Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Sister bonding time in Australia!

Per usual, it has been a crazy couple of weeks for us here.  My sister came to visit for 2 weeks and we have been just running around like crazy!  Meghan is our first family member to visit and as a result we got a little carried away with planning out the time (well, I did anyways).  I will give a quick recap of the time because we did travel a bit while she was here as well.

I have mastered getting overseas visitors adjusted to the time difference and over jetlag.  They don’t like me much the first day, but it works.  Pretty much after over a full day of traveling through airports and sitting on a plane, I make them stay up the whole day exploring parts of the city and then keep them up past 8pm.  Not fun for them.  But in the end it makes the rest of their trip better.

So on my sister’s first day, we hung out around Mosman, walked around Balmoral and went to dinner and a show at the opera house at night.  Yeah, I told you it was crazy.  The show was pretty epic… the Sydney Symphony was playing music from Pixar movies with movie clips to go along with the arrangements.  It was magical (my go to descriptor for anything exciting involving Disney).

We dragged her on a fun run.

Here she is with the hubby and his stache.

Then there was the Melbourne Cup.  It is hard to explain to Americans (or any non-Australian for that matter) what this day is like.  I feel the closest we have is the Kentucky Derby… but it would be as if the entire country shut down to watch it and then just eat and drink the rest of the day.  Last year, as I was still in my “negotiation phase” and not really enjoying/accepting life here.  I remember thinking at the time the whole idea of getting dressed up to watch a horse race (and paying a lot for tickets for lunch somewhere) was just crazy.  Fast forward one year and here I am all dressed up with my fascinator.  Life is crazy.

If you look closely, you can see our hair pieces.  I should have done a better job snapping pics of some of the really impressive ones other women were wearing... epic fail.

We also took a trip up to the Byron Bay area.  It was mine and the hubby’s first time there and we really enjoyed it.  Byron itself is kind of a mecca for backpackers and old school hippies.  My high school wanna-be hippy self approved.  However, we stayed just south in Lennox Head, which was a bit more low key and our speed now. 

Here are some highlights from the trip including surf lessons, bush walks and beach time.

Walking around Lennox Head...

On one of the bushwalks we did near Minyon Falls.  

Lennox Head

Pre-surf lesson.  Crazy surf instructor who kept talking to us about the curse of the bambino in a super heavy aussie accent.  Then we were surrounded by backpackers the whole time.  Quite the experience. Meghan and I both managed to stand up.  Mission accomplished. 

To close out my sister’s Aussie trip, we went to Hunter Valley for a girls night.  I had the bright idea to hire out bicycles for the day to get around the wineries.  It ended up working out okay, but I will say that there are quite a few decent sized hills in the area!  I think every other time I have been carted around by the hubby and really paid no attention to hills.  It was fun and definitely built up our appetite for some nice cheeses with our tastings and a lovely dinner at night.

The bicycle hire was through Grapemobile Bicycle Hire in Pokolbin.  They were great and I would highly suggest booking through them if you are planning a trip to Hunter and want to bike around (and not have to worry about someone driving!).  They also run Pokolbin Brothers Wines, so you can start the day with a tasting (they have wonderful Chardonnay)!  Here is the link to their website for anyone interested...

After making it to Peterson Champagne House.  It was a bit longer a ride than I thought.  
And up some of those hills.
Sorry Meghan.

Some small grapes on the vines.

View from the ride.

Sunset from the B&B.

It was strange and exciting having one of our family members finally come visit.  It is so different to have them in our element here versus us just going home to visit.  For me, it was nice to have her see what our lives are like here first hand instead of just listening to me talk about it.  I’m sure I will have more thoughts on this as I have time to process it all.  Until then, I am off to gather up some fixins for our belated Thanksgiving meal this weekend!

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