First Impressions: Sydney

The shades of the plane open to blinding light.

It is so pleasantly sunny, but it is also pleasantly not stiflingly hot outside. It is easier to acclimatize this way, after being flung across the ocean in 15 hours while still wearing multiple warm layers, mostly black at that.

The fact is there is a cyclone in the general area so the temperatures have dropped and it’s windier and cloudier than normal; all it does is make it feel more like home, I think.

Not quite Canada

A strange non-feeling: I know it isn’t Canada but it doesn’t quite feel like “elsewhere” either.

The air feels just as fresh, just warmer. The language is the same,  just with an accent. The roads are the same, just in opposite directions.

We’ve driven right-hand drive in left-sided countries before but it takes Moreno seven lane changes before he stops turning on the windshield wipers and uses his right hand to hit the turn signal instead.

Just a little different

We drive through tunnels underneath the city, and when we emerge and exit past the boundaries of Sydney, everything is greener than I expected: valleys of green trees and bushes that remind me more of some strange amalgamation of Hawaii and South Africa  rather than the red earth Oz I imagined was everywhere.

The off road vehicles on the two lane motorway look like they’re actually worthy of dirt: like everyone’s just ready to drive off into the bushes and play.

In the morning when we wake, it is pleasant. It isn’t cloudy and raining as forecasted but sunny and warm and slightly breezy and really comfortable and it feels just like home but warmer. Just like Canada but…different.

Next Adventure: Australia

We’re off again!

This time it’s a short trip to the New South Wales region of Australia to see a dear friend get married. Bonus? I get to hang out with my international bestie who’ll also be flying in and it marks the first new country of the year.

Just for me though: Moreno has been in Australia before – he has family up north that he visited when he was younger. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time this visit to drive up to see them.

In total, we’ll be in Oz about ten days. Here’s what we’re managing to squeeze in.

Shoal Bay

Bay, UK - linford-miles-285635
Photo by Linford Miles on Unsplash.

I’m not sure about the shark situation (everywhere, is what I hear), but our first stop after landing will be the beach town of Shoal Bay (right by Nelson Bay and Port Stephens).

The town is on the end of the peninsula and is surrounded by beautiful beaches, multiple bays, Tomaree National Park, and Shark Island which has a lighthouse trail that may or may not be accessible.

We’ll be here to settle in for a couple of days and I’m hoping to explore all of it.

And then I remember the snakes and giant spiders so…we’ll see.

Armidale

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The wedding will be in a town named Armidale in the region of New England.

I’m told the winery where the ceremony will be held has a vantage point over the area: “vast, open planes punctuated by a scattering of gum trees and occasionally carved up by gorges with the most spectacular waterfalls.” Sold.

We’ll mostly be here to celebrate with friends but I’d be happy to visit some of these gorges and waterfalls (provided there’s snake and spider experts around).

Sydney

Opera House, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia - daniel-jacobs-288259
Photo by Daniel Jacobs on Unsplash.

Our final stop and departure point will be Sydney, because while we couldn’t fit in Ayers Rock – Uluru is literally in the middle of this giant landmass – I wasn’t going home without partaking in some iconic Sydney experiences.

We’ll definitely check out the Opera House, the Harbour and Bridge, and I’m hoping we can at least visit Bondi Beach and see the famous pool.

It looks like there’s a lot of coastal walks you can take to see the area, so if time allows, we’ll try to squeeze one of those in, too.

We’re off in just a couple of days!

Do I need to be worried about spiders the size of my face? Anything you strongly suggest we visit?

Let me know in the comments!

First Impressions: Iceland

I’m outside and everything is fresh. I know this is good. I know I need this.

A deep breath brings the chilled air inside. It’s supposed to be raining most of the time I’m here, which I’m prepared for but it’s cold enough standing at the airport that I decide on double layers of pants and thick socks immediately.

On the shuttle into town I take in the landscape.

Just moss covered black rock. Gray. The nice kind of cozy gray you want to stay at home and cuddle during. Almost completely flat.

The whole country seems to be under construction. The airport surrounded by walls, the land full of closed roads, disturbed dug up black earth.

It is windy. There’s almost no trees in sight and the flatness is exaggerated. Wind rips through the land with nothing to stop it but whips freely past the tops of the mountains far away, too. It’s rare to feel sheltered.

The nature here is raw, but it is stunning because of it.

In Photos: Colourful Houses in Prague

One of the characteristics old cities in Europe have in common is that the buildings that line the main strip are often painted (or restored) in charming pastel colours.

Prague in Czech Republic was no exception, and as the city actually had a main town and an Old Town, colourful buildings dotted most of our visit.

In Photos: Views from the Santa Maria del Fiore

Two of my favourite shots – both from the top of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence – are almost as good as gone.

At the beginning of my first trip with a proper DSLR in hand, I was so intent on keeping on top of my photos – going through them, organizing them, deleting the clearly unusable ones – that I got a bit ‘delete’ happy. I’d not only delete the photos that didn’t have the composition or subject I cared for at the moment, but I also deleted the originals (so much facepalm) after I edited and saved the photos I wanted to post.

Hence the filter coated lower quality version of the feature image above and the Campagnile (bell tower) below. Here’s a look back at them along with some other images from above.

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