Surviving another week in Australia! (Sydney)

Day 3,109 since October 10th 2013: 196 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic! 

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

I’m still alive! It must be a miracle.


Last week I left you all having checked in to a dorm room at a hostel in Sydney. And I shared some info about the deadly drop-bears as well. This week I received three visitors from Denmark

Last week’s entry: AUSTRALIA! Kangaroos and boomerangs everywhere!!!

At some level I’m really just surveying Australia. I’m curious to see what we married into! If you haven’t heard, then hear it here first: the future Queen of Denmark was Australian born. Denmark is home to the oldest kingdom in the world. It can be dated back to early 900 AD and has continued up until this day. Denmark’s Crown Prince fell in love with an Aussie from Tasmania after they met at a local pub in Sydney called the Slip Inn. It was back during the 2000 Olympics and they were engaged three years later. Traditionally marriage is a strategic tool to establish diplomatic and trade ties. You established peaceful relationships, trading relationships, and mutual obligations with others by marrying them. Well Australia!! Now that we are married, I’m here to check up on what we have! Our bonds could not be stronger ;)


Sydney had two weeks of relentless rainfall until a few days after I arrived. We had a lot of sun and blue sky for my three Viking visitors.

A week ago, I was staying at a less desirable hostel in downtown Sydney. That doesn’t fly with ultra-wifey so I booked a hotel room for her arrival on April 10th. My father and his wife (Lisbeth) were to arrive two hours before ultra-wifey at Sydney Airport. I wonder what former British home secretary Lord Sydney would think of all the places which have been named after him? Anyway, on April 9th I joined Richard Wilkins and Charles Croucher for an interview on their couch at channel 9’s morning show ‘Today’. I was due to arrive at 1 Denison Street around 08:50am. And as a Dane I was there at 08:45am. Unfortunately, at the wrong 1 Denison Street! Bethan who produced it was kind to move things around and I was at the correct address twenty minutes later. From there the interview went well and I had soon left the building again and was on my way to the hotel where I trimmed my beard to 7mm.


Click HERE or on the image to watch the interview.

Ultra-wifey is no fan of the bushy long beard and the least I can do is trim it when she flies for two days across 16,000km (10,000mi) to see me! Yes. Australia and Denmark are nearly on opposite sides of the planet. I must admit that I feel such privilege to see someone travel that far to be with me. And as mentioned before, two hours earlier my father and his wife arrived. It was the 24th time ultra-wifey came out and found me somewhere in the world. The last time was in Hong Kong back in December. Far more water had passed beneath the bridge since I last saw my father and his wife. About 4.5 years! Reaching Australia happened to be the furthest the three of them had ever ventured from home.


Welcome to Sydney!

It is quite the investment in time, effort, and indeed cost, to come across the planet. Even more so during a global pandemic as you need to stay updated on regulations as they continue to change. And then on top of everything your body needs to adapt to the time difference. My father is seventy-four which makes it even more of an effort. It was great to great them at the airport and we were soon back at the hotel for a short pitstop before heading out into Sydney. The general idea for the three was to “keep the engine running” until nightfall and make an easy transition to the new time zone. That day we walked 12km (7.5mi) which is about four times my father’s daily average. Good going. That trend would continue over the week.


My father, touching the tiles of the great Sydney Opera House.

I really like Sydney which is home to a little more than 5 million beating hearts. There is an interesting mix of old (historical) buildings amongst the new modern architecture. In the city center there are also many wide streets which remind me of the wide avenues of Moscow and Minsk. But in a laidback Aussie way of course. Australia has really been easy going as far as what I have experienced. There are rules and regulations…but there is also a sense of “she’ll be right, mate”. Just don’t take yourself too seriously and you’ll be fine. I have moved beyond the guilt feeling of not wearing a mask all the time. Now it’s only in certain situations that I feel guilty for no reason. Asians and westerners view masks in different ways. In my experience people from a lot of Asian cultures show more respect towards others than westerners do. And it also shows in wearing masks as Asians will do it to protect others while westerners will typically do it because they have too or to protect themselves. Sydney is made up of around 10% Chinese descendants which is something I found interesting. And there are many other Asians in Sydney too. As such you do see masks worn in Sydney but not by most. Some westerners also chose to wear a mask. Otherwise, it’s really only on public transportation that you see it in everyday life. And far from everyone chooses to wear a mask in the subway and nobody comments on it. Easy going.


Have you ever seen the inside of the Opera House?

On their first day in Sydney, we managed to make our way to Sydney Opera House which was a big deal for my father. Understandably as it is a truly unique building both inside and out. And with a pretty unique story too! The original cost estimate to build Sydney Opera House was $7 million. The final cost was $102 million and it was largely paid for by a State Lottery. 233 designs were submitted for the Opera House international design competition held in 1956. Jørn Utzon from Denmark was announced the winner. Construction was expected to take four years. It took 14 years. Work commenced in 1959 and involved 10,000 construction workers. And Sydney Opera House was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2007, while Jørn Utzon was still alive. We had a guided tour of the building which only made it even more impressive.


My father shopping for a miniature Sydney Opera House.

Around the time we had lunch there wasn’t much energy left in my three newly arrived guests. We took a break from sightseeing and return to the hotel. Later that night we feasted in a perpetual meat menu at a Brazilian restaurant where more and more meat would be served until we nearly exploded. The first day set a strange trend for how the following days would play out. Everyday we would walk at least 10km (6mi) and we would eat at restaurants representing new nationalities: Chinese, Swiss/Austrian, Indian, Thai…in all honestly quite representative of what you would expect of a modern city. And what is ‘Stralian food anyway? I guess I’d argue it would be anything you can throw on a BBQ.


Sydney is also full of wartime commemorations. And Australia appears to be busy with reconciliation regarding the Aboriginals/indigenous people. In this art installation commemorating Aboriginals fighting in the world wars, three bullets represent fallen soldiers and four represent those who survived. And my father is saluting it.

The next day the Danes joined me at Channel 10 for an interview at Studio 10 which is their popular morning show. Kim Kind produced it and I landed on a couch next to Narelda Jacobs and Tristan MacManus. Narelda began her career in West Australia where she became the first Aboriginal, and first openly lesbian, newsreader. Tristan is Irish and well known in Australia for his dancing skills where he has appeared on shows such as Dancing with the Stars. They were both really great hosts and we had a most excellent interview which ended long before we ran out of things to talk about. Everyone was also really nice at the TV station.


Click HERE or on the image to watch.


Our four negative COVID-19 rapid tests. Negative all the way.

From there we kept exploring Sydney. I have plenty of stories from almost each thing we have done. It is never boring when my father is around and he tends to make new friends on each street corner. Neither my father nor Lisbeth had had dumplings before and their chopstick skills pretty much began from scratch. Yet, impressively they excelled very quickly over the course of the meal. In Sydney’s China Town I also got to buy some tea to replace what was confiscated when I arrived to Townsville two weeks earlier. Sydney has a proper China Town which only makes sense given the many Chinese descendants which have made Australia home since as early as 1828.


Eye's on the ball!!! :) Delicious dumplings in China Town. 

We have managed to cover a lot this week. Kings Cross, Hyde Park, the Botanical Gardens, the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, bird spotting, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, China Town, Darling Harbour, Sydney Olympic Park, Macquarie Street, Anzac War Memorials, Bondi Beach, Waverley Cemetery, Circular Quay, 2 x ferry rides, Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk, and much, much more. The public transportation works really well with busses, metro lines, and taxis. We have truly done a lot of walking which serves well for exploring Sydney.


My father and ultra-wifey on Bondi Beach cooling off their feet.


The coastline of Australia is more than 25,000km (16,000mi) which would reach more than halfway around the world!

Personally, I find it really nice to have ultra-wifey by my side and to be in the company of family. My father found Lisbeth more than 25-years ago so she has long since become family to me. Once Upon A Saga is a stressful project for a number of reasons but the one most people should be able to relate to is not knowing when it ends. When I sat out from home more than eight years ago, we thought this project would take less than four years and here we are at more than eight. How much longer will it take? When will it end? It could end tomorrow if I decided to go home. But given that we continue to aim for a success completion it will continue to require a lot of work, lots of problem solving, and the unavoidable logistics and bureaucracy. And I do not know when I will see home again? It is beyond me why people cannot understand that I am truly busy most of the time. However, I can understand that when people only look at the tip of the iceberg, which is the (hopefully) interesting post across social media and the many interviews, then people might think it is all fun and games. Again, I must repeat, that it has been nice to have the three Danes around me throughout the week. It somehow lightens the burdon.


We came across this grave at Waverley Cemetery. It is for the Consul General of Denmark, born in Copenhagen on March 18th 1827 - died in Sydney on March 6th 1904. 

A few of my plans have gone south lately. I had been hoping to rent a car but they are ridiculously expensive and for the most part unavailable due to easter holidays, covid-19, and other excuses I forgot about already. As such ultra-wifey and I will have less freedom as we make our way towards Canberra and Melbourne by the end of the week. Another thing I was hoping for but which seems to be off the table has been reaching Antarctica from either Australia or New Zealand within the next few months. Unfortunately, it’s simply not the season and the ice is far to thick for some time to come. Oh well, I guess that means I can have my full attention on getting home through the final seven countries.


The public transportation in Sydney works well in my experience.

I’d like to share a little story with you before this entry comes to an end. Because much as you might expect to enjoy wine and cheese in France, pasta in Italy, meatballs in Sweden and noodles in China – what would be an especially ‘Strayan meal? You can eat kangaroo but I wouldn’t say it is an especially Australian thing to do so. Well, plenty of people have told me that meat-pies are the prime item and as such my father, his wife, and ultra-wifey went hunting for just that while we visited the Olympic Park. I walked into a small store and asked the kind woman behind the counter if she knew where I could find some? “Right here” she answered and pointed to the hot food display next to me which I had overlooked. There were a couple of plastic wrapped meat-pies within it and as I needed four, the kind woman quickly headed to the back of the store to get me another two “fresh ones”. As we got talking, I told her that we were from Denmark and had never before enjoyed a meat-pie. The woman was almost in disbelief. Another woman working at the store joined the conversation, in which I asked what else might be typically Australian? A suggestion was: “fairy Bread”. Fairy bread is sliced white bread spread with butter or margarine and covered with colorful tiny balls made of sugar and starch. Okay then :)


Meat-pie with sauce.

We sat outside enjoying the culinary experience with the added sauce (ketchup) and I have to say it was pretty good. Halfway through our meal, one of the women from the store came to us with a ‘Violet Crumble’ which is an Australian chocolate bar (without much chocolate in it). It turns out to have almost cult status in Aussieland. A super kind gesture by the woman but what blows my mind is the overwhelming kindness which is so easily found across Australia! And if you think about it, that woman was left in the store having heard that these four Danes had never before had a meat-pie and were looking for Aussie food. So, her response to that was to buy a Violet Crumble, leave the store, come looking for us, and hand deliver it to four strangers from the other side of the planet. Oh Australia!!! Be proud! A stranger is a friend you’ve never met before.


Braving the landscape.



I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - happy to be in Aussieland

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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