It’s taken a while but I finally got around to making it! Here’s the first part of our campervan adventure which took us from rural Blighty to the hustle and bustle of Sydney.
After our trip to the Blue Mountains we went back to Sydney for one more cheeky night out. This time we wanted to do it completely on the cheap, which meant no hostels! We payed $3 for a shower at a swimming pool in Parramatta and then looked for somewhere to leave the van. We drove around until we found Merrylands, possibly one of the dodgiest suburbs in Sydney! But it would have to do. We parked up in one of the nicer streets, packed a few ciders into my handbag, and got the train into the CBD.
Once there, we went straight to the Darling Harbour and to a bar called Pontoon. The place had caught my eye a few days ago when I saw meals advertised for just $9! At 8pm there was already a bouncer on the door so I had to hide my ciders in a bush before he would let me in. Once in we got $9 burgers right off the grill with chips, and even splashed out on a beer. Who says Sydney’s expensive!
After 4 days in Sydney Chris and I were looking forward to getting away from all the people and traffic by escaping to the Blue Mountains.
We drove for 2 hours along the Great Western Highway before arriving at Katoomba, the chief town in the Blue Mountain area. I suppose I should have realised that, being so close to Sydney, the Blue Mountains wouldn’t have that isolated, middle of nowhere feel to it. But still, I was a bit surprised by the amount of work and money that must have gone into this huge motorway. As we turned off, it was hard to imagine we were right next to a national park.
Unlike the rest of our trip, Chris and I decided to actually do a bit of planning for Sydney. I just didn’t want the stress and hassle of driving through the congested city, looking for sneaky places to sleep at night in the camper, or trying to find a shower.
So weeks in advance, we booked to stay in a twin private room at the Maze Backpackers, a hostel on Pitt Street. It was only $30 each per night for our own room and we were so central, I thought it was definitely worth it.
We entered Sydney on a Friday night and drove around for a while looking for somewhere suitable to leave the van. Eventually we found a fairly busy street with free parking near the Ashfield railway station, only 20 minutes from Central Station. I wouldn’t necessarily advise this approach to anyone! Leaving your van on a Sydney street for 4 days probably isn’t the best of ideas…. But we were taking everything we cared about to the hostel and had a steering lock to try put thieves off. We slept in the van that night and then set off to the hostel the next morning. Walking away I just prayed it would be alright.
I can’t remember the last time I had a really good night out. Spending 6 months working on a dairy didn’t present too many chances. There was only the one small pub down the road from me, and I thought it was better to stay away and save the cash rather than wasting it drinking beers in a place that had no entertainment and was long overdue a make over!
So when I arrived in Sydney I was pretty excited to let loose a bit and see what the city had to offer. Walking through the CBD there’s absolutely no shortage of clubs, bars and pubs. I started my night out going to a few bars, making use of the ‘free drinks’ vouchers my hostel gave me. But I’d been in the first bar for all of one minute when I knew I’d be downing my free drink and getting out asap.
As I stood in a ridiculously long line waiting to get served at the bar my patience was seriously running thin. Getting hot and flustered, being shoved left and right, waiting tediously while the people in front ordered as many drinks as they could carry to avoid going back anytime soon. The girls around me dressed to the nines with their noses in the air, looking around to see which guys are watching. Shit music blasting from a crappy sound system, drowned out by people shouting to each other, trying to be heard.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s being caught up and pushed around by crowds of people feeling like you don’t even have the space to breathe. And yet there I was leaving my hotel room at 5.30 in the morning to see the Sydney New Years Eve 2013 fireworks. There were literally hundreds of vantage points throughout the city where you could watch the fireworks, and the most consistent advice I’d received from the Aussies was to choose somewhere further away, and less popular. Of course, being an overexcited tourist in Sydney for the first time, I went against all advice and chose Mrs Marcquaries point as my base. With views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, this was possibly one of the most popular free vantage points in the city, and had a maximum capacity of 17,000 people. Continue reading