sydney, australia: reflection

As I left Bali, I became emotional and nostalgic as I always do when changing continents. There is something about closing that chapter and starting a new one that brings all of the feelings! I respond similarly for each New Year and birthday so it is to be expected. I absolutely love Asia and was so grateful for my nearly two months there. At the same time, I was super excited to journey to South America for the first time!!

In order to get there, I would be embarking on a 48-hour journey from Bali to Sydney to Santiago to Lima. I embraced for the trek and double-checked my logistics that morning before departing Bali at night. I had read that since my layover was less than 8 hours and I am from the US that I would not need a visa to transit through Sydney. Double-checking it, I noticed fine print that said if I was checking a bag I needed a visa! I frantically googled urgent visas but did not have any luck before arriving at the airport. I hoped the airline would be able to check it to my next destination despite competing airlines and lucky enough, they did! I was so relieved!

As my plane was boarding to Sydney, I received an email with directions to receive an Australian visa in 20 minutes. I was skeptical, however, there were great reviews so I quickly entered my payment information and boarded the plane. Upon arriving in Sydney, sure enough, my visa was there and enabled me to go into Sydney for a few hours! Again, I was so grateful and made sure to take note of this moment.

It was incredibly easy to get through immigration, onto the train and into Sydney. Getting off the plane to right downtown only took about an hour! I arrived at Circular Quay right at sunrise beside all of the morning runners. It was a jaw dropping moment as I came out of the train station and was greeted by the iconic Opera House. I have always wanted to come to Australia and even though only for a short time, I was so happy to be able to experience it so unexpectedly!!

I spent the next few hours walking along the water from the botanical gardens to the Opera House to the bridge and through the markets. In June, there is an exhibition called Vivid Sydney operating throughout the city that celebrates light, music and ideas! There are art installations and performances set-up all over to engage visitors and locals alike. My favorite was “Under My Umbrella,” an art installation with over 20 white umbrellas and 1 red one. The artist’s hope was for people to dance under the canopy as the umbrellas blew in the wind… and I did just that :)

Walking through the food and art markets in the side streets of Sydney brought me such joy. It is such a beautiful city with amazing energy. I cannot wait to come back to Australia and experience more!

Lastly, I must say, the few hours in Australia brought me more culture shock than I ever could’ve expected!! I believe there were a few reasons for this: it had been months since I was in a fully English speaking country and one that was so calm with such a low level of chaos. I appreciate the whole cultural spectrum, it was just such a contrast to where I had been living! Also, I had most recently been in 40 degree C/100 degree F heat and transitioned to winter over night! It was wild to me that something so similar to me, felt so foreign. My favorite part of traveling is seeing a variety of places so I was so appreciative to be in such a new environment! Given that Australia is so similar to home, I am curiously anticipating how I will feel come end of July. We shall see!!

1. Another Vivid exhibition :) 2. Cool buildings in a side street  3. First time seeing the Opera House! 4. View from the bridge!

Lauren WittigComment