Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 31: Magic in Sydney

After I enjoyed the breathtaking Bondi to Bronte walk, it rained all night and all morning in Sydney. Like, it really rained.

This is what greeted me upon my awakening.

I’m from Seattle, but we don’t often have rain like this — rain that makes you look up at the sky in disbelief, wondering just where, exactly, all that water is coming from. Every square inch of cloud seemed to fire a thousand massive drops per second, and, just you wait, there’s more where that came from.

I appreciate this kind of rain for its commitment. Seattle is good at half-assed rain: mist, sprinkles, light showers, sunshowers and the like. Nothing says the Pacific Northwest like that low, oppressive blanket of gray that hangs overhead and releases a constant drizzle from, oh, November through April.

But this torrential rain I’ve experienced in Australia and New Zealand doesn’t mess around. It goes full out. It says, “Hello, people of the South Pacific. I am really going to shit all over you.”

I spent the first half of the day staring out of the rain-spattered windows of my friend’s Double Bay flat and willing the downpour to stop. Despite owning a good waterproof jacket and an umbrella, I had zero desire to splash around Sydney in that mess.

I felt like a horrible traveler — just like I feel when I go to McDonald’s or fail to strike up a conversation with a stranger — but then I decided this is my trip, and I’m the only person who has to like my decisions. It still bothered me a bit to stay in, but I contented myself with blogging and catching up on other Internet stuff.

Finally, around 3:00, the rain stopped! I immediately pulled myself together and headed to downtown Sydney.

I absolutely love the Sydney train system. It’s easy to navigate, the cars are spacious and clean and I never had to wait more than five minutes for a train. I hopped two trains to reach Circular Quay — right on Sydney Harbour — and broke into a huge smile as soon as I exited the station.

There was the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There was the iconic opera house. There was— oooh, is that ice cream?

With a two-scoop cone in hand, I meandered toward the opera house filled with the kind of joy I only get when I see a famous place in person for the first time. It’s one thing to see a landmark on a postcard or in a magazine; it’s entirely different to see it right in front of you and realize, “Wow, I’m really here.”

I was perfectly content to sit with my ice-cream cone and just absorb this place. The sky had cleared, leaving only wisps of the angry clouds that had put a damper on my morning. All was forgiven.

The Sydney Opera House is stunning whether you view it from afar or up close. I loved wandering between its sails and examining the intricate tile work.

I had no idea that one sail actually houses a swanky restaurant! Maybe someday I'll be a fancypants and eat there, but this time, I just gawked and took photos with my fellow tourists.

I particularly loved these ladies, who were clearly BFFs (or even sisters? twins?), as they tried time after time to strike the same pose simultaneously while their patient hubbies snapped away from the stairs below. They just giggled the whole time; it was adorable.

I think they got it. Eventually.

The afternoon was growing short at this point, but I figured I could squeeze in a walk across the Harbour Bridge before the sun set. In all my preparedness, I wandered through The Rocks in the general direction of the bridge and randomly found the correct set of stairs. Win!

The bridge's walkway was filled with commuters, tourists and runners. I was so jealous of the runners, but I didn't come dressed to haul ass across the bridge. I just shuffled along in my jeans and ballet flats and took a million photos instead.

I felt a bit ridiculous stopping every 10 steps to take photos, but the view seemed to get more awesome the farther I walked.

And then... this happened.

What a surreal moment to catch sight of this after a morning of being trapped inside and feeling down in the dumps due to rain.

What a surreal moment in general.

The next day, I posted that photo on my Tumblr along with this:

If you are thinking of changing your life, do it. 
It will be hard. It will be scary. You will question yourself over and over. 
But if you relentlessly pursue what it is you really want, you will one day find yourself in such a situation where life looks more beautiful than you ever could have possibly imagined. 
Right place. Right time. And I never could have been here if I hadn’t listened to what my heart whispered to my mind, and if I hadn’t fully committed the day my mind whispered back, “OK. Let’s do this.”

And that, my friends, has been my favorite moment of traveling so far. No question.


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  1. Hi Devon!

    Beautiful pics, amazing description. You seem more inspired, maybe even romantic in the latest posts. We love that!

    And yes, we enjoy all of it with you, and your adventures make my goal look even better, and closer every day.


    1. Rainbows like that are quite inspiring! Keep your eyes on your goal, and good luck to you!

  2. Awesome post, and beautiful pics. Definitely a surreal moment. Great that you got to see the Queen Mary 2 there also...I'm a bit of a cruise ship geek.

  3. Terrific post! outstanding pics and interesting story. I love Sydney; it's one of the more beautiful cities never visited. Can't wait to go back!

    1. Thank you! I wish I had seen more of the city itself. I can't wait to go back as well!

  4. What an amazing moment - and an amazing photo to go with it!

  5. What beautiful photos! I have always wanted to go to Sydney. You are a great writer as well.

    1. Thanks so much! I would love to revisit Sydney with lots of money in my pocket and be able to hit all the nice restaurants and bars. : )

  6. Great post and I love your inspiration at the end. How very true that we may never know where we'll end up if we don't have to courage to start.

    1. Indeed. And life can surprise you in so many great ways!

  7. I'm not gonna lie, I may have just teared up at the end reading this! You are such an inspiration in more ways than you can ever know! Feel so privileged to be going along with you on your journey x

  8. Devon, I love this post. You are so inspirational, and I'm glad you've had so many amazing experiences already. I can't wait to continue hearing more about your travels. :)

  9. Your words and photos move me to a new path of courage and daring . . . thank you for inspiring others to dare to take a chance on dreams!

    1. Wow, that is the greatest compliment. Good luck on your new path!


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