Sunday, July 27, 2008

First Bus Trip and Visit to the City

We took our first bus trip to the city centre on Monday (the 14th). I had a meeting at the CBD, and we also decided to go to the bank to activate our account. The bus ride was comfortable, though unlike in certain European cities, they do not have announcements about the next stops. So one needs to know where exactly to get off. Bus tickets can be purchased from the driver, or one can purchase pre paid tickets.

The CBD was my first view of the non - touristy side of Sydney - that of the business capital of Australia. There were more people in suits and jackets walking around than I expected (might also be because it's winter).

We also got our first glimpses (it was not much more than that) of two man made landmarks of Sydney - The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Syndey Opera House - from Circular Quay. After our meetings, we proceeded to the University of New South Wales. The Uni (as it is called here) is massive, spread over a large area right in the heart of Syndey. After finishing a few formalities there, we took our third bus trip back to Coogee.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Initial Impressions

The drive from the airport to Sydney provided our first glimpses of the city. The traffic was not very high, possibly because of it being a Saturday. There was a lot of greenery, at least around the main roads. Interestingly, the condition of the roads was not always the best, but there were no potholes such as we see in Mumbai.

We did not venture out much on the first day, only taking a walk around Coogee Beach. The beach is small, but beautiful. The sand is clean and golden, with clear blue waters. There was a flock (?) of sea gulls on the beach. Very few people were strolling on the sands, but there was one brave man having a bath in what must surely be freezing waters at this time of the year. Though it was only past 5 PM when we were near the beach, it was quickly turning dark in the Southern winter. There was a strong breeze blowing, which was really making it cold outside, So we decided to cut short our first outing in Sydney.

It was nice to see a few things that we also get back home. The dish Tv in the common room (FoxTel) was exactly like Tata Sky, with the same remote! There were also a few common channels (Channel V). Outside, it was good to see McDonalds and Subway. We walked into a grocery store to buy some stuff for dinner, and saw Maggi Noodles! These small things remind us that the world we are living in is truly a global village.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Arriving in Sydney

The Qantas flight into Sydney was easily the best international flight I have taken. The aircraft was an Airbus A 330, with a seat layout of 2 - 4 - 2. We were lucky to get the window seat. It was the first flight I had with entertainment on demand, so managed to watch a few movies. The food was average, but service was friendly. Though we started late, we managed to make up some time and arrived in Sydney at 12:45 PM on Saturday, the 12th of July.

The airport, for such a large city, was surprisingly empty. Though we were warned that it costs money to use trolleys at the airport, we discovered that that was not the case. We were also a bit apprehensive about the quarantine process, but that also went through smoothly. After the procedures, we sought out the International Students Service desk at the airport. We were given directions to our temporary accommodation, along with a pre paid taxi card.

It took us about 15 minutes to reach our budget accommodation, located very close to Coogee Beach, called 'The Beachhouse'. Here, we had to wait over 30 minutes for the office to open after its afternoon break. Our room is medium sized, with a bunk bed (double bed at the bottom with a single bed at the top). The bathroom facilities are shared, but very clean. There is a common room with comfortable seating, tables to eat on, Tv with dish TV, and, very importantly, a heater. There is also a common kitchen, with round the clock tea and coffee.