Early in September I packed two suitcases and one large duffle, booked a one way ticket to Sydney, and moved to Oz. This was a one way move – I and all of my photography equipment, climbing gear, and cute shoes were
going to try and build a life downunder.
After traveling over 107,000 flight miles in the past year and a half on Star Alliance carriers I had enough miles to fly Business Class on the 2.5 hr flight Seattle to San Francisco and the 14.5 hour flight San Francisco to Sydney. Having flown a lot in my life, particularly the past few years, one of my bucket list items was visiting a club lounge on an international flight. Checked that off. The United Lounge is a wonderfully relaxing place to spend a lay over. Free wifi. Free tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, and snacks. Sitting in their plush chairs nibbling a chocolate biscuits I couldn’t help but think “I have to find a way to do this more often.” The 14.5 hour flight from San Fran to Sydney passed quickly – I drank champagne, caught up on movies, and got in a good 6 hours of sleep. Making the flight even more special was getting the rare opportunity to fly in the upper deck bubble of the 747, the last plane my grandfather designed as Boeing’s Head Engineer until 1980.
My first week in Sydney flew by. I stayed with a good friend in Redfern, a beautiful (at least by my foreigner standards) part of Sydney. Redfern looks like the French Quarter of New Orleans, but without the flooding, Bourbon street, or corner Jazz bands (one could argue the best parts of New Orleans). Sydney is a bustling and business city – as one of Australia’s main financial and business centers it feels a bit like New York, but with San Diego style weather. Overall, the city reminded me a lot of Vancouver – a complex and efficient ferry network, more harbors than a boat lover knows what to do with them all, beautiful parks, and a vibrant cafes-on-the-water culture.
I, along with it seemed like half the city, spent nearly every day during the early evening hours jogging along the stunning botanical gardens that border the harbor. Also, did a day-trip in Manly; a wonderful chance to see Sydney’s gorgeous sound with its peninsula’s, harbors and islands. Centennial Park and the four story New South Wales Art Gallery (mostly modern art) were other highlights of my time in Sydney. After a few weeks though, I felt good about saying goodbye to Sydney. It has a beautiful harbor and parks, but for me I was looking for a city with more quirks and characters.
I decided to move to Melbourne via the Blue Mountains. For anyone who’s been to Australia you’re probably thinking “what the *%$@?” (insert your own creative four letter word) The Blue Mountains are in no way “on the way” to Melbourne, in fact its in the exact opposite direction. A friend and the legendary beauty of the Blue Mountains drove me to spend ten days there on my way to Melbourne. The Blue Mountains look like the Grand Canyon meets the Rift Valley – only covered in trees. It’s a dramatic landscape. Named the Blue Mountains for the bluish-tinged mist the Eucalyptus trees release at dawn and dusk, it is one of Australia’s prime hiking, climbing, photography and wine tasting areas. It’s a place I could easily spend months enjoying. The towns are comprised of a series of cute, affluent hamlets with boutique shops, weekend markets, quality family run restaurants and an lookout over the Blue Mountain gorge every twenty minutes. The hamlets are connected by a training running from Sydney, stopping at each small town. This makes it easy to visit and explore this area.
After 10 days (far too short a time) in the Blue Mountains, I bid goodbye to my friend Suzie and her two adorable pets – Oliver the cat and Jamie the dog; it was off to Melbourne. It took all day, 4 train legs, a bus ride and a flight, but I finally arrived at another friend’s house in the neighborhood of Glen Iris in Melbourne. Melbourne is a mix of Seattle meets San Francisco. Trams, beautiful Franco-Victorian style architecture, alleyways filled with cute cafes and boutique fashion shops, large tree-lined boulevards, and a beautiful river walk make Melbourne one of my favorite cities. It has flavor, flair, culture, complexity and that little bit of quirky charm. Melbourne is my last stop, this will be home for at least the next year, hopefully much longer than that.
And so the adventure continues……