Thursday 14 May
Pandering to the little boy in me, yet again, I decided that my odyssey to the US would begin with a train trip to Sydney. Why? Why not, the station is just down the hill and trains are comfy. My mate Terry even saved me the drama of wheeling my suitcase the 500 metres to Queanbeyan railway station – thanks TB. As I contemplated how I was going to cart my suitcase around for the next three days (it weighs roughly the same as my car) Terry set about making friends will all the people at the station – he does that.
Finally, and on time, the train arrived.
My trip began at 6.45am in the pre-dawn cool of late Autumn. Sydney is a bit of a jolt. The countryside quickly gives way to car yards, bare factory walls and all manner of streetscapes. At Warwick Farm, home of Sydney’s equine F1 industry I spied a long series of stables, each home to a Shetland Pony, not much bigger than your average labrador dog, munching happily on the gourmet fodder. Is this yet another austerity measure in the uncertain economic climate – out with the full sized grass guzzling steed. Will the next Cox plate be sponsored by Mattell?
Central Station and my journey is over, for the day at least. I had fully half a day to kill in Sydney, so what to do; shopping – no there is no room left in the suitcase. Ah, I know, I will be a total tourist dag for the afternoon so after entrusting most of my worldly possessions to the baggage person at Central it was off to ‘The Quay’ to find a ferry. Meat pie and ginger beer in hand I set off on the 12.35 Manly Ferry, for the ultimate tourist treat. A couple of miles from Sydney – a thousand miles from care.
Manly never changes, it was a seething mass of people; aren’t they supposed to be at work or something. Manly seems to have become an enclave or the nouveau riche, dark brown, leather skinned people wearing the minimum, even with the temp down in the mid to late teens. I have never seen so much mutton dressed as lamb and some of the women were just as bad.
After the obligatory beer at The Steyne Pub and a walk to the beach it was back to the Ferry and eventually Central Station where my suitcase waited. I am staying at the Holiday Inn at Mascot so it made sense to go by train again. When told that the ticket was nearly $15 (roughly a $ a minute) I said to the bloke at the counter, ‘hey I only want to borrow the train not buy it’, oh dear he was not amused. Mogadon I think!
Well here I sit at the window of my digs writing to you while watching planes take off and land and wondering why I am sitting here when I have to be up at 4am. Night then, and I will see you in Un Zud.