The heavens were not cooperating and I was doomed to see Sydney with grey skies, wind and rain. And for a city that boasts the outdoor, it was a disaster. It was so bad that after barely two days I left for the Barrier Reef in the hope that it would be better by the time I returned. It was not. I wish that I could mention all the wonderful things I saw. I barely managed a quick trip to see the Opera House and Sydney Harbour. Outdoor sightseeing in those conditions is not my favourite, so I didn’t. No point.
But whereas the weather was bad, the company was fabulous. One thing I have had the privilege to witness in Australia is how kind people are. I am touched how once again, complete strangers rise up to the occasion just for the sheer enjoyment of helping out. So when my arranged stay with friends fell through at the last minute I found myself staying in Coogee with Marty, the friend of someone I just met at a drinks party in Adelaide a few days earlier and whose flat was barely two blocks from the ocean. I would walk down to the bus stop which was right at the beach. After a few days I headed for the suburbs in Duffy Forest to stay with Pam and Andy, friends I had not seen in close to 30 years and who have loveliest home I have ever seen, amazing how sometimes you don’t see a friend for years and when you do, you just pick things up from where you left them last time. The suburbs are just incredible, nature, water, forest, horses, beaches. One sunny day we did a tour of the area, Cicada Creek, Bay View and Palm Beach, beautiful beaches on your doorstep. I think about what is an hour’s drive from central London and I have to laugh. It was here I realised that Australia has been the most special of all my destinations so far and I am certain the reason is I stayed in someone’s home and there was a human connection.
Alright then, things did improve the last couple of days and I commuted once into town to enjoy a bit of the city. I took the ferry to Manly and wandered around the beach. On the front row seat of the ferry I had the most fabulous view of the harbour. Impossible not to compare the commute to work many do every day with the London tube. One packed to the brim, your face stuck into someone’s armpit, being jostled this way and that. The other, always a seat available and enjoying the most stunning view of the ocean and the harbour. What a fantastic way to get to work and return home. It is unbeatable and definitely gets my vote. Yes, maybe even with a bit of rain, Sydney is in my list of places to live too.