Now 10 days before we leave we want to share with you one of the last stories in the Friends Abroad series. Today a new and educational one from Edwin who lives in Sydney Australia. He is a true magician in the way he works with words. You are going to be in for a treat. We could not stop laughing when we read it for the first time. We hope you will like his humor as we did. Enjoy!
Why did you immigrate to Australia?
During university we both, like many, had our share time of wandering abroad during internships and travels. To wander about outside of Europe remained one of our biggest wishes from that day on. So after working for a couple of years in the Netherlands and sometimes abroad for different projects, we decided to take the gamble and head off to Ozzie land.
Which road did you take before you started living in Sydney?
This was a strategic choice. We wanted to life in a metropolis and in a country with a strong economy; preferably English spoken so we would not have to take a step back work wise. Also important were a nice climate and a stable visa system so it would provide us the necessary opportunities to stay for a longer period of time. Sydney floated right to the top of the list despite we had not been there before. San Francisco / Silicon Valley was high on the list as well but to get a green card in the USA is not that certain, especially if you go without a job. In many cases it looks more like a lottery. This tilted the scales right to Sydney.
What are Australia’s must do’s?
There is so much to do, and on many different places and… miles and miles and miles apart! So your must do’s depend on the amount of time (and money) you have. My personal highlights are in random order and maximum spread over the country:
- (Night) diving on the Great Barrier Reef (sharks, turtles, stingrays; the whole bunch swim bye);
- 4×4 racing on Fraser Island (watch out for dingo’s when you step out for a piss during the night);
- Surfing in Byron Bay together with dolphins (and ok, if the Misses does not want to join you for a nights out, the cheeky Monkey bar is especially fun on a Wednesday evening);
- Watch crocodiles jump 6+ meters out of the water in Darwin (“jumping croc tour”)
- Take a ride over the Great Ocean Road with all her splendor and the wonderful beaches and parks in Western Australia.
In about 4 weeks we are going to Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia to swim with Whale Sharks (they can reach a length of 12 meter); one off my bucket list. Furthermore, I hope to visit Port Lincoln someday to do some Cage Dives with white sharks and besides some dusty outer roads in Western Australia and Northern Territory we have not been to the real Outback. Next to these more famous attractions there are many less known national parks that are worth visiting – it is almost too much to mention. Certainly there is no lack of choice!
What are Sydney’s must do’s?
This is my short version for inspiration: Tattoos and fake boobs watching in Bondi Beach followed by a coastal walk to Cogee beach, drink a beer in one of the nice pubs of Surry Hills. Take a look at hippies in Newtown, have a laughter at people who have to work in the Central Business District (CBD). Do the tourist round because secretly this is very beautiful (Royal Botanic, Opera House, the Rocks, Harbor Bridge). Drink excellent Whiskey at the Baxter Inn, do a rooftop beer at Ivy & Glenmore and if you find the time, take the boat to Watson’s Bay for the crab-races at the Beach Hotel. And if it is the right time of the year do a whale watch tour.
And last but not least visit my hometown Manly Beach. This piece of paradise lies just a 30 minute boat ride away from CBD. Manly is the best place to surf and snorkel when the water is warm enough. Then it is possible to see Dusky Sharks, Stingrays and huge Blue Gropers. Further down you can mountain bike like a pro or just lie on the beach and relax. The 4 Pines brewery has excellent beers and the Wharf bar nice sundowners. At night the music is great at Donny’s. And if by then you can still stand, turn off the lights together with all the other ‘no chance’ people in the crypts of The Boatshed.
Describe your most beautiful day in Sydney?
This was the day my daughter was born. I will spare you the details…. ☺
Who or what do you miss the most in the Netherlands?
Friend and family (deliciously cliché…). My football club clearly has troubles maintaining success after my departure, just to use an understatement. Watching the Dutch national football team during the world cup was a real changing due to the time difference. I tried to adopt a local football club but deep inside I really don’t care. I follow the NRL (rugby) a little bit. The annual sport event which really pumps my adrenaline is the State of Origin (again rugby). In this event players who are born in the state of NSW take on players who are born in Queensland in a best of 3 series. This is a huge spectacle with passion and a lot of trouble on the field (while the players normally are colleagues at their club). I have not found a better derby feeling yet.
And what I also miss (and I realize that this will let me look like a real D66 politician (red. D66 is a Dutch political party), is Europe! Culture and history isn’t around that much over here. My doorknob in Amsterdam was older than many ‘monument’ in Australia. And on top of that, many different places are within driving distance! A 12 hours plane ride is the bare minimum to reach the ‘real’ abroad (New Zealand not counted in). Before our departure to Australia we lived in Antwerp. London, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris where all within a couple of hours distance and then I don’t even count the small towns like Bruges, Mechelen and Maastricht. Now I realize what an unprecedented luxury it was. Furthermore strange things happen when you leave Holland; sometimes I miss persons like Mart Smeets, Jort Kelder and Maarten van Rossem (famous people in Holland with an unorthodox way of living and or pretty strong opinions). Of course I will deny this when asked. So hereby.
What is the hardest part of living abroad?
Getting stuck on a plane for 24 hours before you can spend a night together with mates in the pub remains the hardest part. And this won’t get better with our latest addition to the family sitting on my lap, I think.
Where will we find you in 5 years?
I really do not know. I like it here at the moment. My job enables me to life in other places on this globe and the Netherlands will continue to pull. So we will see.
What have you learned of your stays abroad?
How much we wanted this, living abroad. There are quite a few moments (especially in the beginning) that you are going to be tested: getting a visa was a true ‘job from hell’ and besides the fact that it costs tons of money, it also costs a lot of energy. Next to this there are a few things where we did not think of beforehand which also are harder. For example applying without local experience or a professional network, finding a house without knowing the city or the housing market (and decorating your house without having any furniture to start with is not recommended as well) and all the red tape surrounding the dealing with public authorities (e.g. tax return, paid parental leaf, etc.).
What do we need to keep in mind, while travelling?
Ehm… In Australia, a filled wallet is pretty handy and or a necessary evil. The free market has its limitations on a remote island…. And greatly enjoy everything! So don’t try to update the site that much… 😉
And stay away from those miserable types that tell you that after 2 years, their trip around the world still is the best time of their life. While they are secretly unhappy and any normal social etiquette that may have existed in the past is long gone. You will recognize the type. The idealistic Facebook poster. The Social media hippie. The vegetarian who sees it as his lifework to convert others to the salad doctrine. The people that ask you one question and afterwards they chatter on and on about all the things they have done. And how bizarre / unique / cool it all was. And that you probably won’t experience this. Be aware. Step back. And fucking run!
Thank you Edwin and see you in Sydney:-)
“Friends abroad” is inspired on “Bloggers on the road” of Hasta la Proxima.