About a year ago, my brother got married and announced that he and his wife were moving to Australia for a job offer. This wasn’t so surprising considering that the two are a pair of self-made hustlers who are always seeking new adventures and opportunities for themselves. So last July, the two packed up their lives in LA and jetted off to the other side of the world. As sad as we were to watch them leave, all of our family and friends knew that it wouldn’t be long until we would see them again.
I immediately began planning my own trip to visit them, knowing that I wanted to go in March since it coincides with mine and my brother’s birthdays, and that I would have at least a few days off from school for Spring Break. As soon as I told my brother and sister in law, it wasn’t long before my whole family joined in on the plan. Before I knew it, the months flew by and it was time to jet off to the land down under.
Our first stop was Sydney, immediately I was blown away. Over my last 26 years, I have visited over 10 countries and countless cities, but every adventure into a new part of the world reveals new wonders. I’m not sure really what I expected out of Australia, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love, and that’s exactly what happened.
Sydney is a beautiful city – clean, organized and easy to navigate. A globetrotter’s dream. We were able to take the public train system from the airport into the heart of the city with ease. From Central Station, it was a quick walk to my brother’s apartment just outside of the CBD (Central Business District).
Although we came into town a week where our Weather App said it would be nothing but rainstorms all day long, the weather could not have been more beautiful. We would experience some short bursts of rain, which would typically last less than an hour, followed by a nice sunny day.
Our first day in Sydney was probably one of my favorites. Knowing that we wanted to spend the day in the sun and explore the city a bit, my brother took our family on a long walk alongside Sydney’s Coastal Walk – a pathway that stretches across Sydney’s massive bay throughout it’s beaches. With scenic views, art installations, tons of beautiful beaches and even a cliffside cemetery, it was one of the most beautiful walks I’ve taken in my lifetime.
The next day, we decided to brave the over-cast skies and head out on an adventure across the Bay. We trained down into the Circular Quay station and were right in the middle of Sydney’s famous harbor. The views are of famous Opera House and the Harbour Bridge over the water leave you in awe of the majesty of the architecture and the infrastructure of this modern city.
We walked down to the harbor and boarded a ferry to take us across the Bay to Manly Beach. The 30 minute ferry graced us with spectacular views of the city, the harbor and the landscape. In all my life, I’ve never witnessed a Bay so grand, so massive and so alluring. The calm water was encased in glorious cliffs, that then opened up to the vast ocean beyond. Our boat was joined by the company of wind-surfers and paddle boarders who were able to take advantage of the calm ocean waters.
The people of Sydney really know how to live. Good food, great entertainment and so much natural beauty and eco-activities. It’s no mystery to me why my brother and his wife moved out there with no intention of ever coming back. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted by the idea myself.
THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
Although the rains in Sydney persisted, we weren’t going to let a silly thing like weather dampen our plans to see the countryside. We had heard of the majestic Blue Mountains, and knew that we had to plan a trip to see this world wonder. So early one morning, we headed to the train station for a 3 hour ride to the legendary mountain range.
The mountains are named after the blue tinge that glistens off the mountains and valleys in the distance from the clouds that hang above them. According to the aboriginal Gundungarra people, who originally inhabited the mountain range for millennia, the range was created when two mythical Gods fought and scarred the landscape.
When we finally arrived to the national park, we were disappointed to see that the weather did not hold up. The vast mountains and valleys below were completed blanketed by a thick fog, which gave us zero visibility. Rain began to fall, and we became heart-broken that our day trip would fall short of expectations.
We decided to have lunch and see if our luck would change afterwards. After about an hour and a half, we went back outside to the same foggy day that had greeted us when we arrived. But sure enough, as we walked closer to the overlook, the clouds began to part ways and the sun broke through. Within a few minutes, the fog cleared and revealed breath taking views.
We were greeted by the Three Sisters Mountain point, then by the eucalyptus forrest that covered the mountain and valley. We followed a pathway that took us to a bridge between the mountain peaks, then a staircase which lead down to the valley floor. We only made it about half way before we had to succumb to the air, thick with moisture yet thinned by the high altitude.
Although we did not get the clear skies and weather we had hoped for, our trip to The Blue Mountains was incredible. The spectacular views left me breathless, and made me realize how different Australia was from what I had expected. It’s not just a vast, empty dessert. It’s a dynamic and wonder filled land with immense biodiversity and natural beauty.
I couldn’t travel all the way across the world, 16-hours over the Pacific Ocean, and only see one part of the vast country of Australia. Absolutely not, I was there to explore and take in all that I could. Time did not allow most of my family to continue on to the second leg of our journey, so my middle brother and I decided to take our first trip together to Australia’s Southern City, Melbourne.
If Sydney is New York, Melbourne is Chicago. Glorious sky rises that reflected the clouds above and the river that runs through the city. Again, I was instantly impressed by the cleanliness and organization of the city. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that Australia has got the infrastructure game down! Great public transportation, well laid-out roads, and beautiful parks turn the city into a modern wonderland.
We spent most of our days in Melbourne walking through the city and taking advantage of all the great cuisine from throughout the world that made it’s way to the country. One of the things that impressed me most about Australia was the way they embrace their immigrant community. The Sandridge Bridge, which crosses the Yarra River, features 128 glass screens – one for each country in the world, with descriptions of how each country has contributed to Australia’s rich diversity.
With all the daily activities, constant traveling, and the 18-hour time difference, I started to feel worn down by the end of the trip. So on our final night, I watched the sun set over the Melbourne Skyline. There was something magical about watching the clear, clean skies change color amongst the glass and concrete. It left me with so much hope to a country where people lived comfortably, enjoyed life and embraced those around them. I never felt out of place, or had anything less than a genuine experience with the locals. I hope to return to this land down under, and I will keep my memories close to my heart
Con Mucho Amor,