He explores

"Traveling at the Speed of Life"

Tag: big cities

Dunedin After Dark

Have you ever been wandering up and down the streets of a city in the dead of night, alone, with no specific purpose or destination, getting wonderfully lost and feeling utterly at peace? If you haven’t, you should! There’s something about the dark, something mysterious and enchanting, that lulls you into a dreamy state of mind. With nothing but streetlights guiding you, you seem to float deeper and deeper into the darkness of the night and the corners of your mind until, at last, you become one with it. And that’s when it happens: You’re in a blissful flow where time seizes to exist.

That’s how I felt walking the streets of Dunedin after dark for hours and hours to the sound of silence and fleeting thoughts, realizing the obvious, that when night falls the city changes its temper with empty streets, squares and buildings, vibrating during the daytime, suddenly radiating peace and tranquility. Everything around you looks and feels different. It’s amazing what you’ll discover through new eyes. Who knows? You might just fall in love with the object of your vision all over again.

It can boost your mental wellbeing to do mundane things, like walking through a city, in a different way, than you’re accustomed to.  I’m a strong believer in the importance of adding new twists to your everyday life, as a means to relight the fire in your heart, which I have elaborated on in this previous post: What happens when traveling becomes mundane? Follow me into darkness in the photo essay below, depicting Dunedin by night – one of New Zealand’s most charismatic cities.

The day is slowly starting to fade away, as the bird on this beautiful peace of graffiti.
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Stumbling upon this 2nd piece of impressive street art, I made it my mission to find as many as possible.
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Sunset at the Railway Station. The last train has left. The crowds are gone.
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Lo and behold! There’s one left. But it has joined me in a dreamy, sleepy state of existence. 
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And another one goes, another one gives into the darkness. 
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The sight and sound of cars and people ebbing out, as the darkness takes over.
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As a chocolate enthusiast, this is the one place I wish I had visited during the day.
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Even the town square starts to resemble a desert.
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If it wasn’t for the Town Hall clock, I would have lost all sense of time, being in flow.
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The towers of St. Paul’s Cathedral reaching out for the stars.
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I wonder how many people need redemption after a night out in Dunedin Casino?
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And I wonder how this shop would look through the eyes of a  child?
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I wonder how great the food in this kitsch restaurant would taste?
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And I wonder if God is just one of us?
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I wonder if banks and capitalism have created a problem in today’s society?
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And I wonder how many auction hunters got a good deal here?
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I wonder if the hands who created this building were proud of their work?
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And I wonder if the penguin got to choose his own tie?
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I wonder what inspired the artists to do these amazing works of street art…
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And I wonder if the artist behind this piece is as enchanted by the night and stolen kisses as I am.
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Last, but not least, I wonder if this post inspired anyone to go wandering through the streets of their own city tonight, embracing the darkness…

Big Cities Down Under: Where to start?

One of the first big decisions I had to make before starting my journey Down Under was where to start. To which city should I book my flight? Even though spontaneous travel is great, it always serves you good to do a bit of research before heading off to a new place. Here follows a brief guide to 6 of the most famous big cities in Australia and what you can expect from them.

Sidney
With some of the world’s most renowned landmarks, including the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge, Sidney gives off a vibe of big, bright and fashionable. A myriad of galleries, churches, theatres and museums guarantees that you’ll get your culture fix. Colonization and Asian migration has left its unmistakable imprint on the city and the variety and quality of restaurants is almost certainly the best in the country. The coastline offers great beaches, like the famed Bondi Beach, and a short drive away the Blue Mountains tower up in the clouds.

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Melbourne
Melbourne is also known as the culture and sports capital of Australia.  Art, music and sport is an integral part of the Melbournian spirit and day to day life. Captivating street art and graffiti in the city center, bars that promote an alternative, independent music scene, hipster coffee culture and sport events like Australia Open reflects the essence of the city. A city with an edge and intimate atmosphere. Just on the outskirts of Melbourne you can embark on one of the world’s most beautiful coastal drives along the Great Ocean Road or you can catch a cheap flight to the serene island of Tasmania.

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Cairns
Compared to Sidney and Melbourne Cairns feels very small with a CBD (center) that clearly caters for tourists. Everything you need is within walking distance: Restaurants, bars, shops and supermarkets. Yet, the most prominent, appealing part of the center is the Esplanade, where you can take a relaxing stroll along the beachside. The waters are croc-infected but Cairns has made up for this by creating a purpose built lagoon, where you can take a refreshing swim. With the Daintree Rainforest to the north and the Great Barrier Reef to the east, the city is an ideal base for hiking, snorkeling and scuba diving.

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Brisbane
Brisbane, a big brother version of Cairns, is the sunny, refined capital city of Queensland, surrounded by vibrant urban villages. Each suburb has its own distinct range of restaurants, cafés and bars. It’s the perfect place to combine art and outdoor adventures like kayaking and rock climbing. The unique, man-made riverside Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner city beach, offers an escape from the heat. Brisbane is the perfect gateway to venture into the fun of the Sunshine Coast to the north and the Gold Coast to the south with its theme parks, lively nightlife, breathtaking beaches and surf culture.

Brisbane
Perth

Perth is Australia’s sunniest capital, a relaxed city with a perfectly balanced mix between urban cool and raw natural splendor. The compact CBD (center) with its great selection of restaurants, bars, shopping and cultural spaces gives it an intimate ambience and makes it seem a lot smaller than it is. Romantic Kings Park, one of the world’s largest inner city parks, offers stunning views of the city. The peaceful, car-free  paradise of Rottnest Island, famed for its local population of Quokkas, is just a short ferry ride away and south of Perth you’ll find Margaret River where you can embrace the good things in life like wine, cheese and chocolate.

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Darwin
Darwin is a laid-back, charismatic city situated on the edge of a harbor in the tropical north of Australia with a stunningly lush, surrounding landscape. Travelers will rejoice in the variety of hip street-side restaurants and bars, exceptional, vibrant outdoor markets, innovative museums that celebrate a city with a (in Australian terms) long, bitter past and galleries which showcase the region’s rich indigenous art. Besides being within reasonable distance to the breathtaking Kakadu National Park, Darwin is also the perfect gateway to Asia, which makes it tempting to book a cheap, short getaway to Indonesia.

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One last thing you need to keep in mind before booking your flight is the weather. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just hot Down Under! Australia’s seasons are at opposite times to the northern hemisphere, meaning Summer is from December to February and Winter from June to August. As a rule of thumb the south is a lot cooler than the north and characterized by 4 seasons, with the exception of Perth, whereas the tropical north only has a wet and dry season. The wet season occurs between November and April, and the dry season between May and October.

Wherever you choose to go, each city is unique and special in its own way. But the best advice I can give you is to go and explore places beyond the big cities – there is so much more to this vast, epic continent.

 

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