Places I Called ‘Home’ in 2013

Places I Called Home in 2013

2013 was a great year for travel. When I look at my nerdy country count, I am surprised to see that I only visited five new countries this year (Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Australia and Singapore). But, I went back to a couple of old favourites and found myself packing and unpacking my life five times.

Truth be told: I am a little burnt out from moving around so much this year, but I wouldn’t trade my blessed 2013 for anyone else’s. (Except maybe Jennifer Lawrence’s. But how much I want her life is another story for another blogpost.)

Highlights of 2013 included snorkelling in the southern Great Barrier Reef, wearing at Dirndl at Karneval in Koln, having a picnic on top of a glacier in the French Alps, almost capsizing a boat in the canals of Amsterdam (with all my friends in it!), seeing a koala, living in the most amazing apartment on Coogee Beach in Sydney, and managing to completely fill up passport (took me less than three years).

Passports

The concept of ‘home’ changed throughout the year as I lived in five amazing cities in 2013. ‘Tis the time for the annual year-end recap of places where I received a postcard or two in the past year.  Continue reading

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2013’s Favourite Travel Instagrams

I don’t get to blog as often as I would like to, but I tend to Instagram quite a bit. In 2013 I was lucky enough to visit so many stunning places that I didn’t get a chance to blog about all of them, but I was sure to capture them via my iPhone. Looking back on this amazing year of travel, here are my favourite Instagram photos that I took in 2013.

Follow along for the ride, if you don’t already: @RoopGill on Instagram

Top Five Things I’ll Miss About Sydney

Sydney skylineYesterday, I bid adieu to Sydney, hopped on a plane and scooted over to Singapore. I was struggling to finish all my uni assignments until the last minute (that’s something I won’t miss), so unsurprisingly I didn’t get a chance to fully reflect upon my amazing Aussie experience until now.

I was so busy over the last four months exploring the East Coast, meeting the most amazing people, sun bathing, kangaroo-spotting (but in vain) and attempting to become a better journalist, that I may have skipped on actively counting my blessings, so here we go: the Top Five Things I’ll Miss About Sydney list (in no particular order).

Access to the beach

Not that I strongly believe in the Zodiac, but being a water sign must explain my affinity for wanting to wade in open waters despite being an average (read: comical) swimmer. [PS: Remember this?] While Canadian lakes will always be my first love, it was joyous having the beach at your doorstep. I lived at Coogee Beach, which in my very biased opinion is the best beach among the Eastern suburbs, but IF one ever gets bored of Coogee, then there are so many other beaches and bays to bathe in. Read about my favourite ones hereContinue reading

Best views of the Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is the most iconic symbol of the city, gracing the Bennelong Point in the Sydney Harbour. Inaugurated in 1973, after almost 15 years of construction, the Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage site valued for its “achievements in structural engineering and building technology.” Stemming out of Sydney’s CBD (short for central business district, or as us North Americans would say, “downtown”), and recognizable from miles away, the Opera House is definitely one of the most photographed sites in the city.

But, what’s the best place to photograph it?

The Sydney Opera House has a bit of an advantage in that case: it looks amazing no matter where you take a picture from. But, some spots are better than others. Here are my top 7 favourite spots to snap a shot of the Opera House (in no particular order):

East End of Circular Quay 

Sydney Opera House
When you get off a bus to go to Circular Quay, and walk towards the Opera House, this is the first view you are likely to see of this landmark. Chances are you’ll reach for your camera instinctively and snap a shot. This is one of the first photos I ever took in Australia, and it’s definitely one of my favourites.

Taronga Zoo 

Sydney Opera House
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Sydney’s best beaches

While my friends in the Northern Hemisphere are probably rolling their eyes at the title of this post, I am going to go ahead and gloat that today marks one month anniversary in with Sydney. I thought it would be a short, summer fling, but this relationship is getting quite serious. And how could I not fall in love? Sunshine, beaches and buzzing cities are three of my favourite things, and Sydney offers it all.

Since winter is coming (PS: who is stoked for Game Of Thrones season 3?!), I made it a point to explore as many beaches as possible in my first month here. While there are many popular spots and hidden gems in the greater Sydney area that I am yet to discover, here are my favourite beaches so far:

1) Coogee Beach

Surprise! My neighbourhood beach is number one on my list. While I may be biased because the beach is a 5-minute walk from my apartment, it is the coolest kid on the Eastern suburbs. It’s bigger than Bronte, but not as busy as Bondi. You can snorkel on the North end, surf on a good day, play volleyball at one of the four available spots, picnic on the park, and swim in the playful waves.

Coogee

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Exploring Coogee Beach

“Home” has become a very arbitrary concept for me. Last month my home was in Aarhus, now it’s in Sydney, and very soon I’ll be going home to India. Meanwhile, a case can be made that my real home is in Toronto. Exploring this dilemma is just a little bit less interesting than exploring my new neighbourhood of Coogee Beach a.k.a. my current home.

My friends (and now flatmates) scored us this awesome top-floor apartment overlooking the Coogee Beach and walking distance from the aforementioned beach, several trendy cafes and restaurants, cool bars and entertainment venues. Naturally, a cityscape explorer like myself was thrilled to have so many exciting options at my doorstep.

Over the last week, I have split my time between attending classes in the middle of the city, and enjoying the laid back lifestyle of the beach suburbs. Check out some photos of this cool blue, trendy neighbourhood that I am so happy to call my home.

Settling down in Sydney

I have become a true nomad. After I arrived in Sydney last Thursday, it took me less than 24 hours to get a phone plan, understand public transit, attend a lecture at my university, and also manage to check out the Sydney Opera House. Sleeping for most part of my 22-hour journey helped me adapt to the new timezone, so when I got to Australia I was already in full “time-to-re-settle” mode. My new roommates seem to have just given up hope that jet lag will eventually take me down and I’ll stop being a whirlwind of an explorer, but I don’t think it’s me; it’s Sydney! This city has so much life, energy and enthusiasm that an extrovert like me can’t help but feed off it.

I have been here for a week and I must admit, I feel quite at home. I am living in the beach neighbourhood of Coogee with awesome roommates (sorry, flatmates) who pick me up from the airport and build me IKEA furniture. Our apartment is at top of a hill and the view is just stunning. Check it out:

Coogee

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The Last Danish Chapter

GuidebooksGoodbyes are never easy, especially when you are leaving behind an exciting country where you have countless memories with a lot of interesting people. (However, the pain can be eased with the knowledge that I am trading the cold Danish climate for a beachside apartment in Sydney.)

While I have been somewhat diligent in blogging about my travels within Europe, I haven’t written much about my day-to-day life here in Aarhus, Denmark. However, I have been reporting From the Field for Verge: Travel with Purpose magazine as a guest blogger. Over the last six months, I have written about how I adapted to a small city, my struggles with the language, getting used to a new (and weird) grading system, and more recently my biking adventures. If you haven’t checked them out already, here are my favourite articles that are worth a click:

Falling in love with Aarhus

I ditched the big city exchange experience and ended up in Denmark biggest village. One can bike across this city in less than 20  minutes. In December I wrote, “Naturally, I had my inhibitions when moving to Aarhus. Most people are nervous about moving to a bigger city, but I was really worried about moving to a smaller city. There is something about rush hour traffic, packed TTC subways and perpetually angry nine-to-fivers that makes me feel at home.”

How did I learn to love Aarhus? Find out! Continue reading