Travelling is a teacher:
The clichés that exist in our society are sometimes annoying and at other times leave you wondering. Are people really concerned or just like to make a comment or ask a question which is unnecessary
In July 2018 I started planning my December holiday with my partner in crime -my 8 year old daughter, Miss M. we initially started thinking of a place where we could see white Christmas. We had a few constraints like we couldn’t take more than 2 weeks off. And didn’t want to travel more than 8 hours at a time. And preferred going to a familiar place. By familiar I mean where we have a few people we know, given that we will be in a new country.
2 weeks before my vacation , the few people that I did mention to about my two week break and the kind of questions that came my way- “oh why are you going alone” — I am not, my daughter is but that did not qualify company!!
“Oh why did you choose Australia- too far ?” — because I wanted to explore a new country.
And it went on and then there were some other like-minded friends who seem happy and excited for us.
I want to share my few observations and learnings from this trip:
We chose a destination which took us 16 hours to reach with layovers included. But we had decided we wanted to do this. We wanted to see the Sydney NYE fireworks. We wanted to explore the beaches. We wanted to shop and we wanted to stay in a forest. And above all explore a new country at a time when the weather was pleasant. My daughter is very brave and likes to experiment new things- be it the cuisine (we are vegetarians) ,be it mode of transport or the people we met over these 2 weeks. And she inspired me to stay brave.
Everything can’t go as per plan. After all it’s a holiday, why should it go as per plan? So when we reached our Apartment in Gold Coast on the first night after landing in Brisbane- we had travelled almost 18 hours. We slept at 11pm to wake up the next day at noon. Half the day was gone and we still wanted to laze. Normally I would get very hyper and want to do 10000 things but not this time. We left our apartment at 3 pm to go to Harbor Town which we realized after reaching there,that it will close by 5pm. But it was all fine. And sometimes when things dont go as per plan , you end up having most fun. 25thDecember -everything was shut in Gold Coast, well almost. But we managed to find this really cute Italian café at Surfers paradise which had Miss M’s favorite Margarita pizza and for me there was Prosecco . After a lazy lunch, we decided to go to the beach and played for almost 2 hours. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of our entire trip.
Be adventurous (in moderation):
I really wanted to go to the blue mountain retreat center to meditate and be with nature. I wasn’t sure given it may not interest my daughter. But she agreed. From Sydney Central Station (one of the landmark buildings filled with so much character) we embarked on a 2 hour journey to this quaint town called Leura in Blue Mountains. It was one of the most beautiful train journeys I’ve taken. We reached Leura which was a very small station and we were the only passengers to get off. I was impressed that the station had an elevator to help passengers reach the cars. We got off and found our contact who had come to pick us up. A 10 minute drive and we reach in middle of nowhere — we entered a 54 acre forest and it was unbelievably beautiful. We were dropped off at our accommodation which was a very simple yet tastefully done up room with all amenities one can ask for. Just two things it didn’t have and we didn’t miss them either were- Wifi and TV . There was a common dining hall which faced the valley and everything that was cooked was made by volunteers. Miss M got Samosa for a snack and she was delighted and I went for my meditation session . it lasted for an hour and it was beautiful.
Next morning we did service in the kitchen -chopped vegetables for lunch and then went to explore the forest which included a waterfall, many interesting flora and fauna and we were told that a long black snake was seen the previous night by the waterfall.
It was an unusual, short but a very satisfying trip for me and Miss M was super cooperative.
Be “the tourist”
It’s important to see the country like a tourist but only in parts and it is a lot of fun. Like Sydney hop on hop off tour was so educational and so was Melbourne’s City Tram Tour showing all the historic sites and a good voice commentary to give all details.
We did 2 of the 5 gold coast parks which was purely a dedication to my daughter. It remains to be the highlight of her trip. We did one beach per city and the Australian beaches are something else and that skyline makes it even more gorgeous.The harbor bridge and the Opera house in Sydney are sites not to be missed. And the Sydney NYE family fireworks were outstanding and worth the 2 hour wait in the rains. We watched it from the harbor- one of the best sites to see from.
Miss M and me for 2 weeks together was epic fun. We did things we have never done, we spoke like best friends and we fought like lovers. We missed no third person on this trip. Though Miss M would often threaten me by wanting to call her grandparents who are my parents and complain about me if things weren’t always going as per plan. We walked on the beaches ,collected shells, went on rides and had our favorite drinks together. We played, we danced and we watched Dil Chahta hai together in Blue mountain on my laptop.
To all single parents out there — make sure you travel with your kid/s alone at least once every year. There shouldn’t be any excuse to that. I have been doing this since last three years and we cherish our time together and build so many memories that makes for a beautiful life.