Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 30: Bondi to Bronte

On day 30 of my travels, I wake up 7,755 miles from home. I'm one hemisphere, two seasons and a full day away from all of my friends and family.

I'm in Sydney, Australia.

I don't feel quite that far from home, though. One reason is because I wake up in a big, comfortable bed in a quiet, private room. It belongs to a friend who also grew up 7,755 miles away from here.

He's not a close friend — his name and face merely dot the periphery of memories that stretch back to elementary school — but he didn't hesitate to offer his empty room for my use while he's out of town on business.

I'd consider it very strange if he made this offer back in our hometown, but, over here, it just sort of makes sense. Our very different lives, which have haphazardly branched in such ways to bring us both to this place, share a common root.

The other reason I feel a little closer to home today is because, with reliable (and free) Wi-Fi at my disposal, I've caught up with some dear friends via Facebook chat — friends I hadn't communicated with in a month. I hadn't realized how much I've missed them.

Lately, I've felt a bit like one of my many devices that have North American plugs: lost in a place where things look almost like home, but are just different enough so that I don't quite fit.

The solution for both of us?

Adapt. Connect. Recharge.


With a good night's sleep under my belt and a renewed vigor to see and do, I set out to visit Bondi Beach. I slapped on my SPF 30+, grabbed my sunglasses and tucked an umbrella in my daypack since the forecast called for rain at some point. I just hoped the partly sunny weather would hang on for me.

Google Maps told me Bondi Beach is about 3 miles away from my friend's flat in Double Bay, and I could either take a train and walk, a bus and walk or walk... and walk.

So I walked.

The most satisfying form of transit.

My Google Maps route took me through tree-lined suburban streets and alongside a park and nature reserve before I reached the hustle and bustle of Bondi Junction. I worked in a stop at Vodafone to sort out an issue with my prepaid phone plan, and then continued on down Old South Head Road toward the shore.

I spied turquoise waters while still a few blocks away from the beach, but stopped short when I caught sight of the menu at Sabbaba.

One Ayia Napa was quite necessary at that moment.

Green basil pesto falafel balls, hummus, tahini, Haloumi cheese, lettuce, tomato and capers were stuffed into a pita and into my eager hands. I chuckled at the description of “green basil pesto falafel,” but it was delicious despite its redundancy.

I proceeded with a full, happy belly to the beach, where I found a pristine expanse of sand lapped by some of the most beautiful blue-green water I’ve seen. It was blissfully uncrowded, with the majority of visitors out bobbing on surfboards, waiting for their next great wave. I plopped down on the sand to take in the scene.

I’d love to say that I sat there contemplating life and drawing deep conclusions about who I am and where I fit in in this world… but mostly I just took joy in being there.

I thought about how happy it made me to get around on my own two feet. I sifted the soft, fine sand through my fingers. I felt it cling to the underside of my legs, forming a light crust when combined with sunscreen and sweat. I watched clusters of tourists take the same photo over and over again: back turned toward the water, arms flung out wide, smiling broadly.

My version of that photo, minus the arm-flinging.

Wind whipped across the beach, but at 24 degrees C (75 degrees F), it was not unpleasant. A swath of clouds in the distance vaguely threatened rain, so I decided to get a move on and begin the popular Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk.

The 3.5 km track from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach is paved, fairly flat and replete with benches and scenic viewpoints. Well, the whole thing is a scenic viewpoint, really.

That sign says it takes an hour to walk it one-way, but I think that’s just if you stop to take pictures every five seconds (like I did on the way out) or if you meander quite leisurely.

It's absolutely worth taking the time to absorb the incredible scenery.

Many runners cruised along the track, and I would have loved to run it, too, had I been without my daypack and my falafel-belly. I'm so jealous of those who call this their regular running route!

Solo traveler = self-portrait expert.

Once I made it to Bronte — which is a much smaller beach and has far fewer stores and restaurants surrounding it — I hustled back to Bondi in well under an hour.

It’s so weird — this strawberry-blueberry smoothie was just waiting for me at Bondi!

OK, not really, but it did cool me down and revitalize me after the walk. After all, I still had quite a trek back to Double Bay ahead of me.

The overall trip clocked in at 8.5 miles and more than three hours of actual walking. (Yes, I'm a nerd and wore my Garmin.) Very satisfying indeed!

Also satisfying was the much-needed shower I took upon returning to my friend’s flat. I didn’t even go swimming, but I was still covered in that delightfully beachy combination of sand, sunscreen and sweat.

As I scrubbed the layers of grime from my legs, I heard what sounded like an enormous crash of metal pellets striking a tin roof. I glanced out the window and saw that the Sydney sky had opened up in an instant, releasing incredible torrents of rain.

I just smiled and continued scrubbing, thankful to be enjoying a warm shower inside when I could have been easily caught in that shower outside.

It seemed as though the travel gods had held off on the rain especially for me.


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  1. What a great day...Glad you were able to reconnect with home while still enjoying the day in Bondi...

    1. I've had a great mix of downtime and adventures in Sydney so far. I'm finding that it's crucial!

  2. I recently found your blog and i love it. so happy you're updating from the road!

  3. Such a beautiful walk... that water is amazing. I'm so enjoying following along from my cubicle :)

    1. The water blew my mind. Thanks for your comment! : )

  4. Gorgeous takes Devon! Beautiful scenery, filling our caffeinated and air-conditioned bored eyes at the offices around the world ;)

    I've never actually thought about that phenomenon, hosting somebody you barely knew once... Very interesting social phenomenon :)

    I know I speak for many readers: We always await impatiently for your articles, which are better each time. And now with plenty of landscape!

    Keep enjoying! We'll keep on reading ;)

    1. I actually have a few friends like that who've made hospitable offers around the world! I'm very glad for them.

      I will keep posting as often as I have Internet and the will to cobble together some words and photos. Thanks for reading. : )

  5. I think it's amazing, what you're doing. I love seeing new posts from you. Have a safe, healthy and adventurous trip!

  6. I hate to say that I am incredibly envious. I applaud you for all the hard work that went into the financial, logistical, and courageous aspects of this adventure you've thrown yourself into.

    1. I REALLY appreciate this comment — thank you. All the lead-up stuff was really the hardest. Now I just get to have fun. : )

  7. I never got to do the Coastal Walk and your photos make me so jealous! Enjoy Australia, Devon!

    1. Then you must simply come back and do it! Thanks, Jeremy. : )


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