From the Archives: In the Land Down Under

When in Australia, the first (and main) thing you should concern yourself with is seeking out these magnificent creatures in their wild habitat. Then, once you find them, do your best not to disturb them, cause they can be meeeaaannnn

I’m sorry I couldn’t think of a more original way to introduce the blog entry that is actually the most recent traveling that I have done—on this, my travel blog.

But it will have to do.

In December and January Chris and I took a trip back to his homeland for Christmas and New Years, and it was even better than I ever could have imagined. I have been thinking about how to write something up about the trip since I started this blog, and friends and family who have looked at it ask me how I could have gone so long without writing something about it. The truth is, it was such a detailed, long, multiple-journeyed trip, I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I think I’ve settled on letting the photos do most of the talking (and there are lots of photos). So without further adieu, here are some of the highlights.

After a 20-something hour trip in which you are actually losing an entire day of your life, one might think it would be difficult to hit the ground running.
But it wasn’t for us. We arrived in Sydney at 8:30 a.m. on December 24, 2009, Christmas Eve. We left New York city in a flurry of cold, snow flakes, dripping bathroom ceilings and honking taxi cabs only to arrive in the land in sunshine, delicious coffee (even at the airport) and smiling, happy family who treated us like royalty upon our departure from the plane (complete with stuffed kangaroos and balloons, no less).
At 8:30 in the morning, and with seven of Chris’s family members there to greet us, there was no time for jet lag. Surprisingly, I didn’t find my jet lag to come in a form worse then getting exhausted at around 11 p.m. for the first three or four nights, which was fine by me.
Our first day found us at Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains (a name given to the mountains because from a distance the Eucalyptus leaves give off an iridescent blue ‘glow’), and in great view of the awesome Three Sisters.

Legend has it that three sisters—Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tride. They fell in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, who were less-than-thrilled with the law which forbade them to marry. When the brothers decided to capture the three sisters, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe turned the three of them into the 922, 918 and 906 metres tall stones that they are today to protect them from harm. Although he intended to reverse the spell when the battle ended, he himself was killed, and so the sisters remain in their rock form to this day.
Katoomba is also home to a breathtaking ride on a cable car over the valley. The cable car has a glass bottom as well, so the view is virtually unobstructed as you glide thousands of feet above the ground in the air.

After our pit stop we headed back to Bathurst, where Chris’s family lives. It was a traditional Christmas eve (Aussie church service and all!) and Christmas day in the Connor house, before we headed over to Orange and to Chris’s aunt and uncle’s house to meet the rest of the family and have Christmas dinner.
Now, remember, that for most of the year poor Australia is in drought. Strict water restrictions keep people in certain areas (like Melbourne, for instance), from using the shower for longer than 5 minutes a day, or from washing their clothes more than once a week.
For the first two days we were there, that changed. The skies opened up and on Christmas day is poured buckets and buckets. Still, we ate our grilled dinner outside on the porch under a large umbrella with our bon bons (in Australia the kids, and adults, crack open these little treats to find a small prize, a paper hat that is to be worn during Christmas dinner, and a joke), our Aussie beer and delicious meal.
The next day was boxing day—a day that in old-school Australia was set aside as a holiday for people to pack up (or box up, if you will) all their holiday decorations for the new year. Now, this day equals a chill-out-and-eat-all-the-leftovers-you-can day, which was fine by us.

Another couple of days in Bathurst and a trip to their famous raceway (think Nascar gone Aussie):

The view from Mount Panorama= unbelievable. Especially with the rain-made rainbow.

rounded out my experience in what Chris dubbed the Aussie bush (my experience wasn’t quite what I would have expected one to the Aussie “bush” to be, but then again, I don’t think anything short of killing and cooking our own food would have).
What followed were a whirlwind of events. There was a trip to Australia’s capital city of Canberra, with their War Memorial and Parliament House (and family picnics and trips to the News Agency to buy Aussie magazines):

Goofing around while perched atop a mountain with a perfect (and gorgeous) view of Mount Ainslie

Australian War Memorial

Flowers commemorating fallen soldiers.

Parliament House

Then off to Sydney for our New Years festivities, which included a 3-something-mile walk along the shore from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach, barbecuing, pub crawling, eating 1 kilo of prawns (to myself), fireworks over the Sydney Harbor bridge and a party with Chris’s friends and family:

We ate fish and chips on Coogee Beach in Sydney the day before New Years Eve. Swimsuits in December= not too shabby

The walk from Coogee to Bondi took us along the coast and to lots of other smaller beaches along the way.

The famous Bondi Beach in Sydney
The famous Bondi Beach.

Delicious Aussie barbecue New Years Eve dinner
Okay, so my camera's not that great at capturing firework shots (or I'm just not such a great photographer), but can't you just feel the excitement?
Ringing in 2010 with the Connors in Sydney.
All that remained the morning after was the trash for the birds to enjoy, and the rest of our trip, which still had eons to go....

After our New Years blow out celebration we hopped on a flight to Melbourne to hit up my family, before heading back to Sydney for our last two days in Australia—but I’ll save those entries for tomorrow.

Till then, bis bald my friends!

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