Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sydney Harbor- New Horizons

Sydney Harbor Bridge, one of the icons of Australia
Last year at Christmas (2009) I went to spend the holiday with my relatives in Australia. My aunt and my two cousins live about an hour away from Sydney. I have been to Australia several times as a child but wanted to go back as an adult to appreciate it as part of my culture. My Father is from Australia and although I grew up loving/appreciating my Aussie heritage there were parts of the culture we weren't taught about or understood. Being from an Expat parent helped make my identity as a person; growing up in the American South people often have similar views on everything. Religion, Politics, Family Values, Food cultures: my home was very different and I liked that growing up! We never had Turkey at Thanksgiving, we had a roast lamb instead. I grew up eating a very different diet I feel, there was a complete lack of collard greens or potatoe salad at my mother's table. I love biscuits and fried chicken don't get me wrong, but my exposure to them as a Southerner is far different then a person whose parents are from the Atlanta area.

Opera House.
So, I returned to Australia to re-expose myself and spend some time with my awesome cousins who I never get to see enough! The first thing I got to see when I went to Sydney was the harbor. I wanted to see it for the architectural statement it made, I think it's one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The Opera House is truly magnicent in person. You look at it and the covering of it looks like armor or scales off of a fish/reptile. It's very organic and beautiful. The bridge is also magnificent. It's really impressive in scale to the things around it and at night it's really pretty. At New Years they shoot fire works off of it! We drove across the bridge and got to see a lovely view of the city from the bridge. Despite having a car, I think you could deal with only using Public transit in Sydney. They seem to have a well working bus system.
A close up of the lines on the opera house. Scaly, right?
Returning to a place of origin for your family or to a place from your child hood can bring back all sorts of feelings for you. For me, it was just kind of odd for people to be missing. I was in Aus without my mother or sisters for the first time, so it felt strange. This was the first time I had been back since my uncle had passed away so it felt very odd for me, for Uncle Pete to not be there. I'm sure it was also hard for my cousins as losing a Dad is something you can't ever forget, but I identified Australia with my Uncle's presence (and love of snags), so I missed him when I came to visit. 
My cousin, the coffee lover!
My cousin Adam is a barista and loves coffee. I'm one of those people that loves coffee but Adam, LOVES coffee. I think he loves it a little too much at times because he can tell you every detail about what you're going to drink and then explain to you it's heritage and family tree and everything. He is also one of those people who will not drink anything but espresso. I met another one of these people on my trip to Europe. They had brought their espresso machine with them on the trip due to their high level on coffee snobbery. I don't think Adam would bring an espresso machine with him on a backpacking trip but he's pretty close to that other girl's level.

Having Christmas with summer is an odd sensation. It's beautiful and warm and yet their are pictures of Santa around. It almost feels like an out of body experience for you. I was also brought back to fond memories of childhood visits to Australia. We would go to Austalia to not just see my cousins but to see my grandparents when they were alive. My Nana and Papa as I called them were really wonderful people. I have wonderful memories of being snuck cookies before dinner by my Papa (because he knew my affinity for Chocolate Monties as a girl!) and I remember being told about the fact that in Australia the sled was drawn by Kangaroos. I also have somewhat unpleasant memories of Australia. When I was 5 I almost knocked all my teeth out on my grandfather's back porch. An Australian dentist put them back in for me (Thanks Man!) and I had to spend the rest of the trip living on Billabong Bars. Which are an Australian ice cream Popsicle. Three Days later in Hawaii, I got hit by a taxi door pretty hard at the airport. I have no memory of it but my mother tells me the story. I was a travel adventurer even back then!
Most awesome ice cream ever, but I recommend the rainbow flavor more!
My Christmas in Australia was casual. It involved food like fish, chips. And drinking lemon lime and bitters fresh from the bar. Also a trip to the animal park to see the famous Aussie wildlife! Petting Kangaroos and Koalas is fun! Koalas are very cute and smell like cough drops (due to the eucalyptus diet) but apparently are all dying of the clap. Who knew?
Wear a condom little Koalas!

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