“Holy @#$!” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I am currently writing this blog post on the plane from Sydney to Los Angeles (which will then take me to New York) while the flight is dark and every passenger is asleep. I’ve tossed and turned for the past hour but cannot seem to put my thoughts to rest.
Although I have left “down undah” with great sadness from saying goodbye to my new friends and having a whole lot less money in my savings account, I have never felt so fulfilled and rejuvenated in my life. A newfound vigor has been instilled in me in what I want to do and see in the miniscule bit of time we have in this world. I really hope it’s not “just a phase” but instead, a new outlook I will keep with me for a long, long time to come.
Due to the length of the trip and the depth of the activities/cultural elements I and my companions have accumulated in New Zealand and Australia, I am going to kick off a brief series of posts to cover the trip and hopefully provide some insight on anyone who hopes to travel there or simply just wants to know what it was like / stay up to date on my happenings. 🙂
Preface & about the trip…
My three-fourths work/business and one-fourth personal trip took place from June 24 until July 12 with the majority spent in Sydney (CBD, The Rocks, Paddington) and its surrounding areas (Leura, The Blue Mountains) with a small stint in New Zealand at the tail end (Auckland CBD, Ponsonby and the island of Waiheke).
To preface, I was sadly one of the few at the University of Michigan who was unable to study abroad. And it was something I was really bitter about as I felt that I had lost my chance to “see the world while I was young.” With limited financial means (aka I was not rich) and a pretty intense double-major credit schedule to uphold at the time, going to Europe or South America or Asia was not in the cards for me. I jealously (but of course happily for my friends) saw their incredible Facebook photos and Instagram pics of going to tropical and amazing cities around the world and realized that that may have been the only regret I had in my college experience.
I had only been to Canada and Mexico prior to working with my current employer, Relevent. That all changed as now I have been plane hopping on my dream international project with a client whose brand I genuinely am a diehard fan for. Because of my job, I was able to go to Europe for the first time in Oslo, Norway and to Australia – something I am super indebted to Relevent for allowing someone as young as myself to do. With that in mind, so much love and gratitude also goes to my soul-twin Simonne Mitchelson, who was my guide in New Zealand who welcomed me with open arms (literally – see the sign below!) after a four-year hiatus of contact!
I could not hide my excitement. I had only heard incredible things about Sydney and I was so ready to leave the city and see somewhere new. I even packed in advance for a change, leaving nothing behind. We worked long and hard for the opportunity to make it happen so to finally see it all come together was exhilarating. My colleagues Dani, Jess and I were all packed and ready to go… All 9 pieces of luggage in tow!
Even the airport customer service representative couldn’t believe how much we were bringing.
After finally getting all of our stuff together, we boarded our Qantas flight which allowed us to fly out at 6:50PM EST on 6.24 and land at about 7AM on 6.26 AEST (that’s right – a 22+ hour flight and a 14 hour time difference!).
When we landed, however, everything was worth it. It was the middle of “winter” (really, a New York or Michigan spring/fall at about 50 degrees F). After getting settled at the Radisson Blu in Sydney’s CBD and doing all we needed to for work, we explored the famous Bondi Beach, known for its smokin’ hot surfer population and stunning ocean front boardwalk.
Bondi Beach took our breath away and was so stunning and liberating that we could not stop laughing like kids.
I had never seen anything like it.
We heard about an incredible brunch spot from friends back in the U.S. called Trio Restaurant and decided to check it out. By far the best and yummiest breakfast I ever had with egg whites, toasted rye and sauteed greens with cherry tomatoes and a delectable block of homemade feta cheese. I was truly in heaven and convinced I was not going to return to NYC.
After brunch, we did the Coastal Walk (an absolute must-do and totally free) where we walked from Bondi Beach to Bronte to Coogee and more – all of which were more beautiful than the next. To describe the walk as scenic did not do it justice – we passed exotic wildlife, staggering cliffs and limestone outlooks that gazed out to the endless ocean. Colors of sapphire and jade were melting in the water and surfers paddled out to challenge the waves while we wrote our names in the sand and watched them wash away.
We passed this stunning cemetery on the way to Coogee.
Toward the end of the day, we had to admit defeat to jetlag and overexcitement. We went to a contemporary Japanese-fusion restaurant called Sake for a nice dinner as a trio. Australia is famous for its incredibly fresh seafood and Sake was great, although we were about to fall asleep at the table from our travels. I never slept so well in my life.
Australian Slang 101
- Mate – “Friend.” Yes, they really do say it here.
New Zealand Slang 101
- Kia ora – Hello in Maori, New Zealand’s native peoples and equivalent to Australia’s Aborigines and our Native Americans
Next up in the series coming soon.