Australia. A Family Reunion At The Other End Of The World - Part 1

Friday, January 29, 2021

First stop. Abu Dhabi, AD in short for me. I have been there numerous times and our connecting flight is only in a couple of hours. I usher mom to the lounge where I start by tranquilizing dad about mom, furtively answer some emails, and disappear from the online world to avoid any work contact. I was still employed at a bank back then and had spent half of the car ride from home to the airport in Beirut on the phone, assisting colleagues. I very much needed the time out and wouldn't relax until we landed in Sydney... 13 hours after departing from AD. Yup. Quite a long haul...

Now that the long flight was over, mom and I were simply eager to finally move our legs properly. August is the winter season in Australia, as it is the southern hemisphere. It was raining lightly at the landing and my cousin and her family were already waiting to welcome us. I felt a bit shy as I didn't remember her much. She had visited Lebanon in 1980 with her sister, my aunt, and her husband, and then conflicts had become fiercer and they had left and never visited again. And here we were, in August 2013, meeting her, with her own family of 3 beautiful children. They have become 5 kids since, with the last lovely twins. Mom and I would stay at my cousin's for the first couple of days before we started roaming the country.

Australia is huge and it would require a couple of months to meander all over it. And since a very dear friend is emigrating this summer to the faraway continent, I will probably visit again in the future.

Getting back to the 2013 trip. After a good night's rest, we headed out with the whole family. We first visited St Mary's Cathedral and the park adjacent to it before heading towards the Sydney Tower Eye and the shopping street. We took the sign of the kids became fidgety as our cue to stop for a late lunch at Cellini's. Located in the central business district of Sydney, this restaurant offers good food with very good service and an extremely welcoming staff.

On the next day, mom and I went to the center again and walked through the alleys, and visited the malls and shopping area. We would be later joined by my cousin and her family to go for dinner at Crinitis at Sydney Darling Harbour. My cousin and her family were regulars and had already booked our table so we were ushered there in no time. After a copious Italian dinner in a special atmosphere, surrounded by bikes and engines - I found the deco awesome -, we walked to the pier and while the kids were running around and playing, we had some ice cream and enjoyed the night breeze.

The next morning, mom and I head towards The Rocks. This is a historic area, located south of Sydney Harbor, right after the central business district. It is home to pubs, bars and restaurants, galleries and gift shops, museums as well as "The Big Dig Archeology Education Center". The Nurses Walk is an alleyway located in The Rocks. It was created in 1979 to honor the nurses who worked at the hospitals in the area between 1788 and 1816. This whole site is a must seen when you are touring Sydney Harbor. It includes scenic and historic views and is quite adequate for a long stroll.

After walking around the Harbor, I finally convinced my mother to ride the ferry and relax while watching Sydney from the waters. We would be able to step down back to land at any stop. Kind of a hop on hop off bus tour, except our means of transportation moves on water. The ferries network is quite developed (as per pic) and the lines get you to most of the landmarks you might want to give a closer look to. Our first monument to visit is obviously... the Sydney Opera. We will be coming back again before the end of our Aussie trip.

Planning a trip to the cemetery at the other end of the world might seem macabre. And it actually was on top of the to-do list for my mom. See, several decades ago, her elder sister, Mona, had been "sent'' to Australia to assist her newlywed sister, Mary. Unfortunately, Auntie Mona was run over by a drunkard driver one day and she was buried at Rookwood Cemetery. My mom's family is highly emotional. Many of them couldn't make mention of Auntie Mona and if they did, they would start crying and changed the subject. Mom is a little strong soul and once we had decided to be mobile and explore, she had expressed the wish to visit her sister's grave. Her siblings were not able to let her know where the grave lay, not even in which cemetery, and so it was my uncle's wife Nancy who drove us there. The Cemetery is huge and multicultural. It is said to be the largest in Australia and the southern hemisphere. You can access their website here.

Going back to less ghastly activities, mom and I set our sails out early the next day and rode another ferry to visit the Olympic Park, the Opera House, and the adjacent Royal Botanic Garden. Unfortunately, by the time we were through the Botanic Garden, both my phones had depleted batteries and I don't have any pictures of the Opera House. But, to compensate, I made plans to invite all the ladies of the family to a show before we departed from Australia. That way, we would all spend a special moment together.

A few words about each landmark:

The Sydney Olympic Park is 430 hectares large sports and entertainment complex. It hosts a lot of events and you could just go there to relax and have a nice and peaceful walk.

The Sydney Opera House was officially completed in 1973, 14 years after construction works started in March 1959. You can read more about its story and events here.

The Royal Botanic Garden is a 30-hectare property offering free public access and one of the most visited attractions when visiting Sydney. More info here.

Enjoy the curated picture gallery!

While I had been actively researching for our next destination, mom and I, accompanied by my cousin and her family on most days, kept discovering Sydney and its nearby attractions. Our next destination was Kiama, about 120 kilometers south of Sydney. This town is famous for its Blowhole and features beaches and caravan parks. Here is the Kiama official page. I loved this place so much that my first Instagram post was a beautiful shot that I was able to take. The picture you see next to this text is now also hanging on my art/travel wall in my home.

In the next article, I will show you our itineraries to the other cities we explored. Stay tuned!

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Das sind wunderschöne Eindrücke - es wird Zeit das man wieder verreisen kann.

Ja und wie! Ich vermisse verreisen sehr...

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