planes, trains, & buses, oh my!

Sunday, April 1

I know, you probably won’t find my journey to Sydney as interesting as Sydney itself, but I have to start somewhere. And if you don’t follow all of my gyrations through getting on planes, trains, and buses, then you won’t understand some of my later failures and triumphs.

I’ve been flying on planes for years, so I have no trouble asking for directions, if I need them. But generally, I find airports to be so well laid out, that I just follow the signs. So, I got on the plane in Emerald with no problems, aside from adjusting for the minimum elbow room provided on QantasLink planes (hint: those planes are LITTLE).

In Brisbane, I wandered through some of the airport stores, buying a few Aussie children’s books, and tried to forget that the last time I was in that airport, I had been ill. That time was the only time I’ve ever been close to getting sick on a plane, so I wasn’t enjoying the memories.

However, once we boarded the plane, I felt like our larger Qantas plane was positively roomy compared to the previous one. A lady with a 9 month old baby was sitting across the aisle, one row behind me, but I wasn’t alarmed by this.

Yes, I’ve read about airlines having stricter policies because of babies and passengers becoming less accommodating, even rude, when it comes to small children. But I’m not one of those. I like babies, assume the best about the parents and their children, and this lady’s baby did nothing more than shriek with delight, now and then, during our 1 hour flight.

When we arrived in Sydney, that’s when I knew things could get interesting. I had no trouble following the signs that said “Trains”, knowing that I would have to take one, either all or part of the way to Newtown. I was going to stay with a friend’s friend, so I knew the address, and had a vague idea of where I was headed.

I have no problem with asking for help, but along with that, I can be easily intimidated by unfriendly looking bus drivers and ticket salesmen, and I really don’t enjoy looking like an idiot when I have an audience. So, when the ticket salesman acted like life was boring, I was boring, and why were we boring each other, together? I put up with it, and hoped for the best.

I was extremely tired by this point, though my plane flights hadn’t been long. I think it was just the packing, and knowing I still have to pack to go home in several weeks, plus being a bit jittery over doing a lot of my tourist act on my own. I got on the train, feeling reasonably certain of where I was supposed to go, but judging by my luck on the subway in NYC (I can’t go to New York City by myself, I get lost in the subways), I wasn’t taking any chances. So, no relaxing on the train.

We arrived in Central Station, and I would’ve taken some photos of the cool area, except I started to get lost. Down the stairs, off the platform, down a long tunnel, and I find a sign that says “Way Out”. No, it’s not a surfer-ism, it’s telling you how to get out of the train station. So, up the stairs I go… and find myself on another train platform.

Now, remember, I’m dragging my small suitcase, with my laptop bag on top of it, and I have to carry it up and down all these flights of stairs. I’m getting tired and out of breath. Down the stairs I go again, and start down a long tunnel… and there’s nobody else in it. I’m really getting freaked out, though it’s well-lit. No signs? Where in the blazes am I?

Back up the stairs, another train platform, and I see a sign for a lift (elevator). Thankfully, I reach it, and it leads me to freedom. Or so I thought. At this point, I don’t give a rip about the cool architecture in the main part of the train station. In fact, I’m bloody well tired of it. I find signs for the Newtown bus, go outside into the dark city, and start praying that nothing bad happens to me.

When I got onto the correct bus, I stayed on it until the last stop, thinking it was the right one. Or was it the only stop? I don’t remember. The driver didn’t know where the street I needed was, so I got off in confusion, not having any idea where I was. So, though bus drivers can intimidate me (not all of them, just some of them), I’ll stop a complete stranger, when I’m not sure where I’m going. So I asked a lady who was sitting down waiting for a bus.

She didn’t know the name of the local universities, and I wasn’t sure which one I was looking for, but she was pretty sure it was “a k or two” up King Street. And yes, I had tried to call my friend’s friend, but hadn’t gotten an answer yet. So, away I went, walking up King Street, pulling my suitcase and bag, getting more and more tired, praying it wouldn’t be THAT far away.

I saw so many Asian restaurants, and some of them looked quite charming and quaint, if I’d been out strolling with a friend, I’d have stopped to get something to eat. But I kept walking, and eventually noticed that my “new” phone was ringing. It turned out, I was on the right path, and my street was coming up. By this time, it was starting to rain, but my route was mostly under the shop awnings, which was nice. And finally, I found my new friend’s place.

Tired, feeling accomplished at having found my place of residence for the week, but annoyed with myself for having made some mistake (not sure what it was), I planned to do better next time. I asked Rachael (yes, my life abounds with other Rach[a]els) a bunch of questions about the buses and trains, and then went to sleep. Ah, blissful sleep.

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