Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Sydney to Wyong
Forgot to mention it was my younger brother, Neil's, birthday yesterday. Happy day after your birthday Neil!
Had to leave early today as Patricia didn't want me to stay after she went to work, which is fair enough and I don't begrudge having to get up in the middle of night and, bleary-eyed, venture into the world at 6.30 am... Nice morning to be up at that time though, as I returned to the town centre for internet and money-changing. Glad to finally head north and get away from Sydney and the pretentious people of Manly power-walking their pugs. Scuzzier suburbs and quieter roads up the peninsula (although still too bloody busy and fast for my liking). Followed Patricia's advice and cheated at Palm Beach, by taking the ferry across to the mainland at Etalong. Otherwise I would have had to return into Sydney and then head west to the highway. adding an extra 50 kms onto the day's mileage. I wouldn't have minded had it not been for the city traffic. The ferry ride was sensational, weaving in and out of serene bays, and the countryside at the other end was equally pretty. Stopped in Woy Woy for a spinach & ricotta roll and hedgehog slice (refrigerator cake) and it came to four quid!
Back on the dreaded highway there was a cycle lane which kept varying in width from six feet to non-existent, especially when the road had to narrow across bridges or whatever. This is irresponsible on behalf of the Council, who shouldn't be leading cyclists up the garden path. If a car knocked me down when I suddenly had to veer into a car lane it wouldn't be totally the fault of the nazi drivers. Most of the time I thought to myself, "Keep to the left of the white line! Keep to the left of the white line!" and I would remain alive. The equivalent of traffic islands here are aptly named traffic refuges; if you can get to one it might be your refuge for quite some time. The traffic really thickens and speeds up in the rush hour of course and I should really try to reach destinations earlier. Then, unbeknownst to me, all of a sudden I was on the freeway. I was permitted to be there though, as I saw a sign which read, "Cyclists must use shoulder." Well, I was hardly going to use the fast lane. Unlike a lot of Brits, Ozzy drivers do at least indicate when changing lanes, I'll say that for them.
In Wyong I discovered the area of Budgewoi, where I was headed, was a further 15 miles away; so beetling onwards, I finally reached the street where the Couchsurfers in question resided. It was here that, while going slowly looking at street names, that a woman honked at me. I looked back and she gestured, "What are you doing?" with her hands - just because she was delayed a second or two behind me. I flipped her the bird and told her where to get off. At the side of the road I'll go as slowly as I effing well want to goddamnit! According to the itinerary, their house number was 2-45. I went to 45, 2 and would have gone to 245 if the numbers had gone up that high. I tried phoning them, but the number I had was unattainable. I had the wrong address and phone number. The couple weren't listed in the phone book I borrowed at a sports club, but a lady there told me about some new townhouses further down the street, that were divided into units. It turned out to be 2-46 or something. Phew! Aimee had to go to a Jehovah's Witness meeting, leaving me with Michael, who would have gone with Aimee because he didn't think I was coming, except he had a hoarse voice. He made me dinner and we sat in recliner chairs, beers in hand, watching the motorbike adventures of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. OK, so it looked pretty rough on Mongolian dirt roads, where their bikes kept falling over and parts of them broke - but at least they had support vehicles and had hired local assistants.