Just a few weeks into dating my wife, we traveled on a week long trip of the U.S. west coast. 3 cities in 7 days. It is certainly a bold move to take with a newly budding couple, which could have been fraught with dismay and disappointment. I think vacations with a partner are an excellent barometer for the relationship, even one just a few weeks old. Travel can be stressful and fatiguing; add to that tight quarters, bathroom functions, limited privacy, and you're either gonna walk away a stronger pair, or a distant memory.
Tens of thousands of miles, dozens of trips and almost 10 years later, my wife is still my best friend and an amazing co-pilot. This May we're celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary, which I think is the "wood" anniversary. So we unanimously decided instead of getting that new wood dining room table, we'd throw away traditional custom, keep our plywood IKEA butcher block for a while longer, and take a trip to Australia and New Zealand instead.
Ok so the flight is long. I mean, really long. Mind numbing, disturbingly long. The type of long where you start to question whether you trust yourself around the emergency exit. You sit, eat, stretch, walk, eat again, watch a movie, doze off, wake up, check the flight tracker and you've still got 7 hours to go. That kind of long. It's a bit daunting. But I live in San Francisco, a flight to Europe, Asia, or Australia are all pretty comparable. Nonstop to Paris is 11, 14 to Hong Kong, and for this trip, the nonstop to Sydney was 15. Wear your compression stockings!
It was February when we flew to Oz, which in the Southern Hemisphere was their summer, equal to the Northern counterpart's August. It was warm, sunny and stunningly beautiful. Sydney is kind of a hybrid between London, Seattle and San Diego. Beautiful beaches full of beautiful people, marinas, harbors, water everywhere, and all with a subtle British flare. You'll hear "Take away" instead of "To go", "Good to you" as a salutation, mayo is the first choice over ketchup, and you might find yourself in a queue, which as foreign as it sounds, is simply a line. The mass transit is clean, efficient, on time but you'll still need to Pardon the Gap. "Pardon" instead of "Mind" just to slightly distance themselves from their British cousins.
Sydneysiders (yes, that's what they're called) are active and healthy. Large running packs blazed by us continuously, while the street cafes proudly served locally sourced, organic produce. I guess it stems from the accessibility to the outdoors. Bored? Take a quick ferry to Manly Beach and go surfing. Wear your sunscreen, reapply, and if you forget, the lifeguards get on the PA every hour or so to remind you. They're pretty serious about skin cancer. Remember the hole in the ozone? Ya, it's still there, smaller but present, not blocking UV rays directly over Australia. SPF 50 sounds about right.
From a photography perspective Sydney packs a pretty powerful punch. The Sydney Opera House, perched on the Sydney Harbor, offers easily accessible vistas for both sunrise and sunset photographs as well as some long exposure water captures. The Sydney Harbor Bridge, a large, very photogenic structure, especially once the sun fades, as it really illuminates brightly at night. Sydney offers plenty of cityscape skyline shots, endless beaches, cliffs, and alcoves for your seascape photographs. I don't know if I was blessed with good light and high humidity or if this is simply a Sydney summer norm, but while we were there the sunrises and sunsets were absolutely explosive with powerful, dramatic cloud formations and beautiful, deep red colors. I guess everything is just a little more intense in Australia, even their low light.
Like most metropolises,I'm sure there are downsides to Sydney, but whatever they are, the Aussies sure do a good job keeping them behind the curtains. It's almost as if you know you're so far away from the rest of the planet, current events seem that much less important. Might as well get another pint and enjoy the view. Overall, I loved our time in Sydney and hope some day we get to spend more time re-exploring the urban area as well as other spots in Australia.