From Jakarta I hopped a Jetstar flight to Perth, Australia. I was going to stay with my friend Sandy and her family for Christmas. I was so excitied to finally be heading to Australia. It’s a place I have always wanted to go especially since I took my Contiki tour in 2007. I would finally get to meet up with all the friends I met then and along the way on my current trip.
Enter my first Australian friend Sandy. Sandy was my Contiki tour manager who if you remember my post about why I was doing this trip, you might remember me mentioning her. She has such a passion for not only travel but for learning everything there is to know about the places she travels. While most managers might be catching up on sleep or life, Sandy would be reading books about countries – culture, history, people. She was always so excited about everything we did and teaching us everything she knew. It was infectious! I learned so much more that I thought I would while traveling around Europe on her tour.
I did see her the following year in Rome when I was studying TESOL and she was on tour again. We met up for lunch and again later that night where my friend Kim and I trekked to the Contiki Village in the outskirts of Rome for an 80s party. Remember that night Kim?! It’s a night I don’t remember too clearly but we did eventually make it home and I did go to class the next morning!
Anyway she invited me to spend Christmas with her, her fiancé Rory and adorable one-year-old daughter Neive. I stayed with them for about 10 days and was treated like a member of their family. We spent a lot of time on Christmas “stuff” – cooking and baking, shopping for gifts, and parties. Including Sandy’s parents’ annual Christmas party – Christmas crackers and all!
We headed to Sandy’s parents again for Christmas Eve. Presents filled the trunk and we had enough booze to feed an army. So Sandy and I did what any normal people would…opened a bottle of bubbles in the car en route! 😉
Not only did Sandy and her family invite me over but they showered me with gifts for Christmas so I wouldn’t feel left out. The best part – they know traveling and everything was small, light and manageable to pack! And my gifts had an “Ozzie” theme – an Australia shaped fly swatter, Australia shaped cookie cutters, a stuff kangaroo, a kangaroo ornament, Australian wine and some Ozzie favorite snacks! I wish I had a picture of my gifts opened but you can see their generosity in this picture!!
After presents at Sandy’s parents’ house we hopped in the car and headed for the beach! The beach on Christmas! This was so bizarre, but awesome!! The temperature was somewhere in the 90s and I couldn’t believe it. We met up with Sandy’s brother and his family there so the Christmas spirit was really alive with three kids, even at the beach! Christmas hats and bubbles were also passed around!
From there we had lunch at Sandy’s brothers and did more presents! The kids were all so cute playing with all their new stuff and the food was amazing! Sandy’s brother had gone fishing so we ate fresh prawns and crabs with some delicious salads. I couldn’t be with my own family but am so thankful to have had a family to spend Christmas with.
We spent the following days checking out Perth. They took me to Hillarys where we checked out the scenery and had amazing fish and chips (although they charge 30 cents per tartar sauce!). Neive went for a swim with dad and was too cute!
The next night we headed out to Fremantle or more affectionately known as “Freo” where we started with some craft beers at Little Creatures Brewery. We sat outside and chowed down on most of the dishes on the menu between five of us. We wandered around and completed our meal with some ice cream! Freo was super cute and hopefully I’ll get back there one day.
Sandy, Neive, and I went to Caversham Wildlife Park where I got to seriously hang out with kangaroos and koalas! I’ve always wanted to see them but was psyched to actually get to see them up close and touch them. Check out these guys:
I left right before New Year’s Eve as I had a chance to check out Sydney’s fireworks from a yacht on Sydney Harbor. Read on to the next post for more about that!
It was so much fun hanging with Sandy, Rory, and Neive. Even though Sandy has settled down a bit since her Contiki days, she still knows how to have fun and still has that same great laugh! Neive is too adorable and has such a personality at just one year old – definitely a trait of both mommy and daddy! Check this girl out!
Thanks again guys for such a great Christmas! I missed my own family but you guys really took care of me and Christmas on the beach may or may not be a once in a lifetime opportunity. TA!!!!!
**Here are some Skype pictures from Christmas with my family!