Thursday, September 18, 2008

Last View of Sydney...For Now

I’ve put off this post for a long time because it’s probably the last one I’ll do about Sydney. I’ve been busy back at school and trying my hand at sports reporting for the Columbia Missourian. I am still looking for my next opportunity to go back to Oz. Until then, one final reflection:

I actually cried for the city.

The plane had just taken off and I began to recognize the landmarks below. I could point out Randwick Racetrack, Centennial Park and the Sydney Football Stadium first. Then it was easy to spot the gothic buildings and green ovals of Sydney Uni. I could see Hyde Park and the beaches beyond it. Then we reached the harbour. Wouldn’t you know it, the plane started to turn just then, dipping the wing so I could get a full view of the bridge, Opera House and skyline one more time.

That’s when the tears came.

I’d been sad earlier that week when my all my friends left before me. I cried a little after they were gone and at a few points during the next two lonely days. But when I choked up on the plane, I wasn’t thinking about the people I’d miss or how fast the semester had gone. I honestly cried because the city looked gorgeous and I knew I’d miss living it.

The harbour was unbelievably blue as always, freckled with white sails. The Opera House and bridge were perfectly centered in my window. I didn’t have a camera, but I won’t ever forget that image. I can’t emphasize enough how blue it was. The harbour, the ocean, the sky. This was a view of Sydney begging me to return.

The plane continue to turn and I got a head-on look at Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and the Botanical Gardens. I loved that I could spot everything so easily. I’d been all around the city and looked at maps more times than you’ll ever know. I could see the Anzac Bridge, Luna Park, Balls Head Reserve. I got one last view of Manly Beach and the North Head, and then it was ocean for the next 13 hours.

As much as I wanted to stay, I am completely satisfied with my trip. I set out to explore and I did. There’s always more to see and do, but I think I got to know the city better than most. Hopefully the posts here will encourage travelers, and even residents, to get out and see new parts of Sydney. Or any city. Just explore.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Walking Shoes

Wherever I end up living, it needs to be walkable. Walking is definitely my favorite way to get around. And I don’t mind long walks because it just means there’s more to see along the way.

I loved walking in Sydney. It felt smaller and less overwhelming after the first week of exploring on foot. I realized it was only 15 minutes from my house to the mall on Broadway. Fifteen from there to Darling Harbour. Another 15 to Hyde Park, and by the end of an hour I could be at the Opera House or Botanical Gardens.

I walked to all the places people said were too far to walk to. A few miles to Paddington? No sweat. The walk back from Centennial Park? Got it.

I used public transportation enough, but I’m a bit impatient for all the stop and go. I’d rather keep walking, crossing on red and diagonalling through parks.

So walk I did. I can’t even imagine how much. I had to lay my denim Chucks to rest. I had those Converse high-tops since senior year of high school. I rotate through a few pairs of shoes, but these were the best for times when I knew I’d be walking a lot in the city. Even after the red soles were worn down and the backs had torn, I wore those shoes a few more times.

As much as I wish I didn’t have to, I left the ragged pair in Sydney. I think they would have wanted it that way.