- Entering Oz, meeting family, and hanging for the Olympics!
-- Story by Erin --
July 31st - Sydney: We finally arrive at Sydney's
international airport at 6:30 in the morning. Australia is a milestone for us for
many reasons, not the least of which is that it marks our official foray into our second
leg of our around-the-world trip. It is the feeling of attaining the carrot at the
end of the stick, which has been dangled before us since we left New York over 15 months
ago. This is the first time either of us has ever visited a Southern Hemisphere
country, and the first time Chris has met a large group of his relatives. Although
much excitement and adventure lay ahead of us we have enjoyed the last few weeks of
meeting the relatives, seeing new and old friends, working on the bikes (especially after
my accident in Malaysia!) and visiting many sights.
Also during this time there has been some sadness for us.
While in Singapore Chris got word that his grandmother in New York had died.
Since grandma wanted to be buried in Budapest with her husband, the family decided to
arrange for the funeral in Hungary. Chris left for Budapest August 6th, and returned
to Sydney on the 18th.
When we arrived in Sydney on the 31st we promptly went to
stay with Chris' uncle Bela and his wife Otilia. Bela is a legend on Chris'
father's side of the family. Unfortunately Bela has just past away a few days ago at
the age of 85. His poor heart gave out before his mind did. Chris' father
credits Bela with having saved his life and the life of his mother (who is still alive
today in Budapest at the age of 94!) by providing them with false papers during the
war. We were blessed to have spent the last few weeks of his life with him and felt
we really got to know this loving man well. His many stories of surviving the Nazi's
and then the Communists in Czechoslovakia and Hungary during WWII will live on in our
minds and will be passed down to future generations in the family.
On Saturday, August 26th, we took advantage of low airfares
and flew down to Melbourne for about a week. Our friends from Bali, Brooke and Peter
live there, as well as our "old" friend Liam (Irish Africa Twin biker) and his
girlfriend Katrina. Liam will stay/work in Melbourne for about a year before
continuing on his trip.
As it is still winter here in the Southern Hemisphere we
decided to take advantage of the best local winter ski season in years. Brooke took
a day off from work and drove me, Chris and Liam up to Mt. Buller, where we hit the slopes
for a great day of skiing and snowboarding! Don't listen to what people say, the
skiing in Australia can be quite good!
more to RTW motorbiking than just riding...
Liam, Brooke, myself, and Chris
After spending 4 days of exploring Melbourne
city and eating gourmet meals prepared each night by Liam and Katrina, we said goodbye to
them. From there we went to stay with Brooke and Peter south of Melbourne in
Blairegowrie, on the Mornington Peninsula.
Peter is very much into wave boarding and being by and on
the water. We spent a wonderful blue-sky day out on his boat, trying to fish while
weathering 6ft swells. I was scarred to death but put my faith in Pete's skill as a
real man of the sea. I caught a small flat-head fish (the guys didn't catch
anything), but soon we all nearly fell over with sea sickness and decided to head for
terra firma in the town of Queenscliff. On the way to this little village, jumping
big waves, Pete showed us the sights in the bay --- a lively fur seal colony on a floating
buoy and a nesting colony of Gannet birds (they look like big seagulls with yellow
Look Ma, I caught one!
|Pete on his waveboard
Seals in the bay
Queenscliff is a sleepy little town on the end of the
opposite peninsula and filled with Victorian style homes. It has a great little
heritage museum explaining the towns shipping and fishing importance in the past and a
good fish and chips shop! We topped off our weekend by going to a famous Aussie BBQ
party for the Aussie Rules Football "Footy" Grand Final game. Grand Final
is similar to the "Super Bowl" we're used to back in the states. We met
some really fabulous people including Slippy and Rachel, who were our hosts for the
party. Slippy is a fireman who is also skipper of the local passenger ferry during
the summers. They were a very fun couple and we look forward to seeing Brooke, Pete,
Slip, Rach, and the rest of the gang when we return sometime early next year.
|BBQ and Footy --
strong traditions in Australia
|Rachel doing a good
job of looking after her guests....
While in Sydney we've seen many of the sights
you would expect to see...the infamous Sydney Opera House, the Harbor Bridge, the Rocks
(the original center of old Sydney), the famous surfing beaches of Manly and Bondi, taken
seaside walks (a national pastime), and visited the Art Gallery of Sydney to discover the
works of famous Australian artists. Our friends Emma, Matt and Tony (from our Nepal
trek) invited us over for a BBQ when we first arrived and introduced us to their
"significant others" and friends. I spent some real quality time with Emma
when Chris was in Hungary. She introduced me to her close mates, her parents, and
she took me to a concert of one of her favorite bands, The Whitlams.
|Overlooking Sydney Harbor from the Optus offices.
Being in Australia has also meant reunions for us. Not
only did we see Liam and Andreas (RTW bikers), but also we had a chance to see our friends
Anouk and Simon from Penang in Malaysia. They are back in their home country for a
little work and some R&R. It's temporary though as they'll be back in Penang in
October. They also invited us to a wonderful BBQ at their friends place in the
beautiful Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Besides good food we were serenaded by
their talented singing/musical friends Kathy and Don.
Now, it's one week and counting until the Olympics. We
don't have tickets yet but hope to get (discounted) tickets closer to the event dates.
The really great news though is that Chris has been accepted as an official
motorcycle courier at the Games! Harley Davidson won the contract this time around
and they have donated HD Sportsters and Buell motorbikes. We'll all be watching to
see if we can see him on TV. His first task will be delivering film for
photographers at the Opening Ceremonies. Over the next few weeks we will also try to
catch up with other people who have contacted us through email, and go on rides with
members of the local Ulysses M/C Club. After the Olympics we'll be taking off to the
north in the direction of Brisbane and Cairns. We've enjoyed the cool temperatures
here but when we drive north it will get hot and sticky again, maybe even worse than