"Let me say right here that I love Australia - adore it immeasurably - and am smitten anew each time I see it."
Bill Bryson fully encapsulates my feelings about the magical land down under. I’ve been obsessed with the country since my first arrival in September 2014 and I’ve made it my mission to visit as frequently as my wallet will enable me to. I consider this antipodean world my second home.
Time and distance do not halt my desire to travel there. I am not going to pretend that I enjoy being buckled into a 32 x 18 inch rigid seat for 20 hours, yet those uncomfortable hours are worth it. Blessed with a myriad of natural beauty and a charming, laid-back culture, Australia is endlessly beguiling.
My most recent journey to Oz was particularly thrilling. I finished my 8-5 corporate job on Friday the 8th of January, quickly packed my wardrobe for the next 3 months in ONE suitcase (go me!), spent the evening with my loved ones and some bubbly, and jetted off bright and early Saturday morning. Lucky for me, my best friend recently moved to Santa Monica so I was able to spend some time with her during my voyage West. We had a fun Saturday night out in Los Angeles and hurried up to Big Bear before the sun rose on Sunday. It had been 2 years since I had seen snow, so I was eager to hit the powder before I escaped the Northern Hemisphere winter. Though the town was ridiculously packed, we were able to ski for a few hours, and I still managed to make it to LAX in time for my departure despite the notorious traffic. With snow in my hair, I boarded my plane to paradise.
All of my previous flights across the Pacific have been direct, but I decided to test out a layover. After a blurry 11 hours attributable to a strong sleeping pill, I woke up in Fiji. Unfortunately I only had 3 hours before my flight to Sydney, but I still got a taste of island life. Four cheery men greeted me playing ukuleles and warmly shouting “BULA!” as I stepped off of the plane. I bought Fijian coconut lotion and wood trinkets from some locals and passed out on a comfortable lounge chair until boarding. By this point my dazed state had transformed into a feeling of extreme anticipation.
The birds-eye view of Fiji was stunning; lush green mountains met the aqua blue sea. I dismissed the opportunity to explore the island as my heart was set on Sydney. I watched the Entourage movie, attempted to nourish myself with some nasty airplane food, and landed in a quick 4 hours. I’m not kidding when I say I let out a squeal as we pulled into the gate - I could not contain my excitement!
I dropped off my belongings in Seaforth, a quaint village North of the city where I will be living with my childhood bestie, and essentially ran down to the harbour. My formerly icy hair was succeeded by salty locks as I wallowed in the refreshing water. I ventured around the Northern Beaches for the remainder of the afternoon and called it an early night.
Once again, I awoke confused by my whereabouts. When I realized where I was, I instantly hopped out of bed and ordered a flat white and quinoa fritters from Local’s Corner, a cute cafe across the road. One thing is for sure, Australian’s know how to do a bomb brekkie.
I took the Manly ferry into the city, passing the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, grinning from ear to ear the whole ride. I sat in a tranquil state of bliss, appreciating my surroundings that still felt like home. I meandered through the CBD and headed to the legendary Bondi Beach to soak up the sunshine.
I liberally put on SPF 30 and reapplied at least 5 times..... and still was a tomato. The whole no ozone layer thing is not a joke! My pasty winter skin had been subjected to the sun’s wrath. Thankfully there’s an aloe tree behind my friend’s house and I globbed on the cooling goo for days until my crimson complexion turned bronze. Natural remedy for the win.
I spent the remainder of my first week visiting both previously loved and newly discovered beaches, catching up with old mates, drinking countless schooners, and indulging in Aussie eats. It's difficult to illustrate how happy I am to be back in my dream world. All I can say is that I'm feeling quite #blessed.