The Gypsy with the red notebook

How to discover yourself and the world with inspirational journeys

Days 29, 30 and 31 – The return. The grass hides, the rain clears (V.H.)

On Friday morning, just before taking the shuttle to Airlie Beach Airport, I’m not sure what to expect. As I carry my suitcase around the lagoon, taking pictures and listening to Leslie Gore, it’s a bit like saying goodbye to Queensland, to the ocean and to my journey. But I have two more days, Sydney is an amazing city, I will be not alone there. And I’m still here, Down/Under, where everything still seems possible because, after all, nothing is real yet.

I land for the second time at Kingsford Smith in the early afternoon. This time the weather is very bad: grey, cold, under a persistent rain. I reach the city and take refuge at Sappho Books Cafe & Wine Bar, a cute second-hand book shop with a café and a small colorful courtyard. I see groups of old women who loves tea and students lokking for peace. There is also a kitten, with a kennel in one of the rooms, wandering among the visitors, affectionate but reserved.
Here I enjoy reading funny travel stories by Bill Bryson, and nice and surreal books on Italy written by English authors, such as “Italian ways”, where Tim Parks tells his adventures on Italian trains, from Milan to Palermo. There are also aperitifs, events and concerts, probably if I lived here the place would also have the coordinates of my bank account 🙂

In a Hertz rental ute, sheltered from the cold, rain and melancholy, I arrive at Neutral Bay, north of Sydney. It’s a real residential neighborhood: Military Road, the main street, has a lot of coffee shops, so after a full month travelling abroad I enjoy my entire morning reading the Guardian, eating French pastries and drinking an excellent espresso. For the first time abroad I really enjoy a coffee, whose culture and history has been brought over the decades by Italian migrants looking for a better life. So it’s all a flourishing of coffee shops, where you can taste the classic espressos and cappuccinos but also the flat white. I discovered flat white in Melbourne: it’s a drink consisting of a double espresso and frothed milk with a very liquid cream, a compromise between the Italian taste of caffe latte and cappuccino with the Down/Under “American” palates (heresy) of .

During colonial times, each bay in Sydney welcomed only ships from specific nationalities, while at “Neutral Bay” you could anchor freely, hence the name of the neighborhood. On weekends the district has a very relaxed atmosphere: relaxed faces, strollers and jogging suits, down through the green grass of the parks to Neutral Bay Wharf. Water, always, is the trait d’union in Sydney. I will get lost for two days, in the middle of its people, its bricks, its gardens. Of its overturned washing machines.

Sydney, Sappho's Bar
Sydney, Sappho’s Bar
Sydney, Sappho's Bar
Sydney, Sappho’s Bar
Nice coffee shop in Military Road, Neutral Bay
Nice coffee shop in Military Road
Flying back home
Flying back home

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