Incredible Sydney Excursion
03 November 2009 | Sydney, Australia
Down Under would not have been complete without a visit to Australia. Although you'd think it would be a short hop away, it was a 3 hour flight and 2 hour time difference. Sydney was like a perfect postcard in so many ways. Tropical, yet metropolitan, artsy, yet brimming with classic beauty, aboriginal heritage abound and gourmet food and cultural events on every corner. After all the harbors we've seen on this journey, nothing has compared to our timeless gem of Newport, Rhode Island...until now. Greg and Jinny, our trans-Pacific sailing friends and crew members of the yacht Carl Linne, treated us to a Sydney Harbor tour on our 40-foot charter sailboat. Whether it's Newport, New York, San Francisco or Sydney, there's no better way to see the sights than from the water. Watch out! There's a Sydney Ferry about to plow us down. Greg is not only cool at the helm, but smirking while placing a call on his cell. "Hey mate, look out for that sailboat on your bow, it's me at the helm!" Yeah, he knows everyone, including the ferry captains. Stories from his childhood, times as a tug boat skipper, and many more memories were shared as we tacked under the infamous Harbor Bridge. The stunning Botanical Gardens, located in the heart of the city, was our backdrop for our overnight anchorage. Jinny treated the kids to their favorite dinner, spaghetti carbonara, and cared for them during the evening, while I was rowed ashore to play nursemaid to my very ill husband in a nearby hotel. No need to go into details, tmi, but a 40-foot boat with small toilets and little privacy was no place for Zen's captain. Thankfully, Jinny and Greg were heroes and handled Zen's younger crew members for the evening, while Tommy battled his bout of gastro. After his long night, we all got aboard "Blackjack" and ventured to Manly Beach and back, stopping at an anchorage for a gourmet lunch, while sailing under the sun in a beautiful 15 knots of wind. Greg, in true local form, hooked us up with one of his friends for a luxury speedboat ride back to our hotel in the trendy Potts Point. You know which younger crew member was grinning from ear to ear as we zoomed across the busy Friday afternoon harbor.
Cole was fascinated with the Sydney Opera House from the moment he set eyes on it. The following day, it was the first place on our agenda. Touring through the unique architecture and learning about her construction and designer, kept all of us rapt in attention. Today the Opera House hosts over 19 performances, ranging from rock, symphonies, plays, ballets and of course, opera, in one single Saturday. There's over 7 stages on the property. Halloween would not be the same without a little trick or treating. Last year, we spent the holiday celebrating on a mega-yacht in Bonaire's harbor. Certainly a blast, but no trick or treating happened. One of my absolute closest girlfriends from high school did not let my kids down. Mudgie Gleason, the youngest of a family of 10 kids, put out 150 orange balloons to local neighbors giving them a "how to" on Halloween. Many of her Aussie friends embraced the American/Euro holiday, and opened their doors to the parade of trick or treaters. It was a total success. Seeing Mudgie after about 10 years was like seeing her on the bus my freshman year in high school. Her smile and attitude was as radiant as when she was 14. Daniel, her very hip, cool and totally welcoming husband, grabbed Tommy and zipped him off to see his brother a couple of towns away. Tom came back with stories and settled in as a new adopted member of the Moses family. Dinner was ridiculously good, kids were ankle deep in candy, or lollies as they say Down Under, and we were surrounded by energetic university students, one of them being Daniel's 21 year old niece. Hugs were non-stop as we said our goodbyes before grabbing a cab back to our hotel. Mudgie and Daniel, thanks so much for such a memorable Sydney Halloween!
With only one day left, Mudgie managed to book me into her hair stylist, Nicky, for a sailor-girl's makeover hairdo. After 2 years of not even a trim, it was well overdue. Nicky was about 4-foot-something and a smile that would warm the Opera House. She has a very professional room for washing, cutting, blow drying in her gorgeous home, which she graciously opened for me on a Sunday. Cammi and I had a great time getting to know her. Of course she too, was a dancer and that set the conversation rolling about all things related to dance. We sashayed out her door and Cammi kept saying, "Wow, mom, I love it!!" Cole was shocked to see how short and straight I went, but settled down when he saw my curls return. Funny how reluctant kids are when it comes to their world changing around them. Anyway, we were now ready for the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The photos are the only way to tell what we saw and how extremely close we were to these unique animals. Photo Gallery: Fall '09 Volume 2 will give you the full account. Instead of just aimlessly strolling the zoo, we opted for a private tour. It was worth every Aussie dime. To pet the kangaroos and learn about echidnas and wombats was priceless. We believe Cole tried to smuggle a quocca out of the zoo as a pet.
There were so many things we didn't have time to experience. We kept saying "retirement home" while in Sydney. Maybe we'll get to see it again as residents in the far-off future. In the meantime, as we drove back into Whangarei, NZ, it felt like home. Zen was sitting in her garage waiting to show us the progress on her mini-spa treatments and our rental home in Onerahi welcomed us and all our dirty laundry. Ahhh, to have a washer/dryer at our disposal. Travel is fun, but it's good to be home.