My trip to Patagonia back in November 2003 had been a eye-opening, soul-searching adventure of a lifetime.  I had been in perhaps the most stressful, worst job ever so getting away from the hell I was in at the time, to such a magical place, felt like a boulder had been lifted off my chest.  I could breathe again.  I could relax.  I could enjoy life.  I could be me.

But then as they always say in life, all good things must come to an end.  I had to go home and back to that god awful job that caused me so much pain and distress.  I was trapped in an incredibly unhappy, miserable situation in which I drove home from work each day in tears.  Yet there was no way that I could quit, or so I believed.  I didn’t want that unfortunate mark on my resume nor on the career ladder I was trying to climb.   I felt trapped.  Chained.  Stuck.  And miserable.

How could I go back to that hell?  Too much had changed during that week in Patagonia.  I realized that it simply wasn’t worth it.  You’ve got one shot at life, so why not give it your best?  Nothing, and I mean nothing is more important than happiness.  I needed to leave that awful, unkind, brutal place and be somewhere completely different where I was treated with kindness, respect and where I felt free.  I needed a new beginning and oddly enough, I believe it was fate.  I got just that opportunity.

Less than 24 hours after I was home, the mysterious acts of fate rang at my door.  On my first day back to work, by noon I was laid off.  Just like that, my life had changed.  I could not believe my good fortune (for in my eyes being laid off was easier to explain to a future employer than quitting).  I felt like it was a sign from above, a voice inside my heart and soul telling me that I was free.  It truly was an act of fate.

Looking back now, almost eight years later I realize that it was one of the best things that could have happened to me at the time.  For sometimes in life, it takes hardship, struggle and unhappiness to truly realize what is the most important to you.  Thus this period of my life greatly encouraged me to examine my life more deeply and figure out after ten years out of college, what I truly wanted out of my life.  It was not climbing the corporate ladder, making a lot of money or having a fancy title.  It was life itself which meant enjoying it and having a family.

Two weeks after I got laid off from my job, my dad and decided to take a trip.  Instead of looking at the negative aspect of being laid off (i.e. not having any money, needing to find a new job, etc) I looked at the positive.  I was free!  For a travel addict who never ceases to stop wanting to wonder the world, being unemployed offered me an opportunity to take another trip.  Thus in early December, a month after returning from Patagonia I found myself on board a Qantas airplane en route to Australia, the land Down Under.

We were fortunate to find an excellent deal with Qantas airlines.  For $2,200 we received an international flight to/from Australia, plus three internal flights and hotels in three cities.  We would have a two-week trip with four days in Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef.  I couldn’t wait!

We left for Sydney on December 2nd.  I flew from Minneapolis to LA and arrived around 4:30 PM, early for our 10:30 PM flight.  This ended up being a fortunate thing as I was able to score the emergency exit row all the way to Sydney.  That meant 14 hours of extra leg room!

The flight was uneventful and I managed to sleep six hours thanks to the extra leg room.  Before I knew it, the crew was serving breakfast and we were almost there!  I was so excited.  I’ve always wanted to go to Australia.  I went to New Zealand the previous year and had fallen in love with it promising to someday venture a little further west to make it to Australia.  And here I was!

We landed around 9 am in Sydney, feeling extremely disoriented after the 19 hours of flying (the most I’d ever done at that point) yet thrilled to finally be getting off the plane.  The next three days proved to be exactly how I’d imagined:  Wonderful!

We spent the next few days checking out beautiful Sydney, a fabulous, hip, urban city that is so insanely lovely I thought I could easily live there.  We went to both Bondi and Manly Beach, saw a ballet at the Sydney Opera, took a train to the Blue Mountains, walked and shopped til we dropped, and ate splendidly.  Sydney was definitely how our guide book described it:  Sophisticated.  Sexy.  Laid Back and cosmopolitan.  Plus the people were so beautiful yet not artificial or rude.  The city was full of eye candy, that is for sure.

We spent three fabulous days in Sydney before it was time to hit the Great Barrier Reef.  I instantly fell in love with the city and can’t wait to someday go back.

Here are some pictures of my time in Sydney:

Leaving on Qantas dec. 2-16 2003….landing in Sydney on the big boy

Lovely flowers in The Royal Botanical Gardens…so refreshing for me in the dead of winter!

Hyde Park

Views of downtown Sydney

Bats swarm the trees in the downtown Botanical Gardens…eerie!

A nice walking path along the harbour…oh I could so live here! 

Views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

The Harbour Bridge…no, I did not climb it (you can, if you are nuts!)

They say that the best way to see the city is by water so that is exactly what we did. We hopped a ferry and went to spend the afternoon in Manly, a beachside neighborhood. The views from the ferry were spectacular and breath-taking. Sydney is definitely a city that utilizes its waterfront. There are restaurants and bars all along the harbor. What a city!

Catching a ferry to Manly

The Beautiful Sydney Harbour

Sydney’s famous landmark, the Opera house, up close.

The Sydney skyline

We arrived in Manly in the early afternoon and were fascinated by the beach culture of Australia. Everyone from small children to seniors, were decked out in their speedos. Of course, everyone is as fit as can be. More eye candy awaited.


Manly Beach</em>: I could stay here all day!

Unfortunately our picture perfect weather began to disappear and the clouds moved in. We had to head back to Sydney as it wasn’t a good day for the beach.

The Storm Moving in

After an absolutely delightful dinner looking out the restaurant windows at the famous white sails of Sydney’s Opera House, it was time to go to sleep. We were exhausted but looking forward to our next day.

Day 2 in Sydney ended up being a rainy start. We already had plans to play golf at the Long Reef Golf course outside of Sydney. We took an hour long cab there, began to play and were soaked to the bone in heavy rain. It wasn’t fun but we had to at least play the first nine holes since we couldn’t get our money back at that point.

A rainy day for golf

Thankfully the weather cleared up by early afternoon, so we were able to make a trip over to the world famous Bondi Beach. I had heard that it was a “must see”.

Trip to bondi beach

An open water swim race at the beach.

The clouds were still heavy which was too bad because I really wanted to seat myself at one of the many hip outdoor bars and drink a bottle of wine. Oh well. It just wasn’t in the cards. The weather unfortunately was not cooperating. So when all else fails, what do we do? Eat and drink!

We had another gourmet meal in Sydney and drank our small worries about the weather away. We hoped tomorrow would be better since it was my birthday and we were planning to take the train to the Blue Mountains for a hike in the rainforest. I crossed my fingers when I went to sleep.


    1. I sure did love it. I only wish I had taken more pictures but the weather wasn’t great and it was 8 years ago now. You are from Brisbane? What is that like? My mom and dad have been to Australia many times and most recently last year, they said it was extremely expensive now for Americans. It is such a great country! I also love the laid back attitude of the people. I hope to go back someday…..ah…so many places! Need to win the lotto, huh?!

      1. I live in Brisbane, but I grew up at the beach ( there are 2 posts about Main Beach where I am from) Australia is very expensive right now with the exchange rates, which is keeping visitors away. It is good for us travelling overseas for a change, but I do understand that it can make travel here prohibitive. I have spent quite a lot of time in USA and I love it there.

    1. I haven’t gone back to work since then. After the trip, my young nephew unexpectadly passed away and I realized that it as time to think seriously about a family. I surprisingly had my grandmothers fertile genes! She had nine children! I got pregnant right away, then went through PPD and never went back. I was really on the wrong career path. I am so fortunate the way things worked out and that I was able to stay at home. We’ll see what the next years bring. I will need to make an income again, once my daughter is in school.

    1. Yes, what fate, huh. I am glad I got out of an awful situation though. Life is funny that way. I haven’t worked since as I got pregnant three months after my trip and started a family at the age of 33. Never ever thought I’d be a stay at home mom, and here I am. We’ll see what happens in the next few years. It will be time to start thinking about what I’m going to do and hopefully help contribute to the pot.

  1. First, about your job, apparently some people at my age have already been stuck in such situation, although some others have found their dream jobs. I myself am currently not that happy with my current job, not because of the salary but more because I don’t feel that this is a kind of job that I can enjoy for a long time. I feel like there is more to life than just sitting for 8 hours (or more) in a cubicle. I’m planning to make a change in my life, but I’m still not sure how and when I’m going to do it.
    Second, it’s funny that you have gone to Australia while I, who live very close to the country, haven’t visited it. This is partly because Indonesians need to get a visa before going to Australia. So, I decided to go to other countries which don’t require a visa to visit. However, I remember one of your posts about Peru, and that is honestly one of THE countries that I want to visit. What makes it better is Indonesians do not need to get a visa prior of visiting the country.

  2. I’m glad you found the one thing that is making you happy. During the first part of your post, I almost saw myself in you, experiencing life’s struggles/hardships but in the end they are blessings in desguise. Those events helps you answer the ultimate questions : what do I really want in life? And , what is it that will make me happy? Looks like you found them already. Stay blessed, be safe in your travels. Sydney is breathtaking!

  3. Fate works in mysterious ways – and always for the better in the long run.
    You sure know how to travel – I’m blown away by how much you manage to pack into your trips -all the places you have seen and all the adventures you have taken part in!
    I need an energy drink just to keep up with the reading of it 🙂

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