Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another day in Paradise! This was a free day for us in Sydney to explore, shop, relax, climb know...the usual! We slept in a bit today and then we went off in different directions. Some took the train to the Rocks, some went back to the Opera House, some walked to church and then to the Rocks, some went to the Sydney Harbor Bridge to take a walk - up the bridge!

The Rocks is an area down by the harbor where the convicts landed when sent from England. The youngest of these law breakers was 9 years old and the oldest was 83. Hardened criminals along with bread thieves were treated the same with there being just 2 sentences - a 7 year term of imprisonment or a 14 year incarceration. The area became one of crime and rundown buildings and the city planned to knock down everything to build high rises. There was a major uproar by the citizens to preserve the history and the buildings by the harbor and, eventually, the town father's saw the light and acquiesced to the demand of its citizens and The Rocks was born! It is now full of boutiques, art shops, restaurants and cafes. You can walk along the harbor to the Opera House, take a boat ride, both fast ones and leisurely, enjoy the entertainment of contemporary musicians and that of some aborigines...or you can just people watch. It's all good!

I am so blessed to have friends here in Sydney through a variety of avenues. I had a friend who taught in Australia for a couple of years and, on her way back to the states, she went via Fiji. Graeme was on his way around the world and met my friend while he was in Fiji, as well. They exchanged addresses and when Graeme arrived in the New York area, he stayed with us for a few weeks, exploring our area, Philadelphia, and, his favorite, New York City. He then left for London but couldn't resist returning to us on his way back bringing another friend, Lorna, with him and, after another couple of weeks, we were all fast friends. That was in 1976! Graeme is one of those people with a sneaky sense of humor who can talk to anyone and does! Our laugh-fests were legendary! It was wonderful seeing him again and we plan on getting together in November when he comes back to N
ew York. We got so caught up in conversation that I did not get a new picture of Graeme nor did I get one with Mater! However, there will be pictures in November! Meanwhile, here is a picture of my friend, Graeme, from a previous post.

Katie was our tour manager when we came to Australia in 1999. She and her husband, Paul, did this work on school holidays and, typical of the Aussies we've met, they are both open and friendly and interesting. Katie was always so kind to the us on that first tour and was easy-going and full of stories and ideas to keep us all busy. We became friends on that trip and, when I came back in 2001, she and Paul had a son, Sam. We have kept in touch through the birth of their daughter, Holly, and so it was natural to see them this time, as well, getting to know their beautiful children a bit in the process.

It was so good to see them all, even if only for a few hours. The time apart did not lessen that connection and we had relaxed, natural conversation throughout dinner. Sam and Holly were the bonus at dinner, loving that I had Mater with me and, of course, photos were taken! Are they simply delicious young Aussies?! :)

This was just another reminder to be kind to the friends you have and be open to new friendships wherever you go. You just never know how each new person will enrich your life!

We leave Australia tomorrow for New Zealand. I, for one, will be sad to be leaving this captivating country with its life-loving people and will return again someday. One story goes that it is a traditional aboriginal way of saying good bye to wipe your hands under your armpits and then wipe the cheeks of the person to whom you are saying farewell... while this all sounds very exotic and exceptional, I will go with "Hooroo, Australia!"

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