Back to Australia After 20 Years

Australia is so much a part of my family’s history. We lived here for a year when I was three and it feels like that was the catalyst that made me and my sister fall in love with travel. I was too young to attend school, but I remember a surprising amount about this year and I feel like despite my young age, the time here shaped who I am.

Maybe this is why my ten days in Australia felt so strangely familiar. Additionally, I saw/stayed with two good friends I had worked with in Toronto, and even though I hadn’t seen them in over a year it felt like no time had passed. Sometimes we’d be walking around Sydney and I’d have to remind myself that I wasn’t actually in Toronto, just living my everyday life.

If I had more time or more money, I’d have done more of the East Coast and some more adventurous activities, but this time around I just sponged off my friends and got a glimpse of Sydney and Melbourne – and it was enough to soak in the atmosphere and catch up with people who were there for a very formative part of my life in Toronto.

A lot of my time was spent eating and drinking – there are tons of yummy vegan restaurants I wanted to try and I’m pretty sure I checked them all off the list. The dining was especially great in Melbourne, where I was with my friend Kate and her parents and they were the most generous hosts of all time, which allowed me to try restaurants that would normally be out of my price range. In Sydney, a highlight was Bodhi, a vegan yum cha restaurant – Kate and I split a bottle of wine and several dishes and whiled away many an hour discussing all the gossip we had missed in eachother’s lives.

I was really interested to see whether I preferred Melbourne or Sydney – it kind of reminds me of the Montreal vs Toronto debate. A lot of my friends like Melbourne better and thought I would too, but it turns out Sydney really captured my heart. I loved the beaches SO much, and although I had an amazing time in Melbourne I just found there was more to actually do in Sydney.

For example, the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk was literally the only thing I knew I wanted to do in Sydney. And it was so worth it! On my first day I woke up with a fair hangover but still took the bus out to Bondi (pronounced Bond-eye) and after a mediocre and overpriced brunch I strolled down to Bronte (pronounced Bront-ee) stopping lots for pictures and journalling. I would have kept going to Coogee Beach further down the coast but I needed to go meet my friend – next time!

The other beach I headed out to see was Manly – I took the stunningly scenic ferry past the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge and to be honest, sobbed the entire time. My anxiety flared up out of nowhere and something about this ferry just reduced me to a mess. The Australian boy next to me definitely thought I was a psychopath. The ride was amazing, though, and the beach was nice – I just couldn’t enjoy it with the undercurrent of baseless panic running through me.

And how can I forget the Blue Mountains! Kate and I drove out to Scenic World for the day, which is basically a nature theme park. The drive was a bit stressful because we are both hopeless navigators (I’m known for saying things like, “it looks like up ahead there is a little turny thingy? Maybe?”) but we blasted music and sang along so loudly we gave ourselves sore throats. The park was expensive but worth it for the stunning views. I particularly enjoyed the slightly terrifying train ride down to the rainforest, which is unbelievably steep. There was also a sculpture exhibit going on, which we tried our best to appreciate (art is hard).

Brief highlights of Melbourne: we drove over to see the famous bathing boxes on Brighton Beach and yep, they were pretty! The beach would have been nice if it had been about ten degrees warmer. As I mentioned, we ate a lot of food and drank a lot of alcohol. Eventually, Kate and her family left and I had one night at a hostel. I was super nervous about getting back into solo travel but I made some friends for the hostel’s night event: Boozy Bingo! I walked up to some Welsh girls and asked to sit down and we had a wonderful night drinking way too many beers and completely forgetting about the bingo.

The next day I was deeply hungover and literally slept on a couch all day before somehow managing to catch my flight and immediately pass out. Next up – Bali!

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