Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Waiting Game

After the pavlova of getting to Sydney the first night in the airport hotel went someway to restoring my energy levels and I caught the shuttle back to the airport on a gorgeously sunny day after contacting the shipping companywho said that the van was currently undergoing its Customs inspection. Trying to find Qantas staff who knew anything about our refund proved frustrating and with a heavy bag to lug around I hit on the idea of leaving it with the van so caught a taxi out to the address. Unfortunately the driver's sat nav took us to the right road in the wrong suburb - a fact I only discovered once he had disappeared. A second taxi took me back to the airport and on to the correct address where at Specific Freight the van was waiting in a large depot. It was amazing to see it sat there yet again after another long trip but there seemed to be some confusion over carnets and the van was likely to need quarantine cleansing. As Sydney was due to celebrate a long weekend off the van would not be available for almost a week so I decided to head in to the city to find accommodation and sort out a number of issues.
A brand new YHA in the trendy Rocks area provided clean good value accommodation with a view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House augmented by the departure of a vast cruise ship. Later that evening a spectacular firework display lit up the foreshore and by early next morning another cruise ship had slipped in to the docks.
This combined with the long weekend off, a jazz festival and a major sporting event meant that all accommodation was fully booked which left me with a problem for the Saturday and Sunday nights as even the dive in King's Cross I found for Friday night would be full.
Meanwhile I made use of the time in the city to purchase a 3G modem, obtain my Qantas refund, check out book shops and car insurance and finally hit on the idea of renting a small camper for the period until ours became available. After a haircut where Frank from Naples recommended a good restaurant I checked in to the Formule 1 motel which was as noisy and grubby as I had expected. The Italian turned out to be a scruffy but bizarrely popular cafe complete with formica tables that did a basic but excellent bolognese with salad and bread for £10 - more than enough to fill me up.
Noisy revellers had me awake and away by 8 only to find that many shops in the centre did not open till late so I jumped on a bus up to the Jucy depot near the airport. Here after observing the skilled sales patter offered to other hirers regarding insurances and liabilities - cheap hire rates rocket skywards when you take out insurance cover but your liabilities are huge if you don't - I collected my vehicle which would provide car hire and accommodation for the next five days at considerably less than the hotel options left.
I headed slowly out of Sydney crossing the Harbour Bridge and heading north until I stopped for food supplies. As expected the Jucy Crib was far less satisfactory than the van with limited storage, facilities and space and being a 2l automatic petrol seemed remarkably thirsty for fuel. As I was still tired from the long journey I decided to stop at Stockton near Newcastle which is the largest coal port in the world - glamorous eh? In fact the site was on a peninsula and would have been OK had it not been for the holiday weekend crowds who occupied every nook and cranny. I was as a favour squeezed in and began to discover the full horror that is the Jucy - we had observed broken misshapen people emerge from their interiors across New Zealand and now they had even more of my sympathy.
Even for one the whole concept was beyond a joke but for me it provided a snug retreat out of the intermittent showers and a chance to catch up on some sleep.
The dongle worked well and I rang or skyped a few friends and family during the Sunday as I had decided to stay a second night rather than head in to the hills as the forecast was poor - mild but wet. Sunday evening was enlivened by most fellow campers watching the soccer match and celebrating in true Aussie style although by 10 the damp conditions had sent most to bed.

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