After 3 months in New Zealand, saying goodbye was difficult. Our last night in Aukland, we stayed by the airport – right by an Icebreaker outlet. One thing we’ve learned during our time in New Zealand – merino wool is great while traveling. Seriously.
At the airport – we ran into some more problems (insert “the more you know” music)
The tickets we bought through Orbitz did not include our luggage. We’ve gotten really good at checking with each individual airline about luggage costs, but this was the first airfare we bought about 4 months ago and I forgot to check. Whoops.
The visa for Australia I obtained at LAX does not exist. Bummer. We got lucky and Will’s visa was in the system, but our airline sent us to Air New Zealand to help me get the visa. After obtaining it, we went back to our airline and we were good to go. Next to us, there was an American from Atlanta who was with a tour group. They lost his flight completely and he had to re-buy a ticket. Things can always get worse.
Once we were on the plane, things went smoothly. We stopped at the information desk and spoke with a smiley guy who told us about Sydney’s Opal cards – you load the card and tap on and off the busses, trains, and ferries. He also warned us that the train from the airport has an added fee of $13 on top of the normal cost. He gave us a loophole of taking the bus a few stops away from the airport before switching to the train. Energized, we accepted the challenge. *Note – Sundays all the fares are $2.50 – everywhere. We flew on a Sunday. This means cheap transport and long lines especially at the ferries.
We took the bus in the wrong direction *a good reminder to talk to the bus driver. We felt like novices. However – it all worked out. We hopped on the train and took it to the Circular Quay and avoided the $13 extra fee. The apartment we rented was in Manly, Sydney – a half hour ferry ride across the bay. Sweating and hot, we got in the long line at the ferry realizing the ferry was sold out. We were very excited to make it on the next ferry.
Our time in Manly went quickly. The beach was a 10 min walk away. On our bucket list – learn how to surf. Manly Surf School has lessons every day – we booked an evening class and went to cross an item off the bucket list. We’re both snowboarders, but we weren’t sure how that would translate to a surf board and water. Not quite the same thing. That being said – it was really fun and we both stood up on our boards! *they give beginners longer, foam boards that make it a bit easier. Definitely helped!
Our group was small and hilarious. There was a girl from Wales on her gap year who has been traveling all over and a group of women from Brooklyn. We all looked a little tired as we carried our boards back to the Surf School since we were the last group of the day. Icker (like Sticker, but without the St) was a great teacher and made us groan and laugh with his terrible jokes. It was a great night.
After a few short days in Manly, we were off to Melbourne. Finding housing in Melbourne had been a bit of a hassle since the Grand Prix was in town. It’s a big deal in Australia. We thought about going to see it, but we were warned by multiple people that you don’t really see anything unless you get a corner spot because the cars are going too fast. That convinced us to skip it and instead, we ventured downtown and explored the city.
We really only had one full day in Melbourne. During our time in Australia, we encountered a couple of people that were excited we were Americans. Especially strange since the culture seems pretty similar to the states. We’ve realized that New Zealand and Australia get a lot of tourists from Europe and Asia, but not as many from the states. We went out to dinner our last night in Melbourne and talked to our waitress about traveling. She’s from Russia and Germany originally, but is in Australia on a working visa. We picked her brain for places to go in Europe later in our trip.
In a blink of an eye, we were on a plane headed to Thailand. We didn’t plan much time in Australia – having people remind us over and over that it holds the most poisonous insects in the world. Everyone jokes that New Zealand doesn’t have anything that will kill you and Australia – everything will kill you. But it was sad to leave Australia so quickly. The people are friendly, the culture is fun, and the cities are full of things to do – plus we wanted to try surfing some more. More reason to come back one day and visit. Good on ya, Australia. Thanks for the short visit.