When we finally returned from Fremantle, it was high time for our daily pilgrimage to the local Woolworths to get some dinner – and, as it turned out, in the meantime Perth had really come alive with a food market taking centre stage, with various different offerings available and the street lit up beautifully. We wandered along through the street market for as long as we could – without making it too obvious, we hoped, that we weren't actually planning to get anything, before returning to the king of good value food, the Woolworths. Australia, even more so than I remembered from my previous trip here, is very expensive – so expensive in fact that it's actually beginning to rival the cost of Ireland during the boom years – so keeping a lid on spending is really a must over here, otherwise we could easily return home with not a penny to our names. Thankfully, meat, in Malaysia, was really quite expensive relative to other things you could buy whereas in Australia, it's pretty much the same price as anything else you might buy so while things are expensive, if you're willing to do a bit of cooking yourself, which I am, it's not so bad. So as I bundled another steak so large I knew it would barely fit in a frying pan into my basket, I was at least content that meat was no longer the ‘price issue' it was in Malaysia. Unfortunately, as I've probably said before, our hostel completely lacked any sort of air conditioning and for whatever reason, this seems a bit typical of Australian hostels which are often more poorly-kitted out than even their most third world competitors. Personally, I don't get it.
Either way, it led to a final relatively sleepless night as the wind outside refused to blow through our window and we both suffered from near heatstroke in the room, trying desperately to get any bit of sleep we could. We really couldn't though and in the end, we were up, packed, showered, sweaty from packing, and checked-out by 10am on the button. The next morning, a bit unsure what to be doing, we ended up just leaving the hostel, walking down the street and into the city centre and on down to the water's edge once again, stopping to check out the glass-encased bells that they so seriously push as a major tourist attraction. Perth is blessed to have a fairly comprehensive network of free inner-city transit buses which residents can use as they wish – seemingly in many cases to get around or get to work – while tourists can use them as an inexpensive way to both see and tour the city. Having not really tried out all the different buses and seen the whole city, we decided to ‘bus hop' for some of the afternoon, going from one air-conditioned bus to the next, especially in light of the scorching day outside. And that's exactly what we did, finally ending up in a very scenic park behind our hostel complete with a bar/coffee shop area that we'd never have known existed but for the free bus. From there, we lazed around and took it easy before repairing, once again, to the local Woolworths for some food to cook in the hostel, even if we were checked out. Food done – and with me feeling particularly rebellious by going against the ‘wash what you use' mantra by refusing to dry my plate and cutlery, it was off to the airport.
It takes 5 and a half hours to get from KL down to Perth, but it takes nearly 4 hours just to get from Perth to Sydney, unbelievable if you consider you can get from Dublin to Donegal by plane in about 45 minutes. So, after checking-in, and feeling a little disappointed by my earlier meal from Woolworths, which hadn't been a large steak for a change of pace, I ended up going to an Australian fast food outlet called ‘Red Rooster', while waiting to get onto the plane. Anna meanwhile, had located some exceptionally tight socks to help put a stop to any potential DVT she might have as a result of the flight – the only problem was, they were so incredibly tight (trust me, they looked like anti-DVT socks designed for a 6-year olds use before she even tried to put them on) that getting them on made her look like she was in great pain. And then, when they were finally on, she couldn't put her flip flops back on so the only option to get to the plane, which was down the far end of the airport, was to walk with just these ultra-tight socks on and no footwear. Onto the plane then and I got seated in the middle, with Anna on one side by the window and some selfish tosser on the other side, who immediately set about commandeering as much of my personal space as he possibly could. First, for whatever reason, his legs needed to be set at complete right angles, which necessitated taking up most of my own leg space as Virgin Blue had some metal box hiding under half my seat. Then, as the flight progressed and I sort of tried to get something out of the seatback pocket, I looked down to see that my new friend had also put his arm so far over into my seating area (supposedly in his sleep), that it looked a lot like he was resting his arm on my knee. But every cloud has a silver lining and shortly after being given headphones to watch our TV with, it turned out that you had to actually pay to watch the stupid thing – I'm sorry, what's the point of handing out free headphones if you have to pay the watch the TV that they're for? But, after a number of bumps and restarts of the TV system, it suddenly (on my TV at least) all became perfectly free, with the exception of 3 movie channels showing movie's I didn't care to see anyway. So, for the rest of the whole journey to Sydney, I sat and watched TV – caring not a jot about whether my man beside me wanted to put both his legs up in the air over my seat, and before long we were down in Sydney. At 5 minutes past 6 in the morning. Wrecked.
I'd be lying if I said we went to our new home for the next 10 days, had breakfast, a quick nap and raced out to see the wonderful sights of Sydney. True, we went home, had breakfast, and then tried to have a quick nap, which lasted until nearly 4pm in the afternoon and has subsequently ruined my body clock ever since. For our first day in Sydney, we went downtown to the famous Rocks Market, had a look around, saw the first of many Irish pubs and wandered around, eventually grabbing lunch and finding our way down to the harbour, where we caught a street performance, which was one of the better ones I've ever seen. Not knowing what to do, our next move was to walk across Circular Quay over towards the famous Opera House. The Opera House, even if it is much more two-toned and overall yellow than it ever looks in pictures, is no doubt Sydney's most famous landmark and quite unusual in the way that, whenever you see it in pictures, it looks like one building of strange shapes, rather than the multiple sails jutting from the ground that it appears to be when you're up close. But as the sun began to set and the previous evening's travels began to catch up on me once again, taking in any sort of view was difficult as my eyes couldn't stop crying with the upset of how little sleep I'd gotten lately. So, after a productive first day in Sydney it was time to head home and get food and see what Sydney could offer us for the next 10 days..