Marys Down Under

This post is long overdue for no good reason other than taking the time to write the entire adventure up seemed completely overwhelming! I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today though, so it’s a great time to reminisce on my first adventure with family in Australia!

Per my previous post, my usual readers will know my grandmother (Nana) came to visit me in Australia in September. To say we had fun would be a huge understatement. Nana and I have been adventure buddies from as far back as I can remember. When she and Papi lived in Chile I was flown over when I was just two years old (my uncle loves to share stories of that trip). When I turned 13 Nana and Papi took me and my cousin to London and Paris. When I was 16 or 17 (can’t remember), Nana joined my family on a month long stay in southern france, and then one summer in college Nana and I did a cruise together along the Amalfi Coast. So it’s only fitting she is the first family to visit me in Australia…and boy did we see it all!

The trip started off with a reunion in Sydney. I flew up from Melbourne on a Friday morning (“wagging” school, as they say here). It just so happened a friend had concert tickets for a show in Sydney that same weekend so we ended up combining our trip. She stayed with a friend, but aside from that joined my Nana and I on our adventures. Another addition was my Nana’s cousin John. I had never met him, so it was very nice to have Nana there to make the introductions. Anyway, that’s enough explaining of our merry (mary) little band of travellers…onto the fun stuff–pictures!

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I found Nana in our beautiful hotel suite at the Intercontinental in Sydney. It was an incredible location, just a short walk from the Opera House. It was a bit overcast, but our room had a bit of a view of the garden.

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John was due to meet us at the hotel within the hour, but Aurelie and I couldn’t wait to go see the sights. We headed off to get a quick glimpse of the bridge and harbour. Beautiful.

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The weather wasn’t as good as the first time I visited Sydney, but that didn’t slow us down! The first day we spent time just wandering around and enjoyed a delicious dinner (I think night one was in China town).

Saturday we rented a car from the hotel and John gave us a driving tour of Sydney. Absolutely incredible to get to see the entire city as we traced our ancestry across town. We ended up at a beautiful cemetery in Sydney. Many of our Australian ancestors were buried here, but for me the surreal moment was seeing a name I not only recognised, but grew up hearing. My great grandmother, grandmommie, while not buried in Australia, has her name on the stone. She was born and raised in Sydney, but followed her heart to San Francisco. She literally brought the family to America.

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The driving tour was absolutely beautiful, but my favourite moment was when we found this beautiful lookout point. After a little prodding I convinced Nana to hop out of the car for a photo op and man am I glad I did!

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Saturday was our biggest day in Sydney as after the day of sight seeing Aurelie and I had a concert to get to (Above and Beyond). I scarfed down some food, and we prepared for the adventure like any 20 something’s would…

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The concert had some crazy light shows going on, and the music was insane. The concert started at 9, but in true australia fashion, the doors weren’t open to the venue until about 5 til. Absolutely insane. It was as if they had forgotten that hundreds of thousands of people were descending upon the OLYMPIC PARK for a concert. It actually didn’t really start until about 11pm (for the main act), but with music going at 9, it was very weird to wait to get in….

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Luckily we found ways to amuse ourselves….

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The concert went until 3am, but I think we left around 2:30 and caught a cab back to the city. I knew Sunday was going to be rough, but with a night like that, it was well worth it.

Sunday we decided to see Sydney by water and my Nana bought us all hop on hop off ferry passes. The ferry itself was way too fun and I took way too many pictures….but when in Sydney…

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We took a break from the cruising around to run through Madame Tussauds. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but we had some fun with the wax…

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We hopped back on the ferry and headed to Watson’s bay for some fish and chips. It was beautiful.IMG_6128

Last on our tour was Manly. I was told I HAD to see Manly, so we made that our final stop of the day, and that beach was gorgeous.

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Needless to say, this stop finished us off for the day and the trip! One last dinner out at an italian restaurant by the water and our time in Sydney was through. Monday we all traveled back to Melbourne. The week in the city was busy busy as I took Nana around to all the must sees in the city, as well as introducing her to my own little “world” here. Tuesday night we had dinner in my neighbourhood with my friend Cassie. We checked out a new restaurant for all of us (Tokyo Tina), and man, that place wins for best food of the entire trip. It was amazing. There was quick bonding as my Nana played her role well, sharing way too many stories of my farm girl days.  The next day Nana came into Uni and met all the professors, staff and students I work with and finally met the supervisor that dragged me across the world to be his PhD student. We went to a lovely dinner in Caroline Springs (middle of nowhere Melbourne–suburbia, if you will), with Jason (supervisor) and his wife and kids. This week was one of my favourites simply because it was filled with so many moments where my worlds collided in a seamless fashion.

Saturday brought our next adventure as we boarded our flight to Tasmania to see the rest of the Australian family. As soon as I landed in Launceston I knew I would love it. It was so green and beautiful. I’ve since heard that hobart is “even better,” but Launceston did not disappoint!

The weekend was spent with Nana’s cousins (John again, Janet (who I’ve met before), and Jane). We also had a lovely lunch and afternoon with one of John’s children’s family on their farm.

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The beautiful greenery

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Overlooking Launceston

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The entrance to John’s house

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Our wheels for the weekend!

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This farm was breathtaking!

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The girls are my “generation”, but a bit on the young side. Luckily I might as well be a kid still. We got along fabulously. They loved showing me their amazing treehouse, entirely built by their father.

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I played the role of family photographer (thanks for all that training Dad), and got this lovely self timer shot.

Following our family time, Janet and I took off in the “little red brick” to visit some wineries.

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We took home a few goodies. Can’t wait to taste my Tassie Pinot Noir again. 🙂

Overall the weekend was very much family focused as we spent the day adventuring, and the nights dining, dishing family gossip, and looking through family heirlooms.

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I insisted on some physical activity (between all the wining and dining), so Janet, Nana and I went to the Gorge, a beautiful mountainous park. The ladies chose a leisurely trail along the river that lead them to the city, while I opted for an out and back the opposite way that had some ups and downs, followed by the “zig zag” track (later found out the zigging and zagging was all Uphill) that lead me back into the city to join them.

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We all started off on the same path, but quickly broke off

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The views were absolutely breathtaking throughout the entire hike. I was going along fine on my own until I saw this stick in my path. As I got closer, I realised the stick was curvy in a very not stick like way…upon closer inspection, my heart dropped through my stomach as I saw it was a snake. 8 months into my Australian adventure and I had to come to Tassie to have my first snake sighting.

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For obvious reasons, I thought I was going to die. For some reason I thought maybe it might be dead and since it was blocking my path I decided to kick some dirt at it to see if it moved. I did and immediately regretted it. Luckily the snake didn’t move much, but thinking back, if I were a snake, I’d be pretty ticked if something came along and kicked dirt on me. I could have slide by it on the path, but I opted for the safer, more mountainous option of rock climbing the wall nearby to avoid it entirely. The rest of my hike was quite thankfully uneventful.

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After a short weekend in Tassie, Nana and I returned to Melbourne where she ventured off with Janet for some time in the country side while I got back to work. She stopped through the city once more over the weekend so we had one last afternoon and evening together. We were so exhausted we ended up just having snacks and champagne in her hotel, but it was a perfect ending. In true Melbourne fashion, we said goodbye over a brunch Monday morning.

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It was an absolutely amazing adventure, and I truly hope she can make it back to Australia once more. With the holidays fast approaching I am feeling more of that homesickness. I have surprised myself a bit with how well I’ve adjusted to my new life, but I know Thanksgiving and Christmas will be a stretch for me, having never spent these apart from my family. Luckily my parents are gifting me with the presence of my sister for Christmas. My next big adventure starts December 22nd when she lands in Melbourne. I cannot wait! We have a beach house with friends booked for christmas (because this year my white christmas will be SAND instead of snow), and we are working on a great barrier reef trip as well as visiting some koalas, penguins and vineyards.

There is so much more to catch up with via this blog, but I doubt most will read this far anyway with the length of the post. I’ll save the rest for the next round.

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