Who would be crazy enough to go to Australia...for a week?!
That would be us!
Sydney, Australia...For most Americans, it's on their list of places to go and yet while we were there I met many Australians who told me that they had never met anyone between the ages of 30 and 50 from the US! Australia is so far from the US in terms of distance that you actually lose a day (crossing the international date line) while going there (but you get it back when you return!! Of course you also loose 5 more days to jet lag!) It's no wonder that most working Americans with 2 weeks vacation never make it there, and consequently, most Australians have only met vagabonding twenty-somethings and retired folks visiting their country.
We were fortunate to extend a "working" trip to Sydney when Jeff was invited to speak at the International Clinical Trials Symposium held there in 2002. The symposium was held shortly after our 15th wedding anniversary, and there was no possible way Jeff would be going to Sydney without me! We used every last airline mile we had and extended our trip beyond his work time. With two young children at home to leave with relatives, we could really only spare a week. And so we went to Australia for a week! I think most people we know thought we were completely out of our minds, but I look back and only remember an amazing visit, and none of the grief of the 36 straight hours of travel it took to get there (and back).
We arrived at a challenging time during Australia's history. On October 12, 2002, a bombing occurred in a Bali nightclub meant to target young Australians who flock there for their own holidays. We encountered a friendly, but somber Sydney, as they sorted through the after affects of a terrorist attack that didn't happen on their soil, but which seemed to touch most Australians deeply because of the loss of so many young Australian lives. We could certainly relate to their pain, being only one year removed from the day when Jeff left the house with bags pack to fly to Washington DC from Boston for a business trip. A trip he get didn't take because 2 planes that left Logan Airport in Boston that morning were flown into the World Trade Center by terrorists on Sept 11, 2001. Nearly everyone we knew in Greater Boston knew someone who had been on one of those planes. Two men from our town and a woman who volunteered at my daughters' preschool were lost that day. Our good friend, an American Airlines pilot, who normally flew Flight 11 every other Tuesday, was fortunately on his "off' week, but lost a whole crew of beloved colleagues. We understood well how something tragic can happen far away and still affect you deeply and personally. The Australians opened their places and hearts to us, and we understood and shared their grief. But they did not stop being hospitable and helping to make our trip amazing, even coming so soon after a national tragedy.
Jeff flew out to Sydney ahead of me to make his presentation, and I flew out on a Sunday evening to meet him Tuesday afternoon in Sydney! Pass the dateline; lose a day, Monday was just gone! But "no worries" as they say in Australia, does anyone really miss a Monday anyway??) He was at the conference when I arrived at the hotel in Darling Harbor. We stayed at the Sheraton Four Points in Darling Harbor. It is near the convention center and in the newer Darling Harbor area of Sydney, but is easily accessible by foot, monorail and by ferry to the other popular tourist areas in Sydney. After leaving my luggage, I went out to the Pyrmont Pedestrian Bridge crosses over the Harbor and connects the area where the Four Points is located and the Convention Center and Harbourside shops and restaurants in that area. Our plan was to meet on the bridge after his meetings. There is something very romantic about meeting your beloved on a bridge over Darling Harbor after flying halfway around the world!
A couple of caveats:
1-Jeff got his very first digital camera before this trip. He would be the first to tell you he has learned a lot in the nearly intervening 15 years. So while I just see beautiful photos, he is his own worse critic and feels his best work was still ahead of him!
2-These photos were all taken during a time before we started providing content on the internet, (as a matter of fact, Jeff's whole purpose for being in Australia to talk about this new-fangled idea that one could use the internet to manage data from clinical trials when developing and studying medical treatments!) SO you'll notice many of our photos actually include...us! Nowadays, we take a lot of photos without family members so we can share them online.
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