April 20th, 2010 never occurred during my life. While the rest of my friends and family lived this day, I flew over the International Date Line at just the right time so that my personal calendar went from April 19th to April 21st. This was how I started my trip to the land down under.
I landed at the airport after the longest flight I had ever been on (~14 hours) and promptly missed the opportunity to see the driver that had been hired for me holding a sign with my name. (I didn’t realize I had a driver and in hindsight missing the experience was probably a good thing for my ego ;-p) Instead, I waited in baggage to meet my co-workers. It was the one of the first major trips I had ever done and I didn’t know what to expect. I was just hoping for kangaroos.
I am not sure if my perspective was skewed but my first impressions of Sydney was that it was essentially a better version of my hometown of Seattle. Like Seattle, it was on a bay with a modern skyline, covered in green and had an easy-going culture. Unlike Seattle, the weather was consistently sunny. It essentially had all the pros of Seattle with better weather. (Wait why did I leave? Oh yeah, those family and friend people.)
I was passing through the city to speak at a marketing conference but made it my priority to see as much of the city as possible. Within hours of landing on the gigantic island nation, I made my way to its most famous landmark, the Sydney Opera House. On a local friends recommendation, I found myself on a quick ferry ride to the city zoo which happened to pass right by the famous funny roofed performance center. The weather was perfect and I was enjoying the company of Gillian Muessig (@SEOmom), the woman who had taken a chance on me a couple years earlier as an intern. (What a smarty! ;-p) The conversation and the experience was perfect.
We arrived at the zoo and were subsequently blown away by how beautiful it was. To enter the park, you take a gondola over the zoo and stare at the backdrop of the city skyline on the other side of the picture-perfect bay.
After floating over some elephants we stopped outside of the koala exhibit. Ummm yes.
Next we stumbled upon a large metal door. Curiously, I opened it and walked in. I was immediately greeted by another door. It was a lot like entering Frances Hodgson Burnett’s secret garden. To my right, I made eye contact with a lazy kangaroo. Success! I had completed the stereotype bingo.
The kangaroo was not inside a cage and I instantly thought about those YouTube videos of the boxing kangaroo. I was hoping this was not her. I continued to walk around the self enclosed area and spotted a wallaby. I made some stupid joke in my head about Rocko’s Modern Life and continued my Subaru commercial of a day by continuing my stroll with Gillian around the zoo.
Eventually we made it to the bottom of the zoo and reboarded the ferry. Despite both having flown for 14 hours we both felt alive and awake. We got lost coming back and stumbled across a fantastic tiny restaurant underneath an atrium.
I prepped for my presentations the next day and enjoyed some beers with some colleagues (not at the same time). Although my time in Sydney was too brief, (I only had a couple days in the city flying over to New Zealand for a real vacation), I still managed to make some great friends, meet a very cool girl and learn a lot about the city.
I really only got to grasp the very tip of the awesomeness that is Australia and I hope to make it back soon to experience more delights from the land with the funny talking english speakers.