“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” said the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.
And so the adventure began…by ticking off my last continent, my #7. And in well under two years. I am now on the quest for the appropriate tattoo to celebrate- any artists or creative minds out there are welcome to contribute ideas! Australia was also country #34 for anyone keeping track (me!).
My too short four days in Sydney were a mishmash of randomness and good fun, a mixture of urban and nature and solitude and social. Any road will get you there.
Day One: While my quest on this journey is to spend time being a traveler and not a tourist, this day was a fail. I saw Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, Botanical Gardens and walked the Bridge- totally urban day. Fortunately, a random encounter with a security guard allowed me my first opportunity to discuss American politics (something I fully expect will happen quite often) so I at least spent a few short minutes not being a tourist! The night was capped off with VividSydney- highly recommended for my dear city of Chicago to add. Outside of the accent and the need to abbreviate every word, Sydney could be in any city in the U.S. I hear Melbourne will feel slightly more European- which certainly means better coffee, right?
Day Two: Today began to get closer to a Kim Style Day. It began with a train ride to Bondi Beach. Had I brought my wetsuit, or actually owned a wetsuit, or had a desire to learn to surf, I might have found this somewhat underwhelming beach more impressive. As you can see below, this beach is where mermaids go to die.
Fortunately for me, the next stop was Manly featuring a fantastic hike up to the North Head. Finally! I got to climb rocks out onto the edges of cliffs and push through branches to find the path. Manly is quite the random place. A turn left could drop you into an old cemetery where plague victims are buried but a right turn leads you into army barracks that now house a Cross-fit and a Sewing Shop. Enough left turns brought views such as this. Any road will get you there!
Tired legs finally arrived at the North Head- nearly 8 miles later. The reward could not have been any better. A family of three whales was making their way across the Harbour entrance and spent the next 30 minutes entertaining us with the breeching, tail slaps and spouting.
Day Three: Less tourist/more traveler. The beauty of my Antarctic trip in 2015 was the amazing friendships that were made, with truly like minded people. Many of them will make appearances throughout this story since we have done a pretty good job staying in touch. Today, I met up with Betty and Annette and went to the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition, featuring clothes form Season Three. Cue the total #fangirl music. If I actually ever felt embarrassed, this would be one of those times. Fortunately for me, that wasn’t an emotion I acquired so I prattled on and on about the clothes and the episodes, finding a few like-minded, crazy old Australian ladies to share. Unfortunately, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson was not there to be swept off his feet and join me on my adventure. I then drowned my sorrow in Betty’s homemade cauliflower curry and all was right in the world again.
Not to stop there, I got to meet up with more Antarticans. Erin and Jason met me for a pub crawl around Darling Harbour, that included a drink or two (or three or four or…) and bowling, air hockey and motorcycle racing. Public Service Announcement, Sydney Water Taxis do not operate after midnight, even if you try to bribe them or wake the dispatcher with your call.
Day Four: Now we are talking. I sat up straight in bed around 6:30 that morning, not long I believe, after I had laid down to sleep. I needed to get to the Blue Mountains- they must have been calling me. 50 minutes later, I was on the train for a ride to Katoomba. I got myself a ride out to The Three Sisters and spent the day hiking- my kind of day. AND FINALLY- I spent my day talking to people that were not tourists. I met tons of people that make the Blue Mountains their home and had amazing conversations about what really is important! You can see below what the answer to that question is! Interesting tip- the mountains are blue because of the eucalyptus oil that emanates from the trees and the UV rays reflecting off it.
And then to round off the randomness of Sydney, I checked off my Must Do Item of every place I visit….dinner at a Chinese Restaurant. One final Antarctican joined for that adventure. Josh had the unfortunate opportunity to join us in Ushuaia Argentina for this event, where we indulged in what is possibly the worst Chinese food in the world- and I truly feel I might be the foremost expert in this. Sydney did not assume this title and fared well in its Chinatown.
And so farewell to Sydney and off to the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns.