“Though you may travel the world to find the beautiful, you must have it within you or you will find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometime at the end of 2014, Bucharest, Romania
Much of the activity of our family is concentrated around Rotary International (mother just handed over the Presidency of her Club) and Rotaract, of which I am a proud (inactive for now) member.
In a trip around Australia, at the end of 2014, with the occasion of the Rotary International Convention in Sydney, my mom sent me an amazing picture of the Sydney Opera House all covered in amazing lights. I was really impressed and I thought that’s so beautiful.
Back then I was still a rising lawyer in a Bucharest law firm and although I knew I would get to see it one day – like I know I will get so see ALL the world one day – I did not think it would be that fast.
Just a few months later I was embarking on the journey of my lifetime.
Life is, indeed, an interesting journey.
Although flights to Australia are too long for me, I made it to Perth to see the koalas and the kangaroos, to Melbourne a city that was awarded for the 6th time in a row the best place to live in the world award and now to Sydney for Vivid Sydney – Light. Music. Ideas Festival and to see the whales in their home, the Pacific Ocean.
What is Vivid Sydney? It’s a vivid, lighting and light installations festival. The whole city is filled with thousands of people and tens of thousands of lights. A festival of ideas, of music, of creativity, of lights, of color, of joy. In Sydney, every year. Or you thought the Opera House is wearing light projections every day of the year? No.
June 13th 2016, flying to Sydney, Australia from my home in Doha, Qatar
My life is a roller-coaster – I’ve said it so many times. I’m a girl like any other, but I like to do things differently, I’m a rule breaker and a disruption factor sometimes and I don’t hesitate to assume my decisions and amuse myself about the astonished faces of the ones watching (with popcorn and some envy). Like I’m going to change their lives. Well, to some extent. People like to know you are where they left you, where they knew you were.
I’ve written about this in the past. Getting out of your comfort zone means taking the ones around you from THEIR comfort zone and not everyone (actually most of them are not) is ready to step out. Did you know that most of the people love their unhappiness? They stick to it, like they do with abusive relationships and aggressive men. Why? Because it became their comfort zone.
We arrived in Sydney somewhere in the afternoon and headed towards The Circular Quay, where the Sydney Opera House is located. Actually in this area there are a lot of other attractions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Royal Botanical Garden which hosts The Government House, The Sydney Harbour Bridge etc.
On the way (by train, 8 Australian dollars return for most city areas) I notice the graffiti that makes my eyes smile. If I had to make a top of the best street art I’ve seen in Australia, Perth is no. 1, then Melbourne and Sydney.
However, Sydney is the most cosmopolitan, modern and with a chic and with a little snobbish fragrance.
Melbourne is very friendly, welcoming, cozy, modern, has a bit of everything, art is great, going out is impressive. After all, it’s the 6th time it was voted the most livable city in the world.
Perth is very peaceful, a peace you feel deep down, it comes from the air and not from any particular aspect. Nightlife is good, walking down the streets is zen and I loved the Caversham Park for kangaroos and koalas. I mean, it’s a opened huge park where you get to see tens of animals. In Sydney the roos and koalas are crammed in a glass building in modern district Darling Harbor. Not the same for sure and the price is triple in Sydney. Told you they’re snobbish!
If you visit Sydney once in your lifetime, you have to do it during Vivid Sydney. The city is under the vibe of holiday and from little kids to senior citizens, they are all impressed with the lights. This festival heals your inner child and believe me I know what I’m talking about.
We started by Circular Quay Station, where everyone stops to see the 3D mapped projections based on Sydney’s flora and fauna on the Customs House, talking about Sydney’s Hidden Stories in orange and purple. Then we followed the walking flow – although countersense, haha – towards the greatest attraction of Sydney, the Sydney Opera House, where there are light projections of various inspirations, from aboriginal art to geometrical motifs and animal and vegetal world elements and also live music programs.
It’s breathtaking – the novelty of the surroundings, the fact that I’m in Sydney, that it’s night and I’m by the Sydney Opera House watching the impressive projections so beautiful I cannot stop admiring them, that everyone around me is in the same state of dreaming, that the whole city is shuddering with joy, that there are…tens of thousands of people, gathered here, in the wide quays by the Opera House to see this miracle.
Most of my colleagues did not know about the festival – I know, not everyone has such a fancy jet-set mother. When I told them about it they asked almost without exception: “Same like in Singapore, no?” No! Same same, but different. The light and sound show at the Marina Bay Sands is impressive, too, but you cannot compare it to this festival, literally taking over the whole city.
The skyscrapers, the office buildings, the hotels around the harbor, The Museum of Contemporary Art are all wearing rainbow colors lights from first floor to last. Most of the lighting starts from 6 PM and lasts from 9 to 11PM depending on location.
In the hotel lobby I appear in a pencil animal print tight skirt mid-calf long (yes, this is my length), a cream DKNY (stolen from my mom’s closet, haha) party blouse with high neck that ties in a huge ribbon making it look very sophisticated and the wide cut leather jacket I got from…Perth, zipped up to the huge ribbon, tight on my waist. Pony tail and pearl earrings. Colleague asks me: where are you going, to the opera? Well, yes! Come on, it’s not like it’s the first time you go out with me, I add. First time I was wearing a backless black tight jumpsuit at a home/pool Halloween party where I showed up with abaya looking trench and hijab, leaving all confused whether it’s my clothes or a costume. I love to confuse people!
After hundreds of shots with the opera, we walk towards the Vivdid Sydney at the Royal Botanical Garden Sydney – Queen Elizabeth II Gate. Here the lawn, the bushes, the trees, the water, the handrails towards the water everything is lighted. My favorite is modern art piece light tunnel (Cathedral of Light by Mandy Lights) and the snake reflection on a huge tree. Plus the amazing views from this side of the Opera House. As I walk through I say: “Tunnel of light, not of darkness”.
Here only a part of the Gardens is opened and you follow a trail which takes you through the tunnel where there are tunnel traffic controllers asking you to take your photos and selfies on the side and keep walking. “Good job with that selfie, keep walking!”
I loved the restaurants on the Quay between the Station and the Opera, right across The Museum of Contemporary Art from where you can watch the boats/yachts sailing around with huge light letters saying Vivid Sydney.
Steak ing wine ing by the Opera, more lights and good night!