Having your parents around for 3 weeks after not seeing them for 6 months is a special experience. For 6 months I have been on my own here in Oz. In this absence from home, you start to think that you are becoming a completely different and new person. That you have matured, that even your physical appearance has changed significantly. But having your parents walk out of the gate at the airport cuts these illusions short.
Mum hugging me:
"It's so good to see you! You haven't changed a bit!"
(but... but! These jeans! And these broader arms, don't you see!)
"Like no time has past"
(How can she not notice!)
"Ever the same"
In three sentences all my expectations evaporated and I had to agree: I was and still am the same - and that is for the best. It showed me that time is of no importance. Of course I am gone and miss certain things, but they are not gone. My old life back home is waiting to take off from exactly the spot where I have left it, seamlessly. Strange and reassuring at the same time.
But enough of this, lets tell a bit more about the trip. (all the photos here)
After the hugs and exclamations of joy we went to pick up the hire car and to my place for breakfast. Those fantastic housemates of mine all woke up at 5:30 to go with me to the airport, so everybody was in need of a hearty breakfast to wake up a bit more. With breakfast in our bellies, mum, dad and me went off to Crafers where our vacation home was. Although I am quite a pigeon when it comes to finding my way in cities and reading maps, I guided us completely down the wrong freeway, but after this rather big detour we ended up in the Adelaide Hills at the house, beautifully situated in the bush, with lots of birds (and millipedes :S).
From here we did all the nice things in and around Adelaide. We went to Cleland for some obligatory kangaroo petting. Had a stroll in the city centre and Botanic Gardens. Went out to dinner with the West St. gang and Sara and Todd. Had Aki, Liam and Tara over the following night as well for a barbie and Settlers (/Kolonisten). Paid a visit to some wineries in the McLaren Vale and a big lunch on Maslin Beach.
With this first chapter of the trip already packed, it was just a taste of what was to come. Saturday we flew off to Melbourne for Easter. We stayed at a flashy hotel in St. Kilda, with the beach just around the corner. I completely fell in love with Melbourne. It reminded all three of us of Rotterdam, with the Yarra river running through the city centre, the trams and the skyline.
Melbourne was also much cleaner than Sydney and it didn't have the 'rushy' feeling Sydney gives me. Sydney has the sights, but Melbourne the vibe. We visited the National Gallery and some parks, shopped a bit, had a look at the art fair, went up and down the beach for lunch and dinner and I went out on Saturday night which was good.
Tuesday we set out to get our new hire car for the third part of our trip: The Great Ocean Road. Stretching some 500 km from Melbourne to Port Fairy, the GOR is the first half of the 'scenic route' back to Adelaide and it was wonderful!
With enormous cliffs and rock formations everywhere, gorgeous ocean views and cute little towns, the GOR made for a pleasant drive back to Adelaide, where the final stop awaited: Kangaroo Island. (but not before we found a garage with my name on it in Port Fairy!! :D Look:)
Stretching 150 km wide, KI is Australia's third biggest Island with lots of untamed bush and heaps of wildlife. Our place was right next to the beach - all day you could hear the waves crashing. The beach itself was gorgeous, stretching far and white. What was even more cool about the place though, was that a little before dusk all the wildlife would come out. At the front of the house, the kangaroos and walibis would come from everywhere to eat the carrots and feed that the owners of our place placed outside for them. Sometimes there would be around a dozen hopping and bouncing walibis! How cool is that :D
KI was extremely fascinating, wild and 'untouched'. It was so good to just sit on our veranda, enjoy the view, listen to the sea or read a book - tranquil. The only significant trip we made on KI was to Seal Bay, but it was a good one! On Seal Bay you can walk right up to the sea lions taking a rest on the beach. They hunt for three days straight out in the ocean and then come back to just rest. To stand there amidst those groups of animals - super special experience.
And with those final days on KI, our trip was over. Time to go home. Me back to West St. and Mum and Dad back on the plane. And with a final hug, a little swallow of grief and a reassuring smile we said goodbye once more - but I'll be home before you know it!