I'm leaving for China for two weeks on Friday, and then three weeks after that, I'm set to move to Melbourne in early-mid October (no date set, just asap after the 4th October). I felt relieved and excited about going to China because it would be two weeks away from work, but lately, the feeling of trying to create closure with Sydney friends and with mending my health has compounded, especially today with seeing my endo for the second last time ever after having him treat me through good times and bad for the past eight-and-a-half years. I felt like the appointment this afternoon was one of the best I ever had with him - he was on time, we chatted a bit about personal things (me moving and going back to study, him talking about going to medical school with Dr. Karl and also disappearing off the face of the earth for one week every year to avoid naggy GPs), and then also talked a bit about my iron and suspected absorption problem which he strongly advised me to check out sooner rather than later. I only have one appointment left with him and my thyroid levels have been just in the okay for the past few appointments, so not too bad, but not great. I definitely am feeling a similar feeling to the weeks leading up to my departure for Europe last year - sentimental, rushed, regretful.


Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.

I haven't used my blogger feed since I was blogging on blogspot regularly from 2008 until about 2012, so the blogs that I have on my reading list are like a time capsule of things I was interested in (or thought I was interested in) years ago. Flicking through them just now, it was kind of melancholic seeing people who I used to keep up with on blogspot whose last posts were two, three, four years ago.

I have been thinking about this post every since browsing through a friend's travel label on her blog in the morning before work, and coming across her 2013 travel recap post. In regards to her week-long trip to the Whitsundays, she wrote something like "I came back so relaxed that I felt dizzy looking at a computer screen," and it further consolidated what I knew - that I really really really needed a nature day. And so I left for work at 8am feeling even more pooped and miserable for that which I desperately wanted but hadn't the time or the weather to achieve.

I started a 9 to 5:30 office job at the end of May, and it has definitely been at least since then that I have been craving a day sitting at the beach or going hiking. During my big trip around Europe, I tried to go on a nature day at least every week, or in every city that I visited, even if it was just spending a day hanging out in an urban park (not that pleasant in the winter time though, alas). Upon coming back home, I vowed that I would spend more time in the mountains/forests/beaches in and around Sydney, but quite amazingly, I haven't at all. During my lunchbreaks lately, I've been sitting on the northeastern side of the Botanical Gardens, which is the quieter side and easy for me to get to from the office at work. Of course this is only pays off when it is warm and sunny, and I feel like urban parks aren't cutting it for me.

At the beginning of 2013, my older sister and I went on a road trip to Melbourne and then along the Great Ocean Road. I've been thinking a lot about this road trip lately, and how much I want to do it again. We stayed in rental apartments and cottages only for one night each before going onto the next town a few hours away. It was a week or truly taking our time. Some of the places we stayed in were quite spectacular and I am kicking my 2013 self for not taking more pictures during that week in general.

The most stand-out nature day that I've had in the more recent past is without a doubt my first Marseille nature day. I bought a day ticket for 5 euro, got the train to Rond-Point du Prado, caught a bus to Luminy (from memory I think this was the 21), went to the toilet and got lunch at Universite d'Aix Marseille (free toilets yay!). From there, I pretty much just walked south-ish and way off the main tracks until I could see the sea. I am pretty sure it was the Belvedere de Sugiton that I ended up at, over looking Morgiou. But I can't say for certain.

Marseille in general was so enriching. The weather was spectacular for winter, reaching maybe 15 degrees C, warm enough so that after about an hour of walking, I could take off my jacket and jumper and be out in just a t-shirt. There were so many small and mid-sized galleries around the city that it was like a treat around every corner that I could go into and browse. Lots of craft/ vintage clothing/ artisan boutiques as well. In hindsight, it has a very Melbourne-vibe to it but much grittier (in a good way) and with much more interesting topography, situated right on the edge of the Mediterranean and with many hills to make for a much more difficult walking experience. Definitely a walking city though, but it would be worth it buying a day ticket and catching buses and trams to experience the city street-level. Marseille during golden hour is devastatingly beautiful.

Added 16 Aug: OH, and I forgot to mention that originally I was looking at a small city in or near the French Alps wayyyy before I considered Marseille. I only chose Marseille after finding and booking a one-bed room for 15 Euro a night - far cheaper and more comfortable than staying in a hostel! Staying in Thibaut's apartment was one of the highlights of my time in Marseille, so I had to come back to this post to include it. The fact that I was so intent on going to the mountains and it was only some trivial (at the time) decision lead me to the sea amazes me! If I travelled to Marseille on my own in the future, I would definitely look up Thibaut's place again.

Lots of photos below.