You’d be a fool to pass.

In early February I received an email about a flight deal from Scott’s Cheap Flights. It was round trip to Sydney, Australia for essentially any amount of time for a few dollars under $500. This was one of those times where there was simply no need to think it through. I booked a flight with two total weeks of time on that side of that planet. This was not the only flight I would be taking but more on that soon enough…

Let this serve partially as a cautionary tale, though. Jet lag is all too real when you’re human. After the short hop from ORD>LAX came the longest flight I had ever taken by a long sight. The flight from LAX>SYD departed Saturday evening on the west coast and arrived at 7:00 Monday morning in Sydney. The total is just shy of 15 hours in the air, and I don’t really sleep on planes. When the plane landed, I crashed hard at my AirBnB. I woke up around 3:00 in the afternoon and took a look outside at my surroundings for the first lucid moment of the day.

This was one of the moments I had no choice but to pause and reflect on how grateful I am for the life I get to lead. It is humble, but in so many ways, it is truly awe-inspiring. Nothing lights me up quite like a new place to explore but the aforementioned jet lag would be a weighing force for at least the first couple days of my journey.

Monday consisted of my first ever visit to the Sydney Opera House and the beginning of my familiarization with the public transportation in Sydney which was all super simple due to the Opal program. A quick swipe with a contact-less style card and you were on your way. It was a breeze and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap way to get around Sydney.

Obligatory drinking photo!

Sydney is a super modern, world class city. Everything you could possibly want or need is within walking distance and if you’re feeling lazy or have been walking for hours (which both happened to me) the Opal card gets you where you wanna go.

A view of Sydney from the steps of the world famous Sydney Opera House.

Two weeks on the opposite side of the planet meant that the opportunity for exploration was brief but necessary. See it would be simple enough to go and spend every single one of those days in Sydney and you wouldn’t possibly see everything there was to see.

I wanted to collect more flags… So I did.

During the second week, I visited New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu in the space of 5 days. I consider these exploratory flights, to see where I might want to return in the future. Truth be told, though, I’d return to every single one of them. The adventure itself was the goal this time around, and it was in full supply. As such, each of those beautiful island nations will be self-contained posts to do them what justice I possibly can.

Erstwhile in Sydney…

After coming to a basic understanding of how the city was laid out, I started to venture further out and around. This led me to take the Sydney Harbor Ferry several times, which was also part of the Opal program. This could get you out to some other beaches as well as the Sydney Zoo, which I can say from experience is one of the best I have ever visited.

…Sure I’m almost 40 and still love zoos, what of it? It’s the closest I wanted to get to the dozens of species of venomous things that live down under anyway.

Sydney from the Ferry. Froze my ass off for this one but it was worth it.

During one of my adventures outward I wound up on a several hour walk/hike through Lane Cove National Park. There was all sorts of non-venomous wildlife just out and about doing their thing. The birds in particular were spectacular and proud of their voices, which I was all too happy to listen to. It is rare to find peace but walking the shores of this park brought me as close as I can come to it. It was a disconnect from any world I knew, but it was tranquil, and that made the world inside me quiet down too.

Lane Cove National Park. A beautiful place essentially nestled directly into Sydney.

At the end of any day, this is what travel gives me: Peace. And a belief that the world is as beautiful a place as I imagine it is. So far, that has rang true in my humble opinion. But there is so much left to see… So I must forge ahead.

After my week of island hopping, I returned to Sydney for the long flight(s) home. I believe on this flight I dozed off a few times but in between bouts of insomnia I was fortunate to be sitting next to a great conversationalist who originally hailed from New Zealand. He regaled me with stories of his life as a private maritime captain and gave me travel goals to strive for.

Sydney scratched the itch but like any time I come home, the itch returns. And the mind wanders to the next adventure… Which was planned shortly after arriving home in early June.

What follows will be a series of stories about the island nations of New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu. Each will have their day in the sun, as they shared some of that equatorial goodness with me. The real highlight, as always though, was the people.

Off to SYD and the long flight back to LAX.

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