A Travellerspoint blog

Home is Where ???? is

sunny 86 °F

Going to Forster with Anthony was exactly what I needed to wrap up Australia. We stayed in the Bennett's beach house for six days, four of which his friends Holly and Jamie came up for. Yeah, a cute little couples beach trip. Forster is like most beach towns...full of old people and primarily a place to play board games and take regular naps. We watched a fair amount of movies, grocery shopped, cooked our meals, played scrabble/cards, napped everyday. Anthony went for at least one surf everyday and I beach walked and swam. The one time that I fell asleep instead of watching him surf was the only time we saw dolphins that week...they were surfing with him! I was a little apprehensive about the last two days alone with him...due to the lack of activity, we were both a little bored and restless...I thought we might head back to Sydney a day early. However, I thought the last two were the best (no offense Jamie and Holly). Anthony and I never ran out of things to talk about...I felt like I was hanging out with Sara (in a non weird way because he is my boyfriend, not my best gal pal). But it was that kind of feeling, that no matter what amount of time we spent together continuously, I was never annoyed, I laughed 'heaps' and sometimes uncontrollably, and just felt completely comfortable.
We went back to Sydney on Saturday and on our way stopped off at Palm Beach just in time to watch Steve and James (dad and brother) finish their surf ski race that they had competed in that morning. Back in Seaforth that night, James & Kim went to dinner and Steve & Judy had some social function, so Anthony and I were left at home for dinner and the rest of the evening. We didn't end up making dinner...we were too restless and feeling bored and helpless and blah. King Kong was on but that is just such a dumb movie to sit through. Still we didn't get mad at each other - just thankful we had the other one to be bored with.
Sunday I spent doing the last of my Christmas shopping and then Judy met me in Manly to help me shop for a new bikini - my christmas present from them. We came home, everyone including Steve, Judy, James, Kim, Anthony, and I went out to dinner at a place called Whitewater in Manly on the beach. They wanted to take me out for my farewell dinner and did they ever. I put it in my top five fanciest dinners - and thats including moms functions on president's club trips. Prices and prestige aside...it was alot of fun and I felt extremely happy and loved.
Anthony took me out to meet Steve's parents on monday afternoon and have lunch. They are a cute couple who undoubtedly adore their grandson. They're well travelled and one is an ex military pilot...they had some great stories. I felt flattered and Steve and Judy wanted me to meet them.
Jordanna came back from New Zealand on monday and stayed her last night at Anthony's before heading out to New Jersey. It was good to see her again. I'll go visit those girls when I'm on the east coast for rob's graduation. We went to see Avatar in 3D with Anthony and his cousin Harry....aweeeesome.
Tuesday Anthony took me to Taronga Zoo in Sydney! The zoo is sooo amazing. It's on the harbor and has a panoramic view of the city including the opera house and the harbor bridge. I saw the 5 mo. old baby elephant, two seal shows, some silly penguins, and sleepy koalas. We got slurpees, went home, took a nap on the couch, and then it was time to get ready for Family Christmas, this time with Judy's side of the family. We dressed up and drove over to her brother's house. The evening was magazine-ish but without the stuffiness. Everything was beautiful from the house to the food to the personalities. I received many unexpected gifts and felt surprisingly at ease the whole evening. I wouldn't have changed my last night in Sydney at all. Afterwards, at home, I gave the Bennett's + Kim their Christmas presents and gave Steve and James hugs goodbye. My face felt hot and I felt like crying but didn't want to be seen as crazy or unstable.
Wednesday was my last day. I woke up and was immediatly overwhelmed with sadness and again a hot face and this time felt no obligation to hold back.
We went to Manly beach for a while, packed, took a nap on the couch and then put my bags in the car. I got the same sad feeling when I hugged Judy and Kim goodbye and they waved all the way down the driveway.
Anthony and I blew the last of my Australian currency on some take away Thai Food and milkshakes and ate on the wharf in Manly. He drove me to the airport, walked in with me, and needless to say I was an emotional mess.
It feels so wrong to have gone there, set up an entire lifestyle, become connected to a new city and culture, become accepted and welcomed into a new family, fall in love for the first time, and then leave...almost like it's all being ripped away.
I know that anyone reading to this point has got to be family and so I'll say this. The only thing that bothers me about Anthony and I, aside from distance of course, is that the majority of you haven't met him. I'm confident that everyone would think he's great, which you should because he makes me so happy. I went to Australia having a silly girl crush on an Aussie and left having found a new best friend and undoubtedly in love. Having said that, I'm sorry for ever judging or offering my unwanted opinions about anyone's S.O. The only thing that should matter is that my siblings, mom, etc are happy, comfortable, and loved in return.
I know it's a bit deep for blogging but this site has served as my journal of Australia, start to finish.
I'm back in Hawaii now and looking forward to Christmas with the Rush's, mom, gma, and hopefully Rob.
I'll be going back to Sydney, no doubt about it. Hopefully sooner than later.

Posted by ChristinaC 01:53 Comments (1)

I Love My Mom

After a time zone related mix up, Anthony and I picked mom up from the airport on December 2nd. It was really good/unreal to see her. We went to the Wyndham hotel in downtown Sydney (a block from Hyde Park), dropped her bags, and walked a few blocks to have Thai food for dinner. Afterwards, we walked to Circular Quay to have dessert...mmm lemon meringue pie. This was also when I gave her her christmas surprise: tickets to see Handel's Messiah in the Opera House!!! Circular Quay is the area on the harbor where the Opera House and Harbor Bridge are. We stopped and looked at the big Christmas tree and holiday displays in the city on our way. We decided the walk was pretty long and took a train back to the hotel.
The next morning we checked out of the hotel and headed for the airport. We flew south to Melbourne and picked up our rental car...a snazzy banana colored Hyundai Getz. Whats wrong with frugality?
Immediatly, we both recognized that driving was going to be a challenge. First off, the car was a manual. Second, the stick was on the left side of the driver, not the right...also the turning signals and windshield wiper controls were swapped (which she never fully straightened out). You got better though mom:) Third, traffic goes opposite ways and to top it all off, there are tons of roundabouts in Australia.
After getting the car, we navigated our way to Ballarat. Mom couldn't get enough of the 'gingerbread' houses. The town is full of original homes and buildings from way back. Ballarat used to be a meca for gold miners and is such an old school, historic town...it was pretty cute.
The resort was one of a kind for Worldmark. They had bought the Blythwood Grange...a place that used to be a boys orphanage. The resort includes 40 acres comprised of a huge lake (swans & ducks included), rose gardens, willow trees etc. The buildings themselves were like haunted mansions. Kind of like the Portland speghetti facotry turned into a resort. I introduced her to Tim Tams and solo (carbonated lemonade drink), she made me toasted cheese, we watched a lot of movies, went shopping in the little shops, never forgot dessert...Ballarat was so fun.
After three days in Ballarat, we checked out and drove six hours east to Lakes Entrance. Along the way, mom stopped in the middle of the highway, pulled over, and took pictures of Australian roadkill...fascinating! We saw a dead kangaroo, wombat, and parrot. After the drive, we were both pretty stressed out and ready to be off the road and away from roundabouts.
The resort was the nicest building in the town. Lakes Entrance is a small small fishing community. I'd say it's half, or less than half the size of Canby and on the coast. The beach was beautiful which was good because the town had little to offer. Our two days there were spent looking in antique shops, walking down the esplanade, eating cheese, crackers, and fruit, and watching TV.
We headed back to Melbourne on the day we were flying back to Sydney. We stopped at a mall and got my haircut because I was cranky. I was mildly cranky often...maybe stress of leaving aus? I'm not a teenager anymore so there goes that excuse. I was also stressed about showing mom a good time in Sydney in the limited amount of time she was here. I've been here since July and still haven't seen everything I wanted to.
Well, we flew back to Sydney at night time, got picked up by Anthony, and checked back into the hotel on Hyde Park. The next morning we went to Paddy's Market which is a huge indoor flea/growers market...for four hours we shopped for out souveneirs and christmas gifts...watch out everyone. After a rest in the hotel, we caught the ferry from circular quay to Manly. She got a good tour of the harbor...just as good as a cruise I'd say. After checking out the shops and beach in Manly, Anthony picked us up and brought us to his house in Seaforth. Judy has invited us over for dinner so mom could meet everyone. I think it went pretty well...ultimately, the conversation turned into timeshare talk which was good because mom loves talking about it and the Bennett's were really interested in the whole thing.
Well the next day was mom's last full day in Sydney. We went to The Rocks (the first architecturally established area of Sydney...on the harbor) in the morning. We ate 'brekky' at Pancakes on the Rocks and walked around the area for a while. Back at the hotel, mom took a much needed nap while Anthony helped me get all of my suitcases from school to his house. When I came back, mom and I got ready and headed for the Opera House. We both really enjoyed the show...who wouldn't. Some of the songs were ones I sang in choir at Canby, so that was fun. It was an event I'll remember forever. Afterwards, we walked to Max Brenner's and shared chocolate fondue:)
The next morning, we watched some Oprah, packed our bags, checked out of the hotel, and took a bus to my house and school in North Ryde. I got to show mom my house, I checked out of The Village, and we walked through Macquarie Campus for the last time. Initially this was a feeling of relief, but I'm sure I'll be sad and reflective once I'm gone.
We went to the airport, got dinner and dessert, and hung around for a while before mom checked in. We said goodbye and thankfully I wasn't that sad because I'll see her again in less than two weeks.
Ever since, I've been at Anthony's. We've been doing our same same...eggs in the morning, beach, naps, hanging out...tomorrow we are headed up to his beach house in Forster. Forster is the beach I went to when I first got to Australia. We're getting up early enough to see the sun rise on our way there...I should get some good pictures:)
Otherwise, I'm not doing much. Trying to soak in as much of Australia as I can.

Posted by ChristinaC 20:54 Comments (1)

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas..?

sunny 101 °F

I am officially done being an academic slave. For the next four months at least. The exams went slightly better than I expected and I'm pretty confident that I will pass all three courses. Sad, I never thought that would be a concern for me.
This past week has been filled with "goodbye's" and 'last' dinners. On Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving. The day was pretty backwards and definetly a unique experience. First of all, I had to have my sister import a can of pumpkin for the pumpkin pie. The night before, Jordanna and I went to Woolworth's to go grocery shopping. "Where are the turkies?...They don't have cool whip?...Oh great, no fried onions for green been casserole...Okay so how many pounds are in one kilo?" Woolies did have sparkling apple cider though and I was soooooooo happy.
We started cooking pretty early. 9ish. Jordana and I were the only Americans who weren't busy studying for exams so we were elected to be the chefs. The menu included a roasted chicken (or chook), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, veggies & dip, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, brownies, and sparkling cider. The 100 degree weather and no A/C made the afternoon pretty toasty in the kitchen. Claudia (our aussie friend who lives with Anita and those girls), Anita, Andrew, Anthony, Jordanna, and I had a fun thanksgiving though. Claudia is nuts about pumpkin pie now. When we finally got to sit down to eat around 2, I didn't feel like eating much. I finished my plate and felt compelled to go for seconds, because after all its an american holiday, but couldnt eat anymore because it was so hot.
Sisters, mommy, and other women reading this blog: kudos to you for pulling a thanksgiving feast together every year...it was a challenge.
Afterwards, we skipped the food baby naps and Jordanna, Anthony, and I went into the city. We went and layed a blanket out in Hyde Park to watch the lighting of the Christmas Tree. I should have known that when Bananas in 'Pyjamas' were included in the caroling line up that it was an event for kiddies. So many kids. BUT!...there was free Lindtz chocolate, so yay. So there I was, in my purple sundress, suntanning on the grass, sweating only a little bit, watching the Christmas festivities, when the carolers started in on 'It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas'. Oh how very confused this nation is. I felt bad for the Santa who arrived on his sleigh in a full uniform. hot hot hot. There were people dressed as kangaroos on stilts with some kind of hydraulics in them bouncing around. It was just so odd...I laughed so much.
Jordanna and I had a lovely dinner together at McDonalds afterwards. Even McDonalds is not a cheap outting. I had a mediocre sized meal and payed ten dollars. Easy places like Applebees, Red Robin, or Shari's don't exist here. Bummer. While Anthony was having dinner with 'the guys', I went home to Seaforth and chatted with Steve and Judy over fruit salad until midnight.
Anthony's hours at work got cut to part time so now he only works Mon-Wed...which is fantastic for me, I must say. Friday we went to the beach a total of three times. Perfect too because it was soooooo hot. I was floating in the waves, smiling, thinking 'this is my life for the next few months'. I'm so happy I made the decision to take Winter term off.
Saturday was more beach. And then I took the bus to Darling Harbor and went out with a few girls. I had some lemonade at the Cargo Lounge and then we went on to have dinner at James Squire and watched some kind of Christmas fireworks display. I'm starting to become accustomed to wearing a dress and fancy footwear when I go to any sort of restaraunt or bar. My moccasins have stayed in my closet for over three months now :(
Sunday we had Thanksgiving at the Bennett's!! Everything was pretty amazing. And aside from the weather, the absence of my family, and cooking the turkey on the barbie instead of in the oven, the occasion was pretty spot on. The turkey was massive...5 hours to cook. We had stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, turkey, apple pie and pumpkin pie. Judy had been in contact with one of her American friends who supplied her with not only recipes, but turkey candle holders and a turkey window hanging. Kim had some friends, I brought Anita, and all together there were ten of us.
Today, Anthony is back at work, and I am back in the village cleaning out my room. I am pretty all over the place and haven't been sleeping well...I'm done with exams, I had two amazing Thanksgivings, moving out of my house for the last three months, saying bye to some pretty good girlfriends, and going insane with excitement to see my mommy tomorrow.
I finally got ahold of Rich this weekend. It was soo fun to talk to him! I think its been over five months, and that's not okay with me. We talked for over an hour and I am so excited to see everyone in May.
Tonight Jordanna and I are going to see the Christmas Carol and then getting dinner at Nick's Burger Palace. Yum Yum.
Tomorrow, Anthony and I are picking my mom up and I couldn't be more stoked. I won't be restricted to ordering side salads or the soup of the day at restaurants, and I might get a haircut:) But aside from that it will be so fun to have a week long girl party with her and talk about boys and what not.
If you have an requests for souveniers or boomerangs or anything...tell me!
Home in less than a month...bittersweet.

Posted by ChristinaC 19:21 Comments (1)

[Insert Clever Title Here]

sunny

I'm much less motivated to blog then I was a month ago. My brain is frustrated and I have trouble finishing through processes. I want to do well on these exams. And by well, I mean pass.
Nothing much to report anywho as I've been inside studying most of the past week while the weather has been beautymous. I went to Anthony's on Friday night as usual and stayed til Tuesday. I find I study better at his house than anywhere on campus at Macquarie. The library is usually jammed with people who sit in the quiet section and chomp on nuts and apples and make out with their boy/girlfriend.
Saturday we took the ferry to the city and had a nice walk around town. After we took a sunset cruise on the ferry back to Manly and had a nice dinner date at Monger's. We met up with Anita and Andrew and hung out with Jamie, Holly, and Ben all before going home. Sunday morning we had another go at buying tickets for 2010 Olympics. The website randomly selects people from the queue to purchase tickets and before we got in, the tickets we wanted all sold out. Ooooo the frustration. Frustration on top of exhaustion. After a morning nap on the beach, we napped some more at home, and then by chance I found tickets to Men's Super G in Whistler! (It's the one where they zig zag between the flags while going a million miles an hour) So we are seeing one event for sure. We are banking on the assumption that more tickets will be released closer to February...hopefully we get into moguls, halfpipe, speed skating, and skeleton.
Monday night I met the girls from the village at Pancakes On The Rocks for a farewell dinner (11 of us). The first of us, Taryn, leaves Australia tomorrow. In August I was thinking this trip is going to take ages...and now I want what's remaining of it to pass in slow motion.
So the five days were pretty mellow...beaching, watching TV with the fam, studying, and wrestling matches. There's only two people I've been able to spend an extended amount of time with and not be driven driven mildly insane by their personality or little manerisms. Two people of no relation to me that is. Sara and Anthony. Just good times all around.
Monday night I was running down the stairs in their house while James Anthony and Steve were watching TV upstairs. As I was running down, a brown fuzzy spider the side of Ruth was running the opposite direction on the wall. I immediatly starting shouting "Oh my god! Oh my god!" and ran back upstairs. I grabbed Anthony and said "Go look at whats on the freaking wall!"...his dad called down to him "Wormie! What is it?"..."Ah, it's nothing, just a Hunstman". Wait, "just"? "JUST"? If I had held this spider in my hand, its leg span would have been bigger than my palm. And thats saying something. I thought it was a tarantula of some species. Anyway...I crept around the corners downstairs for the rest of the night, watchin my back at every turn. Oh by the way worm, worma, or wormie is Anthony's nickname from his family.
Tonight to celebrate Taryn's last night, her and I are baking a dutch apple pie. Good thing too because I need to give my pie crust recipe a test run so it's in prime condition for making pumpkin pie next week. Thanks for mailing the can of pumpkin Liz!
I get to see Mommy in just less than two weeks!

Posted by ChristinaC 20:26 Comments (1)

No Sun and No Sleep Make Christina Go Crazyyy

I missed Sara's 20th birthday last week! But we video chatted over Skype for a few hours so I'm not that sad anymore. We giggled and she caught me up on all the latest Canby 08 gossip. A few more people pregnant...a few more making idiots of themselves at parties.
Last Thursday, a few girlfriends and I went out to Manly to watch another of our friends in the surf festival competition. The weather was pretty bleak and I almost felt at home on the Oregon Coast which was a little comforting. I miss Seaside. The weather is so off and on here lately. One day we had a HAwaiian heat wave, and the next day I was cold and getting rained on at the beach. The majority of the weather has been grey and rainy which I think I'm done with. Ben and Jerry's just opened their first scoop shop in Australia and it happens to be in Manly. We stopped in to try the new flavor which has yet to be named. We entered the contest to name it with Blizzard of Oz...because Australia is sometimes abbreviated as OZ. Cross your fingers! We might be getting one year of free ice cream! Did you know Ben has no sense of taste by the way?
After an end of the semester bbq on Friday, I went to Anthony's. He took me on a date to Manly. (I know, Manly Manly Manly...it's sweet though, as mom will soon see) Judy gave us a 2-for-1 movie ticket coupon and I convinced him to take me to see The Time Travelers Wife! He asked me if I could be the one to order the tickets and then sat in a theater full of women and maybe 2 other guys. Can you tell he really likes me? The movie was pretty depressing so we went home and joked around and laughed it off.
I wanted him to focus on studying for exams (his are before mine) so I went back to school Saturday after breakfast.
The plan for Saturday was Anita and I were going to stay up until 5am on Sunday because that's when tickets for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics went on sale online. Since she is Canadian, she has an advantage with getting tickets. Around dinner time, we discovered that our wireless network at school wasn't letting the website work properly. At 10pm, Anita, Andrew and I made the trek from Macquarie to Anthony's house so we could use the wireless (my plan of leaving him to study time failed). Well we made some apple and peach cobbler, organized what events we wanted to see, and watched lame-o late night TV til the moment came. At 5am, we got on to the website and tried to buy tickets. The website was obviously extremely busy, so for 3 hours, we refreshed the page every 10 seconds or so trying to get through. Anthony woke up at 7 and so we took turns pushing the button. I was also watching the Vancouver 2010 facebook page's wall. People kept expressing frustration and some were offering updates on what was going on. Finally, someone posted a link to a news article which said due to the website overload, sales were postponed til next Sunday morning....seriously? I was so tired and full of sugar - I just felt sick. So next weekend, we'll be having another long night. I'm trying to get tickets for men's moguls, speed skating, and men's halfpipe. There are a few events in whistler I want to see but they've just decided not to sell anymore whistler tickets online. They will only be available in person starting in January. Anthony's decided to come on a 2 or 3 week holiday to the US in february so I have someone to go to the Olympics with! He'll also go see his friends from OSU and maybe go somewhere new in the states. Lately he's been doing this disgusting Southern accent so maybe he would enjoy Marti Gras or seeing Texas or something.
I talked to Mom tonight - her new place in Hawaii sounds sweet...as have the last two. I can't wait to see it! Can't wait to see her in less than a month!
I've transitioned into study mode and will be here for the next two and a half weeks. I'd much rather be laying in the Botanical Gardens watching weddings on the harbor, but I guess I am here to learn afterall.
mmm...sleep, sleep

Posted by ChristinaC 04:38 Comments (1)

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