Thursday, November 6, 2008

Inspired, I say goodbye to the greatest city I’ve ever seen. (Day 40

Sitting at the truly cool Calypso hostel in Cairns, I am posting this last Sydney note!

(Where I am now: Gate #6, Terminal 3, at Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney, waiting for my flight to Cairns.)
What date/time is it: Wed5Nov - 12:20pm - What am I listening to: the beeping sound of an airport buggy in the the background)

I am back …
Well, sort of. I thought about it a lot and the past few days were necessary to “switch off a bit” – I was expecting to actually calm down and think a bit more about my trip and myself but I got phone calls (!) from friends checking up on me and telling me that I should keep writing. I even got emails from people I wouldn’t have even guessed that read this blog. I also got NO phone calls from some people, and even with that I understood that tehy understood...

No I am not succumbing to pressure. I am not writing for all of you, although I am REALLY happy you are reading all this. I am back into writing for me. That was in any case the original purpose of the blog (and to help mommy worry less – haha). So I will keep writing but on my own terms. That is more when I feel like it, less stress on maintaining this – even taking notes on paper might substitute the blog – I don’t know yet but probably the posts will be less elaborate and shorter – my private notes will get longer – and hopefully when I see you again we can talk about “the rest of the trip” over a few drinks. With some of you at least. At the end this is my trip and I am happy to carry you in my backpack but you guys are getting heavy (also the t-shirts and cool Aussie beach towel Katerina got me doesn’t help my load)

Goodbye but you have to come back.
As with all destinations I don’t feel sad about leaving. I’ve insulated myself from that feeling – it would be too hard if I had to do this in every place I liked. It is the same about the people I’ve met as well. We don’t say goodbye, we say “until next time” and that doesn’t really mean there might be a next time, it’s just the attitude I need to keep, else you leave pieces of yourself in every place you visit: you will end up with very little – and the original idea was to “load” with new things, places, and people. I am taking Ampi’s advice: less people, more quality, more understanding. I will do this not only for this trip but also for the way I will lead my life in the future. Tough? Yes, knowing me but it is worth a try. Enough said – the rest is mine to think about.

Sydney, I will come back. I have to. It is a beautiful place, a most wonderful combination of bustling city life and nature. If only this continent wasn’t so far away from everything else… The city has this strange attraction to me, I haven’t pointed it out but water makes a big difference. I guess it also helps if you spend a whole week in Annick’s beautiful apartment near the sea, your own room and lovely bed with soft sheets but I would feel the same if were in an 8-bed hostel room. It also helps if you have someone like Katerina showing you around but I would feel the same even with my weekly travel card and lonely planet. It’s just that the girls made this place that’s already special, even better.

Enough about Sydney (I say the word and smile). Let me tell you about the last 2 days…

Koala is the master of the Universe but only slightly more wonderful than the giraffe.
Yesterday was my last full day in Sydney - the weather far from nice – was more like “museum weather” – you know, indoors. I got to downtown around 11:00 am and realized that I have not seen yet a kangaroo nor a koala bear. Imagine the embarrassment: “Did you see any Koalas in Australia” “No” (you idiot).
I got to Circular Quay (where all the ferries leave) and took a Zoo Day pass for Tarronga Zoo. 39 Aussie Dollars is not a small price to pay to see a zoo but (in typical nagging Kostas form) I paid the money and hoped it was worth it. Yes it was. Go there if you can. I am not a big fan of animals in captivity but the Zoo is so nicely laid out and there are so many things to see. They have split it out in Sections: Asia, Africa, Sea world and obviously…Australia. First stop Kangaroo walkabout and I can only tell you I saw them. Trying to describe is probably not going to do the trick – you better tune in to the National geographic channel. Ok, they walk among you and are very calm (Annick says they are drugged) but only when you actually see them hopping around do you ACTUALLY realize this is a kangaroo. Yes live, not a cartoon, not a TV show, it is one of these unquestionable, undeniable images of Australian-ness that just shout in you face: You are in the land of OZ.

No need to tell you more about the zoo except 3 more things. Every day at a specific time the run a bird show. Great (it’s free) I thought and got to the little amphitheatre that is located on the edge of the Zoo, with a magnificent view of Sydney in the back ground. The tricks were amazing – you had a visitor at the far side of the amphitheatre standing up one arm extended with an Aussie dollar between thumb and forefinger and a magnificent tropical parrot flying over getting the coin and taking it back to the bird trainer. And then also returning it back to the owner. You might be able to understand my excitement – it was outmatched only by the 6-year olds sitting in the front row.

I got to the Koala place (it’s not a cage) right after that just on time to hear the Koala keeper’s talk. It was also feeding time. Koala’s reside in a sort of pit (or let’s call it like a stadium) where you have a walkabout all around for people to look into, there are no wires or cages, just 3-4 eucalyptus trees where these guys hang out and get fed. This is by far the cutest animal alive. From it’s fur, to it’s nose and little claws that actually can hold on to a tree in impressive style, this has to be the king of cute animals – I wanted to climb the tree and pat it, hug it. It slowly eats the eucalyptus, moved about in slow, almost sleepy motion and can even jump from tree to tree… They say that Koala’s are always stoned because of the eucalyptus – actually they always look sleepy (and sleep up to 20 hrs a day) because eucalyptus leaves have so low energy-content. Koala means “no water” in aborigine language – these guys get their water from the leaves and can hang out on the trees indefinitely. Well, they are sleeping most of the time anyway…

What’s my favorite animal? Any guesses? Those that know me should know this – but anyway, it’s the giraffe. Forget lions, bears, tigers, elephants, the giraffe is the coolest animal in the kingdom. First of all because it is funny but mostly because I think it is elegant. It slowly moves, elegant long (of course!) neck reaching for tree branches and leaves, I have the nicest of memories for a trip in South Africa, more than 10 years ago at the Kruger National park. I took tens of photos – it was simply amazing to see the giraffes eating and the city of Sydney in the background – it just looked surreal.

I can’t wait to get to Africa…

Some parting thoughts: I am off to Cairns to try my luck in scuba diving – apparently it’s one of the best places to do it, with the barrier reef all around giving you amazing views of water life – weather is great and I am already tanned thanks to the few days on the beach (Monday was another full day spent at Manly beach). As I slowly move away from the city into a more natural environment, I can’t help but think how much time humans spend in places they’ve created and transformed for their own convenience: cities, public transport, buildings, roads, bridges etc – yet we still feel an incredible excitement (well most of us at least) whenever we have the opportunity to go outdoors, see nature, animals or simply be away from all “that”. Why aren’t we doing anything about this? I don’t mean protecting the environment (although that is also important). I am talking about choosing to live in places where at least nature, not man is the predominant element. Anyway, think about it – maybe some of us just leave everything behind and go and live in the countryside…

Manly beach - girl on the seaside
Now you know why the Opera has such a shape!

Beautiful Tall animals - beautiful "tall" city - Sydney zoo's amazing location

The master of the Universe (and cuteness) is having a chat with the zoo-keeper
Beautiful exotic birds... Good voices too!
Kostas chilling out with new friend, Platipus (Sydney zoo mascot)
Read it and love nature's wisdom
More of the cute guys!!
Red panda!
Lemour's or whatever, they look like the Madagascar folks... The red lamp is to warm them on a cold Sydney day :-)
Mom Chimp and baby
Spot the real chimp in the photo!



amalia said...

Geia sou re spyropouli!

George "Teriax" T. said...

Nice !

Sooooooo... coalas and cangaroos (or however u spell their name...) nice... no boxing with a kangaroo ?


Man u r looking good...keep it up. At scuba diving, i believe u will love it...maybe u will manage to get a one use underwater camera..

Beyond that...we will c u in Tokyo ! dontforget to list us whatever you need...

Thats all...

Weather here is annoyingly hot (although Saturday will be around 20C - or thats what they tell us...)I will wait for you to come over to see the flat...

Thats all...time to head out !

Take care and enjoy !

Chris W said...


Hey man - enjoy - calm down - take your time - but drop a line from time to time :)


Anonymous said...

I think that the pic with the chimp is the first i have seen that you are not smiling.. and believe me i found it very hard to recognize you... :-)