Every year I try to take an opportunity to immerse myself in another culture. This allows me to learn beyond my borders and grow – experience is always the best teacher. So we decided to explore Australia, one of the countries at the top of my Life List. Our family takes these trips not just to bond but also to remind each other what truly is important in life, each other.
Day 1 finds us in Melbourne, which falls right smack in the middle of Boxing Day. The day after Christmas and all the malls, outlets, stores drop their prices. Complete chaos. The chaos my family enjoys. Tired, jet-lagged and not a fan of shopping, I used the trip to the malls to stay awake so I can fix my body clock quickly.
Our trip officially started with our Hop on Hop off tour which departed from the beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral, this is still the best way to check out the sites of the city. We stopped for lunch at St. Kilda Beach and searched for, yes “searched”, like tourists for the best “Fish and Chips”. It was my first real meal in Australia and I loved it. We hopped off our bus looking for artsy lanes and hipster cafes. These pockets of surprises added to this city’s charm.
Since my family was off to shop again, I excused myself to go visit and train. I was itching to train JiuJitsu and meet the team from South Yarra. They were absolutely amazing at Absolute MMA. I met Professor Lachlan Giles and Professor Livia Gluchowska who were warm and welcoming. I trained a few times during my stay in Melbourne and met amazing ladies who took time to partner with me… thank you Sarah Chapman! Will definitely visit them again.
Next on our to do list was to take the Great Ocean tour which included traveling thru the surf coast region, passing by Mount Deception and ending the trip with the Twelve Apostles. Which I pretty much thought was a Church or Holy Place… To my surprise and delight, the Twelve Apostles are a stack of rock formations on a seascape of sand, ocean and the bluest sky. Worth every penny. This tour was so much fun as we got to see Koalas up close, the friendliest birds and so much signs that say Warning – Snakes. Yup, thats Australia, from cuddlies to killers, they have the cutest to the deadliest animals. And that pretty much rounds up our Melbourne experience. Off to the next city!
We arrived in Sydney on the last day of the year. Preparations were in high gear as everyone rushed around to make sure 2016 ended with a huge bang. It was always on my life list to watch the Sydney Fireworks on New Year’s Eve. And what a sight it was! The Sydney Cityscape was lit AF from every angle of the sky. This was definitely a highlight of my trip. The expensive hotel, food and alcohol didn’t matter. We ended 2016 with the longest, brightest, most vibrant dancing Firework show I’ve ever seen. That set the mood for the rest of the trip. High spirits to welcome 2017.
Sydney grew on me because it was such a balance of City slicking and Beach chilling. I loved the long walks. And by long, I meant a 6 KM walk from Bondi to Coogee Beach. Someone told us it would be an hour walk. It took us 2 and a half hours. Do not regret it though. I saw my first sunset for 2017 on that walk. Worth every step and toe cramp.
Aside from the City and the Beaches, Sydney has the Blue Mountains. The scenery and Aboriginal markings took my breath away. We sat in wonder as our guide explained the blue hue from the dense canopies of trees and sandstone. Sydney, you ended my year with a bang and opened 2017 with a high five. It will be hard to fill up your shoes. Up next, the Gold Coast.