Travel

Adventures and misadventures

2022 – Year of the (Water)Tiger

Next week will usher in the new year, according to the Chinese zodiac. February first begins the Year of the Tiger, a powerful sign representing strength and braveness. Those born under this sign are known for their strong moral compass, competitiveness and confidence, as well as their charm and occasional unpredictability. However, they can also be stubborn and judgmental. Tiger personalities make good leaders because they are hard workers and tend to be ambitious.

Due to their sensitive natures, Tigers can be moody and intense. The Water element will intensify these emotions. Water Tigers are known to be family-oriented and protective. Their interpersonal relationships are very important to them, and they are always looking out for the common good.

Fun fact: the Chinese calendar consists of 12-year cycles that start with the Rat, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Legend has it that the order was decided when the Jade Emperor challenged all the animals in his kingdom to a great race. The first to arrive at the Emperor’s palace would win his favor and be his personal guards, and that is the reason these twelve animals are featured in the Chinese zodiac.

The current 12-year cycle began in 2020, the Year of the Rat. It was all about survival. 2021 was the Year of the Ox, and it was about learning to navigate a new reality. And how! 2022 is going to be a year of change. It will be a year for adventure! (I’M MOVING TO SPAIN!!!) It is likely to be a year of big surprises, because people are ready to move forward, travel again and be more willing to take risks in order to make progress.

Lucky colors this year will be green and blue, yellow and red. Lucky numbers: 1 & 3. Lucky directions: North & East.

2022 is going to be auspicious for Horses, Pigs and Dogs. Monkeys and Snakes may face some challenges. But for all the zodiac signs, it is a year for pursuing your passion.

Get creative.

Take chances.

Make the changes you’ve been thinking about.

Categories: Travel, Feng Shui | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Australia is My “Happy Place”

 

The Thorn Birds The last time I was in Australia was in 1988, just after college, when I backpacked dragged a suitcase around the country for 6 months. I was not a backpacker. I needed my blow dryer and curling iron, hair products, and more than one pair of shoes.

Lured by the rugged landscape and romance portrayed in the movie The Thorn Birds, I spent a couple of weeks in Sydney before traveling up the coast to see Brisbane, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. I went all the way up to the rain forests of Cape Tribulation. Then I took a bus across the vast desert to Mount Isa, a dusty little town near Ayers Rock, where I worked in a youth hostel for a few weeks waiting on the big rodeo to come to town.  After that, I went to Darwin, and then hitchhiked down the west coast to Perth.  It was an amazing experience. When I returned to Sydney, I got a job in a bar in King’s Cross, planning to stay forever. When my visa expired, and I wasn’t able to renew it, I was devastated. I didn’t want to leave.

This time was no different, except I wasn’t by myself. And I didn’t end up working in a bar.

Australia is officially my “Happy Place.”

It’s the only country (so far) that ticks all the boxes on my “must have” list:

  • temperate climate
  • beaches and mountains
  • big cities for entertainment/airport access
  • great food
  • lots of outdoor activities
  • lots of places to see and things to do
  • nice people
  • low crime
  • affordable

G and I flew over to Australia a couple months ago, to help his brother celebrate his 75th birthday. His brother lives just south of Brisbane, in Sanctuary Cove, a beautiful, master-planned community near the Gold Coast. It’s a resort, but with full-time residents, and everything they need is a golf cart ride away. Somehow, it felt like stepping back in time. It reminded me of what it was like growing up in Saudi Arabia, in a community that cared and looked out for its members. People in Sanctuary Cove love to socialize, and dinner parties are occasions to dress up and actually interact with each other. You don’t see everyone checking their cell phones every five minutes. Friends go on trips together. Women play bridge and tennis and have weekly coffee dates. The guys fish and golf and go to Happy Hour together. No one cares what anyone else does (or did, if they’re retired) for a living. It’s very social, and everyone is accepted for who they are, as part of the community. Even the kangaroos.

Kangaroos

Kangaroos on the golf course!

What struck me the most was how fast we were accepted into the fold. We felt so welcomed and included in the various activities – dinner parties and birthday lunches and golf games. It takes years to achieve that kind of acceptance in the States, if you haven’t grown up in a particular place. G and I both grew up in expat communities, so we have always felt pretty much like outsiders wherever we have lived. But Sanctuary Cove immediately felt like “home.”  We absolutely fell in love with it. Now we’re trying to figure out how and when we can return full time.

The only down side to living Down Under, as far as I can see is, is that it is so far away from the U.S. and Europe. With all our kids located on this side of the world, it doesn’t make sense for us to move any time soon. We would be spending our lives (and money) just traveling to see everyone (all eight of them)!! But I know that some day, I will be living in my “Happy Place.”

Here are some of the highlights of our recent trip…

 

 

Sanctuary Cove:

Sanctuary Cove

Sanctuary Cove

A pool that looks like a beach!

Brisbane:

Downtown Brisbane

The waterfront area had so many cool buildings and restaurants.

SouthBeach, Brisbane

South Bank was such a great area, with a huge public pool and playground, and lots of pubs and eateries.

Brisbane - Old vs New

I love the juxtaposition of old and new.

Sydney:

Double Bay

We stayed in Double Bay, or “Double Pay” as it is also known, and took the ferry to the harbor.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

The French flag was being flown on the bridge due to the terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris.

 

Oysters at The Rocks

Oysters!

Sydney

The Rocks

Sydney Opera House

Of course I had to have a picture of the Opera House

The Rocks

This building is right behind the train station.

Icebergs Pool, Bondi

Swimming in seawater at Icebergs, Bondi

Cool rock formations on the Coastal Walk, Bondi

Cool rock formations on the Coastal Walk, Bondi (I was able to do some research for my current novel!)

Manly:

Manly Beach

Manly

See you soon, Australia….

Water Dragon

Water Dragon

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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