Birthdays, Birds and Bridges :)

 

On Sunday it was Romani’s birthday, so we went for Thai food at Thai Pothong.  It was lovely.  They gave her balloons, Coconut Ice Cream scoops with a candle and a sparkler and sang her Happy Birthday.  The meal was probably the best Thai food I have ever had.  The Pad Thai was amazing, the Red curry vegetables and Green curry vegetables were also some of my favorites.  The restaurant also had a neat little gift shop with things that were from Thailand.  Neat lamps, necklaces and trinkets.

 

She has two lovely sisters and a girlfriend, who treated us so kindly.  We had so much fun talking about traveling and Australia! What a great group of ladies! Romani also made a decadent chocolate cake topped with mousse like frosting and finished with pomegranates and pistachios.  It was amazing.

 

On Monday we went to Manly Beach.  We had to take a Ferry to the beach from Circular Quay (which is right downtown in the harbor). The Ferry ride showed spectacular views of the city, the harbor, the bridge and the Opera House. The ride took approx. 30 minutes or so.  The beach was beautiful.  It was very clean.  The waves were huge and we decided to go jump into them and ride some of the waves :) It was fun.  I need a body board soon! I can’t be riding the waves on my belly all summer long!

After the beach, I walked to the Botanical Gardens to see the Flying Fox and Cockatoos flying in circles at dusk.  It was so incredible to hear all the birds and the Bats swarming in the sky harmoniously.  I almost had tears in my eyes.

Cute Cockatoo – Royal Botanical Gardens – Watch this adorable video of my first close encounter of a wild cockatoo eating berries from a tree.

Flying Fox and Cockatoo’s in the Royal Botanical Gardens – This video shows the bats and cockatoos in the sky above me :)

 

 

I also spent the night walking the beautiful Sydney Harbor .

 

 

 

The Opera House and Bridge were beautifully light up and just glowed.

 

 

 

 

My first real close up of a Kookaburra.  They sound like they are laughing … it is the cutest thing.

Arrived and Settled…in Sydney

Wow, I can’t believe its been 10 days since I wrote anything on here. The flight here was very long and tiring. The flights only took about 20 hours all together.  Not too bad when you think about how far we traveled.  Within an hour of boarding our flight to Fiji from LAX there was a man that was tackled in the rear of the plane by three very large Fijian flight attendants (this area was 10 rows or so behind us).  The man was handcuffed with zip ties and then zip tied to the seat in the back.   Apparently he tried to open the emergency door during our flight — they claim that he was mentally disturbed! I was a little worried while they were tackling him – I wondered “what if this guy is trying to kill himself or others on the plane”.  Just one more adventure we can write about :)

The time has gone by so fast.  The last week and a half have been busy, fun and tiring.  Sydney has so much to offer and so much to see.  Upon arriving we took a taxi to a suburb of Sydney called Ashfield and were greeted by Cassiopee’ & Stephen- Our Couchsurfing hosts.  They graciously took us in to their home. We stayed a week with them.  Cass is Stephen’s daughter and she is funny and adorable.  She and I had loads of fun together.  We had wonderful conversations with Stephen and he cooked us a delicious Madagasar Meal (as this is his home country).  I have so much gratitude for their openness to us.  What a great way to begin our adventure here in Sydney.

Our first day here I was so happy because there were parrots flying freely in the sky.  There were Rainbow Lorikeets, Cockatoos, Magpies, Kookaburra and others that I couldn’t identify.  It literally sounded like I was in a rainforest.

There are many things that we have done in the little time that we have been here.  Cass and I took a ferry around the Harbor to see the Opera House and the bridges and Luna Park – which is an Amusement Park on the harbor  It was beautiful to be on the water and to just take in the size of the city from afar. It is very large, but reminds me a lot of Chicago.  It is very clean and the public transportation is very simple and easy to use.

Jeremy, Cass and I also spent some time on Pitt Street. This is an area where busking is at its best.  Jeremy has a friend (Shibaten – from Japan) that was performing. The next day Jeremy set up an area on Pitt Street and played the Halo.  This area is probably going to be the best for Jeremy to play his music as there are many people in the area – shopping, walking, traveling through.  We are also going to be in contact with local yoga studios.  Jeremy has traveled all around the US playing in yoga studios and cafes.  His music is wonderful for yoga studios.

The Royal Botanical Gardens (within the city) are just amazing.  The flowers, trees and bushes are just beautiful.  The camera can’t do it justice.  There is no admission to the gardens, you just walk in and get lost.  We came across many things but one the highlights was the Flying Fox – one of the largest Bats in the world.  There are approx.  22,000 living in the gardens.  They were hanging from the trees, screaming and fighting with one another.

 

 

 

 

After the Gardens, we walked to the Art Gallery of New South Wales (which was also free admission).  There were many ancient artifacts and beautiful pieces of art.

I love hearing the different accents around me. The people are so genuine, open and friendly.  Everyone we have met, has given us their phone number and tells us to call them if we need anything or have any questions.

We have decided to stay in Sydney for a few weeks and rent a place. We needed to get all 200#’s of our luggage and instruments across the town (approx 2.5 kilometers).  Jeremy advised against walking as he said that is was too far.  But, I thought, we can do it.  Well, half way there I was exhausted.  So we found a trolley “shopping cart” along the way and stuffed our belongings in and carted it to our new place.  I had no shame.

 

 

We are staying with a wonderful women named Romani.  She loves yoga and has traveled all over the world.  I am excited to hopefully begin a friendship with her.

 

 

Yesterday we went to Bondi beach – in Sydney.  This is the premier place to see or be seen.  The weather was about 80 F, 26 C.  I think I have my favorite temp. figured out :) Many people surf or boogie board here. Someday soon, we will have surf and boogie boards and will be out there with all the other people. It was a very cute city and the beach was lovely.  The sand was white and soft.  It felt so good to be warm in February.  I also did some yoga while we were there.

**Remember to check the Photo Gallery often**

 

 

California Dreamin’

“Leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again” — Tomorrow is “D” day – We depart for Australia at 10:30 pm from LAX.  The flight is approximately 25 hours and 9,300 miles from home.  The time difference is 16+hours from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  So, we will arrive on Thursday the 16th at 1:00 pm (SYD time) — 8:00pm Wednesday night (Michigan time).  We lose a whole day in the process of getting to Australia.  WOW.

 

In five days we have visited… Los Angeles, Venice, Malibu, San Clemente, San Diego and La Jolla. Beautiful / Sunny 70 degree weather. No complaints here :)

 

Our good friends Ross and Kat, who live out here in Los Angeles, have hosted us and shown us around the city.  We did the Venice Beach walk, hiking in Malibu (Solstice Canyon), Observatory (amazing views of the city), Santa Monica (shopping) and so much more.

 

 

 

 

Jeremy and Ross took a dip in the waterfall.  The hike was 4+ hours of beautiful rocks, trees, parrots, waterfalls and little lizzards.  Very peaceful and serene.

 

 

Jeremy playing the BElls on San Clemente Beach.

 

 

Hiking at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.  We were able to see sea anemones and crabs in the tide pools.

 

 

La Jolla Cove – This beach was previously a childrens pool area but has been taken over by Sea Lions and their pups.  This has become quite a controversial issue in the area…should the city try to move the Sea Lions so the children can have the beach back ?? Or is that even possible now that they have created a home on the beach cove….

Many thanks to all that have shared their homes, time, love and food with us !!!

 

Ray and Laura  — Thank you for opening your home to us.  Ray took the day off of work to show us around San Diego.  We went to Cabrillo National Monument, La Jolla Cove and Mount Helix.  Southern California is amazingly beautiful.

Soon I will be creating a photo gallery and will have many more pictures posted……stay tuned….

Love and Peace — Until Thursday (Next posting will be after we arrive in Australia)

 

 

Goodbyes…

This is the first real time that I have ever left my family/loved ones/friends for an extended period.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel or what kind of emotions I would have knowing that I might not return for a year or longer. There were many tears and hugs.  They were all tears of happiness and love.  I have so much support from all my friends and loved ones that it amazes me.  It reassures me that what I am doing isn’t as crazy as it might seem.

The Australian money is made from plastic and is very colorful.  The $100 dollar bill doesn’t have the usual President….on one side it has  Dame Nellie Melba (a famous Opera Singer) and on the other side it has Sir John Monash (an Australian Military Commander in the First World War).  How interesting !!!

 

 

 

One large suitcase and two handbags…filled with everything that I could potentially need for the next year.  From a house to a suitcase in 6 weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Before our delicious steak dinner! This was the last dinner with the family for a long time.  There is nothing like home-cooked meals (from Mom’s kitchen)

 

 

 

 

Thank you for all your support and love ….  to send me on my way!