It’s crazy to think that, as of September, I’ll have lived in Sydney for two years. But for as much as I’ve seen of this Australian city, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do here, so this weekend called for some exploring with a little help from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour.
Parsley Bay, the first stop of the day
Eager to discover a new side of Sydney, I jumped onto PARKROYAL Darling Harbour’s nifty Ultimate Sydney Day Out planner. Take a quick personality quiz, answering questions like “What’s your style of drinking den?”, and the tool puts together a personalized guide for what to see, eat, drink, and do during a day in Sydney. Armed with my results, I set off to see more of the city I currently call home. First stop: Parsley Bay.
We travel, among many other reasons, to be away from home, to get out of our comfort zones. However, there’s also quite a lot to be said for having that occasional taste of home when you’re traveling around the world or living in a foreign country. I recently spoke to a few fellow travelers and expats and asked them: What makes you feel at home when you’re traveling or living abroad?
Feeling at home in Sydney this Fourth of July
If I could have any superpower, I’d choose the ability to speak every language in the world. Sadly, I’ve yet to be bestowed with this power, but I can at least work toward it slowly. Since October, I’ve been taking a weekly Mandarin course here in Sydney. While I’m far (believe me, very far) from fluent, I’m thrilled that I can now at least hold basic conversations. I even had my first experience using Mandarin in the real world (however briefly) the other week! It can be an extremely challenging language to learn, so for anyone learning Mandarin or thinking of picking it up, here are a few tips I’ve acquired in my nine months of studies.
Today I’m talking to a fellow Sydney-based blogger, Jayne, who runs the popular travel blog Girl Tweets World. She has also recently released her first e-book, Girl Tweets World Guide to Sydney, so I spoke to her about her blogging success and the e-book.
Hi Jayne! Tell us a bit about yourself – where you’re from, where you live now, what you do, etc.
I’m a Brit who spent 12 years living in London before making the move to Sydney last June. I work full time as a travel blogger and freelance social media manager and am very lucky that I can take my work anywhere, so the transition to Sydney wasn’t as hard as it might have been.
The year is 1835. You’ve left your homeland on a long journey to the British colony of Australia, and tragedy strikes. The coughs and moans of your fellow passengers grow louder, and, before you know it, half the ship is infected. At long last, you catch sight of Sydney’s shores, only to learn you won’t be settling into your new home and building a life in the colony after all. Instead, you’re taken across the harbor to be quarantined, and you are told you won’t be able to leave or see any loved ones for at least forty days…that is, if you survive at all.
Enter if ye dare.
The Quarantine Station in Sydney’s North Head, near Manly, opened in the 1830s to serve this purpose. Immigrants arriving in Australia who were suspected of having an infectious disease were kept here until they were safe to be released, often under harrowing conditions. Think overcrowded hospital rooms, mandatory carbolic acid showers, rudimentary medical techniques, and rampant contagion.
No matter how many years I spend outside of the U.S., I’m still American through and through – and damn proud of it, especially considering the week my country is currently having. I also jump at any chance I get to be festive, so I’ve made a point to celebrate Fourth of July no matter where I am in the world.
Fourth of July last year in Sydney. Bonus points for converting Australians?
America’s birthday two years ago fell in the middle of my epic five-week trip through the Balkans. Spending the day on the Croatian island of Hvar (more on that when I get to the full trip recap in a future post!), my group of four American expats was determined to honor Independence Day in one way or another.
It’s time for the next installment of my Travel Talk interview series, and today I’m speaking to another English teacher in Spain through the auxiliares de conversación program. Ashley of Cómo perderse en España told me about her experiences in the northern Spanish region of Cantabria, plus her new home of Burgos.
Ashley at the Alcázar of Sevilla
Hi Ashley! What’s your story?
I’m originally from St. John’s in eastern Canada, and I moved to Spain about nine months ago in mid-September to work as an auxiliar de conversación in Castro Urdiales, Cantabria. However, that’s not quite the start of my Spain journey. I’ve been dating a Spaniard, born in Donostia and raised in the province of Burgos, for nearly four years. We’ve spent years going back and forth, living in different countries (U.K., Canada, France and Spain) or doing long-distance, but over the course of time I started to get the feeling that our relationship would lead us to Spain.
One of the best things about cinema is its ability to transport you across place and time. The Spanish Film Festival in Australia a few months ago teleported me to Spain and Colombia, and, lucky me, I have new teleportation plans in place: the Scandinavian Film Festival hits Australia in July.
At the age of two, I was able to explore Scandinavia on a Baltic cruise that took us to Sweden, Denmark, and Finland (as well as the Soviet Union just months before it fell!), but seeing the region again as an adult is something I’m eager to do. I’m even one-eighth Swedish, so perhaps the homeland is calling?