In order to keep my dad from hacking into my blogger account and writing a recap himself, I'm putting some words to disk and starting out the story of our Big Adventure.
For starters, that was One Fun Trip. Every time we've done vacation with my parents (Colorado, France, Quebec, Marquette, Australia), it has been better than the last. I'm not sure whether it's because we're getting more accustomed to each others' ways, or we're getting better at planning activities we all enjoy, or we're better at making a liveable home-base for eating/sleeping/socializing, or we're getting older and mellower, or the kids are such a distraction that no one has a chance to notice anyone else's quirks. Whatever the reason, we had a better time than the last trip, which I thought was one of the best trips ever.
The trip to Australia was long. But really, we planned for the worst, expected misery, and were pleasantly surprised most of the time. When it was difficult, it was status quo. The only thing seriously stressful was the chance of missing connecting flights (twice).
As a shout-out to the best airline ever, we flew V Austrrlia from LAX to SYD and back. Otherwise we flew American and Virgin Blue. V Australia were awesome. Best airline I've ever flown, and I wish they'd fly everywhere I ever go. If you have a chance to fly them, do it. Don't bother with anyone else. Even if you don't get any points.
We had (expensive) internet access in Melbourne, and so I was able to post during that part of the trip. The hotel there was a 3-br, so the kids had their own room and everyone slept really well. Jet lag wasn't even a problem. To keep our health and our budget, we cooked our meals in for breakfast and dinner, and had lunch out most days. That means we had the best of local produce, lamb, seafood, and even kangaroo. Melbourne is a food destination, whether you shop at the markets or eat out at restaurants or go to the cake shops on Ackland St in St Kilda. Which, by the way, were walking distance from our hotel. Hee.
I assumed we'd have internet in Sydney, it being a modern city and all that, but no. We were at the only million-dolloar-view luxury apartment hotel with no high speed internet access in Sydney. We also only had 2 bedrooms, so the kids were divided among us and no one slept very well. Still, the hotel was terrific and it was worth paying extra for a view of Lavender Bay from the 15th floor. At the bottom of the street our hotel was on was the harbour bridge and a perfect view of the Opera House. Everything was accessible from a ferry that picked up right there and took you to Circular Quay.
I pretty much worked in Sydney all except for a couple of days, but everyone else had a grand time sightseeing. I did get to see some of the key points, though. SNG and I took the kids to Manly, a beautiful peninsual with a popular Pacific surfing beach. We went on the "Manly ferry"-- Go on, say that out loud and try not to laugh. I actually preferred Watson's Bay, which had protected harbour beaches because there was no riptide, shark, croc, or jellyfish threat to worry about. E-baby preferred that beach too, since I actually let her get into the water there.
I think that Sydney was a cleaner city, and strikingly beautiful. Melbourne was a more casual city, with very interesting architecture. It would be more fun to walk Melbourne and more fun to ride the ferries of Sydney. Taxis in Sydney are unreliable. Trams in Melbourne are brilliant. Either city is a great place to take children.
If I have the chance to go back someday, I want more time. I want a kitchen again. I want to go in springtime again. And I want to fly home without children.
Next time: The end of the Sydney trip, and the trip home.