It was a Friday in August around 8.00pm, after about twenty-four hours’ worth of flights and a stressful changeover, all my friend and I want to do it stomp our feet on solid ground. And we do, ‘Welcome to Sydney’ printed in navy blue across the walls of the airport as we proceed with our fellow passengers onwards. We stumble along through Immigration, pick up our luggage from carousel 15, and make our way to the exit. Sydney airport’s much cleaner than we expected, a kind of clinical white before you left quarantine.
Headed for the exit, I was preparing to brace myself for nearing zero temperatures and a coat-worthy breeze – after all, it was winter there. But to my pleasant surprise, all we were greeted with was a warm dryness, the sort you might get in London on a superb evening in May. It was then that the realisation dawned: we were on the other side of the world.
The strangest thing was that nothing after that really seemed too strange at all. Yeah, Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are not spectacles you see everywhere, strangers on the street certainly seemed to spare a smile or too more than any stiff-lipped Londoner would in a year, but after a few days, the brightly plumed parakeets and noisy traffic lights with their big silver buttons seemed to merge into the background of a city which felt less than far from home. A lack of language barrier must have helped I suppose. I think it was more the fact that I had been so nervous about being so far away from home, family, friends, if something went wrong, it could go really wrong, that had made me so panicked before. All that worry dissipated when I realised what a beautiful place I was in, and I absorbed myself in the gorgeous mountains, the rich aboriginal history which you’ll find something about in every museum, the delicious wine and cheese tasting in the Yarra Valley, Melbourne (never has red wine tasted better in my opinion), and the Sydney Fish Market where everything from roasted octopus to cheesy oyster was served.
In essence, this trip was 100% worth the risk of getting stuck halfway around the world, feeling clueless about the environment, or even just getting leg cramp on a tediously long flight – it’s a lot less daunting than you think!