March 9, 2017
Our flight from NZ back to Sydney got in at 5 pm local time, meaning we lost 2 hours. We take the train into Sydney, change to the ferry at Circular Quay, get the local bus up 5 stops to our new home for the next 8 days, all dragging our suitcases - we booked this place Airbnb before we left for Christchurch and thought we were getting a bedroom with sitting room/kitchen with shared bath. Huh! Went you think you got a deal, think again! If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is! All the way here, I've been thinking how nice it will be to be able to unpack this green bag and not have to worry about repacking for 8 days.
So, what we get, after hauling our suitcases up 2 flights of stairs to the first floor (we would call it the second floor) is a room, about 10 ft X 9 ft, with a double bed jammed into the corner - you can't walk around it and you can only get out one side. There is a large pane of glass leaning against the full-wall wardrobe and John, our thirty-something 'host' assures us we can fit it into the window if we choose to close the window. The traffic and neighbourhood noises make it difficult to hear and it is quite warm in there in spite of the 'fresh' air. There is room on the one side of the bed to carefully place our suitcases with room to get in and out but upon inspection, all the cupboards are jammed full of stuff - no room for us to unpack or put anything. The bathroom that we are supposed to be sharing is beside our room, but it is bare bones with no place to even set anything down. There are two rather scrubby-looking towels on the bed that appear to be slightly larger than hand towels. There is a surfboard at the end of the bed, leaning upright against the corner, balanced precariously into the corner. I am shocked and speechless. Janet is listening to John and seems quite satisfied with everything. It is by now about 7:30 and it's getting dark out and we have not eaten. We go out to find somewhere to eat, John having assured us there will be something within 2 km or so. By the time we get to a restaurant (any restaurant as far as I'm concerned) we choose a Thai restaurant (sushi and Chinese were the other choices and Janet is not big on Chinese) and Janet says although she thinks it will likely be a fast-food version of Thai (not like the good one we had in the old East Balmain neighbourhood from 2 weeks ago) it will be good for me to know the difference. I am not a Thai food expert. After we order, I decide I'd better just blurt it out and tell her this is not acceptable, I cannot spend EIGHT days like this and we need to find something else. She looks at me, shocked, like she has no idea what's wrong! She finally says well what can we do now? I said I guess we have to spend the night but first thing tomorrow, we're out of here. She tries to convince me it won't be that bad. I don't say much, we eat and head back to the 'room'. We are assured by Chang, John's wife, that we are welcome to sit in the living room and share the kitchen etc. They will be out all day because they both work, but not on the weekend of course. We do have free wifi. Anyway, I won't bore you with anymore of the miserable details but next morning, I say we have two options. Move to a hotel or pay the $200 per person to change our flights and go home early. We find a hotel downtown Sydney and move there for about $2000, a little bit more than the $700 paid for John's place. He had told us they were in NZ 2 weeks ago and as Janet is applying to Airbnb for a refund - she will only get a partial, like a little less than half what was paid, I say I hope they had not prebooked another holiday on the strength of our booking.
Airbnb has not asked us to rate John's place but they did approve our partial refund.