Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Australia - Part 1 (Coogee Beach and Sydney)

We returned Saturday from two weeks in Australia. The trip certainly had its highs and lows, laughter and tantrums, but I loved the time we spent together as a family. I worked the majority of the first week in the Sydney area while Chris corralled the kids, and the second week we spent several days in Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef, and a couple days off Bondi Beach near Sydney. Eloise picked up a few new words, notably "beach," and Fiona practiced her Australian lingo courtesy of Chris' coaching: "G'day, mate" and "crikey." 

We flew out of MSP Friday evening and changed planes at LAX for our 14 hour flight to Sydney. To be frank, I had obsessed over packing for the trip for the month leading up to it, and the day of the trip, I thought I might have overpacked backpacks for the girls. However, the girls tore through all of their food (bags of cereal, crackers, fruit pouches, bananas, beef jerky, etc.) and ate very little of the airplane food. Since Eloise is not yet two years old, we did not purchase a seat for her, hoping that the airline would take pity on us and give us an extra seat. Alas, on both overseas legs, the flights were completely booked, so we held Eloise or squeezed her into Fiona's seat. I'm sure the passengers around us were none to happy to hear Dora the Explorer playing softly from Eloise's Kindle since she refused to wear her headphones. I set my expectations low for the flight, and Chris and I just soldiered through their fussy times. Fiona was pretty good and slept more than Eloise, who had a hard time getting comfortable.

Calamari at MSP before we departed.

A moment of sleepy peace

We arrived in Sydney on Sunday morning and took a cab to our hotel off Coogee Beach (near Sydney). We checked in early and breathed a sigh of relief to stretch out. We stayed at this hotel for three nights. I didn't have any meetings planned for Tuesday so I took that day off. During our time here, we played in the sand, explored the rock pools at either end of the beach and took long morning walks. Over the course of the trip, we walked at least 6 miles every day. I was extremely paranoid of sunburns since I had heard the UV rays are much more intense in Australia. I lathered the kids and myself in sunscreen frequently, and there were no sunburns for any of us, except Chris. Chris promised Fiona that she could eat ice cream every day, and Fiona would remind us starting at breakfast that she hadn't had any ice cream yet that day.

View from the hotel balcony

Zoom-in on one of the rock pools

Out for a stroll. Chris gave the girls some local vegetation to play with.

Jet-lagged babies, a bottle of Shiraz and view to the ocean.

Fiona's beautiful curls love the ocean air.

Swimming in the pool and ocean. Fiona loves the pool but is scared of the ocean waves. Eloise loves both and has to be hauled away from the waves.

Australia style

The water and sky were mesmerizing in the changing light. We woke early due to jet lag, spent evenings on the balcony and truly felt blessed to enjoy such a beautiful vantage. 

Chris tries kangaroo. Not great.

An early morning walk 

Morning on the beach

Sunset on the beach felt surreal. The pink sky turned the sand golden. 

We stopped by Bondi Beach for a couple hours one day. Fiona wanted me to take a picture of her eating seaweed salad. 

We transitioned Wednesday to a hotel downtown Sydney near where I would be attending a conference. While I worked Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday and Friday (including work dinners), Chris took a walking tour of the city with the girls and hopped a ferry across the harbor to Manly Beach.

City Pictures 

Chris and the girls travel to Manly Beach

The girls enjoyed throwing Cheerios into the water.

Thursday night, I attended a conference reception at the Sydney Opera House. It was a remarkable experience to drink a glass of wine in the shadow of such an iconic landmark.


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