Canberra 1 Day 2 Nights 2013

Firstly – I HATE THIS NEW WORDPRESS FORMAT THING. The whole interface is small AS and although I know Internet Explorer is a piece of shit, I actually DO USE IT and it is NOT compatible with IE. /rant

So surprise – I am actually in a blogging mood because I had a good Italian dinner with the colleagues tonight and it’s actually early enough for me to blog. I am also bored out of my mind because well, various reasons.

I’ve actually accomplished my “go interstate” resolution – which is actually a lot sooner than I had expected considering I didn’t want to go anywhere at all. I did cheat because Canberra is just so close, boring and unspectacular that it’s probably better off being called New South Wales, but technically whilst driving there, you do end up in bits of Victoria and eventually the Australian Capitol Territories.

For those who aren’t Australian, Canberra is the capitol city of Australia. It was constructed as a city that is equidistant from Sydney and Melbourne (that is, it’s smack bang in the middle, probably give or take a few metres :P) because nobody could make up their minds as to which city would be better or appropriate as the nation’s capitol. It is a highly planned city (in the centre at the very least) so you will see a very neat road plan which is easy to get around.

I think the most important things to note about Canberra is that it is either Government orientated, if not tourist orientated. Everything is quite spread out so you do need to either drive or sit in a tour bus. If you were expecting something spectacular, this is not the place. Well, funnily enough though, I did find something different about Canberra which I wasn’t really expecting.

This is not the first time I’ve been to Canberra – in fact, it’s my third. The two previous times were during school excursions (once in primary, then in high school) and nothing about Canberra was fun except for Questicon in my humble opinion.

I had a day off on Thursday which allowed me to slowly pack my bags during whenever I could be bothered during the day. I probably packed too much because I realised that overnight stays actually don’t require much; for instance, slippers. *shrugs*

Why did I go to Canberra? That’s a pretty good question but the answer was to visit a friend. Sounds like a far stretch to go just to visit a friend, but I’ve done it before and that was to go to Hong Kong. It’s just one of the on-the-way things to do. Probably my strongest motivation was not friend-visiting for the Hong Kong trip, but I suppose it was the strongest factor for this trip. Given that, Canberra has nothing else apart from that which is what triggered the extremely short stay. That and I had work on Sunday.

I took a coach with Murrays on Friday morning . Murrays has pretty reasonable prices, are very frequent as they leave by the hour, and they are extremely punctual and leave on the dot.

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To prepare myself fully, I took a Travacalm tablet before boarding since I do get motion sickness. I don’t know why I get it, because usually I’m okay. I guess if the driver is really bad, or if the road is super bumpy and the vehicle is stuffy I have a higher tendency to feel sick. The most recent (serious) precedent was my Melbourne 2010 trip on the way back to Sydney. I felt like I wanted to vomit, I was also dizzy and I could barely keep my eyes open.

To my surprise though as you can see from the photograph above, the coach was actually quite nice. Didn’t have a funky smell, had clean leather seats which were comfortable, and had good air conditioning and ventilation. This was nothing like those crappy smelly old coaches we had during primary or high school.

Basically the tablet knocked me out for a damn good 3 hours and extra 2 after I arrived at Canberra. I was drifting in and out of “sleep” (by this I mean I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but I didn’t sleep either – because I was listening to 3.5 hours of quality Big Bang music) and just couldn’t open my eyes much. I was also super dehydrated because the medicine probably asks you swig down dam [sic] loads of water (lol pun). I didn’t want to use the toilet on board so I kept the water volume to a minimum whilst riding to Canberra. I was also on a very full bus (all seats taken) given that a lot of people were travelling down for the weekend.

I arrived at Canberra at about 1:30pm where my friend picked me up from the Jolimont Tourist Centre. From there we went to the National Art Gallery of Australia which was about a 10-15 minute drive from the city centre.

I did not plan this trip at all. Yes I booked the coach tickets and hotel room, but I did not have a clue where I wanted to go. I figured if I didn’t know where to go, I would just stay in my room.

Thank God I did not walk from my hotel to the art gallery – on Google maps the distance looks walkable, but we were probably driving anywhere from 60-80km/h and it was a 35 degree day with pretty high UV levels (I was wearing a dress and my uncovered knees went red from being scorched under the dashboard – GG).

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We had lunch at the cafe which has really good fries. Get those.

Wandered around the gallery for about 40 minutes. There were some really great pieces there. Probably not worth walking all the way from my hotel to there (would have taken me an hour I reckon) under the scorching sun.

We then drove to Cockington Gardens which I had no idea what it was. Actually it was pretty cute because it’s a miniature/ scale garden of some pretty cute things. I didn’t take many photos because I couldn’t see what I was doing (my phone brightness is always low so I have no idea what the heck I’m taking a photo of). The gardens close at 5pm (most things close 5pm) and we arrived at about 3. Paid the entry fee ($17.50/adults) and probably stayed there 40minutes max. At this point I was getting a bit red from the sun, but still, bearable.

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If you press the button the train goes!

There were a few more photos (actually I took the most there out of all the places I went) but I shall not bore you all. It’s pretty cute, you could check it out but it doesn’t take too long to complete the whole place. Or rather, we were probably too lazy to check it all out.

After that we drove up to Mount Ainslie, which I presume is the highest point in Canberra. It was pretty spectacular – probably even better at night when you can see the lights. However when I got there, I remarked how much it looked like the perfect place to shoot a crime scene for a movie or something.

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SEE WHAT I MEAN?

Anyway I am pretty scared of heights unless there is a balustrade and I’m sure it’s structurally stable to lean on. This was actually pretty scary and I was too chickenshit to go anywhere near the edge. I mean, what if some crazy person decided to push you, or a gust of strong wind were to give you a nudge?! Paranoia at its finest.

ImageThis view was pretty cool. You can see Parliament house somewhere along the main axis of the city, which was pretty neat.

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I made Mount Ainslie look pretty hardcore, but there are viewing decks and stuff available, so do not fret!

Literally after taking these 3 photos (took a lazyass total of 2 minutes) we decided to leave. Yes. ………..

Yeah.

I don’t have any photos for what happened next. And no, I safely left the mountain in one piece. In a super condensed nutshell, found out/saw the place my friend was staying at and was flabbergasted  met a friend of a friend for the first time, board game building trains and stuff, got the longest route but failed to collect many points and consequently came last, had Spanish tapas and drank ridiculously weak Sangria.

Now for Spanish tapas we went south to a suburb named Manuka (pronounced Maaah-newka, NOT manoooka as in rhyming with bazooka, though the honey Manuka honey is manooka honey) which is a small eating district so to speak. There was just a small centre of restaurants and the tapas we had wasn’t bad.

From then on we went to the city centre for drinks (though I didn’t really drink anything – tried cider for the first time in my life and it just tasted like unsweetened apple juice with a 20% composition of apple cider vinegar, which is a familiar taste to me as I had to take it lots when I came down with food poisoning – so in a nutshell, cider is gross because it brings back food poisoning memories). There are quite a few boutique bars so to speak in the centre. Not many people around, but then again there weren’t many people around to start with.

I finally checked in at about 10:30pm (check in is until 11pm, so it’s NOT 24 hours since it’s Canberra – GG) and dropped my bag into my room. After sitting in the trunk for about 10 hours, everything in my bag was warm. Yes. WARM. My shoes in there were WARM. I actually bothered to pack a pair of spare shoes because I wasn’t sure of where I was going and thought I possibly needed something more formal in case.

We then attempted to go “clubbing” which is actually the term for a bar playing loud music and has an atmosphere somewhat appropriate for some light dancing. Yes, I think that’s a pretty accurate description. The most common name that popped up was “Mooseheads” which is a bar/club whatever you wanted to call it which seemed to be popular with *cough* 18 year old high school kids going into university and trying to be dope and all. We didn’t really want to go, but decided to go just to laugh it off – and I kid you not, I entered laughing and left laughing. That place, no offence, is a joke. The floor was sticky, the “dancing” was like lifting imaginary weights into the air and well yeah, there were just teenagers hanging around trying to chug down alcohol SO HARDCORE but it was just beer.

We couldn’t get into anywhere we thought looked somewhat nice because the guys were wearing joggers so we couldn’t get in. At around 12:30am we walked somewhere behind I was staying but called it quits when we noticed there was a line to get in.

So yeah. Back to the hotel (well technically I booked a one bedroom apartment). Was disappointed because the spa looked grotty so I didn’t use it. Was tired as but still showered, cleaned my face – the works. I REALLY WANTED TO SLEEP BUT I COULDN’T. I was still wide awake at 4am and barely got 2 hours sleep. Got up at 7:30 to pee. Thought to myself, screw this, let’s try sleep a bit more. Couldn’t really and got up at 8:30 to groom myself and have a light breakfast consisting of warm boiled water and 2 grainy muesli bars.

The next day we went to play mini golf called Pitch n Putt which is a form of mini golf where you are on the mini gold course with 2 options – to pitch or to putt. Therefore you are given 2 different types of golf clubs. It’s actually pretty fun because you need to decide when you need to pitch or putt, and well, yeah.

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I’ve never played golf before so this was completely new to me. I really wanted to rage/quit after my first few failed hits, but after that I could actually get the ball in after 4 shots (yeah, it’s still crap but hey it’s something!) I was actually having fun. This was the only photo I took because it was SUPER SUNNY and we were constantly on the go.

The UV levels there were so strong my feet were burning. I was wearing flats because I didn’t know we were going to play golf, and I really got quite burnt. I mean, I didn’t have a hat but I left my hair down and applied SPF 50 sunscreen. Admittedly it’s not that bad, but I’m still red now after a good 36 hours.

Somewhere in the middle the sky got cloudy so I stopped burning, but we only made it to 9 holes (paid for 18 but I was burning and it was lunch time – took a while because we had 4 people so yeah). Then we went to Questacon but I was only able to have lunch and then look at about 3 exhibits within an hour and then I had to leave.

I was not expecting to do all the above mentioned. The most I thought I would do was visit the art gallery, probably do window shopping at Canberra Centre (which I didn’t go to at all) and bludge in my apartment room. That’s how anti-social and boring I am. I didn’t expect to be dragged out and have to actually interact with people I did not know but had to meet while I was there. It wasn’t a bad thing because it was actually kind of fun and I was actually making the most out of my time.

Probably the thing that I got out of the Canberra trip was that even in a place which is seemingly boring, you need to make friends to survive. I mean, even here in Sydney with plenty to do, I am not making friends or seeing my friends often enough. No wonder I am going crazy and out of my mind. Everyone in Canberra was really friendly so it was a good change from the pace in Sydney where people are rude, rushed and push/shove you around. There is pretty much no traffic on the roads. Traffic is like, having 8 cars in front of you at a red traffic light. Driving to places is a stretch so it felt like it was in the bushes even though it’s technically a city.

Of course, nothing is perfect and my trip wasn’t amazeballs and perfect; I did have some gripes with this trip.

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My favourite lipgloss by Etude House was leaking in my bag. I was wondering why my earphones were sticky and glittery and thought that I didn’t screw the cap on properly. In the morning at the hotel I noticed the lid cracked!! It was such a pity but I just had to throw it out… it was either the lip gloss or the bag, and I definitely would choose to save my bag instead.

ImageAt approximately the third hole at pitch n putt I managed to make a deep gash on the joint of my thumb (the most useful part) whilst taking a shot because the bracelet I was wearing on my right wrist decided to be cute and rip open the flesh on my left thumb. It was bleeding a bit and I was kindly sponsored an antiseptic handwipe one of the guys had, and I managed to dig out a tiny bandaid from my bag. I lost the bandaid about 3 holes later and had to play without. It wasn’t too bad because I was more distracted by say, the UV levels and getting my golf ball where I wanted it, but at Questacon when I was trying to clean my hands with Dettol hand sanitiser it stung like a bitch. Now, it still hurts and it’s annoying because I can’t bend my thumb. SUCKS.

Probably the biggest problem I have with the Canberra trip is that it was actually another self reflective journey. There were actually a few questions I wanted answered, which is why I made the trip in the first place. I left feeling more confused and probably more depressed than I was to begin with. It’s a complicated thing and it’s probably nothing worth thinking/brooding/worrying over, but I can’t help it because it is genuinely bothering me in some way.

I didn’t take a motion sickness pill on the way back and I had no troubles at all. I continued to listen to my music and I enjoyed the scenery all the way back to Sydney.

I used to think that Sydney’s bush areas were pretty creepy because I get weirded out by secluded areas since I so used to the city. But in a way, the Australian scenery is so unique it is beautiful in its own way. I can understand why people paint these landscapes or write about them so often. It was a type of beauty I never thought I’d learn to appreciate. There are more beautiful places in Australia so hopefully I will be able to explore them – I used to think “psh forget the other places cbb” but now I genuinely am interested in seeing them.

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Either way, it was good to be back in Sydney. As for my troubles, I’ll let them iron out over time. For now I should be less depressed and try to live my life to the fullest because I get too old to do so. Everyone I met in Canberra was so young (younger than me, pretty much – most people anyway). After just going for 2 days it felt like I went somewhere super far and came back. I’m a bit out of step because the pace was so chill there.

Well, hopefully I will be back soon with a post. Hope you enjoyed this post and I genuinely encourage you to visit Canberra anyway if you have the chance to. You do need to travel by car or tour bus as mentioned previously, but it’s probably best explored with friends – I guess that’s what made my trip, and unexpectedly so.

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