The good times continue to roll! Since my last update, I’ve said goodbye (for now) to Australia, and have made my way over to New Zealand, a lush and wild island nation that will play host to some of my most anticipated days. But I didn’t leave without squeezing in a few wonderful last days in Sydney.
My last night in town was undoubtedly the most spectacular. Kenzie, Sarah, and I made our way to Milson’s Point, which offers an astonishing vantage point for the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge. We met my very dear friend Christian, who I met in the jungles of Peru last year, and his girlfriend Bronte, who it turns out is an absolute gem of a gal. Together, we shared a picnic, a few beers, a bit of wine, and this jaw-dropper of a sunset view. I can’t imagine a better way to have concluded my time in Sydney, nor a better group of people to have spent it with.
Leaving Sydney was interesting, since everything that can go wrong at an airport managed to go wrong (Boarding pass won’t scan? Check. 2 hour line for manual check-in? Check. Manual passport control review, bag pulled aside, random screening for explosives? Check, check, and check) – but ultimately I was JUST able to make my flight to Auckland on time.
My first few days here have been great. To kick things off the first night, I had the pleasure of syncing up with my friend Abdel, an Egyptian who I met when we camped together at Burning Man in the Nevada desert this past summer. Abdel and his buddy Mohammad had one day of overlap with me in Auckland, so we made the best of it with a pub crawl, picking up a gang of other travelers along the way.
Familiar faces aside (Seriously, at some point I’ll find some far-flung corner of the Earth where I don’t stumble into a friend), I’ve made some new connections in Auckland, as well. There’s Phil, the South Carolina native who watched the NCAA Football Championship Game with me and helped drown my all-too-famililar UGA fan sorrows with many, MANY beers. Viktor, from Finland and exactly 3 days my junior, who joined me for an exhibition of Banksy paintings and works and a quick hike up Mt. Eden, a dormant Volcano within quick walking distance of the CBD. Ebba from Sweden and Danny from Germany, who managed to talk me into staying out with them until 5 in the morning, ending the night in a casino after the bars had shut down.
Lots of people back home look at me like I’m out of my mind when I tell them I’m traveling around the world by myself – but the truth is, any experienced traveler will tell you that you’re never alone for long. Friendships in this lifestyle are admittedly transient, and goodbyes come just as frequently as hellos – but you sure do meet a lot of vibrant, adventurous people with whom to share your days and nights.
Auckland was never meant to be a highlight of my trip – it’s a relatively average mid-sized city in a country whose gorgeous natural splendor is the reason you visit in the first place – but it’s been a great place to start the true ‘solo’ leg of my journey. It reminded me that I’m going to meet some great folks out in the world over the next year, and it filled a few days with art galleries, friendly faces, and bars. Er… a lot of bars. 😅
Tomorrow, I’ll be hopping on a bus with a company called Stray, who help transport backpackers all around New Zealand to see all the great cities and natural postcard-worthy views the country has to offer. The real genius comes in the fact that you can hop on and off your itinerary for as long as you please – meaning, when I find a place I really love, I can stay there as long as I like and move on to the next stop whenever I please. I’ll explain it a bit more in a future post, but here’s my chosen itinerary for those of you curious about what the next month will hold:
Thanks for the memories, Auckland. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m ready to move on. Next time I share an update, I will have seen much more of New Zealand’s North Island; I look forward to sharing photos and experiences with you. ‘Til next time, folks!