a unique perspective on this crazy world

sprayed and quarantined ;)

I have not fallen off the face of the earth – or stopped writing or snapping photos – but it feels that way to me at least… I started writing this on the plane to Sydney… with so many great experiences in Toronto, Paris, Amsterdam and Ljubljana still to be committed to bytes… I have the memories – and the stories… hoping to record and share… we shall see… have committed to travel a little less in 2014 so my “normal” life is not always a gong show…

it’s Saturday so I can hide from the clients for a few hours so… for now…  we are going down under…

imagine you have used your Aeroplan points and booked nine months ahead so you can sit in business class.  You got lucky the flight to Korea got cancelled so you’ve been upgraded to the direct flight Vancouver-Sydney, which has allowed you to drink free champagne (real champagne, not sparkling wine pretending to be champagne :), watch FOUR movies and get a decent sleep thanks to your pod…   I love Air Canada 🙂

BTW, all movies recommended… Monsters University, Blue Jasmine, The Way Way Back… I am sure there was a fourth but watching four movies in a row rots your brain obviously 🙂

it’s 12 hours later…

I expect we will get sprayed.  They have already done the intercom message announcing there is a $16,000 fine if you bring in anything not allowed and don’t declare it.  I’m on a plane to Sydney, Australia.  Spraying and quarantining does seem right for a former penal colony (don’t bring that up if you do come to visit 🙂  but it’s actually a very smart thing to do.

Australia is an island and its flora and fauna are almost as unique as the Galapagos so it’s wise to be careful.  The cane toad taught them to be protective.


This is my fourth arrival so I think I am prepared.  I didn’t pack my usual backup food and made sure to eat my fruit and nuts on the plane.  I made sure I didn’t buy any food gifts for my Australian friends at the airport.  I didn’t appreciate how strict the rules were and have had a luckily friendly conversation with the customs inspector and avoided getting fined or quarantined… but it’s good to be careful 😉

While it doesn’t feel all that welcoming on the airplane, once you’ve passed through customs everything changes!  This is “the lucky country” and it does feel that way.  It’s one of those countries that runs well so people are generally happy.  Aussies are some of the friendliest people in the world.  And it’s a very relaxed culture.

At least that’s how I remember it.  It’s exciting to be back.  My history with the land of Oz began over a decade ago.  I only became a chartered accountant because some dude in a suit in a tiny interview room in London, Ontario suggested that a Commonwealth CA would allow me to work anywhere in the Commonwealth should I pass the exams.

By that point I’d moved from roaming wheat fields and chasing live pigs down the road when they escaped from the barn to feeling slightly uncomfortable – but still succeeding – at the most famous business school in my country.  And now I had a chance to work on Bay Street.

My father talked about Bay Street while he taught me a lot about wheat fields and raising hogs (that is the business lingo for pigs 😉  Growing up in the middle of the Canadian north in a town that couldn’t even boast a population of four figures, working on Bay Street seemed as likely as flying to the moon.  I didn’t even know anyone who had been to Toronto on an airplane, let alone worked there.

But I was really lucky that I kept having interesting, accomplished, sophisticated men see potential in me that I never saw in myself and it landed me all sorts of places I never expected to be.

The biggest culture shock of my life – arriving in Sydney.  Not because it’s SO different to Canada.  But it isn’t Canada (it’s closer now than it was back then) and I was living in a foreign country!  A country so remote you got a free stopover.  Back then I chose Fiji!  And almost got sunstroke roaming in the mid-day sun in January… but that’s another story…

Now you can fly to Sydney from Vancouver or the US west coast direct!  But you are still far away from the rest of the world.  It’s part of the experience.

iconic sydney on a sunny day

iconic sydney on a sunny day

Once we’d been sprayed and sat on the plane for a while so that spray could kill whatever it kills and I’d passed through customs without being quarantined, I came into the arrivals area just like you would in every other airport.

But, at this one, my best friend from those days in Sydney so long ago was waiting for me.  Elizabeth is like my maternal grandmother, one of those people who is so gracious and delightful you want to clone them – or at least teach others to take their lead 🙂

Last time I saw her I was watching her get married!  This time I got to meet her equally delightful daughter and catch up on the last decade…

Immediately she said, “it’s your trip.  What do you want to do?”

That’s when I realized how incredibly privileged I was.  As I told her, for most people Australia is a once in a lifetime trip and they have a list of things they need to tick off.  I KNOW Sydney… not absolutely but I have done the tourist stuff more than once.  And I’ve travelled the country more than almost any Aussie I’ve ever met.

I can fly to one of the most remote corners of the earth and just chill… but you might only get there once… so recommendations will be forthcoming 🙂

For now, what to do when you arrive…

the view from icebergs

the view from icebergs

We went to Icebergs on Bondi Beach for lunch… because Elizabeth lives in Sydney and has a husband and young daughter so it was still on her “to do list”.  Things have changed in the last decade.  Apparently Top Chef Australia is huge!  So DO book…

We didn’t… and still got a seat in the bar with a brilliant view over Bondi and yummy food.  Sydney is in the top most beautiful cities in the world so there are many places you can go – and SHOULD!  But start at Bondi… as I said to Elizabeth, it’s just like the postcards… welcome to one of the most memorable places on the planet…

The sun didn’t shine all that often while I was in Sydney but there was always sunshine on the plate.  I don’t surf – so, for me, the land of Oz has always been associated with food and wine that tastes different when the sun shines so much…

Gastronomy, koalas, the incredible wow of great friendships still to come… stay tuned… 😉

Comments on: "sprayed and quarantined ;)" (2)

  1. Enjoy your trip there! I love Bondi Icebergs. They chuck icebergs into the pool in wintertime to make it cold….


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