Chrischurch / Mt. Cook / Sydney!

As I sit here writing this blog entry I am underneath the Opera House in Sydney overlooking the most beautiful (romantic) scenes of my life. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is to my left, the crystal clear blue water in front of me with huge yachts and cruise ships passing by. I had to sit down and capture the moment – at least in my mind and for my friends and family who read.

Rewind to yesterday where we were still in Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand. We stayed in a tiny little apartment outside of the city on Thursday night and went to a hip little pub for dinner and an awesome beer which I can’t remember the name. We were up bright and early yesterday morning to walk around downtown Christchurch to see the damage from the earthquake, which is very evident. The city is pretty much all blocked off and is a construction zone thus we didn’t get to see much. We spoke to our waitress about the quakes a bit on Thursday night which was very intriguing.  There were 3 quakes in the last 2 years which have taken a toll on the downtown, but the suburbs seemed to have survived quite well.  The little suburb we stayed was adorable, “Dilworth-like” with its restaurants, boutiques and “motels” which we’ve discovered are actually not “motels” like we’re used to.  Thank god.

After our walk around town and a quick breakfast, we hit the road en route to Mt. Cook – the highest peak in NZ. The ride was about 4 hours, but well worth every minute spent in the car.  The sites along the way, including Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki were breathtaking. I have never seen such blue lakes completely still as no boats were present. For this non-swimmer, all I wanted to do was throw my wet suit on and dive in.  Miles of endless, flat, crystal clear blue water would have been very liberating.  Driving the roads around the lakes and into Mt. Cook made me wish I had my road bike with me very, very badly.  I may have built it on the side of the road just so I could go for a ride!

We arrived at Mt. Cook about 2pm with enough time to hit one long hiking trail after lunch. We opted or the 3 1/2 hour trail with no information previously about what kind of trail it would be. Come to find out, it included no less than 10,000 steps to the top of a very, very tall peak where the top was fully covered in several feet of snow.  As we set out on our hike, we thought it’d be cool to get as high as the snow caps, but had no clue we actually would.  I used the hike as my workout for the day and hit the stairs pretty hard.  It was very very challenging but the scenes from up top were well worth the climb.  We ventured down the mountain shortly after as we certainly weren’t dressed for snow and sleet and headed back into the lodge at the base before hitting the road.  We chatted with a handsome gentleman from Seattle who was in NZ for 10 weeks backpacking after graduating grad school before getting back into the real world.  He was awesome to chat with and I wished we exchanged information.

I drove us home, on the left side of the road, for the first time and it was totally fine. I was apprehensive about driving on the opposite side but had zero issues, thankfully, and we were back safely by about 11pm in time for our 5:00am alarm for our flight to Sydney!

That brings me to now.  I decided I needed a “solo day” upon arrival so I dropped my bags at the hotel, changed and immediately set out for a run around the new city.  One of my favorite things to do as I’ve mentioned several times before.  There’s no better way to see a lot of sites in a short amount of time, then running.  I planned to go for 30-40 minutes and ended up going ~90 minutes.  Not only did I feel surprisingly good after our strenuous hike yesterday, but the sites were utterly amazing.  I love killing two birds with one stone!

I ran by a pool/ health club /cafe right on the water, with a 50 meter pool overlooking the sea.  I know I’ll be spending a bit of time there the next few days.  I saw the Opera House, Botanical Gardens, fountains, museums, and all sorts of other amazing sites. I made my plans for where I’d want to revisit after my run post shower and I knew the cafe overlooking the water and the pool would be top of my list.

I just finished a wonderful salad with fresh fish and capers and a light tasty glass of wine.  I continued walking for a while where I decided to sit and mediate, for the first time in my life.  Hearing the water in the background, the ships, and most of all, the various chatter and languages taking place was more soothing than a massage.  I mediated for over 25 minutes, when I sat down planning on about 5.

As I listened to all the tourists walking by and talking, I took a moment to be thankful and appreciative once again that I have the opportunity to be here. I’ve heard Aussie, British, Scottish, French, and tons of Asian languages and accents.  What i have not heard a ton is American accents, making me that much more appreciative knowing how much more rare it is for Americans’ to visit.  This trip is EXPENSIVE.  I might have to eat lettuce for the next 6 months to save money and drop the few lbs I feel like I’ve gained from so much eating out, but it’s worth every red cent I’ve spent and every pounds I might or might not have gained – these 2 weeks are my “off season”, after all, and we’ve experienced parts of the world many people never will in their lifetime. I’m savoring every moment!

My impressions of Sydney so far:

1.  This place is uber romantic. I would love to be here with someone special.  🙂

2.  All men wear Speedo’s. All men who wear Speedo’s don’t look that awesome in Speedo’s.  of the men who wear Speedo’s, wear white speedos. I’m praying this trend does not catch on and make its way to America. Some of the men who wear white Speedo’s have tattoos and piercings in and on and around places that startled even me, someone who is not offended by anything.

3.  The weather at this time of year is AWESOME here, from what I can tell. I hate to diss NZ, but the weather certainly put a damper on my love for the place. I’m in a tank top and shorts right now, and could put on jeans and a light sweater and be fine in both get-ups. Perfecto!

4.  This place is all tourists.
5.  I wish Charlotte was on the water. Cities located on water are just a step above the rest.

6.  The people here are extremely active. I felt like I joined a local running race while I ran along the water because there were so many people running. I made sure to our run all those that looked like they cared. 😉

7.  I add Sydney to my list of Santa Monica and Boulder, CO as the only other places I would consider moving.

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