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5 Things I Hate About Sydney

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If you want to know how beautiful and wonderful Sydney is, I am pretty sure you will find plenty of resources on the internet. Sydney is a great place to live after all. But, although Sydney always ranks as one of the top livable cities in the world, there are lot of things I hate about the place. And I am actually pleased to find out that I am not the only one who thinks like that!

There are many articles on the internet externalizing feelings of hate for the city. Many of them are written by Australians who are – or were – living overseas. I must admit that I didn’t find many complaints coming from foreigners living in Sydney, but it didn’t surprise me. It is so much easier to criticize the place where you are from instead of the place you chose to be your home, isn’t it? The grass isn’t always green on the other side.

Tired of all the same flattery about Australia everywhere, and after reading some quotes about what people hate the most in Sydney (and agreeing with many of the things from the list), I have decided to share my own top 5 things I really dislike about the city. Sydney is awesome, yes, but we have to admit that there is no perfect place in the world.

1.       Wind

It is always windy. It doesn’t matter the season. In the country, with so poor natural ozone protection, the wind is so strong that it is impossible to use big umbrellas on the beach.

I had a sore throat for one month when I first arrived in Australia just because of the wind!

I also don’t know why I bother to straight my hair to go to a party. It is particularly difficult to take pictures outdoors.

Ah, and good luck hanging your laundry outside on a windy day.

Trying taking a pic but the wind didn't really helped
Don’t bother straighten your hair if you have an outdoors’ party. Phote: Clarisse Kent
Wind in Sydney
It is a beautiful view. Just a shame we could not stay out for longer because of the wind. Photo: Clarisse Kent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.       Traffic lights

It goes together with the first point. In winter, the wind is not only strong but also extremely cold. Since the traffic lights always take forever to change for pedestrians, it is very painful to wait to cross the road when it is cold. Do I need to mention the hair again?

3.       Too many tourists in summer

I have a love/hate relationship with Sydney in summer. I love it because… well, it is summer!

I hate the fact that everything gets so packed. It is impossible to walk quickly in the city, and it is even worse to go to or come back from the beach. I lived in Bondi once, and believe me Bondi can be pretty stressful in summer. Need to take public transport to or from the beach? Be ready to wait in long and messy queues. Are you driving? Good luck with traffic and finding parking spots. Buses to Bondi are always full in summer. It doesn’t matter if it is 3pm or 3 am.

traffic of big umbrelas in Brazil
Just for the comparison: Guaruja beach in Sao Paulo in summer is as packed as Bondi. But they can at least use the umbrellas for sun protection.
packed Bondi Beach
Bondi beach perfectly packed in summer. Photo: Sydney Morning Herald.

4.       Everything closes very early

I find the new Westpac commercial “Australia doesn’t close at 5 anymore” very funny. Everyone finishes work at 5 or 5:30 pm, but the shops close at 5 as well. So, if you work until a bit later and need to do some shopping after work, forget it. The only day the shops are open late (9:30 pm) is Thursday.

5.       Taxi drivers

This is perhaps what I hate the most in Sydney. Of course there are exceptions but generally taxi drivers in Sydney are rude, don’t put any effort to communicate properly with you, always get lost, and never arrive on time when you book it in advance. They always try to rip you off by taking the longest drive home, making sure they go via every single tol in the city. Even worse: THEY DON’T OPEN THE DOOR FOR YOU IF YOU ARE NOT GOING FOR A LONG DRIVE. Getting a taxi after a party has become my worst nightmare. Even if I manage to stop a taxi (which can take several minutes), the fact that I live only 20 minutes away from the city is enough to make many of them to refuse to take me home.

Although I hate a few things in Sydney, the truth is, overall, I don’t really hate it here. There are many more reasons why I, and thousands of other immigrants, have decided to live in this city. And who would blame me for that? It is not difficult to love this city when you can work from home on a balcony with this view every day.

Sydney: how not to love it?
How not to love it?

6 WILD animals you will find around Perth in one day

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If you want to see animals in their natural habitat, Western Australia will not disappoint. Galahs, quokkas, tortoises, different species of reptiles, are just examples of wildlife you can find in the Perth surrounds. Surely enough I have seen many wild animals on this trip. Six of them in only one day! This is the list of the 6 different types of animals I have seen in one day around Shoalwater area, Western Australia.

1. Dolphins

Last time I came to WA I had the great pleasure of watching 35 to 40 whales (Humpback and Southern Right) having a party in the ocean in front of me when I was randomly walking around the Blow Holes of Albany.  It was such an unreal unexpected experience.  Those huge whales were breaching and splashing water everywhere in such a way that I am pretty sure they were pretending to be dolphins.

You don’t see whales jumping around that much every day.

This time it was the dolphins that prepared an expected show for me. It was not part of the plan but our ferry ride to Penguin Island was surprised by 2 female dolphins with their babies. They were so closed that it felt almost like I could touch them.

Although it was very cool to see dolphins, I have to point it out that they were much better behaved than the whales from Albany. Maybe there is a personality issue happening in WA’s ocean.

Dolphin in Penguin Island
The unexpected visit of dolphins on my way to Penguin Island – WA
Female dolphin with its baby - Shoalwater Bay
Female dolphin with its baby – Shoalwater Bay

2. Penguins

Ok, I was in Penguin Island so you would expect me to see penguins around. But, it doesn’t change the fact that it was almost 40C in Perth so, seeing penguins “sunbathing” with me at the beach, was pretty amazing. The Australian penguins are the smallest in the world and they are malting this time of the year, which makes them seriously cute.

3 penguins malting at the beach
3 penguins malting at the beach
Penguin feeding in Penguin Island - WA
A penguin that just finished the malting process in Penguin Island. Beautiful and shinny feathers.

 

   

3. Australian Marine Seals

You cannot stop in Seal Island but you can get very close to it with the ferry. The seals here are much smaller than the elephant seals I saw during my road trip in the USA last year (check the video on my Facebook page).  According to our ferry driver, the most successful seals are the biggest and fattest so, if in our eyes they were all sleeping and relaxing at the beach, in seals’ perspective they were actually working out.

Australian Marine Seals
Australian Marine Seals working out.

 

4. Pelicans

There a 500+ community of Pelicans living in the area. Seeing hundreds of them together is just unreal.

Pelicans
Pelicans

 5. Sea Birds

There are 50 different types of birds around Shoalwater area so, to be honest, all I could recognize was the pelicans – and it was only because it is very difficult to miss out on such a large community. Although I don’t know what those birds were, they definitely helped to make the scenario even more beautiful. 

Birds in Penguin Island
Birds in Penguin Island
The birds in Penguin Island are not afraid of people.
The birds in Penguin Island are not afraid of people.

 

 

 

 

6. King Skink

It was a bit scared for me but a huge sensation for the kids.

King Skink in Penguin Island
King Skink in Penguin Island

Rottnest Island: a Day Trip to Paradise

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The decision to go to Rottnest Island was made kind of last minute. We knew we wanted to go there this last time we were in Perth, but only decided to plan the trip while we were already there. Because of the Christmas holidays, the city was completely packed. And – so was the island. With no accommodation available, the only option for us was to make it a day trip.

The island receives 450,000 to 500,000 visitors per day in summer and offers simple accommodation to only 5,500 people, which means that 70% of its visitors go to the island for the day only. We did and it was completely worth it.

beautiful blue in Rottenest Island
The best blue water

The ferry tickets available for the day gave us a late start and we arrived on the island at 11 am, after the 30 min ferry ride from the Fremantle wharf.

Rotto, how the island is called by Australians, is 11 km long and although there is a bus available on the island, bikes are the best form of transportation available. We started our tour cycling from Thompson’s Bay towards the lighthouse.

Beautiful bays, outstanding blue waters (the ones that only Australia can offer), scenic paths, and wildlife are just some of the features you will find on Rotto. The cycling can be tempered to individual fitness levels and is accessible to everyone.

The island is home to a kind of giant rat referred to as  a  quokka, and you can find them pretty much everywhere around. Quokkas and humans live in complete harmony in this part of the world.

Quokkas in Rottnest island
Interacting with Quokkas around Rottnest Island.

After visiting the lighthouse, Cape Vlamingh (the western point in the island), and stopping for many pictures; we decided to stop at Parakeep Bay for some swimming, silly magazines reading, and water activities.

Although the island was packed, it didn’t feel anything like being at any of the popular beaches, like Bondi or Coogee in Sydney for summer. The bay was completely empty and we could enjoy that piece of paradise all to ourselves. Next to it was George Bay, the closest place for food available, so we headed over there for lunch at the only cafe around that area.

After lunch, it was time to join the rest of the crowd. The Basin is the most popular spot on the island and a great place for snorkelling. Despite the fact that the ocean around  Australia is very cold and I always struggle to hit the water, the color was so blue and the weather so hot, that even I ventured in for a swim. The snorkeling was beautiful and I could see several schools of fish and sea life. I did leave the water with a sore knee and a cut on my left-hand finger after bumping into the rocks on my way back to the shore, but it was totally worth it!

Around 5:30 pm, already hungry again after a whole day of activities, we headed to the only pub on the island for some food and drinks. The Rottness Hotel is a great place to finish the day and it is very family friendly. The house features some bands and DJs from time to time, to entertain the crowd. The music generally goes from 7 pm to 11 pm. Since the last ferry was at 8:15 pm, we had time to enjoy the music for an hour before leaving the paradise.

Kids and adults were going crazy dancing in this very scenic environment, while watching the sunset. With so much to do, it’s no wonder they call Rotto an island playground.

Enjoy the sunset over the music
The Dj at Rottnest Hotel. Beautiful views from the dance floor.

Sunburned, full of bruises, very tired, and trying to protect ourselves from the cold wind that hit the island at the end of the day, we took the last ferry back to Fremantle satisfied with the great summer day we had. 

Disability Access:

The island is equipped with many disability ramps, including an ocean access into the water at Thompson’s Bay.

Practical tips:

Return ferry price from Fremantle: AU $60

Sunscreen is absolutely a must and it is never enough.

Plan in advance for a chance to get accommodation and stay on the island for a few days

Bikes: you can rent it there, or take your own for an extra AU $15. Helmets are mandatory at all times.

Snorkeling gear:  I recommend taking your own equipment if you are planning to visit the island during the busy seasons. Snorkeling gear is easily available for rental on the island on less busy days.

Water: Take your own when exploring the island. There is no drinking water or shops available in certain points. Keep yourself hydrated.

Disability ramp with access into the ocean.
Disability ramp with access into the ocean.

 

Christmas away from home: 3 Things I Have Learned about Christmas after Years Without Having One.

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Since I arrived in Australia, it became necessary for me to travel for Christmas every year. Not because I like paying double (sometimes even triple) on air fare to go anywhere I want, but because it is the only time of the year I actually have off. My last 5 Christmas holidays were spent in non-Christians countries, and with non-Christians friends, which means “not a big deal” in terms of celebration.

Christmas in India
Christmas in India
Christmas in Singapore
Last minute Christmas feast in Singapore

This year, although I am still not spending time with my Brazilian family, it will be my first traditional (if I can call it like that) Christmas at “home” in 5 years.I have to confess that spending a “real” Christmas in Australia, and not backpacking somewhere around the world, is making me feel a bit weird. This is why:

1. There is huge pressure to “be happy and have fun” at Christmas.

It seems like you HAVE to eat a lot, drink a lot, and spend all your money on useless things – for yourself and for others. You are basically forced to have a blast. This is a big pressure when you are away from home and your loved ones. Especially when all your friends are travelling and you are not. Why can’t I just have a quiet celebration for once, without people feeling sorry for me?

2. It is the holiday that makes you broke.

Christmas just became another capitalist holiday.

I actually struggle to find a reason for the tradition of giving presents. Of course, I love getting presents. I just don’t see the purpose of doing it when everything is so much more expensive, for no other reason, than it being Christmas.

It is the pressure from society that makes us pay more to have gifts ready to be distributed on the 25th,even knowing that everything will be heaps cheaper ONE DAY AFTER.

I found a very interesting article called “Why I Hate Christmas” that expresses a bit of this pressure in this quote: “The only reason the tradition of giving gifts for Hanukkah exists is because it helps Jewish kids feel less left out when all their Christian friends are getting loads of them.”

Again, it is all about capitalism!

The pressure of having fun for Christmas comes with a bill: decorations, dinner, new clothes for the parties, Christmas cards, secret Santa, postage to send the presents overseas, etc. This list can go on and on.

I read on the news the other day that Australians will spend 3Bn over the weekend. After 5 years, I forgot how annoying it is to go shopping during this season. The streets in Sydney are packed, hot, noisy, – big chaos! I did try to do my shopping, but in the end, I just gave up and left empty-handed. Wine and chocolates will have to do the job this year.

3. Happy Holidays instead of Happy Christmas

Christmas is a religious holiday that has lost its true significance for many people over the years. Many celebrate Christmas as just a holiday to spend money and reunite the family for dinner. In my opinion, the fact that part of society doesn’t recognize Christmas as a religious holiday doesn’t justify the idea of changing the holiday’s meaning.

I have friends from many different religions and it is very common for me to receive cards of Happy Hanukah, Happy Ramadan, or happy any other religious holidays you can name. It is an important date to them and I respect that. However, I also want to be able to send Merry Christmas cards to non-Christian friends without being criticized for that. At the end of the day, Christmas has a meaning that is not only holidays for me.

I do wish a Merry Christmas to all my readers! Especially to my friends around the world who have spent Christmas with me, like a family, in my past 5 years away from home. Thank you for sharing those moments with me!

To all my friends, there it goes: My very own Santa dance! Wishing you the best Christmas ever! 🙂

http://www.funpunch.com/ecards/recipient/d00ca15f-c004-4ac6-955c-52c752280d6f?sid=875061

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Will the question “Where are you from?” disappear from our vocabulary?

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 Duo relatioship parents (1)

With more and more people traveling, moving abroad, experiencing international relationships and more new citizenships being issued every year everywhere, answering this simple question of “where are you from” has become not as easy as it was before.

I have met many “citizens of the world” who really struggle with this question.  So, after one of my encounters with one of these people I started to wonder if, like many other places in the world, the whole meaning of the “where are you from” question would change or even disappear from our vocabulary in the near or distant future.

I would like to analyse this topic using a little story as an example.

Meet Jana.

Jana is German and has lived in Australia for many years. She speaks two languages fluently: German and English. After so many years living in Australia she actually became an Australian citizen.

In Australia, Jana meets Pierre, who is French and also speaks 2 languages: French and English.

Jana and Piere found each other and fell in love. The couple uses English to communicate to each other.

Within two years of the relationship Jana gets pregnant and gives birth to a beautiful little boy who they named Bob.

Bob was born in Australia but he was actually half German, half French, which enables him to actually be called Australian, French or German.

When Bob was 6, Piere is transferred with his family to America for work. Remember, Bob now speaks 3 languages and has been learning 3 different cultures. Now he is about to be exposed to a third one and he is only 6.

Although Bob can actually answer the question “Where are you from” using 3 different answers without being a lie, now that he is a teenager in the USA he really looks like a typical American boy. Oh well, who would blame him? He has spent 10 years of his life in the USA after all. Would he be becoming an American?

Bob now is an adult and, following his parents steps from the past, he decides to go abroad.  Destination: Barcelona. He could have chosen any other part of the world since he actually speaks 3 languages fluently but he chooses the challenge.

In Spain Bob meets Maria. Bob and Maria get married, changing his plans to return to USA. Soon Maria will find herself pregnant. Bob now speaks 4 languages and he is about to have a baby. Would this baby be a 5 nationality baby?

Let’s summarize what is going on here:

1.  Bob was born from a duo-nationality relationship in a 3rd country of choice of his parents.

2. Bob grew up being exposed to two very different cultures: He speaks the languages, knows the food, has friends from 2 nationalities, celebrates the holidays, spends holidays abroad and understands the values of each country.

3. But… Bob is also American. He went to school in America, learned American English, the customs of the country… he has an American passport.

4. Bob goes to Spain and marries a Spanish woman. He knows the language, the customs; he’s got a Spanish family. He is about to have a Spanish baby…

Would this baby really be called Spanish? If the baby has contact with his grandparents and all the others from his dad’s side of the family, he will learn other languages, he will start traveling at the very early stages of his life and all of the international world will become very common to him. Does he really need to choose only one nationality?

This is not a fictitious story. This is real life! I, myself know many “Bobs”. I have friends who refer to their kids as half this half that”. And they really are half/half!

How about Bob? How should he be answering the where are you from question?

Well, if the question will disappear in the near or distant future or just change in its essence, the idea of having multi nationality kids who actually belong to the world makes me smile….

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Ana Gusso Ana Gusso is passionate about the world and she is always looking for opportunities to learn.

Co-author of the book/guide: First Time Foreigner, Ana Gusso believes that “traveling is for everyone” and has created the “Pack and Go Movement” to motivate people to start traveling now!

Is this your first time reading my blog? Welcome to my page! It is a pleasure to share my visions and opinions with you.

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