I noticed a lot of cities in Australia have “Royal Botanical Gardens”. That’s a difference from the U.S. In the U.S. I haven’t noticed any royal anything. I mean, the reasons are obvious, but it’s not something I thought about ahead of time, rather learned about from traveling. (Love that.) This was one of the many little cultural differences I noticed between our countries. Traveling to a country that shares the same language but which differs in many cultural ways fascinated me. When I travel to some place that has a different language like Peru and/or is radically culturally different like Asia, there’s a feeling of being so far outside my native culture, it’s like observing everything through the walls of a bubble. When the language was the same and the level of development very similar, there was a comfort level (once I overcame driving on the opposite side!) and it was easy to feel at home. Without the bubble, more subtle differences surprised me and let me compare and contrast alternate histories as well as to see the influence of U.S. culture on my personality, word choices, values and preferences.
I think it’s interesting and it’s educational to me to see gardens culturally valued on the level of art. Every city not only has its museums and opera houses but also its botanical gardens. I think in the U.S. the equivalent would be city parks. And our parks have conservatories of flowers and that kind of thing, and gardens, gardeners and arborists certainly abound, but the emphasis and naming differ and I never noticed this aspect of culture until I went to Australia.
Of course, it being Sydney, the gardens lead down to water.
And what’s totally unique to Sydney, at the end of your botanical gardens trek, you come upon the spectacular Sydney Opera House: