Karen Zabawa is a freelance
writer who lives near Toronto, Canada with her children, ages 19,
21 and 24 plus their assorted parrots, budgies, cockatiels and a
macaw. She is planning a return trip to Australia via China in the
near future. That's because she loved her first trip so much. Karen
Bleary-eyed, out of sorts,
and looking less than my best after the 26-hour flight from Canada,
I flop onto my bed at Madison's Ward Avenue Hotel in Elizabeth Bay.
But before sleep, bath or a proper meal, I dial the local number
I had been e-mailed two weeks before. A woman's voice answers; a
cheerful voice in a country where I travel alone, and know not a
"Teena?" I ask.
"Karen! You made it! Welcome
We talk, talk, talk...
Fatigue and hunger
are forgotten as Teena and I talk, effortlessly and endlessly.
We plan to meet downtown the next morning. I can't believe
I'm finally here in Australia!
Until now, I had been
one of those people who say, "Australia? Oh, I've always
wanted to go there!" but who never actually get around to
going: It's too expensive, too far, there's no time, and
there's no one to go with. But last October, when I read
about an incredibly low fare to Sydney, poof! went obstacle
number one. Other revelations followed: there's no time
like the present; and if I go alone, I can do what I want,
when I want. Yeah!!
Yet, once I had my
non-refundable ticket in hand, panic set in. Sure I had
read the guide books, but what was it really like? What
problems would a woman alone face? So when Evelyn, the editor
at Journeywoman, posted my notice and linked me with Teena
in Sydney, I couldn't believe my luck! E-mail flew fast
and furious as Teena answered my many questions.
We finally meet face-to-face...
Now here it is, the
next morning in, and armed with instructions from Teena,
I set off for the bus. And there, in the milling crowds
at Circular Quay, between the Opera House and the Harbour
Bridge, is the "5'2", silk artist, Web page designer and
Mac specialist I've gotten to know over the Internet.
We explore one of
Sydney's oldest areas, The Rocks, with its many weekend
market stalls and buskers. We shop for my birthstone opal,
watch a man play a didgeridoo, and pick out souvenirs. When
I invariably check the wrong direction before crossing a
street, Teena keeps me from getting smacked by oncoming
After several hours
of sightseeing, we take the ferry across the harbour to
her home in Kirribilli. I catch up on my e-mail, admire
Teena's silks, then collapse on the balcony to watch boats
sail past on a harbour made brilliant blue by the golden
I'm blinking back
Teena plays tour guide
to my tourist, taking me to her favourite Thai restaurant
for a bowl of spicy Laksa, and to the Bali store that sells
colorful sarongs that Teena says are perfect for tropical
travel. She's right! Sarongs are bathrobe, beach cover-up,
skirt and shawl in one, and oh-so-easy to pack.
Over the next few
weeks, I come to realize that, had I not been traveling
alone, I would probably not have met Teena. I found that
when you're by yourself, people are more likely to talk
to you. When you're with others, people assume you have
company and leave you alone. And for every time I wished
for someone with whom to share an experience, there were
many more times when I reveled in my self-indulgent freedom!
On my final night
in Australia, Teena and I meet in Kirribilli for dinner.
Now the distance between Canada and Australia seems greater
than ever. Who knows when or where we'll meet again? As
I leave to catch the ferry back to Sydney, I find I'm blinking
back tears that tell me I'm going to miss my new friend.
Ed. note: Teena's story is just as much fun! Click here.
thanks our sponsors...
All of the information in this article has been researched
independantly by Journeywoman.com. We thank the Australian
Tourist Commission, Air
New Zealand and South
Corp Wines for sponsoring GIRLTALK AUSTRALIA, a women's
cyberguide to Sydney and Melbourne.
This cyberguide is constantly being updated with new
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