Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Aussified Christmas - G'day!

Nope. I wasn't turned into bone this holiday season, but I did spend my first Christmas away from home, and in a clime untouched by Winter, in Sydney for one week recently. And boy, would I have liked to have stayed longer!

Family friends of ours, thanks to the long-lasting pen-pal-model-for-the-world relationship that my mother and Merilyn, hostess during my stay, have maintained for the last 18 years, helped to make the trip very memorable. Merilyn and her super-friendly children who are now adults, Wendy and Scott, had briefly lived in the U.S. all those years ago when we first met, but I had never truly known them. Now, I feel like I have three very solid friends in them, and got to tour wonderful Sydney during my vacation to boot!

One of the first things I was struck by upon arrival was how cloudy the sky was. Cloudy and yet still beautiful. The Australian sun is very powerful. You can easily get a sunburn on a cloudy day. And I did. And it was nice (mmm, Vitamin-D)!
My first bite of Australian food. A heart-stopping roll of bacon, eggs, and BBQ-sauce smothered sausage-y goodness! Dee-lish!
Here I am with Merilyn. She and her daughter, Wendy, make a good team, and they had the whole week planned out for me, down to tailor-made meals suited to my tastes (which Merilyn had found out through my mom). Smart lady! ;)
Wendy and I grin it up on the train en route to the city. :)
Here, Merilyn (center) stands with siblings Glenda (in the red), Heather (far right), and Barry (to the right of Merilyn), her mum (Dorothy, in the blue), newlywed husband Paul (to the left of Merilyn), and Glenda's husband, Bill (far left). It was with this great bunch that the kids and I spent Christmas morning, feasting on smoked salmon, crab, prawns, a luscious summer-time salad, and other delicious victuals; after which we exchanged gifts and enjoyed coffee, Christmas pudding, and ice cream!
The next day, we had a bona fide Australian barbecue overlooking the Port Hacking River—very picturesque. It was such a calm, scenic location, and the water there was as warm as the air.
An over-fed flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos observed our picnic from overhead.
It didn't take long for one to come nosing about for a hand-out.
And they certainly weren't shy once they realized what was being offered. Mmm...Doritos!
FACT: Australia has tons of great rock formations to crawl over and gaze from. FACT: I'm wearing a bitchin' Australian flag beach towel and cap I got for Christmas. FACT: The rock moved not at all, despite the fact that I was wearing the perfect shoes for such heroics. :p
Sun setting on a beach in the bay near Cronulla, a suburb of Syndey.
Sunlight on the bay at the end of the day.
We took a cruise through the harbor on Boxing Day, leaving downtown Sydney behind us as we set out for the heights around Manly Cove.
The cape through which British ships first sailed to reach the lands that would some day become Sydney. The north headlands are on the left, the south headlands on the right.
A view from the heights at Manly Cove overlooking the bay and the city beyond.
Me catching a little R&R while enjoying the view.
The view of Sydney from the ferry.

Next time we'll delve deeper into the city itself as the clouds pull back and yield a sunlit end to 2010!