This is my new mantra for the rest of my trip and life in general….The inability to actually sit and concentrate on a book or books while exploring the planet was articulated initially by Pedro, a semi-buzzed-when-we-met guy who “liked to take the mickey out of me” – something I have gotten used to while in Australia. We met at my hotel bar on one of my last nights in Perth. Pedro wasn’t easy but he and his boss, the big G, did entertain me for a few hours. Or berate me. A bit. For simply trying to watch part of Mandela’s funeral. But as often happens, things start out rough and it turned around and it wasn’t long before they introduced me to my new favorite drink – a rusty nail. Two shots scotch and one shot Drambuie. YUM! And we were drinking together!
It is the truth – I have learned that you can’t take a trip around the world and expect to relax or sit still. There is way too much to see and do. Everywhere! Too bad I didn’t realize this clear fact before I schlepped four books around the world. I have read maybe 20 pages of one. That said, I have accomplished a heck of a lot during my turbo-charged trip. I am seven and a half weeks into it and am in Abu Dhabi where I finally had the opportunity to slow down. A bit. It’s an interesting contrast of men dressed in their Dishdash and women in Abaya with Hermes handbags juxtaposed with semi-hooker, scantily clad Russian girls. Few locals drink but they smoke a lot of cigarettes and cigars openly in bars and restaurants and drink Red bull. In order for a local to drink they have to have their own liquor license. Yet it’s seen as quite lenient for the Middle East here. No need to even fill out any documents for immigration. But here I am in my Abaya today at the Great Mosque in Abu Dhabi…I learned a lot about mosque clothing etiquette.
I got so caught up in the moment I missed my tour and had to tag along on a tour with some Canadians….the guide was nice enough to provide me with some background about the air conditioned (thank god!) Mosque that was only completed in 2004. That’s what happens when you live in the moment….or at least when I do.
I also saw a gold vending machine – ATM rather at the Emirates Palace Hotel. You can actually buy gold from the ATM. Fascinating.
And the hotels, and buildings in general in this part of the Middle East, are enormous! My hotel….
Or they have a cool architectural design and a LOUD Ferrari race track next to them – like this one on Yas Island.
Quite a change from Australia which I now refer to as “warm Ireland”. Similar mentality combined with the same passion or propensity for booze. Even the women get rather loud and raucous. But I enjoyed many moments in Australia. I smelled the ocean, felt the flowers, breathed the trees, shuffled though swishy white sand on many beaches and hiked up to peaks and flew without doors on a helicopter. I have made eye contact with innumerable strangers, made friends with some and hung out with a couple for more than a day or two. People I hope to know for a long time to come. This trip has given me faith in the human spirit again and reminded me how much beauty there is in nature and in people. There are kindred spirits out there and it has felt good to be understood by a select few. I thank them profusely and you know who you are. My saving grace in Sydney is moving to NYC in January and I am thrilled!
It’s interesting when your expectations are one and the outcome is entirely different. On many occasions I expected something to work out one way or be a certain way and the reality was nothing I anticipated. Sometimes worse. Often better or different with a moral to the story or a lesson to be learned. I am still pondering some of the potential lessons and will for quite some time I imagine.
The Harbor Bridge climb in Sydney was amazing however….great views…
The bridge from the ground at night…
The Opera house while an incredible piece of architecture, very disappointing on the inside as it is really just several small theaters and not one grand one like LIncoln Center or Radio City in NYC.
It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. The other day I visited an island called Rottnest Island. The name suits and I should have listened to my gut which said to skip it but my judgment was clouded by several locals who encouraged the visit. It was a typical day for me when all I wanted was a chill beach day and instead spent my day searching for that perfect restful place. First I embarked on a three hour ferry ride. Thereafter, a forty-five minute wait to rent a bike followed by a one hour hilly bike ride (with fifteen pound backpack) against the wind with a fly net around my head. When I still hadn’t found the beach and it was 1PM and I had a time limit to the only ferry back at 330PM, I accosted four 75+ year old ladies and asked where the heck the beach was located and they convinced me to ditch the bike and hop on the bus with them. I tentatively agreed. At this point I was so tense that I drank the wine I had bought for said non-happening relaxing beach day out of the bottle while on the bus. I went back to bike store to get refunded my money and then was driven to a beach that was gorgeous and not windy and only a 15 minute walk from town and had a whopping 45 minutes there before I had to walk back to town to catch the hellacious freezing three hour ferry back to Perth. Due to high winds it was extremely rocky and I thought for sure we would tip over. Was in bed at 9pm that night. Whew exhausted just writing it! Pretty water….not worth flies, wind, heat hell….
Thank god the beach was finally gorgeous…I think the wine helped….
Oh and I can’t forget to mention the animal that people are wild about on Rottnest Island. it’s called a Quokka – a combo of a rat and a Kangaroo. So basically a hopping giant rat. I don’t know about you but it was not a cute combo and coming from NYC giant hopping rodents are the last things I am getting excited about….
I saw this article the night before I went to the island and is why I didn’t swim in Perth. The shark capital of Australia….
The following quote was shared with me last Friday during day one of my visit to Perth by my friend, Boyd. Boyd is a Kiwi I met on the street when we were both photographing kangaroo statues and I offered, and he decided, to tag along on my day to Freemantle and Cottesloe Beach. For whatever reason that I can’t articulate, I was surprised it was a quote from Marilyn Monroe:
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Marilyn Monroe
Resilience and adaptability I think are what makes one have an easy life. Although I am fluent in both I am trying my best to conquer calm. It’s difficult navigating your own landscape and almost eight weeks alone has given me the gift of trying to sort it out without falling off a cliff. I have fallen a few times but I have picked myself back up and am still here.
A quote I saw from Muhammad Ali – spoke to me….where I saw it was interesting – on a man’s arm outside the Sydney Opera House.
The actual quote is: “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” Something to live by….
Throw in some wishes….from the Botanic Garden in Sydney…
And some unconditional love….even though this fella got my friend a huge speeding ticket of $400 and three demerits on her license (UGH)- we were going all of maybe 45 mph while trying to catch up to my four legged friend! CRAZY laws in Australia!!
Or these cuddly creatures who I will miss in OZ…
And….the conclusion is….
A little something for my friends getting divorced out there….couldn’t resist taking a photo.
Last day in Manly Beach….ahhhh I do miss it. The first is from my Spit to Manly hike – gorgeous!! And the second, well my reward.
Off for my day in Dubai. Who knows what adventures will happen….but it will involve this.
Oh and my trip has apparently shadowed Justin Bieber’s tour – first Byron Bay, then Sydney, then Perth all sold out and lots of stories in the local papers about him and his entourage. And then, I end up having the same massage therapist come to my room in Perth. What’s the chance. I had to ask….had she disinfected her hands….it’s scary when your trip is shadowing the Biebs…