In the time that I’ve been away, I’ve managed to: scrap the knees and shin on the same leg twice, cracked half a toenail, somehow contract an infection of a nail cuticle (probably caused by hang nail) that made the finger swell, got a gash across my hand from the toilet door (!), grew numerous blisters and ankle bruises from walking too much, suffered a mild heatstroke and a sunburn on the face in the Australian sun. Also got my hiking shoes ripped good, tore some other parts of my clothes. The maladies of travel, as small as they are, remind me that I’m still partly enjoying myself and still away from where I usually live.
I leave Sydney today, wryly looking at the scars gained during these 17 days and think, inadvertently, about all the people that I’ve met over differing circumstances, the most unusual meeting was over a non-stick teflon pan while frying breakfast one morning. An elderly lady – formerly from Australia now living in Kiwiland – was frying pancakes (albeit rather badly), I tried to cook them too. It worked out somehow as we formed a mutual understanding of sharing leftover bacon fat.
I moaned over the loss of the red rental car and the freedom to visit everything at a whim. Forced to rely on only the feet and my oft-complained-about walking speed, I covered the city centre over and over again, trying to convince myself that Aussie fashion wasn’t as bad as it seemed, ending up buying chocolates and household cleaning products instead to bring back.
And I went whale-watching again, seeing in less spectacular fashion, humpback whales’ blowholes and not much more from a distance of 100m. Squashed together with a strange (and sometimes stupid) group of people, the boat’s left propeller got caught in a fishing trap, rendering it nearly useless; we limped along the coast drearily and essentially stopped whale-watching at that point, saved from boredom by jumping dolphins who saved the day once more. Although I say goodbye today, the lack of regret and longing that accompany the end of every trip is unusually absent; my only gripe being the long flight back. Sydney, like London, felt intimidating the more I read about it in the travel guides, until you actually step foot and realise that – with some help from the very genial people in the visitor information booths – it’s sort of manageable.
Suddenly, there was too much to see: a potential day trip to the Blue mountains, a day down Bondi among (fake?) tanners, or to go to the Manly shore to do ‘manly’ things like swim with sharks in Ocean world, go for a performance at the Opera house instead of just walking around it.
Cheerios Oceania, I’ll definitely miss you.