so they can play with them at half time, as we left the stadium at half time and walked around so many adults and children were having a games, its mad his much you see a ball game and want to join in. This all adds to the day out experience I mean if you travelled here at say 2pm and left after it finished (around 6:15) that’s 4 hours for just one game hence people bring balls, come with family or friends and wanna have a good time plus its relatively cheap for entertainment and in comparison to our football.

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Back to me though and now at half time we head outside (which was down a lot of stairs we were high- plus on the way up it was escalators) for the smokers also Alex had a friend who was a member (this basically means they sit at the equivalent of club level at UK football) and there were some spare seat next to her. So we arranged to me her and started to walk round the stadium to meet Sarah. She was a die hard fan thanks to her dad and paid about $800 for the years membership. She had borrowed some other member cards to get us in, but these were only checked not scanned in and Sarah said sometimes they don’t even check. Our view was not pretty first class and we enjoyed the rest of the game from here. (We did miss part of the third quarter due to walking round the stadium and getting in plus the members area is meant to be for home fans only so Glen was a little out of place but unlike our Football people just put up with it and don’t seem to bothered, maybe the odd comment or two under there breath) I took some photos and videos from the new seats and also thanked Sarah before she left. As the home team Collingwood lost some supports left early but Glen being a Hawthorn fan stayed well after the final buzzer to soak up the atmosphere.

From there we headed back to the car, I had enjoyed the game and hope to go back at some time this year… For now I’m a Collingwood fan because Alex had taken me to my first game although we had lost. Avril and Phillip (brother and sister) are both Essendon fans so won’t be happy with my alliance with Alex and Peter. Apparently Collingwood are the most supported club and therefore the most hated, people joke saying their supports only have 1 tooth! They play in black and white stripes (look similar to Newcastle in England) are nicknamed the Magpies or Pies for short and seem to be a mid league team. After walking with the thousands of people we were back at the car we discovered a parking ticket which was annoying but not really a surprise, then Glen walked to the train station so he could get home and Alex gave me a lift back to hers. I quickly popped in to Alex to collect my things from last night, say bye to Mick and then I headed home.

It was easily 7pm by the time I got back and Avril and Peter were both there as I broke my news of supporting Collingwood, Avril almost wouldn’t let me have dinner but Peter was happy! The food I was allowed in the end was leftover pie, (yes a lot was cooked on Friday night) which was still really nice and after than I Skype’d my parents back in the UK having a really long and nice conversation before I leave to travel on Wednesday. Avril and Peter then went to bed while I text and Facebook’d a few friends, then wrote my diary before going to sleep myself.

Day 38 “First Night Out” (Saturday 13th March 2013)

Today I woke up at about 11:30am later than normal but knowing that I was going out tonight for a few drinks and would probably need the energy later! When I got up Peter was out and Avril was still at Hollie and Anthony’s farm, so with a quite house I decided to Google Sydney maps, accommodation and transport. This was all very daunting and really started to make me think how different travelling was going to be but I am looking forward to it at the same time. Also I had a cheeky look at how to grow a beard, which made me realise I had go pick a style so I’ve opted for the ‘Full Beard’. Basically I’ve learnt that I just need to let it grow and trim it after about 6-8 and then maintain it to all over but shortish hair. In case you were wondering this all started from when I got chickenpox (9 days before I left and I hadn’t shaved for a few days when the outbreak started), I couldn’t shave because of the spots underneath and would have only been able to shave once the spots went which was after about 4 weeks growth. However after 4 weeks I thought it would be a great time to try out a beard so now I’m at about 6-7 weeks and thinking I need to start tidying it… Now to invest in some beard trimmers.

Peter then arrived home and we chatted for a bit, he also ate lunch and checked some land online. Then a short while later he went back out to check a block of land Avril had told him about and I started to write another diary. In the mean time Mick had rung and said I could go round in perpetration for the night, it was now about 3:30pm so I said I’d finish the diary, get ready and come over. Once I did the diary, (in which I waffled too much and today’s is me attempting to cut down) I had a shower and got dress up with contact lenses and a shirt! I then found out Mick wasn’t going to the meal before hand (there were quite a few people going to the meal for Sam’s [Alex’s sister] birthday, who I thought would then come out in the evening) and would be dropping Alex in the city and we would cab in later. This meant I would need some food at home and also I’d have to go round Mick’s a bit later cos otherwise he’d be out playing taxi for Alex. I had some pie leftovers and got my things ready while I waited for Mick to get back from the City. Thinking I might see Avril return before I left, I waited around a bit longer but in the end I had to leave and would see her Sunday… I then drove to Micks in Peter’s car, letting him know that I might not be back until Sunday afternoon (in case he needed it) as Alex planned to take me to watch the Aussy rules football tomorrow.

We had a few drinks round Mick’s (who put on about 5 outfits before he chose what to wear- worse than a woman!) then he ordered a cab and we headed to Brunswick street in Melbourne. I then discovered that only Alex and her friend Tammy were coming out for the night but I didn’t mind and still hoped for a good evening. The 2 girls had just popped to Tammy’s friends apartment, (where Tammy would be sleeping the night as her place was too far away to easily get home. [its in Monbulk, where we went to see the animals at the animal rescue centre and where Alex’s Mum Wendy lives with Greg]) so they would be meeting us a bit later, therefore it was just me and Mick for the time being. As he had paid for the cab, I decided to pay for the drinks at the first bar… 2 bottles of larger (Corona) cost $20 (ยฃ13) I couldn’t believe it and thought I won’t last long travelling at those prices! As we finished our drinks we noticed a large group of people dancing over the road so went to check it out. Turns out it was about 3 or 4 people with boom box music players blaring music out while crowds of people dances and drink in the street it looked amazing and I took some photos before the crowds and music moved on.

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From there we crossed the road and Mick and I went to another bar ‘Naked for Satan’ (with the upstairs of its bar on a roof terrace called ‘Naked in the Sky’) which I’d been to before with Hannah and Mick after the zoo. (However this time I was more suitable dressed) Mick and I went to go up the lift to the roof but realised there was a waiting list so put our names in the list and went to get a drink. At this point Alex and her friend Tammy showed up and the 4 of us got a drink. Tammy was another really nice lady, who I got on well with, it seems Alex has a lot of great friends! While drink we received a text saying she could now go upstairs so headed up there and managed to get a table outside. (It may be a roof terrace but there is also a big indoor area with seating, toilets and bar) While on the roof we had another drink and a really good socialise before we moved on to the next place. The next bar was called Night Cat and a live band was playing inside, we had another drink and found couples of chairs too. It was loud inside so I found it hard to speak and not being a massive fan of the music I wanted to find a place with a DJ instead. Before we left though I briefly met another one of Alex’s friends called Jen. She seemed nice but with band playing it was hard to really have a conversation. Jen decided to stay with her other friends while Alex, Tammy, Mick and I went to another bar this time with a DJ and playing the type of music I love. (My memory does start to haze here, not badly but it was clearly a good night!) Mick didn’t like this place, music or people though and we only stayed for one expensive drink while having a little bit of a dance. (it was my round but I can’t remember what it cost but I remember thinking it wasn’t cheap!)

Tammy now thought she’d had enough and decided she wanted to go home but I tried to get her to stay out, she was drunkenly walking in the road hailing taxis but none stopped. In the end after bumping into Jen and her friends outside the kebab shop, Tammy decided to come to one more bar and dance floor. Jen’s friends were calling it a night (it was about 1:30am… I think!) but she wanted to carry on dancing so the 5 of us headed to this place not far from where we were. Inside we got a drink and had a bit of a dance by the bar, Tammy then decided to leave for real and the 2 remaining girls headed to the dance floor while Mick and I stood by the bar. At the bar a couple of older ladies tried to chat Mick and I up, one even claiming I looked like David Grohl out of the band the ‘Too Fighters’. (I suppose it was dark and I did have contact lenses in) So to get away we went to find the girls on the dance floor and had a little boogy with them. I was cutting my finest shapes but when I ran out of drink Mick and I headed back to the bar and paid for another couple of drinks. (I was drunk by now but not drunk enough to forget each bottle in here cost $12… How can it be more than that first place!) When we were at the bar again the older ladies came back to us and Mick walked away to some seats… I remember speaking to one of the ladies and actually quite liking her in the end but with the night ending she had to head home.

Alex and Jen then came back to find us and the lights then came on so it was time to go. Luckily a cab was right outside so we all got in and headed home, (Jen lived on a bit from Alex, so when Alex, Mick and I got out she did the last bit on her own) it did however we didn’t get any food to end the night… I really wanted a souvlaki as well, which is basically kebab meat served in a wrap! Now inside the 3 of us were all feeling pretty drunk but managed to stay up another hour from 4-5am talking about things I can’t even remember. (probably about the night though) In that time Alex also made me a bacon, brie and capsicum omelette because I was complaining I was hungry, I love that girl! We then all headed to our beds, where I text Luke my best mate in the UK, who laughed at my drunken messages, but I was in no fit state to do this diary which I’ve now written the following night instead. What a great night out and I was now sleeping off the alcohol. ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 37 “Travel Flight Booking” (Friday 12th April 2013)

I woke up at about 11:30am into an empty house, as Avril had managed to get Peter to agree to going and looking at blocks of land. (She had spoke about it yesterday and said they may leave around 10am but I thought I’d pass on that today!) Once up I got my breakfast and played on my phone giving myself chance to wake up before calling my bank so that I could get the codes for Mum.

Getting the code wasn’t a problem and I even asked about an offer is seen on Facebook for a free $50 Cole (supermarket) voucher, when you opened an account, the lady said it was a legitimate offer so when I hung up I decided to apply online. It was quite misleading online but I soon found myself in a chat with one of the site staff (if it was anything like our online chats this wasn’t gonna be good!) who after about 30 mins of conversation came to the conclution I wasn’t eligible. This annoyed me because the system was allowing me to apply and I said if I hadn’t of spoken to the chat operator I would have opened an account for not reason, maybe being charged and not getting the $50 voucher. In away it was good I did speak to him as it stopped me applying and he said he would pass on my concerns to his manager about the misleading advertising and the fact the site doesn’t stop ineligible people applying… Even though I was under the offers heading on the website and logged in, so the system knew who I was as well as the accounts I had.

After this annoyance I though I’d get myself down to the branch at some point this week and double check because I would need to open another account when my money arrived from the UK anyway. I also decided that I best look up there account types they offer to see the best place I could put my money once it arrived. After a long look around I got it down the the best two account types and wrote a few questions down ready to ask the staff when I went to my local branch in Diamond Creek. While still online I thought I’d check the exchange rates to see if having my money transferred would actually be worth it and realised that the pound was at one of its weakest rates compared to the Australian Dollar in the last 5 years. In layman’s terms this means I haven’t got a good exchange rate and if the pound strengthens while I’m out here (I’m no exchange rate expert but looking at the graphs and history of the pound) you would assume it would, meaning converting it back would lose money. Even though I knew the risks I thought I would bring the money over because it gave me more control over my money and in the worst case scenario I could always transfer it to Avril or Peter until a good exchange rate was available or I desperately needed it back.

I then recieved a phone call from Avril, who said she was going to go straight to Hollie and Woody’s farm (to sleep the night and baby sit Harry tomorrow while Hollie and Anth worked) without coming home. (we had spoken about me going with her last night but I had decided not to go this time because Alex had invited me to the City on Saturday night for her sisters birthday meaning we’d have to rush back in time for that) With all the reading, checking, maths calculations and faffing around I had done this morning, the time had flown by and I found myself feeling hungry again around 3:30pm. I went to the fridge and found some leftover cheese pasta from last night and decided to add ham and heat that, which was lovely! During my lunch and then for a while afterwards I watched some TV including a gameshow called “Who’s Still Standing” which was American (but it seemed to give away a lot of money in comparison to English gameshows) as are most of the TV shows here. After that had finished I watched the news for a bit, but a lot of people seemed to have been killed (not sure if that was state or country wide news) so I turned it off as it was depressing.

Knowing I was STILL behind on previous diary days I thought I best write another one today as I didn’t have plans but being a good procrastinator I managed to find something else to do instead. However that time was spent looking into a flight I needed to get me from Melbourne to Sydney, so I could begin my travelling properly… The bus ticket starts from Sydney but before I begin the journey up the East coast I play to look around Sydney and even book a trip down to Canberra. (It was cheaper than catching the bus from Melbourne to Sunday via Canberra plus there isn’t a lot to see in between apparently) Before I booked it though I thought I’d check it through with Peter, making sure the day, time and airports were OK.

Now about to start my diary, Peter came home and quickly checked something on the PC before ringing Daryl. (He did also say hello etc. first) This means I was away from the computer and decided to update my to do list and then had a conversion with Peter about his and my day’s as well as what to do for dinner as Avril was at the farm tonight. It was decided we would have meat pie for tea so Peter began lining a round dish with ready made raw sheets of pastry then added Avril’s precooked cold meat and gravy mix before putting on the pastry lid… I thought they looked pucker and sent a picture to Avril of Peters handy work. And he put them in the oven for 40 ish minutes. While the lie cooked and Peter cooked the potatoes for the mash, I thought I’d go and book my flight. (Peter said the Wednesday I had seen earlier would be fine and any time I wanted- I forgot to ask about the airport but a later google thankfully meant I’d got the right one… I’d heard its name before luckily)

The process to book with Jetstar (the equivalent of easyJet in Europe) was relatively easy and I only asked Peter some basic address questions. When it came to pay I thought I’d be able to use my credit card, but noticed it charged Aussy’s to use their credit cards and as mine was English I knew there would be additional costs. Instead I opted for a service called ‘Joli’ which Peter and I had never heard of but as it was on Jetstar’s website I trusted it enough to use it. I directed Joli to take the remaining $80 out of my Australian bank (as I knew I’d soon have the English funds put into it) which it did and doesn’t cost anything unlike every other payment method on the Jetstar site. (I guess the best way to describe Joli is like the equivalent of a direct debt, they money is taken from my account instantly, which is how I assume Joli makes their money… Because the airline get its funds straight away instead of having to wait a few days for payments to clear, I guess it can afford to pay Joli for being the middle man and allow me to use there service for free. It does beg the question why not just have direct debit?!) Speaking of money Jetstar seem to want to charge for everything and I’m supprised they didn’t want me to fork out for breathing! I had to unselect a couple of options when booking so avoid costs but I did pay for checked in luggage as my travel backpack will be too big for hand luggage. Now all fully booked and played for I will soon be off on my travels… This coming Wednesday (17th April) to be precise and all for $80 of which $15 was for extra baggage so really not a bad price for a single way ticket on about a 1 hour 30 minute journey. Now I just need to book accommodation for my first couple of nights and I’ll be as good as gone!

Photo of flight details

I competed my booking just after 7pm just as the pie and mash was ready, (yes it took about 40 minutes in the end to complete my booking but learning about Joli slowed me up) perfect timing… I just needed to cooked some frozen peas while Peter dished up and we sat down together for an epic meal. After we’d eaten I confirmed the flight had been paid for and gone through OK before sending a picture of the details to both Avril and Dad with the words, “Eviction Letter”. As I would be leaving Avril and Peter and it would be the first time I really experienced travelling with out the company of friends of family… I’ve been describing the Australia trip so far to people as my home from homes because Avril and Peter are really just my 2nd parents and have made everything so easy. It was now going to give me a chance to see if I liked traveling or if it would break me, I believe its all about what you put in and being really excited I’m going to give it my all… Not many people get this once in a lifetime experience so I hope to make the most of it.

With time pushing on I started the diary in the study, that I should have done a lot earlier today and 30 minutes later Peter decided to go to bed and read. Another hour or so on, but with that previous diary unfinished, I moved from the PC to the tablet in my room ready to start today’s diary! As I’ve now finished this I’ll try to complete the diary I had been working on earlier. ๐Ÿ™‚