Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Busses, Ferries, and Train Rides

Last Sunday we had our own little travel adventure right here in Sydney. It was a beautiful afternoon and we ventured out to the city with the kids. Because parking in the city is a nightmare and because getting there is half the fun, we decided to take public transportation.

Lucky for us there is a bus stop right in front of our apartment. And, a double dose of good luck, the 2:45 bus was running late so we were actually able to get on it! When the driver saw me digging through my hastily packed bag for the fare he just waved us on.

Here's the thing about Sydney buses: They are clean, reliable and everyone uses them. Our kids love riding on the bus!

The bus took us straight to the Taronga Zoo Warf where we walked right onto a ferry headed for Circular Quay. Perfect timing. You'd have thought we planned it!



The kids were thrilled to ride the ferry. So much fun!

Once in Circular Quay we headed for the Opera House and the Botanic Gardens. There we boarded this cute little red train for a guided tour of the gardens.


We were all amazed to learn that 100s of bats live in the gardens (and are actually becoming a nuisance). The huge bats were easily visible hanging upside down from the trees!




We walked around The Rocks area and picked up a few souvenirs for my niece back in the U.S. Then we stopped at a great pizza place for a quick dinner. After Copenhagen ice-cream we were all pretty tired and ready to make the trek back home. We strolled back to Circular Quay only to find that we had missed the last ferry back to Taronga Zoo.

No worries, there are two other ferry stops in our suburb so we hopped on the 6 pm ferry. When we got off we thought we'd easily find a bus to bring us back to our door. That's where we went wrong! No buses run on Sunday evenings, apparently! So we started walking. And walking. And walking.

As we approached each bus stop my daughter would eagerly race ahead to check the schedule. But each time she was met with disappointment. And we walked on.

When we were only a couple kilometers from home she burst into tears declaring that she could go no further. Her high heeled light up sandals had rubbed a giant blister on her toe.

Our luck, it seems, had run out. It was now dark. The little buddy was restless and cranky in the stroller, and the little princess was plopped on the footpath in tears.

Daddy to the rescue. He ran all the way back to our apartment and came back with the car to pick us up. Our hero!

All in all it was a fun day. We'll get the hang of this public transportation thing- eventually.

Friday, March 27, 2009

There's a First Time for Everything

Today was a day of firsts.

1. First time dropping the buddy off at the occasional childcare center. He LOVED it and can't wait to go back. I think this is such a great service. Every town should have one. You can leave your child there for a few hours so you can actually get something done! Hooray! Already have a booking for him for next week.

2. I made my first friend. She's another American mom from the primary school. She is very sweet and has a son just a bit older than mine. Now that we've been friends for 12 hours, do you think it's okay if I ask her to be the emergency contact on all that school paperwork?

3. First trip to the amazing Taronga Zoo. The above mentioned friend invited me. It was wonderful. Our boys ran around like, well, little boys- shrieking at the Goliath Walking Stick and staring intently at the huge Komodo Dragon.



We meandered down the hill marveling at the beautiful animals and stunning views. Then we took the free "Sky Safari" tram back up to the top of the zoo. And in true friendly Aussie fashion, the tram operator even loaded our prams into the cars for us. So nice!

I loved this zoo so much we went back later after school. That's when my daughter made a new friend. This kangaroo.



That's three new things to love about Australia today!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Unpacking

Hooray! Our shipment has arrived! 18 days door to door (including one completely lost day due to the time change). Everything made it through customs and quarantine- no worries.

It's a little hard to get motivated to deal with this:




When I am staring out at this:



Luckily my cool reclining backpack beach chair and nifty polka dot umbrella arrived in perfect condition. I'll be putting them to good use this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Off to School

My darling daughter started school here yesterday. She was so excited to get in a routine and make new friends. Doesn't she look precious in her school uniform?



For lots of reasons we decided to send her to our local public school. She is in Year 1 (first grade) with 19 other charming boys and girls, one of whom is also a newly arrived American. Hooray for expats!

She came home thrilled after the first day. She loves her teacher and has already made lots of new friends. I am amazed at how quickly she is assimilating to the Aussie culture. She told me that they go to the "toilet" with a partner and then asked if she could get something from my "wardrobe". She now loves to use words like "carpark" and "lift" and corrects me when I say "garage" instead of "gar-age" (emphasis on gar). I think she'll fit right in.

I hope she doesn't forget how to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Physically getting from here to there is not as easy as one might think. Here's what we're taking:

2 kids
2 car seats
1 stroller
9 giant suitcases to be checked
5 carry-on bags

How will we ever get this stuff through customs Down Under? Wish us luck!



UPDATE #1:
The huge van picked up us and all our stuff and we made it to LAX in record time.




UPDATE #2:
We survived the flight.




UPDATE #3:
We arrived in Sydney Tuesday, March 10th. Here's a photo of the kiddos with all our luggage (minus the car seats which were yet to be retrieved from oversize baggage). The customs officials almost confiscated my camera because I snapped this photo in the baggage claim area. Shame on me!



We're here- This is just the beginning!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What We're Leaving Behind- Part 1

These are some of the things we will miss when we move into our ultra-modern apartment on the beach in Australia.

Our home. We love this house. Its traditional "cape cod" style is uncommon here in Southern California (the land of stucco and red tile roofs). We've only lived here for a little over a year. We spent 3 months and a small fortune remodeling it. This house is a work in progress. Now all progress will be on hold for 2 years.



The playground and pool. Lots of outdoor fun in the warm California sun.

Setting up the playground was one of our first projects. My dad built the little playhouse in the back and my sweet husband shoveled all those wood chips.
That's my brother-in-law and niece splashing in the pool on their visit from Virginia last year.





Our dog, Riley. I think he knows we are leaving. He didn't even want to lift his head for this picture. But don't worry, he'll have a good home with Grandma and Gramps.



But the hardest things to leave behind are the people we love the most. More on them in Part 2.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What We're Taking

Since our move is temporary, we're only taking our most beloved, can't-possibly-live-without-them possessions. Here's what we're taking:



The movers were here yesterday morning. It took them an hour to pack up our stuff like this:




And load it all up in the truck:



If all goes well, 39 boxes will be delivered to our apartment in Sydney in 2-3 weeks.
Last night when I tucked The Buddy in bed he said, in his sad little 2 year old voice, "Guy took my truck. Truck gone."
See you down under, truck. (I hope).
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