On a final walk in Christchurch at the beginning of this week, I came across a yard decoration that caught my attention. It felt familiar, reminding me of so many family members and friends who have had similar looking adornments in their homes or on their property. So I had to snap a photo. Do you recognize yourselves by it? We miss you, yet please know that you are always with us in our hearts!
Loren and I then said our sad farewells to New Zealand. We reminisced of our most recent time in their Southern Alps from the window of our plane that flew us two hours further east. On exiting the airport in Sydney, Australia, I was tickled to recognize how – thanks to our Journey’s five months time in Italy, I easily translated the Italian phrase that greeted us through a cafe window: first of all the coffee.
Australia is the earth’s largest island. Before its geography was known to westerners, this area was hypothesized as Terra Australis Incognita, or unknown land of the South. Its land mass is nearly the size of the contiguous United States; however, its population of about 24 million is almost half that of just the state of California, which has nearly 40 million. It seems that giu sotto or land below is still largely unknown in the world.
Loren and I are staying at an AirBnB small studio apartment in the Darlinghurst neighborhood of Surry Hills, a suburb of Sydney that feels similar to San Francisco’s Mission District neighborhood – think trendy, colorful, exuberant.
We are in walking distance to Sydney Harbour and the exceptional Opera House.
One evening we went out to see Badu Gili or water lights in the local native tongue, which is traditional imagery projected daily on the outer opera house sails. On our way we walked through the Royal Botanical Garden. This is an impressive, relaxing site and we made a note to return to spend more time here.
We are in even closer walking distance to the Bikram yoga studio, and on our first day of attending class it was a delightful surprise to find a young woman who Bikram had nicknamed Miss Glasses from my teacher training. She was also briefly visiting this studio. The last Loren and I had seen her was in her native Miami, when she was about to leave for Australia. What a fun, small world!
We returned to the Botanic Garden another day to take a docent led tour, and our guide was quite knowledgeable and entertaining. This place provides a home to rare and ancient species, such as the Wollemi Pine, as well as exhibiting examples representative of the New South Wales state’s local variety, including the Gum, or Eucalyptus Grandis.
In addition to the flora, this state is home to much birdlife. The first one I spotted was a familiar large ibis that we had learned the name of in Africa. This one is the Australian White. As our week continued I came to understand what a nuisance this scavenging bird can be, as they are everywhere, but, it is a unique, attractive nuisance all the same.
Other interesting birds we have seen so far include for example the Australian Magpie, Common Myna and Masked Lapwing. The image at the top of this week’s post is called the Little Corella.
One other big highlight this week was seeing Puccini’s opera La Bohème performed from a floating stage in the Harbour. It was touching both to read the story beforehand and to watch it performed live, and with the backdrop of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the distance from the outskirts of the stage. Wow! We feel most fortunate to be able to have – and to share here with our dear family and friends – our bountiful experiences. Thank you for following along with us on our Journey!