Hello MBIP Land!
I liked Australia so much last year, that I had to go back this year! Also, I found a really cheap ticket this time and I still had a bunch of Aussie cash left over from the last trip—so I kind of really had to go again!
Our trip last year was nice—but the travel ?—not so much. To make a really long story short, we got to Oz two days late, and got stuck in Texas for three nights on the way back. Five days of nothingness. It was like being in an episode of Seinfeld! I was bitter about that. Two nuggets of advice: Never fly through Dallas, or use American Airlines.
Obviously, I was not going to go through that again. The best way to avoid it was to fly from JFK in NYC, all the way to Oz, on Qantas - with only one stop in LA. I figured - why not begin and end an Australian vacation in New York City? Seemed like a good idea. I'm relieved to say that it worked out perfectly—everything was exactly on schedule, and we had a wonderful trip.
OK everyone fasten you seat belts and let's go to land down under!
Thursday, 27 November, 2014
3:21pm—Here we are at the Baltimore airport Amtrak station. We are taking the train to the Big Apple on Thanksgiving night...beats sitting home and whining about too much turkey!
3:50pm—We did a Marty and showed up too early. After a 29 minute wait, Amtrak train 925 pulls up to the platform!
6:56pm—He we are and the Empire State Building is lit up nicely tonight!
7:22pm—Blarney Stone @ 8th & 3rd—We are thirsty, so we stopped here for a few drinks before checking into our hotel, which is right around the corner. I have a Bass draft, Heineken light bottle, and am watching the Eagles crush the Cowgirls on TV. Everything is wonderful.
8:49pm—BillyMark's West—We have checked in - and it's time for more drinks!
9:14pm—A shot of BillyMark's from the back of the bar. We wind up staying here for 3 hours, and I have 6 drinks. We left, had one more drink at the Molly Wee then called it a night. After all, we have a 23 hour trip to make tomorrow!
Friday, 28 November 2014
12:30pm—It is Friday! Our flight leaves JFK at 6:45pm, so we have some time to get out and about. Here we are at New York Pizza Suprema. They got good pizza here. There are a billion places to get New York pizza in New York and these guys have to be near the top.
1:07pm—7th Ave, looking North. As you can see by the sign, the Affinia is the "official hotel of the Macy's Parade.” So f'ing what? Good for them.
4:21pm—Thirsty Bar @ JFK Airport. We have 2 hours to waste...so why not here?
4:44pm—Our Qantas plane is here! Yay!
7:05pm—A nice nighttime view of Brooklyn with the Verrazano Bridge in the upper left of this shot.
8:35pm—Qantas feeds you good—you can get fat flying with these guys! This is our dinner after leaving NYC. We are probably near Peoria right now! Los Angeles is still 4 hours away...so I'm going to enjoy this meal and my half full glass of Bundaberg Rum!
Sunday, 30 Nov 2014
7:11am—We have skipped Saturday 29 November. We've crossed over the International Date Line, and Australia is 16 hours ahead of the East Coast. This is the view I have been staring at for almost 20 hours now. We are only about 2 more hours away from Sydney. Hurry up!
8:05am—Constantly staring at the map...
10:23am—We have arrived in Sydney! We've deplaned, cleared customs and got sim cards for our phones. It is a refreshing 74 degrees outside this morning, and I'm wearing too many clothes. Lets make our way to the hotel!
12:03pm—Palace Hotel—t's too early to check in and that Carlton Draught is calling me! We are not staying here, and it's actually not a "hotel" as we know them—it's just a bar/restaurant.
Most pubs/bars/hotels in Australia do not have seating at the bar. You go to the bar to order and pay for your drinks, then go sit at a table. No tabs in Oz, for the most part. Same with your food—not many wait staff around. You order and pay at the bar, then you get a number thingy, or a buzzer thingy. When the grub is ready, you go get it at the bar yourself or sometimes it does get brought to you. The nice thing about this system is that when you're done you just get up and leave—no waiting for the check.
2:02pm—I'm not sure if I mentioned that it is absolutely nice at the moment. Temps are up to 83 degrees, and it's check-in time now! This is where we are staying—in the middle above the HSBC sign.
2:30pm—Our apartment at the Meriton.
This is just about the perfect place to stay in Sydney. We stayed here last year, and we are here again! It's right by the Central train station in Sydney and it's right in the middle of everything. Can't go wrong staying here. We are staying for 4 days/3 nights ... then we're headed 90 miles north to Newcastle where we will stay for 9 nights.
11:36pm—The night is over. We hit a few more hotels, had many drinks, and I'm done. We've had a long trip and day—time to get some sleep and begin this vacation in earnest tomorrow !
Monday, 1 December 2015
10:47am—Macchiato—My first flat white of the trip! Starbucks just started selling these. I'll have to try one there? But...when in Oz, I drink at least two or three of these every day! We have met Clacky here at Macchiato, then we're going to watch Sunday night football this afternoon (Broncos @ Chiefs). I like the time warp thing where I can watch the Sunday 8:30pm game, live, in Australia at 12:30pm on Monday, in my shorts. LIfe is good!
1:38pm—Cheers—I've had my flat whites, and Clacky, Smoopy and me stopped at Maloney's Hotel for two jugs of beer. We have arrived here at Cheers for the football game.
1:39pm—Smoopy and Clacky solving all of the world's problems at once. After this Clacky had to return to Newcastle, and me and Smoops went to the Milsons Point section of Sydney.
3:32pm—Kirribilli Hotel—I had the Nail Oatmeal Stout which was damn good! Plus my luck on the Aussie slot machines begins here. I cleared $125 and I'm happy! Another thing about Aussie pubs—most of them have slot machines—which are referred to as the "pokies" - plus you can gamble on anything, anywhere in the world, on their little magic TAB machines. Wish we had that in the States!
4:38pm—Opera House, downtown, Harbour Bridge, Bradfield Park.
6:12pm—George Street, The Rocks.
6:13pm—Yep, I drank at the oldest pub in Sydney! A James Squire Orchard Crush Apple Cider.
7:21pm—Cambridge/Gloucester Streets, The Rocks.
7:27pm—My new Aussie mates!
7:27pm—Australian Hotel—My buds are hanging with Smoopy now, and still pointing at me! This is the second oldest bar in Sydney, and my favourite looking place. This hotel is f'ing cool. We had dinner here. Smoopy got some duck pizza, and I had a kangaroo burger. Can't wait to go back some day but, I'll get a different kind of burger though, or fish and chips.
8:41pm—Opera House at night. This place took 16 years to build!
10:20pm—Sydney Town Hall—For the Christmas season they have a light show at night and the building changes between a whole bunch of different scenes. This was my favoirite.
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
1:40pm—Our last full day in the big city before we go to Newcastle tomorrow. Here we are sailing away across Sydney Harbour, on our way to Taronga Zoo this afternoon!
2:10pm—See? We're already here!
2:34pm—This has to be one of the coolest spots for a zoo anywhere?
2:39pm—What you looking at? This guy didn't seem too happy to see me!
2:43pm—This guy seems a lot happier to see me!
3:28pm—You want a piece of me?
11:43pm—Great Southern Hotel—No more room on this post, so I'll end it with a shot of our 7th pub of the night. One beer here and a token $20 play on the pokies (didn't win anything). Time to head back in and call it a day. Tomorrow we head to Newcastle, NSW for a lovely nine night stay! Stay tuned for Part II next week!