preparing for a trip to australia.

Yes, this post title is my gambit to the stairway to the stars, or some better constructed string of mismatched cliches. So yeah. Here are my travel tips.

1) Don't sweat that whole Border Security thing. I mean: don't bring anything illegal and if you do, declare it so they can either shrug and let you through or make you throw it away. But my point is, there are so many more suspicious-looking-than-you people there, like the emaciated man with jailhouse tattoos drunkenly wheeling an Epson printer box around on a shopping cart, a Epson printer box that is half papered-over with hand-drawn Chinese characters and dripping ominously with some dark viscous fluid. People who have plainly not watched Border Security.

2) Don't sweat your visa either. I mean, assuming you're not going to violate the terms of it. Just do it via the website and forget about it.

3) Buy an Australian pre-paid SIM card for your phone and avoid your own provider's roaming charges. Possibly the smartest thing I did on this trip, but the competition was not super stiff. $20 AUS (14 euro or something) included the SIM and 20 bucks of data, which lasted me at least two weeks. I never did run out.

4) Use Uber. We met 10 wonderful Australians (and one crabby alcoholic one) by just trying to get around Sydney. Introduce yourself, sit in front and don’t try to tip. 

5) If you're in NSW, get an Opal card and use the transit app. It’s good for the ferries too, and we really did see a ton of the city from the buses. 

6) Also drive. We got to lots of places by car that would’ve been day-ruining by bus, Avalon and Parramatta for example. 

7) Do the coastal walks, but not on the weekends. The Kiama walk was one of the best things we did on the whole trip, but I’m sure much of this had to do with us being alone almost the whole time. 

8) Fucking sunscreen. The Kiama walk was the most sunburned I’ve been in a long time, and it was a totally overcast, drizzling day. 

9) Don't be afraid. Sure, this is the tip that could get you killed, but we never did really have any close brushes with death that we knew about. Sure, Tamarama could have killed us if we’d gotten caught in a rip; sure, if we’d actually run into a swamp wallaby on our very isolated Kiama walk we’d have been disemboweled, etc. Sure, snorkeling could’ve involved a stingray needle through the heart. Etc. But it didn’t. 

australia, day 15+: transit.

Surprising things about Qatar Airlines and “that morning I spent in the Middle East”. 

1) The airport was totally open at 4:00 am. Food was being served, people were buying shitty baklava and tasteless hookah looking things from souvenir shops, antacids were dispensed. Try this at almost any American airport at 4:00 am. 

2) There was nothing even vaguely Middle Eastern about being there. There was a W. H. Smith. There was a Burger King. People spoke English, and spoke it just as well as they do at American airports. Breakfast items were basically eggs and/or croissants. I think the coffee and tea options may have been lightly exotic, but otherwise you could’ve been in Minnesota. 

3) American women continue to dress as if they have absolutely no idea that women’s bodies are kept covered over there. I saw a braless hitchhiker cause two simultaneous pedestrian traffic accidents. 

4) The Qatar Airlines crew members all look like movie stars. 

5) It’s a real challenge to bowl over 200. This means you pretty much have to close every frame. I hadn’t ever really realized that. 

6) After powering through a 14 hour flight and a 3 hour layover and a 7 hour flight, you then have to stand in the Passport Control line. And wait for your oversized baggage. And wait for the nonstop train to G-town. And then nod in and out of consciousness for the 3 hour train ride. Etc. I’m saying that the trip home is a challenge. 


fun travel tidbits.

The circumference of the earth: 40,000km
Distance from Groningen to Phoenix: 7,000km
Distance from Phoenix to Sydney: 14,875km
That’s 22,000km, literally halfway around the world.

Distance from Sydney to Groningen: 16,260km.
Nearly the other half, all in one “day”. We figured we were up for about 48 hours from the time we left our Airbnb in Marrickville to the time we got in bed in Groningen. Would we do it again? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Australia, or at least Sydney and the eastern coast of New South Wales, was the shits. 


australia, day 14: avalon.

Ahhoouuwoooouuuahhoooooeoooooooowoooo. Hard not to have it in your head. 

On our last day, flying out at 10pm, after some sourdough toast, which will get its own post, we decided to go see Avalon Beach because it had been on the list and we assumed we’d be sad if we didn’t go. 

It was, in the end, two hours away, but totally worth it. Of the dangerous, unswimmable beaches we visited on this trip, this may have been the best. Surfers were surfing, no one else was in the water recreationally except those of us in the rock pool, where you could kind of smell and taste what the ocean was like without being killed by it.

Then we had a very Japanese bibimbap and fucked off to the airport for 40 hours of travel. 


australia, day 13: loose ends.

After the second Chatham show, we had one free day to chill and pick up things we’d missed. Above and below, Marrickville Market. Corn fritters and stuff from Fritter House. Then plane-watching led us to Ikea and then Botany Bay, where it was so windy we wondered what a real ocean would look like today, so we drove to Maroubra. Then we ate at Bloodwoood. Then we drove to Parramatta to see 1000 fruitbats. 


australia, day 12: another crimson grail.

Beet and watermelon juice at Two Chaps. The Powerball randomness of hourly temperatures in Sydney.

australia, day 11: a crimson grail.

Nelson was off in the Blue Mountains and I had some practical matters to attend to: printing tickets, buying a white t-shirt, and putting my tooth on Sydney’s best banh mi at Marrickville Pork Roll.

Everything I’ve read about this place warns that there is always a line, any time, night or day. Might I recommend 09:27 Friday morning. No line. And yes, the best banh mi I’ve had, which isn’t saying much, but it was a great sandwich. 

Then, printing: 2 dollars. T-shirt: 4 dollars.