Travel is about more than just seeing the sights, it’s about connecting with the locals and taking on new adventures that will lead you to the great unforeseen destination. In Australia I found these travel ideals to be completely fulfilled; but for me one Sydney night perfectly demonstrates this. The night began when my family and two of our Aussie friends decided to dine at the historic Australian Hotel, located at the heart of the Rocks (old Sydney district) . Open since 1914, the Australian serves as a local pub, restaurant (serving seriously outrageous pizzas), and a hotel making it an integral part of local culture. After arriving, we finally began examining our menus only to be astonished at finding items such as: Emu pizza, Duck pizza, Barbecue duck pizza, kangaroo and crocodile pizza. The thought running through everyone’s head was: WHAT?! Is this for real? Yes the menu was for real, and so we ordered a total of 5 pizzas! We decided that if there was ever a time to branch out, it was now.
After our array of pizzas arrived, each of us discovered our favorite mine being the Barbecue Duck. A word of advice: the Emu pizza may sound awesome, but the taste is not delightful. That night we filled the air with laughter, smiles, and love. Left overs were packaged up to take back, and we set off to explore the streets. Our native Aussie friend attempted to read us a plaque (explaining how sandstone was the foundation of the city), “in my best Australian accent.” As we continued on we were able to hear the soft waves slowly rolling into the bay, and above us the stars looked as though they were smiling down and welcoming us, the energy that buzzed all around us sounded as if it was telling us to come right in and stay a while. We wound through old paths, skipped down streets, and darted across them; exploring Sydney by foot, with the joys of good company. This is where the true beauty of Sydney came out – it lay within its people.
We soon arrived at the place where the old Sydney greeted the new; and on that corner lay a bench holding a sleeping man. We were close enough to see our hotel now, and it was getting late. As we were crossing the road, our friend remarks that he has seen the same man there before, where he left him a leftover pizza a while back. We all look down at the pizza box that I am holding and back up to the man on the bench. As a group we conclusively decide to leave him a present. I softly tuck the box next to him as my dad set the other box beside it.
For the first time I helped a homeless person not out of pity, but just so that he would hopefully smile in the morning and have a full stomach. I remember wondering what he would do or say when he saw the boxes were for him. I will never know, but I do know this: in my mind he will forever be remembered as “the pizza guy.” If the local culture is kind enough to welcome you to their city, find small ways while you are there to give back however you can.
Sure enough, the next year we return to see our pizza guy resting on that same bench. We then tuck more boxes next to him, in hopes that he will wake the next morning to another happy surprise.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.