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Published: December 12th 2009
(Day 613 on the road)
Sydney has always been one of the great cities for me. Ever since spending Christmas 1999 and the start of 2000 here with my old high school friend Ann and her parents, I have been wanting to come back. The image of the famous opera house and the harbour bridge were still vivid in my mind when I finally saw them again this time, but it was no less jaw-dropping this time around.
I had reached Sydney by relocating a campervan from Melbourne to Sydney together with Chris, my previous travel buddy here in Australia. Those relocations are really amazing if you can get hold of them with their often very inflexible conditions: Basically the rental company needs to move one of their vehicles from A to B, so they are giving away the vans for free for a few days and even reimburse you for petrol. Considering that to rent a camper typically costs more than A$100 a day, this was more than a good deal for us.
We took three leisurely days to reach Sydney via the Snowy Mountains and Canberra. Driving through the winding roads of the Snowy's was an experience by
itself, and we spent the night at a campground that was the habitat of hundreds and hundreds on kangaroos, most of them very shy, but some more curious than anything else. I got some amazing pictures and videos. A swim in the cool and clear river right by the campground and a relaxed evening chatting to some fellow campers over a barbecued steak rounded up the evening rather well. On the second day we stopped in Canberra to visit my old friend Ann I mentioned above to chat about old times, and on the third day we reached Sydney.
Maybe the only frustrating thing about this great road trip was the absolute overkill of road signs, most of which were completely pointless or outright confusing. More than once did Chris and I drive by one of the numerous signs and had no idea at all what to make of it. And if you think, well, at least the directions will be clear with that many signs around: Wrong. For instance, a number of times the signs only read "motorway" but failed to mention which direction, so twice we ended up going for miles and miles in the wrong direction
on the highway with no chance of turning around. Great.
But then: Sydney! As with Melbourne, I happened to know a few people here: Carmen and Henry, very good friends of mine from my days of living in London, Miranda from my university time in Hong Kong, and Momoko whom I had met in Darwin a month earlier. I intended to stay for just a few days and ended up staying over two weeks, thoroughly enjoying the company of my old and new friends in this wonderful city. And I think taking a short break from travelling and seeing what normal, everyday life looks like wasn't a bad thing at all. And not having to pay for accommodation for a while also made a huge difference for me. Prices here in Australia, especially for food, accommodation and basis necessities, are plain-out crazy. You think Japan or the UK is expensive? Well, don't give Australia a try then.
My absolutely wonderful hosts Carmen and Henry made me feel right at home form the very first minute, and taking part in their everyday life was a great way to unwind a bit from the roughness of travelling. As Henry is
self-employed he was very flexible with his working hours and we were able to spend a good amount of time together (playing golf, watching Stuart Appleby live at the Australian Open, relaxing on Bondi Beach, cruising through Hunter Valley wine region, eating tasty sashimi at the fish market etc etc).
Miranda was the second good friend of mine whom I was very happy to see again. We had met in 2003 in Hong Kong whilst I was studying there. Since then, we had actually managed to see each other on a number of occasions throughout the years, the last time being New Year 2007/ 2008 in Hong Kong. We had lots of catching up to do, and as she is in a serious relationship with her German boyfriend and is considering a move to Europe I just might see more of her in the future. What a small world - perfect!
I was also happy to see Momoko again, whom I had spent two very nice days with in Darwin. Momoko has left her life in Japan behind to come to Sydney to improve her English and gain some international work experience. But as it is the first
time that she is living outside of her home country the whole thing is obviously one heck of an experience for her. For various reasons (an extremely tight immigration policy being a major one), Japan is very homogeneous compared to many other developed countries, and living in cosmopolitan Sydney with its vast range of people from all over the world is certainly a big change and eye opener for her. We met up a few times for dinner and she also joined in on a beautiful coastal day-hike in the Royal National Park. On my last weekend in Australia we went up to Katoomba together in the Blue Mountains for some great trekking around the Three Sisters, a rock formation quite famous here and with stunning views of deep valleys and sheer cliffs.
But as much as I enjoyed my stay in Sydney, the one thing that I did not like at all were the conversations about my "life after travelling". Of course I do realise that I cannot go on travelling forever, but so far I have always avoided any deeper thoughts about my future after this trip. But spending time with old friends and seeing the life
they have built for themselves (bills, cars, mortgage, family etc) painfully reminded me of the fact that sooner or later I will have to find an answer to that question. The fact that my long-time travel-companion Karen
has just ended her world trip and has gone back home only adds to the reality check I was subjected to here in Sydney. But no matter from which angle I look at it, thinking about the future puts me emotionally down tremendously. For me, this trip means enjoying the here and now as much as possible, without worrying much about what will be in the future. This is very much unlike the security-orientated life I led before, where I often made sacrifices in my daily life for the sake of a better or more secure future. Thus, as so many times previously, I have pushed the whole subject way back in my mind. I will just have to cross that bridge when the time comes. For now, I am 100%!s(MISSING)et on continuing to "living the dream".
Next stop: Auckland (North Island, New Zealand).
To view my photos, have a look at pictures.beiske.com
. And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at the complete book about my trip at Amazon
(and most other online book shops).
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