Blisters and Balboa

My feet were aching this morning. After all that trudging around Tasmania with neither a blister nor a whinge, my feet were punished by the wet weather and destroyed footware yesterday. In fairness, I spent an hour walking around the town centre looking for an open shoeshop, but due to the storm damage there wasn’t a single one open. OK, that’s a partial truth. I found one, but much as I have the legs for them, a pair of high heels just wasn’t what I needed.

Fortunately, most stores had reopened today so I first located a McD’s for breakfast and then a Big W in the mall for a pair of shoes. I changed footwear in the mallway and dropped my knacky old SIN$18 trainers into the trash. Much better!

After checking out of the hostel and storing my bags in a secure locker ($6) I plotted out my day. Some information was gathered from local bus companies and I decided to walk around the Canberra Museum and Gallery. Unfortunately the main permanent gallery was closed due to flooding, but I saw an art exhibition (yawn) and an interesting display detailing the recovery of artifacts from a fire in a university building 20 years ago. Archaeological techniques applied to a modern-day setting to try and figure out what was left in the rubble after bush fires destroyed a storage warehouse.

One thing I’d like to point out about the museum is the loo. Each cubicle had a sign on the door relating to the artwork painted on the inside. Very novel.

I managed to get a sew-on patch for Canberra (I wanted an ACT one, but they’re nigh on impossible to find) and sent some postcards. I have one state to visit – South Australia – and I’ll have been round the whole country.

Next up was lunch with Rach and her husband, more of my online friends, in Mooseheads. Less than ten bucks for a huge chicken burger and chips. Thank you for the beer, folks! As ever, they were the shining example of Aussie hospitality. I’ll be returning to Canberra next week and now have both a room for the night and a lift up to Newcastle! Seriously, folks – thank you so much!

I had a couple of hours left before my bus, which was nowhere near long enough for the Parliament Buildings, Botanical Gardens or Museum so I went to see a film instead. There’s an $8 cinema in the town centre and it was showing Rocky Balboa at just the right time so I popped in. Hard to believe I’ve been alive for all six Rocky films and this is the first one I’ve ever actually seen all the way through. It was OK, though. Not a classic, but enjoyable enough. I think I’d have appreciated it more if I’d seen the older ones.

Then just collecting my bags, back to the bus station and onto the coach for the 3-ish hour jaunt to Sydney during which I snoozed like a baby.

Being a cheapskate I opted to walk from Central to Kings Cross where my hostel was located. What an eye-opener. With the Mardi Gras on Saturday, Sydney is buzzing with people. All the clubs I walked past were heaving, and the sex shows and shops all had staff on the door trying to convince people to go in. Thankfully with two rucksacks, they didn’t seem to want to target me!

It took almost an hour to check in at the hostel – it seemed someone had failed to put any details of any of the bookings onto the system. The couple in front of me had a booking, but no room alloted to them so they ended up in a dorm rather than a private room. I got my chosen 10-share and met four very nice German people. The one in the room when I arrived was a girl (Anita, I think – again I apologise for being rubbish with names) who had just arrived, flat broke, from seeing her boyfriend back off to Germany from Bangkok. She was hungry, penniless and I’m a soft touch. So against her protests I dragged her to McD’s. If she hadn’t come with me I’d have brought something back for her!

While we were there we were nattering about our travels and those of friends, and a guy at the table overheard us talking and joined in the conversation. He was African – from Sierra Leon – and wondered if we’d been there. I think Hans may have, but don’t quote me. It made for great chatting, so thank you Moses! It’s always good to talk to new people from new places with new viewpoints.

The rest of the evening – till 2:30am – was spent on the roof and in the lounge at the hostel just gassing about where we’d all been and were all going. A very pleasant evening after a lot of plodding and footache.

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