In 2014 Mike and I went to visit his sister, Wendy, and her husband, Andy, in Australia. We were lucky enough to go for 3 weeks and I wish I had written about the trip when we returned but unfortunately I didn’t get around to it. Now, too much time has passed for me to recount all of the details of the trip but, luckily, traveling with Mike’s family means there was a spreadsheet! Below is a summary of what we did each day and a few pictures of life down under.
Mike and I had a rocky start to this trip (one that I, unfortunately, remember too well) and had major difficulties getting from California to Sydney. These included, but are not limited to; flight delays due to weather; flight delays due to not having a captain to fly the plane; missed connecting flights; LAX closing (I didn’t know airports even closed…) and leaving us stranded in dirty Los Angeles (sorry lalaland lovers!) overnight; booking a hotel because of said stranded-status on the wrong day (since it was already past 12am – and technically the next day – we couldn’t book a room for “that night”); after finally finding a hotel to stay at, being kept awake because of a “telly” (high school flashback, wussup); and washing our underwear in the sink for days because our luggage stayed in America long after we had left.
We were supposed to meet Mike’s family – his parents, Barb and Dan, who arrived a week ahead of us, Wendy, and Andy – in Sydney on 12/21/2014 (the 2oth in California because of that whole national dateline thing…) but we didn’t get there until the 22nd. Nonetheless, we got there!
Day 1, 12/22/2014 – Sydney
We arrived in Sydney and took an Uber to the airbnb that we rented. The house was a nice, 3 story place. Each couple got their own room, there were 3 bathrooms, a kitchen, living room, and big deck for us to relax on. I remember being pretty stressed that I didn’t have any luggage to unpack but there wasn’t anything we could really do except shower and borrow some clothes. Luckily Wendy and I are close in size and she lent me shorts and a top.
Barb and Dan went for a walking tour of Sydney while Mike and I got ready and had a much needed drink (even if it was probably before 10 AM!) with Andy. Wendy couldn’t join in the celebratory cocktail because we found out that she was pregnant with baby Ella. It’s pretty crazy to think about that now, having met Ella this past Christmas when we went to Canada.
Andy’s uncle lives in Sydney (or nearby?) and recommended a place for lunch where you grilled your own food. I’ve since forgotten the name but still remember how good the lamb was! We spent the afternoon grilling and drinking beer before taking a ferry to Manly beach. It was insane to see the Sydney Opera House with my own eyes and I think the moment I realized I was actually in Australia.
At Manly, the beach was windy (a sort of premonition for the trip) and we all quickly decided another drink indoors sounded better. We then took the ferry back and headed to the airbnb where I’m sure we figured something out for dinner and then fell fast asleep.
Day 2, 12/23/2014
At this point we learned that our luggage was still in Los Angeles and that we would be given ~$60 a day for clothes until it arrived. Being without our stuff was difficult, as to be expected. It was nice that the airlines were giving us money for clothes but it also meant we spent a day shopping while in AUSTRALIA when we could have been doing way more interesting things. Also, in case you didn’t know, Australia is expensive! I wondered what $60 would even get me. Thankfully we found this store called Cotton On that was basically like a Old Navy in Australia and there was a huge SALE! We stocked up on underwear, dresses (for me), shorts, shirts, and bathing suits to get us through the next couple of days without our luggage.
After our shopping spree we walked (in the rain) to a Mexican restaurant nearby and then went back to the area where our airbnb house was located. The boys found a pub with table tennis and the girls did some browsing of a cute downtown area.
The relationship between girlfriend and S.O.’s mom is stereo typically strained, which is why I feel extra lucky to get along with Barb swimmingly! I’m prone to being homesick but traveling with her (and, of course, Mike!) greatly reduces any feelings of anxiety.
Day 3, 12/24/2014
Wendy and Andy actually live in Melbourne which meant none of us were “home” on Christmas eve or Christmas. This was also the first Christmas that I was away from my family which was (paradoxically) really hard and easier than I expected at the same time…
Mine and Mike’s luggage was still MIA so we didn’t have tennis shoes to join on the Blue Mountains hike that Barb and Dan went on. This is still a bummer for us and one of the big reasons why we want to go back to Sydney one day!
Instead of going on a group hike, Wendy, Andy, Mike and I went to explore. Thanks to Wendy’s excellent documenting skills, I know we walked from Bondi to Bronte beach which, according to Google maps, is just over 1.5 miles. The walk was gorgeous but windy! We stopped along the way for lunch and I ordered the fish n’chips. Before we left, everyone was telling me how fresh the food in Australia was and I found it to be pretty true! I would say the fact that I still remember the fish and chips I ordered over a year ago means something…
After beach bumming for most of the day we took a bus back to the airbnb and grilled Christmas eve dinner on the deck.
Day 4, 12/25/14
We woke up to stockings (thanks Barb and Dan!) and enjoyed coffee with Bailey’s and mimosas. We lazily ate breakfast and opened presents, trying to really get into the Christmas spirit.
Mike and I STILL hadn’t got out luggage by this point and we were leaving for Melbourne later that day, which added to the stress. Luckily we knew that they had arrived in Sydney. It was only a matter of actually getting them… We deiced to go to the airport early in an effort to track of bags down while Barb, Dan, Wendy, and Andy went to the Botanical gardens.
After more miscommunication and scrambling around, we finally got our luggage! …Only to part with it again for the quick flight to Melbourne.
To be continued…