Australia was and has always been my childhood dream country.
It is so far from Barcelona, exactly on the other side of the world! And it sounded so exotic. As a kid, I dreamt of koalas and kangaroos, red mountains, never ending sunny palm beaches and colorful corals.
I grew up but my attraction for Australia never went away. Sometimes I even considered looking for a job there, but at the end I never did. In reality, I was not sure about moving so far since I had never been there. What if it was not as I had imagined it?
The funny thing is that at some point I learnt that Australia is not the farthest country from Barcelona. It is New Zealand. And the smaller neighbor started to fascinate me with its wonderful landscapes, and I completely fell for it when I saw the Lord of the Rings films.
So I had to include Australia and New Zealand in my round the world trip. My childhood dream and my breathtaking-landscapes dream. In addition, they are on the way from South East Asia to South America (kind of), so it would be the right occasion to visit these distant countries.
But… if only. If only they were cheaper destinations! Being on a very thigh budget, I realized that I could not afford a month in each of them. Nooooooooo… Which one should I chose?
After lots of sleepless nights (ok, after thinking a bit) I finally found a solution, a good compromise. I would reduce my trip to Australia to about 10 days and only one city, and would visit New Zealand more deeply for about five weeks. Australia is too big anyway to pretend a one-month visit, so I decided to concentrate on city life and leave koalas, red mountains and corals for the future. This time, I wanted to answer this question: would I like living in Australia?
And I went to Sydney.
It is interesting that when we dream about a place, we create an image in our mind. And, even if we have seen pictures and heard talking about it, this image is usually quite different from reality. I had always imagined Australia as a warm and sunny place (yes, I tend to forget that winter exists there). So you can imagine my surprise (and disappointment) when I landed in Sydney in cold and rainy weather. I closed my eyes to the evidence, this could not be my long-dreamt Australia!
But it was. As I soon learnt, Sydney experiences the so-called ‘four seasons in a day’, and I confirm that I saw sun, clouds, wind and rain most of the days, and finally got used to it (huh… kind of).
To be honest, it took me some time to connect to the city. It usually happens immediately, but in Sydney I felt a bit strange for a while, a bit lost, floating around, like I was in a familiar place but not quite. Then it hit me: after four months in Asia, I was in a western city again.
Of course something was familiar… I grew up in a western city. But in this trip I got used to lot of people, street food, crazy traffic, street life… I got used to Asia. I was in between both worlds, and so, a bit confused for a while.
As I got to know Sydney, my impression kept improving and, eventually, I connected to the city. And I liked it.
Sydney is spread out around a large harbor and has plenty of bays and smaller bays and beaches and boats, perfect for a sea-lover as me! It is also beautiful, friendly and walkable.
I liked the architecture that – in my imagination – made me think of a large version of an English village. Some neighborhoods did actually look more as a village than part of a big city.
I liked the large public transport network that – even though expensive – allowed me to move easily around. I specially enjoyed the ferry, from there I got a nice view of the skyline of the city center, and could see the Opera House from all possible angles.
I have a friend in Sydney that I had not seen for more than five years, so the highlight of my stay was of course to meet her! It was great to see her again and remember our days in Sweden and talk about our common friends.
In addition, it allowed me to experience Sydney “as a local”. We celebrated her birthday with her friends, went out at night, ate in “cheap” restaurants and even went to dance salsa one evening. I discovered plenty of new food and had my first brunch (and the second, and third…).
Something else I liked were the parks in the city and the walkways along he coast. I really enjoy walking and it is great to do it in a place where you do not feel so much inside the city. There were lots of people running and exercising, I wondered if all Australians do a lot of sport.
Finally, there are great options for a weekend getaway without going far (without flying), including national parks, mountains and sea. There is so much nature around!
In summary… could I live in Sydney? The weather is a bit crazy and the cost very high, but the city is beautiful and walkable, people are nice and friendly, it has sea and beaches, good public transport and social life… Yes, I think I could live there.
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