My trip to Australia can be summed up pretty simply: I expected the worst, but experienced the best. I have a new-found love for Australia and the adventures that I had these last few weeks. I thank this wonderful place for the hospitality.
March 17- 31, 2017
Travel Days (Friday and Saturdayish): Traveling to Australia went as I expected which is exactly how I like my travel. It was exhausting, long, but still somehow relaxing. When you are on a plane for 17 hours you either read, write, watch a movie or sleep…..there is nothing else that can be done and it is great. I opted to catch-up on a few movies. La La Land was really the highlight of my flight. 17 hours later, and I arrived in the land down under.
Day 1 (a Sunday) Was a travel to site day which included our first kangaroo sighting, two winery visits (apparently the Hunter Valley is prime Australian wine country), and severe zombie like jet lag. While cute, kangaroos are savages and they are everywhere in the rural areas.
Day 2 was a Monday and meant business: 6 hours worth of presentations followed by 4 hours of driving and an inadequate amount of food (for my standards). This is the face (as captured by one of my equally disgruntled travel companions) that I make after a day like Day 2. Meanwhile Jason survived Monday morning and even did the boys’ hair, at their request. I miss these fools.
Day 3: What can I say about Day 3? More meetings and more driving. The beauty of all the driving is that I have been able to see a lot of Australia via my view from the car.
Day 4: Fly to Brisbane. My hotel accommodations up until Brisbane were questionable at best. Think windows that don’t lock and bugs. What Brisbane meant for me was civilization, an amazing hotel, regular access to food and a full gym set-up. I was never so happy as when we arrived in Brisbane, and I think I proclaimed this to my co-workers 20 times that day. Brisbane makes me happy.
Day 5 and 6: Work, work, work, work, work. Every day we would make the nearly mile walk each way to the office, and it was amazing. It’s another reason I love Brisbane, you walk everywhere and you feel completely safe doing so. If only such things were possible in St. Louis. We did so much walking on this trip, my fitbit is going to be disappointed when I get home.
Day 7 was a Saturday which meant our first free day of the trip. I got up early and participated in a 5k along the river in Brisbane. The 5k was through Park Run which is an organized free 5k. People meet at the same spot every Saturday morning at 7am and run a 5k. It is somewhat informal yet timed, but no divisions and no awards. 512 people joined in on this day. It was an awesome experience and I am so happy that I did it. The rest of the day was spent walking and shopping. I hit an all time high step count of 27,000 steps and 12 miles.
Day 8 (a Sunday) was when things started to get interesting. Originally, we were suppose to leave Brisbane and head to Mackay to start the second round of site meetings which meant man camp accommodations (which I found out were worse than I even thought), snakes and other less than desirable room conditions. Due to Cyclone Debbie hitting that region our entire second week of site visits was cancelled. Debbie was considered one of the worst cyclones in years. (Fun fact, a cyclone is the equivalent to a hurricane, but because it is below the equator it spins in the opposite direction. Essentially, hurricanes below the equator are called cyclones.) If we would have traveled to site, we would have been in the heart of Debbie, think gale force winds, flooding, stranded, loss of power. Instead, it meant another full week in Brisbane…I cant say I was disappointed at all. I had a comfy little routine going in Brisbane and another full week there did not break my heart.
With an additional free day, the team decided to visit Lone Pine Sanctuary which is a zoo that lets you hold koalas and hand feed kangaroo…things you could never get away with in the US. Also on Sunday I realized that Twenty One Pilots was staying at our hotel! I knew they were in town for their concert the next day, and I had a hunch they would be staying at our hotel because it is one of the better hotels in Brisbane. Sure enough, it was confirmed by the front desk and I instantly lost. my. shit. Twenty One Pilots is my absolute favorite band (thanks to my sister); I love all of their music…all of it. That evening I ended up sitting within feet of both Josh and Tyler (hence my stalker pictures), but I never quite worked up the courage to go up to them. No one else in the entire hotel lobby bar bothered them so I didn’t want to be that girl. Today, I regret not doing it. I hate living with regret.
Day 9: Started with work, ended with the Twenty One Pilots concert in Brisbane. They really are amazing, especially live. I will see them in concert every opportunity that I get. So flipping good.
Day 10 and 11: Work, work, work, work, work. More team bonding with my co-workers. It will be strange not spending every day/meal with these people.
Day 12: Debbie’s rage finally hits Brisbane. Flash flooding and torrential rain all day. The flooding was so bad our office closed at noon as did all the schools, public transit and local businesses so we had absolutely nothing to do most of the day (which gave me time to catch up on writing this post).
In other news, I tried Vegemite which is an Australian staple, and from what I have found on google it is a spread made from yeast. It looks gross and tastes like salty meat flavored jam. Not the worst thing I have ever had, but I wouldn’t waste the calories.
Day 13 was a Friday and our last full day in Brisbane. I took my last opportunity to do a sunrise run along South Bank. The rest of the day was filled with work, a bit of shopping and preparing to come home, plus one last stop at our favorite juice/coffee bar. I will miss this wonderful city, but I am ready to head back home to my family.
Tomorrow we start the nearly 20 hour trip home. Everything about this experience with the exception of missing my family has been amazing. The trip has given me a unique opportunity to focus on me and only me for two full weeks; to clear my mind, de-stress, and slow down. As a mom (and wife) it’s not something that happens very often. I feel truly blessed to be able to travel to Australia and immerse myself in the wonderful city that is Brisbane. The “no dramas” relaxed active lifestyle is one that I can definitely get behind….not to mention the coffee is really good here.
Lessons from this trip:
-Always pack more underwear than you think…you never know when laundry service might steal a pair.
-If your heart tells you to do something…flipping do it. I am still so angry with myself for not going up to TOP!
-I work with some really great people and have really enjoyed the two weeks with this group.
-My husband is absolutely amazing. He has held down the fort these last two weeks and managed life as a single parent without complaining one time. I am a lucky girl.
-Embrace the journey in front of you and don’t look back. Live the adventure that you have been given.
Until Next Time Australia. I love you.