So this is my last travel note from my nearly five week trip through Asia Pacific. I’m now wrapping up in Sydney, getting ready to get on a flight home (via Seoul) tomorrow early AM.
Yesterday, for reasons that are beginning to evade me, I went on yet another horrid death march. On this particular walk, I started once again in the Central Business District, but headed north. Where on my last big march I walked to Bondi Beach, my goal yesterday was to walk to it’s sibling, Manly Beach. Manly sits on the north side of Sydney harbor, facing the Tasmin Sea. To get there, I walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge (you can do this without doing the famous bridge climb), and I began to make my way through an area called Mossman. Mossman is similar to the Eastern Suburbs except for the obvious point that it sits on the opposite side of the harbor. As with my earlier hike, I did the trek by staying close to the harbor coast lines as much as possible. I really didn’t intend to do another too-long walk, but by the time I got to Manly Beach, 16vmiles had elapsed (well over four hours with 700 feet of elevation gain). Once again, my feet were on fire.
One of the big points I would make about Sydney to anyone considering a visit is that it is possibly the most walkable city I have ever visited. On yesterday’s walk, I discovered the most of the harbor coast lines are occupied by large parks that have walking trails. This means you can hug the harbor line in the most pleasant way imaginable, including looping around one of the world’s better zoos. In fact, in terms of walking it, I really only barely began to scratch the surface of the seemingly endless walking trails that comb through Sydney and outlying areas. In my mind, it is one of the features that really makes this city pretty special. As always, there was the payoff of yet more beautiful scenery including some nice views from the ferry I used to get back from Manly to Sydney center.
If yesterday was about inadvertently torturing myself by walking too much. Today was an entirely different sort of challenge: I let myself get goaded into trying surfing for the first time by an Australian chef that used to work with WW. He implored me over lunch to give surfing at Bondi a shot, and I had to inform him that at 47, I was far too old and rickety for any such hijinx. He assured me with the certainty of tomorrow’s sun rising that I would get up on a surf board before the lesson was over.
Armed with a false sense of confidence or perhaps a certain amount of resignation, I headed over to Bondi beach this morning to get my very first ever surf lesson. My fresh-faced surfing instructor give me three simple instructions:
- Don’t grab the rails of the boat, but keep your palms flat and level with your lower chest
- Make sure to look up when you stand
- Don’t overthink it. [ Don’t overthink it? I overthink everything! ]
She had me practice getting up about five times on the beach before we went into the water. I assumed that I would spend the entire 90 minutes practicing on the beach, and here she was putting me right into the deep end. And then the absolutely most bizarre thing happened. I found myself standing on a surfboard heading toward the beach. Weird! Even weirder was that it actually happened a whole bunch of times. As did a ripe number of face plants, but those don’t count. Honestly, I really didn’t think that this was possible for someone of my age, and she informed me that she had an 80 year old try it a few weeks ago for his first time ever.
I really am coming to the conclusion that the old-dog-new-tricks thing is utter BS. Why? Because dudes, I freaking surfed.
It goes without saying that I could not have scripted a better way to end this trip.