Alex has been talking about New Zealand since the very first day I met him, over three years ago. He had studied abroad there, and even though everyone raves about where they spent four months living and studying, Alex talked about his time abroad more than anyone else I knew. New Zealand is incredibly close to his heart, and he’s been talking about going back for years, but hadn’t taken the leap across the ocean.
It’s easy to talk about traveling to the other side of the world; it’s a lot harder to find the money in your bank account and the vacation time at work and the energy it takes to travel for a few weeks. So it gets put on the back burner and gets added to the “one day, when the time is right” list, right after “climb a mountain” and “join the Peace Corps.” When we were together in New York City last spring, Alex couldn’t stop talking about how it compared to Sydney, and how the parks were so much more interesting because of the giant trees and vegetation. He finally said, “I want to take you to Sydney. Let’s plan it.”
Eight months later, after lots and lots of saving and planning and schedule-rearranging, we were on the plane, ready for a small adventure in Sydney, and a big adventure in New Zealand. First stop: a day in LA, where our long-haul flight was leaving from, to spend time with Alex’s sister. We spent a day exploring beaches, driving with the windows down, and basking in the sunlight. It was a fitting place to start the journey. There are few things that have made me feel smaller than standing on the edge of the great big Pacific Ocean and realizing I would be on the other side the following day.
After two very long flights, we finally landed in Sydney at lunch time. Our hostel was nestled in a cute little neighborhood across the bay from the city center. We spent our two and a half days there gawking at the beautiful Sydney Opera House, eating fish and chips, trying (oh so hard) to find good Thai food (we failed), hanging with koalas, and walking, walking, walking. I don’t think I’ve ever walked more in a city than we did in Sydney.
Some of our favorite spots were eating fish and chips on the roof at the Glenmore, riding the ferry to and from Cremorne Point, eating ice cream and lying in the sun at Manly Beach, exploring the fascinating vegetation in Sydney’s botanical gardens, and watching the koalas snooze at Taronga Zoo. Side note: Taronga Zoo is the only zoo I have ever been to besides Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. I didn’t have the highest of expectations because, you know, we have an amazing zoo, but Taronga was lovely. It wasn’t too big and the animals were fascinating (plus I pet a baby wallaby, so I was a very happy camper).
Our time in Sydney was the most exhausting part of our trip, but I’m so glad we decided to spend some time there before heading to New Zealand. The energy of the city, the beautiful, beautiful trees, and the stunning architecture made it an awesome three day adventure.
You can head to part two, featuring New Zealand’s north island, here.