Thursday, March 02, 2006

Wrap-Up & Kudos

To summarize the whole trip in one entry would be impossible, but needless to say we had a great time. It was the trip of our lives, we saw amazing new places and tried some exiting new things. But best of all were the people we met. A place is just a place, what makes it really special to me is the people...and we met many memorable people in Australia. Our Couch Surfing/Global Freeloader hosts, the bus drivers, tour guides, even the locals on the street, all made our trip a great one. We need to thank so many people. Lets try chronologically starting with my Mom and Johnny, for driving us to/from the Airport (and washing our filthy car! Obviously embarrassed of it sitting in their driveway). Leave it to a mom to drop everything for her kids.

Next, Sandy and Tony...our first friendly faces in Sydney, who got up at a very early hour to pick up two strangers up at the airport, and invite them into their home. While they were accustomed to the "freeloading " experience, Stephanie and I had no idea what to expect. Needless to say we would have never expected the kind of warmth, and hospitality they offered. Sandy's wonderful home-made vegetarian lasagna, Tony's kickstart coffee, rides into town or the train station, meeting their kids and great stories of their trips to America...started our trip off right. Thanks.

Next, Tom in Katoomba. Again great hospitality. We arrived in Katoomba with a vague idea of where he lived, we called to get confirmation and next thing we knew he was pulling up to the curb. He lives just a tad bit out of town, but the view more than makes up for it (and this way we were closer to some of our planned activities). Partly because we weren't actually staying in his house, and because we kept pretty busy, we did not get to spend as much time chatting with Tom. Steph did get to go up one night and hang out, while Gregg took a nap. Tom was great, even let us borrow a couple of bikes ! Good luck Tom, enjoy your adventures.

From Katoomba we made our way to see Loren and Yvette (and Kya). They also helped to make our trip the best possible. From picking us up from the Airport, to driving us down the Mornington Peninsula, taking us to their favorite restaurants, a bike ride for Gregg and thanks to Yvette taking Stephanie to the chemist several times. We were very lucky to see so much of them, with Yvette still recovering from her shoulder surgery, and Loren having a somewhat flexible work schedule, we had a great time staying with them. (and hope to meet up with them on their next vacation, wherever that may be...)

That brings us to Shane and Fiona, the horse people. Stephanie met them through one of the global freeloader sites, and we were honored to be their first guests ! They welcomed us in and made us feel at home. They are very nice couple, and so very active. BOTH were very accommodating and took time to drive us wherever we needed to be. I learned the basics of cricket, and Stehanie pet a goat and we had fun playing with their dogs. Good luck selling your place, and on finding the ranch of your dreams.

We need to say a special thanks to Dad and Ielean for watching Demi while we were gone. We left for vacation knowing she was in very good hands. Demi is of course spoiled, and we were worried how she would adapt to a new home and a different schedule. Apparently she did fine, even learned a new phrase " go to the beach?". We still need to get over to their house and get the whole story. Despite being slow to recognize us when we got back (to be fair we did smell very different) she has adjusted quickly to her regular routine. She does however keep a little closer watch on our movements, like when Stephanie was recently packing for a business trip to Philadelphia...but that's another entry alltogether.

It was great to meet and stay with Australian families.

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