It got to the point where we had to exclude Sydney from our ‘Top-5-places-we’ve-been-so-far’ countdowns, because it just won all of them.
I arrived on the back of 5 hours sleep in 2 days, after 2 overnight flights in 4 days (who planned that?!), and it was raining. Raining. In Australia! Distinctly not what I ordered.
About an hour later? I was on a bus, grinning out the window at the raindrops, telling Rob “I WANT TO LIVE HERE.”
Seriously. Put me on a plane. I’m applying for jobs at the moment and fighting the urge to just chuck CVs at every PR company there. Or just turn up. Australians are pretty straightforward people, maybe they’d appreciate me just dropping in?
I’ve already looked at visas.
We’d found our favourite destination at only the second stop. I’ve spent a lot of time since then trying to work out why. I said in my last post that I focus on the feel of a place, and Sydney just… buzzed. It was exciting. And not in a London-esque, this-is-where-it-all-happens way, in a fresh and different but so much better way. I made a conscious decision not to romanticise it – to look at it objectively, but the only negative was that rain. It was clean, it was fun, there was so much character and personality. I loved how this big, central city was lined with independent stores and quirky cafes, not chain after chain after Starbucks after chain. And if I am objective, maybe I was just excited about some of the chain stores because I’d never seen them before. I have been known to get unnecessarily overexcited by foreign supermarkets. (“Look Rob! Look how big their tomatoes are!!”)
I’ve never been somewhere that I clicked with so instantly. It just felt right. Yep. This is it. True love!
Maybe it’s because when I think of The Other Side Of The World, that picture is what I think of. Even though we were technically further from home in NZ and Fiji, to me sitting outside the Opera House just sums up how far I had travelled.
Australia is A Bit Like Britain, except…. it’s so much better! Sorry, Britain, I know you can’t help the weather (and as documented, it rains in Oz too). And it would be slightly weak reasoning for me to base my opinion of Sydney on nothing but “OMGSOSUNNY!”. But that sunshine has a magical effect. People are happier. People are outside more, which makes them even happier. People spend time in that sunshine with their friends and their families, doing things and being happy together. It does make a difference.
We met some friends for “dinner” and instead of a restaurant they took us for a surprise picnic in the Botanical Gardens. It’s where the locals go to watch the New Years fireworks, don’t you know. Picture how much more jolly and relaxed you are after a day in the park in the sunshine. Now imagine that, but all the time.
It’s Britain, without the bad stuff (faffy overpoliteness, terror of offending others, constant gloom, the Daily Mail), and with extra good stuff (culture, sense of humour, Tim Tams). I know everywhere has its problems, but I kind of liked Australia’s better than ours…!
Enough politics and comparisons. In short, Sydney rocks. We went to the Zoo (of course we went to the zoo…) and took far too many photos of Animals We Don’t Have At Home. Note: Tasmanian Devils are seriously cute. And teeny!
We went crab racing (hilarious), took a ferry out on the Bay, ran around the Opera House giftshop (tours sounded fascinating but pricey) and soaked up some history in the Rocks Museum. Oh, and did I mention I climbed the Bridge?
Don’t ask which bridge.
That, dear friends, is me, 4th from the right. This was real bucket list territory. In fact, it was number 1 on mine. I’ve wanted to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge since the age of about 11. I was watching ‘Holiday’, with Craig Doyle (old school) and Jill Dando, and someone did it on there. I remember watching it, sat on the floor in our living room and just thinking …. “Wow.” And 14 years later, I was up there :-). It was just as breathtaking as I hoped it would be. Worth every minute of the 14 year wait. And – the last 2 on the left, an adorable Swedish couple, got engaged while we were at the top. So cute!
Then I climbed down again and ate an enormous bag of crisps on the bus home. Sweet chilli.
Isn’t it weird, the things from certain places that stick in our minds?
My Oneworld365 blog about Sydney is here (scroll right down to the bottom). Apologies for getting the name of the Zoo wrong… I wrote it in Christchurch and clearly had NZ on the brain!