I really like this about Sydney. Due to the huge expanse of water that the city is built around, many people take these Yellow Water Taxis to and from various points around the Harbour. These are yellow cabs that resemble those in New York City, except they float. I like the yellow cabs, we don’t get them in the UK and when I see one I know I’m on holiday. It also reminds me of my times in NYC. I remember the first time I jumped in a Yellow Cab over there, the driver claimed he didn’t know where Times Square was. It was either our accent or he was taking us for a ride- literally- for a higher fare. I prefer to believe it was the accent, despite his obvious experience with passengers from all over the world.
Funnily enough, back on dry land in Sydney there is one taxi company that uses cars that resemble London black cabs. I haven’t seen too many of these here, the main taxis you will find are white and don’t really stand out in any unique fashion. I don’t know if these London cabs cost more or have a back story, or if they are simply trying to be different.
Many cities have help creating a unique identity with the style of cabs they use. It would make sense to have them stand out in some way considering they are one of the most popular methods for people to get around. Yellow Cabs often appear on postcards and souvenirs from the Big Apple, and Black Cabs the same with London. How many other cities have cabs that are as recognisable? Did somewhere else start the yellow taxi trend first? There aren’t too many cities that I have traveled to that have taxis truly stand out as much, but I’m sure there are more.
I can’t believe I’ve typed a blog post about taxis.
I received a text not too long ago from a friend, one of four friends that I lived with in Texas back in 2010. Two of these friends I regularly keep in contact with, the other two have been busy travelling, one with a fiancé he met whilst working on a cruise line and the other with a wife and as of last week, a baby boy.
How times change, it only felt like yesterday that we all left the Lone Star State in 2011 and made our way up the east coast before flying home from New York.
Mate can you remember in New York when we were sitting in Times Square late at night reminiscing about the year just gone? One of the most memorable times of my life.
Of course I did, I replied that I remember it perfectly. The other three went to bed in our run down hotel just around the corner. There was one double bed for five guys, we stayed up as long as possible to avoid having to sleep on the floor with luggage bags for pillows. I remember there were two carpets in the room with completely different patterns, split right down the centre. I have no idea of the logic behind that but with us being so close to Times Square, it wasn’t like the hotel was going to run out of guests anytime soon.
When I have been to NYC, I have always opted for location over comfort. With my visits all being in my late teens/early twenties, it’s not like luxury was an option anyway. Great things came from that hellhole of a hotel, the main one being the memory revisted in that text. I remember the two of us sitting there in the early hours on plastic chairs, watching the people go by and the lights dazzle. There was one ad in the distance that I’m sure was Coca Cola, with an animation that made it look like construction workers were working behind it, the shadows of people with tools and sparks flying. We debated whether the people were real for about an hour, I think the only winner there was Coca Cola.
What made it most memorable was that it was the very last memory of an amazing 13 month experience. Sitting there and talking about everything that occurred was like the last page of a book or the last episode of a series. It was the first time I really sat down and thought about it, despite being in one of the most active and alive places on earth.
The best thing about the final page is that page one is always there to revisited when we want to. It only takes something as small as a text to trigger this kind of butterfly effect and bring back so many memories.
Happiness is living your dreams whilst you are wide awake…
It is getting to that point in which I receive the good lucks and all the bests. When it starts to hit me and the feelings of excitement dwindle a little, the realisation hits me of the sacrifices made in moving to another country. I won’t see my family for a little while. My ‘little while’ may be a long damn time for some, it depends how you perceive one year.
They need me and I need them. I also need to live, if my family didn’t do the same in their youth, what stories would they have to tell me? Would I be here at all?
The reality is that even though my family will miss me as much as I will miss them, we all have a duty to self progress. To be a little selfish and to treat ourselves as much as we want to treat those we love. What better way to show how much we love family than to give them something to be proud of? To show them how well they have raised us, the ambition and drive placed within us materialised in the form of a plane ticket and new footsteps in unspoiled sand.
My visit to Texas back in 2010 was the longest I have been without family, thirteen months. Oddly, I was always someone preffering to stay at home. I loved my home comforts. I assume university helped me out of that comfort zone, after my second trip to New York City during my degree. I realised long-haul wasn’t a scary experience and thanks to the Jet-stream over the Atlantic, the return journey home was a pretty short one. If I remember rightly it was only 6 hours 30 minutes (ish), sharing the whole back row with one friend. A journey back home from another part of the UK may take that time (driving of course) and that would be without such homesickness. Homesickness for me is prevented by not thinking of how far away my family are in miles but in time. No matter where we are in the world, family are pretty much in reach within 24 hours.
Please forgive the quality of the images below, I used a cheap camera. I didn’t have a smartphone back then and have never owned a professional photography camera. FYI, the first picture was from my first visit in 2008, when the foundations were still being cleared and prepared for One World Trade Center and memorial. My visits to NYC have been 2008, 2010 and 2011. The One World Trade Center is under construction in a couple of images, snapped in 2011 after I left Texas and flew from New York to London. I still didn’t own a decent camera!
The first two visits were only short breaks, five days each. I remember flying to Dallas on that first long stretch away from home. As the green card was being placed on my tray and the captain announced how long of the flight was left, it finally hit me that I would be away for a year, starting there and then. A year! I am glad it hit me when it did, if I felt the same feeling of reluctance earlier I may not have bought my plane ticket. The feeling didn’t last long, my brain instantly stimulated by new accents and weather, new foods and sports. When I did need to contact home I could do in an instant thanks to Facebook and Skype. The whole experience wasn’t as daunting as I feared it would be whilst I filled in the green card. I still firmly believe it was the best year of my life.
I also seem to remember more of that year than I do all the years since combined. Despite having many more trips, a year of travel consists of so many stories and new experiences. Similar to how we feel about aging, time flies the older we get. As a child everything is new. Every colour and word, every animal and sound. The more our days become increasingly similar to the last, the less we notice the hands moving on the clock. Travel for me is a time machine slowing down life. When I think of being away for such a long in Australia come September, I think of the benefits.
Like a gym session, don’t worry about how crap you feel doing it, think of the results!!
Your next destination has a reason to thank the place you currently call home and I love that. As contradictory as it probably seems, one of my biggest delights whilst travelling is to see something that reminds me of home. For me, it is new found pride. It is realising the world shrinks the further we travel and how often I am reminded of the place I was raised.
No matter where you are, there will be some kind of influence from back home. In food, in entertainment, in sports or in language, I love knowing that when I start to get sick of the same four walls and travel somewhere new, I will regain pride in the place that I left. I do this all the time and have felt this everywhere I have been.
Some people feel that leaving a hometown is to lose love for that place. This could well be the reason, it may not. I have always wanted to leave my hometown and if anything, it makes going back so much more special. I look forward to driving by that welcome sign, probably more than the current residents that drive by this sign each day. Surely there is beauty in leaving a hometown behind if it helps to build new appreciation.
My family have always been this way. Whenever I tell people where I am from, the usual response is ‘Oh really? Whats your last name?’. Our identity is strongly associated by the last name in my hometown, boringly I have to tell people that my parents moved there months before I was born and that my family doesn’t date back generations in this one place. A conversation killer but again, a great excitement arises when I travel to visit my family far and wide.
Some aspects remind me why I left, for this travel has done me good. If we stick to one community, how open minded can we be? You could argue that the internet has helps us escape this from our living rooms, we can now grow up in one place with all the associated cultures and beliefs and read about a thousand others, speak to anyone anywhere and make new decisions. I very much doubt this will make anyone lose the desire to travel and neither should it. If anything it is a great advertisement to the complete shifts in opinion and understanding that can come from popping the bubble and stepping outside.