back from oz with little remorse

I had an amazing time down under. The people are friendly, the food incredible, and — it’s spring now — so the weather is terrific.

In Sydney, I walked all over. As eco-conscious as the city is (after all, they were the pioneers of Earth Hour), their public transport system is not the greatest — certainly nothing like NYC’s. Sydney’s economy isn’t the greatest right now either (whose is, really?), so they’ve cut funding from their public transport developments. I got an earful from a local about it — he’s none too pleased that he moved to a neighborhood that was meant to be receiving new public transport options, but after he relocated, the city reneged on the deal.

Budget cuts aside, there is a decent bus and train system and a centrally located ferry system that makes it easy to get to various points on the Parramatta River and other parts of Sydney Harbor.

But there’s nothing like walking a city to get to know it. We stayed in Woolloomooloo, with a great view of the skyline. It was a perfect central location away from the really touristy parts, right by the Royal Botanic Gardens, and a short walk to The Rocks (where Sydney’s Western history begins), Darlinghurst, and Kings Cross (a cleaned up red-light-like district).

There are farmers’ markets all over the city (organic and plastic-bag-free), as well as weekend shopping markets where you can get locally made goods (we went to a great one in Paddington). I tried my hardest to buy only Australian-made goods during the entire trip. I was doing really well until the day before we left Sydney for Dunk Island, Queensland.

I was feeling run down, had the sniffles and a sore throat. I’d also been walking around a lot, trying to collect souvenirs for friends and family. I’d walked all the way to Woollahra and then all the way down to The Rocks (about 9km or about 5.6 miles). I wanted to soak in the sights one more time before heading out of the city. I was feeling really tired and vulnerable. I spotted an interesting gift for someone (who shall remain nameless, as will the item!) and the sign said it was Australian. Why then did I ask the merchant if it was made in Australia? I guess I had to be sure. As I place the item on the counter, she says, “It’s designed in Australia, and made in China. But it’s really good quality!” I was weak. I caved. It was the only thing I bought not actually made in Australia. Even the muesli bars I bought at Woolworth’s boasted 100% Australian owned and made.

I thought about returning it, but I was already out of the shop… and hurting for a nap. Maybe I’m a bit neurotic, but I beat myself up a bit for the purchase.

Though by the time I arrived at the tropical confines of Dunk Island, I think I got over it.

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