I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Exchange student

My cash card didn't work. Again. I'm a bit confused - last time I came to Sydney I got an alert by SMS the second I tried to use it abroad in a way that was flagged as fraud. But here, the machines were telling me there was "no account link" or some odd message. I didn't understand, but Kevin had lent me a couple of hundred bucks and besides, most things are expensive enough to get away with using a credit card anyway, So of course, I went ahead and spent $63 on a weekly everything travel card as soon as I left the house, 'cos I didn't want to only get buses, but also ferries, including the Manly Ferry. That's Sydney's primary public transport tourist attraction, a half hour ride across the harbour. Lovely.

En route to Manly wharf I'd discovered that, contrary to my brother's assertion, something was different to two years ago: there are now readily available burritos without having to trek all the way to Bondi. Hurrah!

Had a slow wander around the CBD once off the boat, reacquainting myself with everything and lamenting the removal of the Sydney monorail. Heavy sigh. Stopped for a bit to do an official notification of travel to NatWest, in the hope that my card would start working the next day, and walked up to the Apple Store.

The AUD:GBP exchange rate got steadily and steeply worse every visit between 2006 and 2012, but in the last two years has got a bit more friendly for us Sterling wielders. While the effect on booze is that a pint in Sydney is now only in the £5-6 region, a much more pleasing and bizarre effect is that Apple kit is much cheaper than in the UK. So, I bought an iPad Air, 64gb wifi only slate grey, served up by the very happy smiley apple employee who was delighted I knew what I was on about. This model is £559 in the UK, and $799 here. According to my MBNA statement this has translated to £444, and what's more I'll get the GST (=VAT) back when I leave the country, which is another £40. So £150 saving, well worth it. What's more, this also was the catalyst for my plan to leave my existing iPad behind as a family hand me down present. Worked out nicely IMO.

Another thing I wanted to buy was a hat. As everyone knows, I have an enormous head and "one size fits all" is a lie where I'm concerned. I lost my Micky-from-Snatch trilby in Rome and wanted either a replacement, or a baseball cap, cos wandering around with a beanie on in 25°c+ every day was getting real old. In The Rocks, Sydney's historic bit near the bridge, there's a tat shop which has on two previous visits managed to stock caps which fit, but alas, not this time, So then I went to The Rocks Hattery, a hats only shop. And no, nothing fucking fit me.

All this had only taken me about 3.5 hours - Sydney centre is not big. I jumped on a boat, just for the hell of it, round to Darling Harbour, and as I approached Kevin called to see where I was. He came and met me, and we got the bus back home. The kids were there and chaos ensued. It's mealtime and bed time for a 2yo and 5yo, after all. Once the girls went to bed me, Kevin, and Rowlf the hound went walkies, first to retrieve the people carrier and second to go on a bit of a scavenger hunt around where the rich people live and discard perfectly good furniture, printers, paintings, antiques, etc by the roadside. The chair we were after had already gone to an earlier hunter, bah.

Top Gear came on the box, during which I claimed star in a reasonably priced car is done at Brooklands near where I live. In the course of proving myself wrong on the internet I discovered that Brooklands is a fantastic place I definitely want to visit, with an aerospace and bus museum, and a Concorde you can get in, and how the fuck have I lived in Surbiton for 13 years and not known this? So the day ended, my 10th away from home in my 4th different foreign country, with the realisation that my doorstep is awesome. DOING TOURISM RIGHT.

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