08 July 2012


Nicola, right, and me at midnight, checking in for our overnight flight to Sydney.

Growing up in America, Australia, to me, was one of those truly amazing yet nearly inaccessible places on the other side of the world. Home of Nicole Kidman, the Sydney Opera House, the Outback and the koalas, Australia was always some place I might see myself going, but I never quite pictured myself actually there.

Thursday when I arrived, it was almost surreal. As Nicola and I walked out of the airport into the crisp winter-in-July air, I took a breath and though to myself, “I am in Australia!” This was the first trip down under not only for me but for my friend, Nicola, a 31-year-old who proves that blondes have more fun. She is obsessed with America, koalas and some Aussie show called Neighbours, of which I know nothing about.

I haven’t known Nicola more than a few months but she is the type of person I feel I have known most of my life. Though we come from different continents, we have similar interests and similar backgrounds. We enjoy a good adventure, a good man, a good story and, of course, a good bargain.

Nicola jumped at the opportunity to join me on holiday. And by “jumped” I mean “performed serious research, compiled data analysis spreadsheets, highlighted top tourist activities, created itineraries, documented confirmation numbers and contact details, printed documents in color and handed them to me in a file folder as if I was her boss.” Nuts? Maybe a little, but she did come in quite handy.

We enjoyed the chilly temperatures, which floated between 8 and 15 Celsius (46 and 59 Fahrenheit) throughout the week. We wore sweaters (or jumpers, as Nicola calls them), jackets, scarves and boots and looked pretty darn cute. We were excited to wear what we call our fall attire for a change.

Yeah cold weather layers!
Though we had some plans of our own on day one, involving a couple of lattes, a couple of showers and an amble through a local downtown street market, our plans were slightly altered when we met up with Nicola’s friend, Andrew.

We did have a quick latte in a picturesque neighborhood called Erskineville that reminded me of ColumbusGerman Village. There were cobblestones on the ground, parks, brick buildings and sidewalk restaurants. The people in the neighborhood did not seem to follow any fashion trends – they were their own kind of trendy. Young, hip, artsy individuals inhabited the area and so did their dogs. It reminded both Nicola and me of our respective homes, which was comforting in our first hour abroad.

From a townie’s town somewhere tucked inside suburbia, we made our way to The Cliffs, a coastal area where the land is far higher than the Tasman Sea below. The towns along the sea reminded me of New England – coastal towns nesting in the rocks with the waves crashing below.

We made our way from a southern town called South Coogee, passed the apparently-famous Bondi Beach, all the way up to Sydney Harbour National Park where we took a walk to Watson’s Bay’s famous fish and chips house, Doyle’s on the Wharf.

Sydney Harbour National Park

City view from the trail
Doyle's on the Wharf. Awesome. Stand in line, pick your package, get your food in a box and have a beer in the back.
The views were spectacular. We sat in a glassed-in room next to a wood-burning stove and watched the sailboats sway in the water as the ferries moved in and out. I tell you, beer is tastier on the water. Every time.

The wharf, just next to Doyle's
It was great to see such blue skies and such green grass – especially since Singapore looked like this when we left – brown is the new green around here:

Singapore, until this week, had been in a drought. Paul and I have been sharing an umbrella since April when I lost two to the RDA and refused to buy another until absolutely necessary. I finally broke down and bought a new one before my Sydney trip and still have yet to use it. Apparently the rains finally came while Nic and I were away. Since we arrived, the rains have not stopped and I am so thankful. We need the rain.

Sydney did not receive rain while we were in town. We enjoyed beautiful chilly weather our entire trip. After several walks, we got a tour through town in Andrew’s car. He drove us through a neighborhood called The Rocks and passed our weekend street market (we didn’t make it), passed the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge.

When we checked into our hotel, neither of us had much energy. By that point, our bellies were full from seaside seafood and chips and our bodies were worn out. We did not sleep much on our overnight flight that took off at 2 a.m. Therefore, we were out by 8. Well, Nicola was out by 8.

We both made ourselves comfy in our beds and I had just stated that 45 minutes prior, I was absolutely dead to the world but, for some reason, I had suddenly been revived. I looked over at Nicola and her eyes were shut.

”Nic – you still awake?”

Wait for it…

After a few seconds, her eyes popped wide open, she looked completely confused and then spouted, “Oh my God, I was just in the kitchen having a conversation with my dad!” Yeah, the girl was not only sleeping – she was dreaming. We were talking two minutes prior. I wish I could fall asleep that quickly.

Neither one of us slept as well as we would have liked that first night but we certainly got a pick-us-up the next morning. Three cheers for Starbucks!

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