30.06.2012 - 02.07.2012 11 °C
Having thus far managed to stay in private rooms for the whole of our trip (minus a couple of hours with our Chinese guests in Saigon), unless we wanted to pay upwards of 80 dollars it just wasn't going to be possible in Sydney.
We read a few reviews and decided on the 'World Square' hostel on George Street. The location was excellent and it was one of the cheapest at 30 dollars a night. From my previous hosteling experience I was fully aware that you can be lucky with who you share a room with, i.e the snoring isn't too loud and your room-mates are considerate (if they don't smell too badly that's a bonus), or you can be unlucky and find the opposite of the above.
As soon as we checked into our room we became aware of the presence of 'Rich' from Southern England. Before I carry on I have nothing against people from Southern England, I mention it only to help you build a picture of our 48 hour nemesis. So anyway, Rich introduced himself and did quite well to make it apparent in less than 10 seconds that he was not my cup of tea. Rich was arrogant, cocky, obnoxious and far too self-assured for someone who had to phone home every week to get his mum to send him more money. But at least my bunk was on the opposite side of the room, Lou was not so lucky. Rich was living in the hostel whilst working on a building site, and treated the surrounding bunks as his personal washing line, including the one above his which is where Lou was to sleep. "If I'm taking the piss then just tell me" where his first words to Lou, but of course she was too nice to tell him and while attempting the equivilant of the crypton factor's assault course to get up to her bed, replied "no worries".
Although Rich lived in the hostel, he didn't own it, although he gave a very strong impression that he did. He cordened off his lower bunk by hanging sheets all around it, suspended by wedging them in the matress in the above bunk. When Lou had successfully navigated the assault course of builders boots at the foot of her ladder, various t-shirts and boxers on every rung of her ladder and more garments hanging all around the safety bars, she started making her bed. As she made her bed, Rich's honeymoon suite for 1 started to become dismantled on account of her lifting the matress up to tuck the sheets in, and this displeased Rich greatly. "Oi! What you doin up there? You're ruining my palace" he cried from below. So yeah, Rich was all you don't want in a dorm room-mate, and we'll get back to him later.
On the Saturday afternoon we went to the harbour to take some pictures of the harbour and check out the area where we would be going for drinks later on – 'the rocks'. As is the way when you are walking past pubs and looking in, you end up in one. The one we went into had a live band on, served real ale, and was pretty packed. You can see that if you take away our culture, history, heritage and manners, then Brits are just the same as Aussies really.
High up on my must-do list when I visit any city is to go and see the stadiums they have. It doesn't really matter to me whether they are open or not, but I like to go and see them, to put a live perspective on the stadiums that I've seen on the television. Writing that down it sounds like I'm a bit of a saddo, and perhaps I am, but anyway as we were in Sydney I had to go and see the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) which is one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world. On the walk from the centre to the SCG we happened upon a group of a few hundred people protesting about carbon taxes, which I have absolutely no opinion about, on account of not having a clue about the issue, but decided to walk with them for a while anyway.
After our brief protest we walked the hour or so to the SCG, took the obligatory photos and hopped on a bus to Coogee which is where Lou used to spend a lot of time when she lived in Sydney 6 years ago. Coogee is very cosmopolitan and it had the feel of Allerton Road or Notting Hill. We had a lovely lunch in a Thai restaurant and felt 0% backpacker and 100% suburbanites. After our lunch we headed down to the beach which to start the 5km or so walk from Coogee to Bondi. Even though it was winter and it was below 10 degrees, there were lots of people out walking, jogging, frolicking and generally enjoying themselves and the walk blew away the last few cobwebs from the night before. There were also surfers, loads and loads and loads of them.
On Sunday night, a coupe of Scottish girls who had obviously stayed in the hostel sometime previously and knew the aforementioned Rich checked in. Rich then indluged them in 30 minutes of the kind of "banter" that only people called Rich from the South could possibly do. It turns out that Rich had smuggled one of his pals in the night before and so one of the Scottish girls had to sleep in his dirty sheets. Much "banter" followed for the next half an hour or so down that end of the room, while a few of us down the other end of the room were reading, or listening to music, or writing, or something. Rich's friend (who was also working in Sydney from what I could gather, and whose mother paid for him to have a spotify subscription) saw that there wasn't much going on down our end and muttered something along the lines of "boring f****ng backpackers". Insulting people in a hostel for being backpackers whilst your mother pays for your spotify subscription is something only a friend of Rich's could possibly do.
And that was our brief flirtation with Australia over and done with. If you could still get 3 dollars to the pound like you could some years ago, I would heartily recommend Australia for backpackers.But when you consider it costs 3-4 times more to travel here than it does Asia, for me it is pricing itself out of the backpacker market unless you're going there to work as part of your trip.