Friday 22 October 2010, 7 am
Mini-Wombles said last night that even though she’d only been in Sydney for a few hours, it felt like about a week. I know what she means – we certainly managed to pack a lot into those few hours. (Bookcrossers: we get more done in an evening than most people do in an entire holiday!)
Wombles and mini-Wombles arrived at the hostel just after 4, and after they’d checked in an got organised we headed back to the station, where, equipped with weekly passes (even though I’m only here for 5 days, I’m sure I’ll get more than $40 worth of travel out of it, especially as it’s also valid for the ferries), we headed to Circular Quay. We wandered along the waterfront releasing books and admiring the scenery. Behind the Opera House our way was blocked by a huge group of waiters setting up for some sort of function, so we turned back and made our way back to the hostel to meet the other early arrivals (KJH, Sherlockfan and MrFan, and Edwardstreet and her sister).
They’d decided waiting for us in a pub was more convivial than a street corner, so (sneaking the very underage mini-Wombles in), we joined them there, then the 8 of us went on to Chinatown to find dinner. MrFan spotted a restaurant his son had recommended, so we decided to try there. A new experience for me – they had a tank full of live fish and lobsters you could pick your dinner from. As the prices for them started at $45 (and went up to $168 for the lobsters!!!) we decided to opt for slightly less pricey dishes. We did think of just asking the waiter to bring us a selection of dishes for the table, but he gave us a long and complicated explanation of why that was a bad idea, so in the end we just bought individually. Wombles, mini-Wombles and I shared a crab omelette, garlic prawns, and dry-fried green beans (a delicious dish we were introduced to at the Christchurch convention). Another new experience for me – fortune cookies! (Chinese restaurants in NZ never do them, for some reason.) Mine said something about me being intelligent and creative (well, of course! ;-))
After dinner, the other NZers were beginning to fade, so headed back to their apartment. I was starting to get my second (or third or fourth?) wind, and of course for the Australians it was still early, so we decided to go for a walk, and headed towards Darling Harbour. Through overconfident navigating on my part we somehow ended up walking along what may or may not have been a footpath beside a big and scary road at the back of the convention centre. Wombles saw giant rats lurking in every corner, but the highlight was coming across a vending machine that dispensed safety vests!
I couldn’t help myself from eyeing all the huge underpasses we were walking under, trying to assess their earthquake worthiness…
Eventually we found ourselves back in civilisation, in the heart of Darling Harbour – gorgeous with all the lights sparkling off the water. We walked a loop around the harbour (there’s a bridge across it, so it is possible to walk a loop) then eventually all decided we were tired enough to call an end to the day.
My roommates at the hostel are two Germans and an Asian woman. The Asian woman was asleep when I came in, and still asleep when I left this morning, whereas the Germans came in (very loudly!) at about midnight, and were out again even earlier than me this morning.
I slept a bit fitfully – maybe staying in a hostel beside the railway station wasn’t such a clever idea. It wasn’t the noise (I live beside an airport – noise doesn’t wake me up!), but the shaking – the trains pass right beside the hostel, so everything shakes as they pass, and you can imagine what my earthquake-raddled brain made of that!
Oh well, I managed to sleep in until 6 at least (6 counts as sleeping in when you’re two hours ahead of your time zone – I normally wake up at about 5 when I’m in Australia!) then went for a walk in search of breakfast, which I found in a French bakery a few blocks away. I just got a text from Wombles saying that she and mini-Wombles have just got up, so I’ll wander back to their hostel soon, and meet up with them for our day’s adventures. The actual convention events don’t start until tonight, so we’re going to spend the day exploring, releasing books (me), geocaching (Wombles), and shopping (mini-Wombles). I’m sure we’ll manage to combine all those activities into something fun!
Friday 22 October 2010, 7 am