Chris' 1994  R100GS/PD ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650

Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

September 07, 2000

SYDNEY - 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!

There's 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 heads.) 

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 Thailand!

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