Tom is meeting his friend in Los Angeles this week for two U2 shows. We decided to turn this into a family holiday in Hawaii where Tom will nip over to LA for a few days in the middle.
Tom left on his flight early Friday morning. He flew Sydney-Los Angeles-Honolulu on United and I flew with the kids Sydney-Honolulu on Hawaiian. Our flights were scheduled to come in within 15 minutes of each other in Honolulu.
I picked up the kids from school Friday afternoon and we went to do a few last-minute errands at the local shopping centre. Back at home we finished up packing and called for a taxi just after 6pm. I thought this would mean an early arrival at the airport and perhaps avoiding some of the queues. I was wrong. We were at the back of the queue with two and a half hours to go before departure. No hope to purchase an upgrade to Business Class. No worries. Taking two excited, tired kids seemed daunting, but I was optimistic that an overnight flight leaving way past bedtime would mean sleep. Ha. Think again.
As we settled into our three middle seats on the Hawaiian A330 the kids appeared ready for bed. They made an attempt at the in-flight entertainment but soon were off to sleep. Ah, peace and quiet. I tried to enjoy my economy meal of green beans, rice and mystery meat in mystery sauce with a side salad of something resembling lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Mediocre at best. Positivity, we are off to Hawaii.
Stupidly I forgot to get Sofia motion sickness tablets. She is always sick when we start to descend. And poor Alex, he’s the king of airplane nose bleeds. With tissues at the ready I dozed off for a good hour or two before Alex decided he was up for the night. Followed closely by Sofia who was also up for the night. Meanwhile, my ongoing issues with coccyx/tailbone pain has reared its ugly head again and I am in so much pain it hurts to even shift in my seat. The person in front of me has also settled in for a sleep with a fully- reclined seat leaving me about six inches of space. I could barely squeeze my backpack out from under the seat.
After a weak attempt at making sure the kids were good and bored I relented and handed over the iPads wondering how we would cope the rest of the flight and into the day. Surely they would fall back asleep for an hour or two? Never underestimate a child’s resilience to stay awake when they want to. Then the fun began!
I won’t go into detail but let’s just say Sofia did get sick. Twice. And Alex had a few nose bleeds. And I was exhausted with severe tailbone pain.
Our flight landed on time. We had to deplane and wait in a holding area because the customs/immigration hall was not able to accommodate another flight. Good fun. This was a total of about 30 minutes delay. Because we were in the last few rows of the plane I assumed we would be last through immigration. This delay worked in my favour during this hold. Luckily my kids like to walk fast because I made them bust it down to immigration once they let us out and there were very few people ahead of us. Yay! We picked up luggage, zipped through customs and there was Tom waiting on the other side! Let’s go find the car and start this adventure.
Thursday morning we depart on a round the world trip with the kids. On the itinerary: Depart Sydney for Singapore; Bodø, Norway; Lofoten Islands (Moskenes to Tromsø), Norway; Longyearbyen (Svalbard/Spitsbergen), Norway; Hamburg, Germany; Charlotte, North Carolina; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and San Francisco, California.
Come along and see what we are up to…
Here is what our organized chaos looks like right now. Not anywhere near organized, but moving in the right direction. I am coming down with some terrible sickness and I am struggling with clear thinking!
This morning, while Tom was on a flight from Singapore, we put up the Christmas tree. Once he was home he got to help us with lights and ribbon. Sofia did a majority of the decorating. Alex was too busy running around like a crazy man. I had to remind her to put some on the sides and back. I also had to put some up on the top because she was obviously too short to reach. She picked out a star for the top the other day and it isn’t working which is upsetting her greatly. It is too heavy.
The kids want to make more decorations over the school holidays!
Even pilots have to go to bed at night…
Here is a view from our little hotel, Olympiahaus, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It is situated at the site of the ski jump. The 1936 Olympics were held here in G-P. yesterday we zig-zagged up the side of the mountain on the right of the ski jump to get as high as we could. Fantastics views from up there.
A couple of weeks ago we had our eleven year anniversary of being expats. It made me stop to think about the journey I have had since that June weekend I stepped on the plane thinking we would be away four to six months. Here we are eleven years, two kids, and several moves later sprinkled with our favourite thing to do—travel.
Our journey has been filled with ups and downs, stress, joy, friends, family and most importantly—learning. Although we haven’t lived very long in a country requiring a new language (Germany for a few months) we have had to learn new cultures. With the UK and Australia being English-speaking countries you would think it would be easy to acclimate. It is amazing how long it takes to learn how things work, where to buy things, popular culture and so on. After eight years in England we were really feeling like it was home. Here we are three years in Australia and we still laugh about things we are learning. It feels like each day something new pops up we have never heard before—whether that is a person, a word or a little fact about Australia. I won’t even go into the different accents and slang and everything else we coped with living especially in the UK. Steep learning curve for language!!
We have had the privilege of travelling extensively over the past eleven years of living abroad. It was easy to travel when we lived in England, especially when we lived outside of London. We had so many options to get over to Europe—plane, train and ferry. Travel is a priority in our lives so we make the most of it. We don’t spend money on much, saving for our next holiday. Moving to Australia posed a bit of a travel problem for us. I was pregnant with Alex when we moved here. Travel with two kids made things a bit more difficult, as well as the distances. Australia is much bigger than I had imagined. After Alex turned two it was much easier to do some travelling. We have travelled to several cities around Australia as well as some South Pacific islands and New Zealand. Now that he is about to turn three and Sofia is five we can do about anything–with restrictions due to Sofia’s school schedule.
We have met some amazing people along the way. It has been hard here in Australia to see friends come and go as they come to Sydney for work and then move on. It tends to make you protective about friendships. I haven’t learned to let that down after all of this time. That said, I have met and continue to meet some wonderful people.
We don’t know how much longer we will be in Sydney. A year? Three years? Who knows? I do know there are still plenty of things we want to do and see here before we move on to the next adventure. It has been an interesting eleven years and I can’t wait to see what the next eleven bring us!
In two days we get back on a plane and head east again; this time to the USA with most of our time being spent in North Dakota. Sofia starts kindergarten in January so I took this as a opportunity for the kids to spend quality time with family in the US before we are restricted to travelling during school holidays. Piggybacking the trip to the US is a side trip for Tom and me. Tom is flying with us to the US on Wednesday and will return to Australia the following Monday. He will rejoin us at the end of summer for a long-awaited trip without kids (our first ever). Sofia and Alex will spend a week and a half in Virginia with my sister, Shelley, and her family. Tom and I will fly to Iceland, via Copenhagen, for one night before a short flight to the Faroe Islands. Then we will go on to Greenland where we will spend one night in Ilulisat then take a two day ferry down the west coast to Nuuk. After a day exploring Nuuk we have two nights in Iceland again (hello Blue Lagoon) before jetting back to Virginia to pick up the kids.
I sit here with a half-packed suitcase wondering what I have forgotten, did I pack too much, and so on. It doesn’t matter as long as we have the four of us on a plane with passports and our liquids in suitably-sized containers and our plastic baggies life will be good. I have packed colouring books, books, paper, crayons, new toys and other bits and pieces. I can tell you that from experience that these things won’t matter as much as the iPod, iPad and the in-flight entertainment kids’ section.
Once I get my phone sorted over there I plan to update here frequently with photos and stories of what we are doing.
So far, so good. A few minor mishaps here and there but
nothing that can’t be worked out. Alex and Sofia have proved to be
good little travelers thus far in the car, on the plane and by
foot. I have to say that jet lag wasn’t as bad as I thought it
would be with two kids. Today is sadly our last day in Europe.
Tomorrow morning at 7am we depart Barcelona for Münich and then
Charlotte, NC, for the USA portion of our trip. I will follow up
this post with a few more that have photos. Sadly, my camera is not
repaired and with the dollar in such a sad state, Europe is not the
place to buy a replacement. Tom has taken photos the past couple of
days with his Blackberry so i will have to have him either post
photos from there or figure out how to get them off of