Friday, September 01, 2006

Nostalgia Tour

The omens for a pleasant trip were good. As I bellied up to the bar at Dulles airport I noticed three things: 1) They served Yuengling, 2) a 10 oz Yuengling was $5.00, and 3) a 22 oz Yuengling was $5.50. Yowza. So my three + week vacation began with me slamming back huge beers as I engaged other denizens of the bar in conversation.

The buzz I had going served me well as it dulled the annoying wait on the plane. Due to the hurricane/storm/whatever Ernesto, my flight to LA had its runway changed at least once and its flightpath re-routed at least twice. This wasn't just painful in of itself, but it also caused the Masters of the Universe seated either side of me to complain incessantly. After just over an hour of this we finally got going.

Despite the delay I arrived at LAX with time to spare before my flight to Sydney begam boarding. I killed the time by playing "pick the Australian". As I finally got on theplane I began idly chatting to the woman behind me, as there was a bit of a traffic jam as people took their seats. She turned out to be Russian, with a very strong accent, which went some way to explaining the ultra-tight red pants. Naturally it turned out that we both sitting in the same row.

Pop Quiz: You are boarding a 14 hour flight and discover that you have the aisle seat, a tall Australian has the window seat, but the middle seat is empty. The tall Australian asks if you would like to swap seats. Do you:

a) Agree to swap seats, taking the window seat with relish?
b) Say that you prefer the aisle seat, and sit down?
c) Murmur something and then proceed to sit in the middle seat, right next to the Australian, leaving the aisle seat free?
d) Take your top off?

Elena decided that option c) was her favourite, and plonked herself down next to me, much to my disbelief. I did get a chance to look down her top, but I didn't get too aroused - I just didn't find her that attractive.

The flight got underway, and after knocking back my meal and a few glasses of red wine I decided it was time to try and get some shuteye. Downing one of the magic pills my friend All-Star had given me, I attempted to erase a few hours from the flight. Elena, of course, had already passed out.

All in all I figured I grabbed 6 or so hours of sleep, which is probably a record for me on a flight. Despite the close-sitting Russian (who was pleasant enough), the 14 hours motored by. As we got closer to Sydney Elena began to ask me questions about where she should go, and what she should do. Apparently Cirque de Soleil was in Sydney, and she was visiting a couple of her friends who were in the show. I managed to hold my tongue and avoided asking if any of her friends were contortionists or sword-swallowers, though in retrospect I regret my reticence.

At a tick after 6am local time (the earliest you can land, as Sydney airport has a strict curfew due to flight path issues) we landed. Being pretty much the first International flight to arrive we flew through customs, and I got my bag and was out of the airport almost instantly. I grabbed a cab, and took off for my hotel, which was actually able to check me into my room almost 7 hours before the standard time.

Within 2 hours of touching down at Sydney airport I was showered, changed, and off to have breakfast.

I decided to set off for my old neighbourhood first, seeking a good hit of nostalgia while I was curious to see what had changed. My old apartment (the second one I had resided in in Sydney) looked unchanged, though of course someone else was living in it. I resisted the urge to knock on the door and see if anyone was home. It felt strange to see that place that was so familiar, and yet different... but what was I expecting?

I spent the rest of the morning wandering my old stomping grounds. I had breakfast at a place I used to eat at every so often, and nothing seemed to have changed... but a lot of other things had. The chipper two doors down from me, which I used to frequent in the early weekend hours, was uninhabited. I recalled the drunken discussions I had with the Turkish guy behind the counter, trying to get him to pile more homemade chili sauce onto my Portugese chicken burger.

The chipper wasn't the only thing that was now empty. The Ferrari dealership near my house, which always seemed a little incongruous, was gone as well. It always amused me that hookers used to loiter outside the dealership, waiting to try and turn a trick. Where did the hookers hang out now?

Last, but not least, my favourite Thai place was no more. I had been looking forward for so long to being able to order some Bangkok Delight (their dish I adores) from there... and now it was no longer. Sure, it was still a Thai place, but it wasn't my Thai place.

After my little tour of whimsy I made my way to Stanley St, where I sat down to consume my favourite coffee in the world. I kid you not - I have not tasted any coffee anywhere this good. God bless Bill & Toni's.

Right about now you're probably wondering why I left Sydney.

Throughout my travels in my old neighbourhood it was kind of wild. It didn't really feel like I had ever left. Most things, if they weren't exactly the same, were pretty close. And Sydney is the type of town where there is a constant turnover of people and places, so it wasn't hard to adjust. Even the weather was conspiring to make me fall in love with the city all over again; blue skies, warm without being hot, a pleasant breeze... today was the first day of Spring, and Sydney was showing off.

I spent the afternoon continuing my Tour of Historical Places of Note to Garth: my first apartment in Sydney, my place of work, bars I went to, places I liked to eat. I got my hands on a mobile phone and began getting in touch with old friends. It was almost like the last three years were being turned back on the clock.

Tonight I am meeting some friends at a bar in Darling Harbour, one of Sydney's many gorgeous night spots. I am looking forward to catching up with people as I knock back a few Victoria Bitters and attempt to fight off the jetlag. Should be a blast.

Sydney. What a town.


  • Sounds like Elena wanted some Aussie action from ya...

    Looking forward to more of your trip reports...

    Have fun.

    By Blogger mookie99, at 9:14 AM  

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