A Travellerspoint blog

Many Thanks Are Due

and we are sad to go

I can't begin to thank Louise and Graham enough for allowing us to stay with them for the duration of our stay in Sydney. It was hosting Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. Not only did they show us the sights and give us a place to stay, they invited us into their circle of friends and allowed us a fortnight of travel that seemed like we were still at home enjoying the best parts of day to day living. It was a pleasure to make so many new friends, and I look forward to seeing Vroni, Francisca, Simon, Jo, and everyone else again in the future!
When we finally get home, our door is wide open to everyone we visited to meet again and reciprocate the kindness.

Posted by Stravaigin 15:23 Comments (0)

Overwriting Bad Sectors

or, the fallibility of memory

The last time I was in Australia, it was my honeymoon of my previous ill-fated marriage. There was an aspect of returning to this place that I was looking forward to, with the notion of being able to replace old memories with new, fond memories of being here with my lovely wife, Jenni. Oddly, that has not really worked out.

First and foremost, I am not the same person I was when I was here last. One of Jenni's many influences has been to change what I ask for out of travel--culinary experiences are now a strong feature, and a good meal at a nice restaurant can mean as much as seeing a highly rated tourist sight. Also, Jenni prefers to travel much slower: no racing on to the next big thing, but a more sedate pace that allows us to absorb the vibe of a locale, not just "show up and get the photo." With this new paradigm, Sydney and Katoomba have been more like completely new places to visit than returns.

In Sydney, I have seen two concerts (one in the Domain, one in the Opera House), visited the art museum, seen the ferry races for Australia Day, and seen the Hyde Park barracks. All new; makes me wonder what I did when I was here last. I also wandered the botanic gardens, something I vaguely remember from before. Lastly, since we are staying with friends, I have had two solid weeks to discover the neighborhood of Rozelle, a great part of the city of Sydney I wish I could transport wholesale back to Chicago to be the urban community in which I would like to live.

Visiting Katoomba was even more surprising. While I know I was there, Jenni and I stayed there for three days, soaking in the wonders of this lovely little town. It was a completely new expereince, hunting down the perfect cup of coffee (flat white, please!) while discovering yummy matching pastries. We also visited the Jenolan Caves, and while I had been in Chiefly cave ,we toured Orient and Lucas caves, so it was again all new.

Lastly, we returned for a stay at the Carrington Hotel, a grand old building from the 1900s. I had fond memories of a great stay in a large room, with a grand tub and a great meal in the restaurant. My return was underwhelming. Not that it was bad, but it certainly was less grand than I remembered. So, in a certain way, I might have been beter off to not have returned, keeping the old shiny recollection, instead. Still, the Carrington certainly had the best scotch in town!

The final bit of change for me has been a realization that return visits are worth having. I had always thought, with so many places I would like to see in the world, taking a return trip to someplace I had already been would somehow deprive me of future travel options--one only gets so much vacation time, so each visit needs to be exciting, fresh, and new. Lo and behold, returning to Australia has been all of the above, and trying to compare this visit with the one that went before is nearly impossible. One can never go backwards; life only moves forwards. It is in embracing that forward momentum that makes life shine.

Posted by Stravaigin 17:31 Comments (1)

Fiji Time


We have debated whether to call this trip a vacation, or a sabbatical. In truth, it is probably more of the latter, since we intend to use this time to refocus, and return energized for a new beginning in our lives' directions. On the other hand, a few days of pure hedonism certainly cannot hurt.

Fiji Time is the call to arms for the islands, obviously with the intention of relaxation and heliophilia. We dove right in, figuratively and literally. We stayed in Nadi, which is not supposed to be the ideal venue, but we found it perfect. It was convenient to the airport, and buses into Nadi and Lautoka. Shuttles took us to the port, where we took schooners out to the smaller isles. Swimming, snorkeling, and sunburn--who could ask for more! My favorite part was being able to dive off the bowsprite of one of the ships.

Sadly, our bit in Fiji was slightly marred by a confidence scam that we fell for. I can't even give the details, because it is soooo embarrassing in our gullability. We, fortunately, only lost about $30 U.S. We tried to take in stride; we didn't lose anything critical like a bank card, and will be much more cautious henceforth. It was more a blow to our "we are not stupid tourists" ego. We have to remember that we are easy marks in the next few countries, being obvious (pale) tourists. It makes me a little sad to need to be more on guard...we have had so many wonderful kind experiences while traveling to allow an experience like this to ruin our trust completely.

Posted by Stravaigin 23:21 Comments (0)

L.A. L.A. Land

Stage 1

We have finally embarked on the journey. First stop, to visit with Jenni's aunt and family in Los Angeles. It was a pleasant stay, but a little cool. Sadly, jackets are not something we brought, since we expected warmer weather, and are off to hotter climates to follow. We visited the Getty museum, and spent the next day in Santa Barbara, touring the mission there as well as the courthouse. The couthouse tour was excellent, and the architecture was beautiful.

On some level, though, I feel like we still haven't started our travels, since we are still in the U.S. One the other hand, I am sitting in LAX right now with Two Tickets to Paradise, and Eddie Money is nowhere in sight :-)

Posted by Stravaigin 20:26 Comments (1)

Life Crisis #4

I'm developing an Appetite for Destruction

As we finalize our plans, it is amazing just how many loose ends you have in life that need to be tied off, if only for the moment. There are the obvious things (turn off the utilities) and the accounts you didn't even realize you had (what do we do with the I-Pass?). If becomes slightly overwhelming to deal with all the physical and metaphysical junk you have collected in routine living.

This will be my 4th major life change. There was Getting Dumped at the Altar, Getting Divorced, and Getting Fired. You begin to realize that no matter how upsetting the change is at the moment, you will land on your feet again, and with the right kind of psychological investment you will be better for it. So, I am going to blow up my life again--I've quit my job with no prospects for re-hire, sold my house at a loss, and am transitioning into an urban lifestyle that I can only hope I will enjoy. It actually feels good to trash life as I know it yet again. First of all, this time I'm the one pushing the plunger on the detonator--proactive destruction, rather than reactionary coping. And as life comes together again, there is a kind of clarity to life and living that gets lost in the haze of the routine. Life completely in the present--no worries for the future, no needs other than the basics of making it through the day, one day at a time. That's what this trip is about. Of course, it will also be an awesome travel experience.

People have stated to me that this will be the trip of a lifetime. I tell them that it is only the practice run. I mean, do I really want to think that this trip is the last amazing thing I'll do in my life?

It almost makes me anticipate Life Crisis #5.

Posted by Stravaigin 08:25 Comments (0)

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