Sydney (Australia), 26.08.2013
An Airbus 380-800 flew me overnight from Singapore to Sydney. The plane seemed to not really get to a decent speed on the runway when it suddenly took off the ground swiftly. Thinking about my many low cost flights of the last years, flying with Singapore Airlines on such a plane was a real treat. I landed in Sydney on a sunny sunday morning. A train took me into town, from the clean and silent airport with its clean and silent station and a clean and silent train. I couldn’t believe it, another city where everything seemed so perfectly organised. When I got out at the Kings Cross train station, I was almost relieved to find a non-perfect environment. The shops I found open along Darlinghurst Road were mostly strip clubs, beer joints and fast food restaurants. A few survivors of the previous night, clearly confused by the sudden daylight, were strolling around in search for more booze. I checked into the hotel and chilled for a while, planning my time in the city.
At lunchtime my exploration of Sydney began with a walk from Kings Cross southwards into the Darlinghurst and Paddington areas. They reminded me a lot of London and Soho in NYC with their fashion boutiques, although the pace here is muuuuuuch slower. While I was sitting at lunch on the terrace of a roadside bar, I suddenly felt cold. The sun had just disappeared behind a building and I realised that it was winter in Australia, the opposite season of back home in Europe, and that I was lo longer in one of the hot and humid Southeast Asian countries. In my T-shirt and shorts I was freezing, the first time since the night in a tent in Kyrgyzstan on lake Sang Köl. After lunch I ventured into downtown Sydney, with its skyscraper lined alleys reminding me of Midtown NYC, without the energy and traffic on this Sunday afternoon. Walking down the roads, I found myself in the harbour area around Circular Quay, with its many tourist shops and great view on the Harbour Bridge on one side and the Opera House on the other. A huge cruise ship docked in the harbour, messing up most picture opportunities. It was late and getting dark when the jet lag started hitting me, so I walked along the Botanical Garden back to the Kings Cross area and the hotel.
The next morning I woke up and didn’t know where I was and what time it was. 13:00 said the iPad, the Blackberry and www.timeanddate.com/worldclock confirmed it. Time to hurry up, since I had agreed to meet a former colleague at 15:00 on the other side of the harbour. With my first coffee to go breakfast on this trip I rushed off to Circular Quay, and from there by ferry to the Taronga Zoo. The 12 minutes (sharp!) ride was fantastic, with great views of downtown Sydney, reminding me of the ferry to Liberty Island in NYC, from where you have similar views of downtown Manhattan. The residential area around the zoo was very orderly, clean and calm. Big new cars drove swiftly along the roads between villas and low rise buildings, the perfect area to raise kids and take it easy. From there a bus took me through more of this setting to Manly, a beautiful beach town, again very clean and organised. I took the chance to shop for board shorts and beach stuff before enjoying a late lunch/early dinner at The Pantry (thanks Patrick for the recommendation!), with the first entire, non chopped, non minced, non skewered, non kebab piece of meat in a long time. The day came to an end on this beach, the sun disappeared, and I took the speed boat back to Circular Quay. Time to pack the suitcase again, tomorrow would take me to a destination I had long dreamed to see and that happened to be unexpectedly close on this trip, that is taking a little detour beyond the borders of Europe and Asia.