Thursday, November 10, 2005

Get Your Kicks...

When you're traveling alone, you're never alone. I've always used this maxim to describe the joy of solo travel. It seems to apply manifold in Australia. There are so many solo travelers here, you're that much more likely to have instant friends to hang out with, as everyone's in the same situation.

So it wasn't much of a surprise when I came back to Pink House that a few people were rounding up a group to have an early evening drink at the World Bar. Who am I to say no? Naturally, the moment we left, the sky opened up and pissed on us. It's always fun walking to a bar looking like you'd just had a shower in your clothes.

My schooner of Toohey's wasn't cheap, but the pool was free. Sinead, from Cork, challenged me to a game and I handily defeated her. I'd have celebrated, but really, who hasn't been victorious over the Irish? (I hope my boss isn't reading this...)

Got back to the house to change and was off to Darling Harbour to kick off the evening's festivities. The Route 69 pub crawl was the way to go, getting me out of Kings Cross and on to a bus full of loud music and craziness.

We started off at Pontoon, a posh Darling Harbour venue with stainless steel everything and lots of little black dresses. Something seemed a bit amiss with our motley crew in this environment, but before long, we were headed to Side Bar, a more backpacker-oriented basement establishment. The lack of music seemed a bit odd as we downed our 150% sugar butterscotch shots, then we knew what was up: karaoke. Uh oh. The shot must have hit me quickly, as I signed up to do my traditional rendition of "Friends in Low Places," but as luck would have it, we were running out of time and instead did an everybody-get-on-stage version of "Like a Virgin." Yikes.

The bus then took us to the Cock and Bull, an Irish pub not unlike any other. It was nice to be able to get a proper pint instead of a schooner. I really don't get the lack of pints in this country. Weak.

Our next stop was in Bondi, at a super-sized bar/club/lounge called Aquarium. This is where the pub crawl turned into a meat market, albeit a fun one. We had all sorts of people, guys and girls, getting up and dancing on us, posing for photos, and generally being nutty. Not bad for a Thursday night in the suburbs.

The final destination was back in (booooo) King's Cross, at the been-there-done-that bar known as Empire. We heard "Billie Jean," "500 Miles" and "Shook Me All Night Long" for about the 40th time in the night, and at that point, I'd had about enough. Laura (from Rotterdam) and I headed down to the corner for a bit of kebab, then back to the tired scene until it was time for the bus to head back. Luckily, I was a block away from the house, so I could easily stagger home and sleep.

Route 69 actually was a really good time, and the company was great. The guides were very conducive to getting people to mix together and bond, and you can't complain about a party bus that takes you all over the city. But like other large-scale pub crawls in other cities, you don't get a full feel of the nightlife in the city, just the backpacker side of it. It's good fun, but never feels like a genuine experience.

One of the perils of backpacking, I suppose, is that you get to know people from all over the world, except for the locals. Time to dig deeper.

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