I’m going to start this blog with a warning: this will be a totally unfair reflection of what Sydney is like as a city.
I’ve spent a little bit of extra time here than I have at most other places, primarily because this is my last stop in Oz, and that’s just how the timing of my travels worked out before I catch my flight to Auckland.
That extra time has given me the opportunity to reflect on a few things. First, I considered how a country that I very nearly struck off my itinerary because “there wasn’t many interesting things to see” has turned into a memorable experience that, for several reasons, I’m very glad I didn’t.
I’ve been here for six weeks now, which is more time spent in a single foreign country since my US/Canada trip in ’07, and that time has been spent learning a lot of things.
I’ve learned about Australian history, its discovery by Western civilisation, and the ensuing mass populisation of the country at the expense of the indigenous people.
I’ve learned about experiencing terrains and landscapes that I’d never seen before. Off-road driving, being the only person for miles around, getting lost in forests, to name but a few experiences that I won’t get (in that way, at least) anywhere else in the world.
The most profound thing that I’m taking away from this country, however, is that I’ve learned more about what I think I want from my life in the future. Returning from my travels will provide an opportunity to start another new chapter in my life, and I have an urge to make it look different from the previous one.
That doesn’t mean to say I wasn’t enjoying my life before I embarked on this journey. In the last few years I’ve had wonderful partners, a thoroughly enjoyable job, and lived in a fantastic city. But, I’m someone who likes change, adaptation, new experiences, and I feel like it’s time I did that again.
I’m well aware that my current thoughts are being soundly influenced by my current, unfamiliar surroundings. I’m also aware that casino work is something I very much enjoy, am good at, and pays well, and is therefore likely to be the career I head back to once I return. This means I’ll likely be living in or at least near to a big city, as that’s where the busiest, most interesting casinos are located. My partners are unlikely to change any time soon either, hopefully.
However, as I sit at a cafe outside a hospital listening to a jazz band play (yes, that’s really happening), there’s a part of me that looks past all of that, and says that I don’t want to live in a city any more – not because of the band, they gave me the most relaxing toastie-eating experience I’ve had since I can remember, but because of the realisation of what a big city is, and what it offers, and I’m not sure I want that any more.
I’ve been a Londoner for 9 years now, and as much as I love her, I feel like I’m ready to part ways and move somewhere quieter, greener, perhaps by the seaside. This same part of me also says that there are other jobs out there to consider, that I could enjoy just as much, and that will allow me to branch out and diversify my life to a degree that I’m happy with, rather than run the risk of getting stuck in a rut of familiarity.
I have a few jobs in mind – train driver, teacher, video game journalist. All similar stuff, really.
That part of my brain has been nagging at me several times now, including when lost in that forest, at several occasions on various beaches, and most recently whilst taking in some sunshine in one of Sydney’s many parks.
Sydney felt like a loud city to me, but that’s probably because of these thoughts I’ve been having. It’s probably also because my hotel was slap-bang in the centre of the noisy Haymarket district (but hey, chinese food everywhere), and that I spent most of my time in tourist-central areas such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
You’ll no doubt be pleased to know that I did have some time to put my cocktail of thoughts to one side and enjoy some of what this city has to offer. The bridge/opera house at sunset is particularly beautiful when viewed from Mrs Macqueries Point. I also enjoyed meeting a school friend of mine I haven’t seen in many years, along with his wife, and a ludicrously tasty burger, at Mary’s in Newtown.
Oh, and my hotel room was a space capsule. A flippin’ space capsule.
Flying out of the city – and leaving Australia – was a mixed experience. I made absolutely the right decision in coming here, partly for the memories it’s given me, and partly for waking up a section of my brain that is questioning the direction I want to take my life in when I’m done having this mid-life crisis.
For now, though, that part of my brain needs to be quiet, because it’s time to get all kid-in-a-sweet-shop excited and finally visit the #2 entry in my Countries I’ve Wanted To Visit All My Life list – New Zealand.