At the risk of sounding like one of Lat’s characters from “Kampung Boy”, I’m going to tell you all about my 2 nights, 1 day trip to Sydney. You’ve probably already read about my inaugural visit to my old school mates’ cafe, Not Just Coffee in Paddington, but I’ve yet to share with you the sheer wonder that met me as soon as I alighted from the plane.
There were people everywhere I looked. Not just a couple of dozen like at the Brisbane airport or in our beloved Queens Street Mall, but hundreds, possibly thousands of people, all dressed in their work-clothes. Men were suited and women had on carefully coordinated outfits and ’em shiny patent leather heels. And there were cars, an endless stream of taxis pulling up at the taxi rank to match the deluge of passengers.
Since His Royal Highness’ had flown Qantas, courtesy of a drug company, and Amanda and I, Tiger, I had no idea that the carousel for all airlines were separate from one another. There we were, Amanda and I, standing next to the Virgin carousel the entire time, waiting for His Royal Highness to emerge when he had asked us to wait next to the Qantas one!
“But where are you?” he asked, calling me for the second time in a row.
For some reason, airports have terrible phone reception.
“At the carousel like you asked.”
“But I can’t see you. I said Qantas? Are you at Qantas?”
“Yes, yes…, ” said I, oblivious to the big Virgin sign. “Where are you?”
“At the Qantas carousel. Where are you?”
And on and on it went until I said, “Shuddup. If you say Qantas one more time, I’ll kill you when I see you.”
It was then I had the good sense to ask someone where the Qantas arrival lounge is. From where I was, I had to brave a throng of people, cross 1 road, walk through a covered car park, cross 2 more roads and voila, I was there. His Royal Highness was ringing me again as I walked up to him.
“Where were you?” he asked, irritation barely disguised. “Have you seen the guy with my name?”
The drug company was supposed to send a limo for him. Amanda and I were just hitching a ride.
“No, no, I didn’t see anyone.”
We waited and waited, craning our necks for a suited man carrying a placard with His Royal Highness’ name.
“I told you the Qantas carousel,” he said, grumpily.
“Shuddup. Don’t say that name again.” I had just ridden a Tiger into town and was worried they had stuffed a Tiger into the fuel tank the entire way. Seriously, it mystifies me how budget airlines make enough to maintain their fleet.
I wanted to fly Qantas too, but it was $400 + each way, for each of us. Tiger was only $430 for me and Amanda, return.
Finally, I said, “Let’s just take a taxi to the hotel. I’m hot, tired and hungry. I can’t wait for this limo guy anymore.”
His Royal Highness knows how cantankerous I can be when ravenous so he agreed. We joined the million or so people at the taxi rank. I felt slightly underdressed next to all these immaculately turned-out folks, wishing I had chosen to wear the bejewelled Nine West flats I had in my suitcase, instead of the nude Birkies on my feet in typical Queensland style. But I’m going to The Westin, a 5 star palace in the heart of the city, I reminded myself. Who really gives a shit about what I’m wearing?
I changed my mind yet again when I scrambled out of our taxi. It was as if I had unwittingly arrived at footy’s night of nights, The Brownlow. There were women in resplendent gowns, men in their dinner jackets, more than a handful of Paris Hilton wannabes. I just wanted to shrink into the polished marble wall on the way in and disappear!
Our room was a typical 5 star hotel room; there were the nice touches like your name (His Royal Highness’, not mine) on the ginormous flat TV screen, an abundance of plump pillows on the bed, complimentary bottles of mineral water, in case you should get dehydrated during the night…What I was most taken with was the bathroom: I could watch the telly whilst lying in the over-sized tub, assured of hearing dialogue throughout thanks to surround-sound, plus was cloistered in enough marble to refurbish the Taj Mahal.
Oh, now this is the life!
We went down briefly to the restaurant, but upon finding it closed for the night, returned to our room to order room service. His Royal Highness was treating us since he had suggested I accompany him to Sydney so that he may see his daughter over the weekend. He managed to see us awake for an hour each day, between meetings.
The Westin has a special “Superfoods Menu” based on food research into lifespans, which I ordered from, but judging by the amount we ate, I don’t think we garnered any of the benefits. Since I was on holiday, I wasn’t fussed about lengthening my life anyway.
After dinner, I had a nice soak in the tub, followed by a rain shower to wash my hair in the separate shower stall. Then I tucked in for the night. I slept so well, I missed breakfast the next morning.
Amanda and I were supposed to check out Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera house and Darling Harbour in the morning, but due to our lie in, I decided to visit my friend’s cafe first. After all, who can think without food?
Amanda and I took a taxi to Oxford Street, which until arriving, I had not realised is the equivalent of Chapel Street in Melbourne. Brisbane’s version is James Street in New Farm.
“What sort of people live here?” I asked the taxi driver.
“Gays, alternative living types.”
“Gays?” said Amanda. “You mean like girls who like girls? Or boys who like boys?”
“Shush,” I said. “And what other sort of people are there, driver?”
“It’s like a different planet here. They’re all rich and crazy.”
Sounds like my kind of place. I love rich and crazy. I’m okay with gays too. Poor and crazy is just sad. Look at the many parts of Darwin if you need a reference for that.
All the big names in fashion were there, as was my dream audio-equipment retailer, Bang and Olufsen, with their highly lauded, art-gallery-worthy, sound systems. Oh, just you wait until I have money B & O. I’ll be back! I’ll be back!
After spending roughly an hour at my friend’s cafe, Amanda and I caught a bus to Circular Quay. From there, we soaked up the glorious Sydney sunshine as we made our way to the Sydney Opera House.
“It’s worth missing your art show for, isn’t it?” I said to Amanda at the sight of the Sydney Opera House. She had been most upset to skip her school’s art show to come with us.
“Yes, it’s beautiful,” she gushed.
We walked around this famous monument to the arts, taking photos from every angle. Then we wandered into the Botanic Gardens, where we caught the Choo-choo train to spare our poor legs from walking the entire area. After that, we strolled back to Circular Quay, and caught a ferry to Darling Harbour from there. The winds were certainly blustery aboard the ferry. Amanda, who usually insists she is strong enough to stand the cold, made nary a whimper of protest when I suggest we move from sitting outside to inside.
We had a brief look-see in Darling Harbour, before heading back to The Westin by taxi.