Last night definitely wasn’t the best sleep I’ve ever had and being on a bumpy and hot bus is probably the reason why! Luckily we’d been able to spend most of the time sat together, minus the first two hours, so that was nice and meant that I had someone to talk to when we weren’t trying to sleep. I can’t imagine how terrible it would have been otherwise, crammed in with all the bags due to the lack of overhead storage space for 12 hours. Probably pretty damn awful though! To be fair the first few hours passed fairly quickly and I enjoyed being sat near the front as it meant that I got to look out of the window until the daylight faded away. I didn’t get to see any koalas though despite the “koalas crossing” sign but I did keep an eye out for them. I suppose it’s probably for the best that they weren’t wandering about in the near darkness though, I wouldn’t have wanted any to be squashed by cars. That would have been horrible.
After a few hours of watching outside and then trying to sleep, the bus driver pulled into a service station near Wagga Wagga (best name ever!) and we got off for a quick toilet stop at about 12:15. The thought of using the toilet on the bus and trying to fight the difficult door had sent shivers down my spine and so I took my chance and went there instead. I could just imagine not closing the door properly and being revealed as the door swung open around a corner. Truly a horrifying thought and something I really, really wanted to prevent. So, off the bus I hopped and wandered over to the service station loos, following a line of women who’d clearly had the same idea. Unfortunately the cramped seats had taken their toll on my legs and my knees decided they would just stop working every now and again. This meant that even walking was a challenge
The rest of the journey was rather uneventful and I spent most of it uncomfortably leaning on a rather flat and lumpy pillow against the window in the hope it would send me off to sleep. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice pillow but sitting almost upright with squashed legs and a sore knee just wasn’t helping me drift off at all. Grrrrr. I was rather cross as I wanted to get exploring Sydney straight away and not be stuck being tired all day which is what was likely to happen (and did). What’s more annoying is that I’m pretty sure that if we’d have been on the newer Greyhound coaches with the amazingly comfortable seats, I would have been asleep almost straight away!
At around 4 in the morning we arrived in Canberra and almost all of the passengers got off the bus leaving only around 10 of us left looking a bit lost. We’d really wanted to visit Canberra as I’m really interested in learning more about the history of Australia in all the museums and it would have been good to have visited the country’s capital. The problem was that the cheapest hostel was about $35 each per night and so it would have cost us a little bit too much when we want to see so many other things. That doesn’t mean that we’re writing it off completely though, not at all, as we’re hoping that we’ll be able to do a day trip from Sydney and get to see it that way instead. It won’t be the same, I much prefer having the chance to explore by ourselves but in terms of money it makes the most sense. I’m really looking forward to visiting the city as it’s one of the few places we’ve travelled through at night which still looks inviting and intriguing and so hopefully we’ll get to go back fairly soon.
Once a few more people had boarded the bus for the final leg of the journey from Canberra to Sydney and the bus driver had swapped with another, we set off for our destination. There was a bit of a problem now though as a woman who had been sitting further back had now taken the seats in front. Not normally an issue but I’d already seen her being quite rude to a couple of other passengers at our last stop and she’d tutted and glared at us when we were first looking for seats. Hoping that she’d be ok, after all it was 4 in the morning, I rearranged my pillow and tried to fall back to sleep. That’s when it happened. The seat suddenly dropped backwards, crushing my legs and our bags against my seat. Oh dear. Sleeping definitely wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d hoped! Usually having the seats in front reclined wouldn’t be a problem but since they were lower down, they tended to attack your legs with quite some force. I tried to move my legs back up, desperate to fix the shooting pain in my knee and in doing so inevitably moved the seat in front very slightly. I thought I’d been quite careful though I’d have to have my knees resting on it or I’d have no space at all but she sighed and threw herself about, muttering to her husband and making weird clicking noise at us. I couldn’t believe it at all! When and if I move my seat back, I check behind me first as I don’t want to make somebody else uncomfortable and yet here this woman was, lead back crushing me and annoyed that I’d moved a bit. In the end she moved her seat back up, though I think she tried to move it a tiny beat and my legs on the seat pushed it a little bit further, and we went back to sleep. Finally. It wasn’t the most comfortable of naps but it was something and I was very, very grateful for it! (I understand that that was quite a long rant about the reclining seat situation but I needed to get the point across!)
At 7:00am, the bus driver turned on the lights and announced that we would soon be arriving at the Sydney Kingsford Smith airport once we’d got through all the traffic. According to him, people were going back to work and so there would be “a few grumpy people around Sydney today”. I can’t help but think that it’s quite late for people to be going back to work after New Year? Perhaps it’s just the way the Australian holidays work though, quite strange compared to the UK if that’s the case. Either way the roads were completely jammed and we were a little bit late arriving at the terminal but it wasn’t long until everyone was sorted and we set off for the city centre. I have to admit, I wish we’d have flown into that airport instead of Sydney. The atmosphere just seemed so much more friendly, everyone looked a lot happier and I think we would have been a lot more relaxed seeing this part of Australia first. To be fair though, I think we would have been a little bit tense anyway flying into a country so far away from home!
On the way to Sydney Central Station, I sat back in my seat and watched out of the window hoping for a glimpse of the tall skyscraper skyline I’d seen in brochures when I was little. It was a lot harder than I’d expected it to be as I kept being distracted by various dogs off on their walks around the parks. I ended up missing it entirely (I blame the black Pomeranian in the car in front!) and the next thing I knew we were at the station. We had managed to see a woman crossing the road trip over her flip flops and fall onto the floor though it wasn’t as entertaining as all the woofs. It was also a little bit sad as she ended up scrabbling about on the floor for all her things with not a single person offering to help. I know it’s probably bad to generalise but I find it shocking that on the other side of the world, people are sometimes still reluctant to help others. Perhaps it’s because the Australian and British cultures are very similar, I don’t know, but it seems a shame. Before coming here I was given the impression that everyone is really friendly and chatty and yet whilst some of them have been, out of the cities mainly, it’s not been quite as common as I thought it’d be. Of course it’s not a horrible and unfriendly place, it’s great and I’m loving travelling around it, it’s just not quite as different to the UK as I expected.
Pulling up at the station, the driver informed everyone that we’d arrived in Sydney and to check that we have everything before getting off the bus. It was quite a challenge grabbing all the bags and the pillows from under the seats as the woman in front still had her seat back and so we had to pull them out with quite some force. Grrrrr. She then barged her way off the bus and through everyone before gathering her bag and stopping right in the middle of where everybody else was trying to get theirs. As with the seat issue, it completely amazed me that anybody could be so oblivious to what or who was around them and we had to work our way around her to get our other bags from under the bus. Not a problem at all when you’re tired and stiff! Luckily she soon left and we were able to sort our bags out properly before being faced with two problems; 1. Where was the cool bag? and 2. Where was the hostel? The cool bag was still on the bus so that was pretty easy to find but the hostel was another kettle of fish (what a very strange phrase!) altogether. Neither of us had any data on our phones so couldn’t use them to search and we didn’t want to end up wandering off in the wrong direction. With all our bags, that would have been such a pain! In the end we ended up asking the guy who I’d been originally sat next to and once he’d been kind enough to show us the way we set off into the Sydney sun, ready for a rest.
When we arrived at the City Resort Backpackers, we were hot, clammy and desperately in need of a sit down. We’d managed to walk past it on the way there and only just noticed it’s tiny entrance on the way back so when we finally made it into the reception area, we were exhausted but pleased. After dragging ourselves down a long corridor and up some stairs, we found the woman to check in but with it only being about 8:30 our room wasn’t ready for ages. We did expect this and were happy to just have a sit down and so flopped into the two available chairs in the kitchen and settled down for the wait. Now when people had said there wasn’t really anywhere for you to sit in reviews on Trip Advisor, they could not have been more correct. It was like being back in a student flat in Cardiff only the tiniest kitchen every had at least 10 6-bed dorm rooms full of people to accommodate instead of about 4. Hmmm. I wondered how well making tea was going to go but there was nothing we could do about it then and I focused on writing and going through my photos to keep myself occupied. I’m looking forward to wandering around the city as I’m sure we’ll be able to get some really good pictures; the harbour is such an iconic place, it’ll be a disappointment if we can’t!
As the broken clock in the kitchen looked like it had struck 10am, Codie went to see if we were able to get into our room as we were both now really finding it hard to stay awake. The woman said that they were still waiting for people to check out but once they had done, then we could go in. This worried me a bit in terms of how clean it would be, the area we were in wasn’t the best and I didn’t want to have to lie in a dirty bed, but at this stage I would have slept on the floor just to get some rest. Luckily we didn’t have to wait much longer and once Codie had found where the room was, we drag all our stuff in and collapsed on the bed. What an absolute stench. Everywhere smelt of sweat and sewage and one of the two rubbish fans in the room rattled around on the floor. As much as I wanted to sort things out though, the moment I sat on the bed and closed my eyes that was it, I was asleep.
3 hours later and feeling slightly more refreshed, we decided to get up and go and explore the area near by. We were in desperate need of some food so the first stop was Woolworths about 15 minutes away. Even though I was feeling a bit achy having slept in quite an awkward position, I really enjoyed the walk as the entire atmosphere was so different to Melbourne; everyone just seemed happy to be there and there was none of that “you’re in my way” attitude we’d faced in Brisbane either. Nope, Sydney seems to have the same laid back attitude as Cairns only on a much bigger scale and I really liked that. When we got to Woolworths we bought some of the weird and a bit weird tasting packet rice along with some things to drink and some snacks. As I said, the kitchen wasn’t the best for making food and we just couldn’t face having to spend ages in there trying to make food so it seemed the easiest option. Besides, it’s really actually not that bad and I’ve become quite fond of cheap food like this. Yum, yum, yum.
Back at the hostel, we went and used the showers to try and wake ourselves up a little bit before going off to make our tasty rice. In some of the bad reviews we’d read on trip advisor, they’d said that the showers were terrible so I was expecting the worst but I thought they were actually not too bad. Yes there was a little bit of mould however we coped with more in Cardiff and at least we didn’t have to stay here for too long! As expected though, making tea was quite a difficult process as the entire area had filled up with people getting ready to go out and so seemed to think it was acceptable to shout across the room and over everybody else. It’d probably have been ok had I not been so sleepy but as it was, I almost jumped for joy when the microwave pinged and told us our rice was done. Hooray! There were no rules about not eating in your room, which was good as there was nowhere else to go, so we sat down on the bed and tucked in. It was actually alright. There was a little TV in room so we watched Top Gear for a bit which was a bit strange then watched a few things on Codie’s laptop. It’s weird to have a TV but it definitely makes the place a bit more homely and less awkward when it’s just silent in the room. I’m not sure the other girl was enjoying it much as she spent most of her time demanding more money from her mum but it wasn’t on for long as we just couldn’t stay sitting up.We were struggling a bit with the heat as one of the fans mounted on the wall was so caked in dust that you could only feel it up close and the other was still shaking itself to bits on the floor. Oh dear. I suppose that’s why there is still a lovely sweaty smell in here. I really hope that we’ll be able to sort it out tomorrow but for now it’s time to sleep. We’re off exploring Sydney tomorrow which is very exciting and I need to make sure I’m not walking like a zombie!