Sydney, Australia

February 9 – February 24, 2020

We were in the Philippines when our flight to Hong Kong got canceled. At that point, we decided that we would rather spend more time in Australia than in the Philippines. After a few hours on the phone with an airline company, our new plan was in place to arrive to Sydney 10 days earlier than originally planned.

Coming to Sydney felt like coming home. After 3.5 months in SE Asia, we were all quite appreciative of all the comforts of the western world, most of all, the foods we missed. We stayed in a posh neighborhood of Paddington. It was probably a bit too posh for us. After living out of our carryon suitcases for the previous 12 months, we looked a bit out of place among the typical, perfectly-dressed, Paddington residents.

There were a lot of similarities between our time in Sydney and our life in in the US – the similar feel of grocery stores, restaurants, parks, water everywhere, and general feel of the city. Sydney is gorgeous, well organized, full of spaces, activities, and resources for active family life. It’s full of gorgeous parks and greenery. One park close to our apartment even had a horseback riding path around it.

We all did tons of urban walks throughout the city, at least 4-6 miles each day. Whenever we are in a new city, we probably get to see it even more than the locals do. We make a point to be out every day, as we feel the pressure not to waste the time we have in any location. That can get tiring when we move quickly from one location to another. Still, the best memories were made on some of these walks.

Every morning, Petra and Pedja went out for long early morning walks and these bonding moments contributed to them having the fondest memories of Sydney. We’ll remember Sydney filled with unfamiliar sounds of exotic birds and huge bats. Petra and Pedja even got to feed some birds on one of their morning walks.

The city felt safe and Petra frequently went out on her own to roam the neighborhoods. She and the boys took the subway without us a few times to get from one side of the city to another.

Petra also got to play Ultimate frisbee again with a bunch of Ozzie, 20-30yr olds. She was happy to play again because she hasn’t played since Hanoi, almost 2 months earlier.

I was happy to meet up with a couple of my old school friends from my hometown in Bosnia. They moved to Sydney 20+ years ago, under similar circumstances as we did to the US. It was really nice to see friendly faces on the other side of the world.

Maki and I went to see the new Sonic movie and met a sweet young man who played Flappy Bird game for Maki to win him a fun prize. We also learned from him that Australia has Burger King but they call it Hungry Jacks.

Petra and I did some second-hand shopping. I’m always excited when I come across some great finds. We ended up picking up a new pair of jeans for me for just $6, a couple of shirts, a dress, etc. all $3-$10 each. My favorite find a brand-new pair of pale-pink-colored All Stars for only $4. I also did some consignment shopping in our posh neighborhood and scored a pair of almost brand-new Tod’s purple suede driver’s shoes for a fraction of their (typically exuberant) price.

Petra babysat the boys so that Pedja and I could go on a fancy date to see Carmen at the Sydney Opera House. She also took them home one evening as we were finishing up one of our long walks and gave us an unexpected gift of time in the city to celebrate Valentine’s day in bliss.

Nina really enjoyed spending some time in bookstores, and Maki got his first coding board game that turned out to be fun for all of us. I went a bit overboard getting a handful of school books for both Maksim and Nina.

We also took a day trip to Blue Mountains National Park and got to hike around gorgeous God’s country. We even saw remanences of the bush fires that were happening all around that part of Australia just a month or so earlier.

Nina really enjoyed spending some time in bookstores, and Maki got his first coding board game that turned out to be fun for all of us. I went a bit overboard getting a handful of school books for both Maksim and Nina.

While in Sydney, we also had a couple of days that truly sucked. Our boys are going through a stage (hopefully it’s just a stage) where they yell and fight with each other almost all the time. Our response to them is often not much better – too much yelling all around. We keep hoping that Maksim will figure out that engaging with Nina in such a way leads to only more trouble. Petra figured Nina out by the time she was 3.5 yrs old but Maki, even at 9, completely ignores Nikola’s inability to rationally see the world the way most of us do. I missed my girlfriends more on those days. Being in Sydney felt like we could have been home but obviously, it wasn’t our home. Our family and friends weren’t there. We were pretty much alone again. I’ve said before that traveling has been lonelier than I anticipated because we are alone most of the time. Seeing all the new places, our focus on each other, the beauty and richness of all of our experiences most of the time outweigh the loneliness I feel by being so far away from “our village”. And I love the “village” we’ve been blessed with back in the States!
I often enough need a reminder that families can get messy and dysfunctional at times and that we are not unique on those not-so-good days. Anyway, this is what I miss a lot on this trip – a chance to recalibrate outside of my family, time with friends that remind me that every family has bad days and that we might not be hopelessly dysfunctional at all times, just periodically 😉

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