This is it. After countless months spent pondering about the idea of spending a year in Australia, we were finally boarding our plane to… Istanbul. Yeah. As you might know, we are traveling on a budget and the cheapest connection to Sydney meant transiting through five different airports: Munich-Istanbul-Dubai-Melbourne-Sydney. After approximately 50 hours of traveling (sometimes next to smelly feet) we arrived! Despite being heavily sleep deprived, this undoubtedly called for a celebration. Shortly after dropping off our bags and checking into our hostel, we bought beers and chibage (roasted corn) and headed to the harbour to take in the view.
Although Sydney was calling to be explored, there were certain duties we needed to attend to. In order to be paid for future jobs we needed a bank account, but to open a bank account we needed an Australian phone number. Once we successfully opened the account, we needed to transfer our $$$ from the Netherlands to Australia without being abused by atrocious monetary exchange fees. But most importantly, we needed to find Winston: our home and means of transport for the coming year.
The internet in our hostel was slower than it was in Zimbabwe, so we searched for facilities we could exploit for several hours in order to pursue our research without much hindrance. On the very first day, this led us on a mission down Glebe Point Road – where our hostel was located – and we quickly found that the library and the mall were our best options.
Every day we would go beyond the recommended 10’000 steps whilst walking to our ‘research facilities’, to the bank, to the train station, to see prospective vans, or just for meals. Luckily, all this walking around was made interesting by Glebe’s distinct atmosphere, mural paintings and intriguing bird sounds that seemed like they came from Star Wars’ Tatooine. But seriously Australia… what is up with the pedestrian crossing light noises? As soon as a light would turn green, it seemed as if a stormtrooper would come out to shoot his blaster-rifle at us.
One thing we definitely noticed during our endeavours is how genuinely kind and helpful people in Australia were, from the random stranger we crossed paths with on the street to the cashier in the supermarket. A saving grace were two lovely ladies from our bank whom we (unfortunately for them) bombarded with all of our questions about Australian life, insurances, and general bank enquiries. Fortunately for us, we became their “darlings” and were allowed to return with any further questions which led to multiple other friendly encounters as we returned on a daily basis.
Amidst all the bureaucracy we ran into Natasha, a solo Swedish traveller fresh out of high school ready to see the world and Triin, a permanently sleep deprived and tea-loving Estonian. They were our bunk mates and had to deal with the typical backpacker interview sessions: “Where are you from? Where are you going? How long have you been in Australia? Which VISA are you holding? Did you already do some farm-work? etc.” Despite even moving hostels, we still ended up having breakfast and dinner together on a regular basis. This fostered engaging discussions about the depressing state of the world and previous travel experiences – sometimes though, the topic veered towards the random possum that was ‘going number two’ next to us.
After a week of research, viewing several vans, and hopping around we finally found our suitable travel companion: a 2004 Mercedes MB-100D. Winston was born!
Now it was time to re-stock our bank accounts and take Winston on a 1300km test-drive to Melbourne. Unfortunately we didn’t get around to seeing much (no we didn’t see the Opera house…yet) so, we’ll be back Sydney!