Familiar Faces.

Last month, I had the amazing opportunity for my parents to come visit me in Sydney. Usually I don’t relish the chance for a familial visit, but this one was different. First we need to get things straight. I love my family as much as the next guy, and probably more. But in a typical semester, I will only make the drive down to San Antonio once or twice, and only then on special occasions or when my mom is cooking a particularly good meal.  Not because I don’t love to see them, but because I lived with them for 18 years of my life and I pretty much know what’s going to happen most days I spend down there. This visit was different for three reasons: I’m in Australia, I was running low on cash, and my parents love good wine.

The first few days they were here we partook in the typical touristy routine: cruising on a ferry around the Sydney harbor, visiting the world-renown Taronga Zoo, exploring Chinatown and the accompanying market, and eating at a few great restaurants. But I must say, none of that compared to seeing them for the first time after so long. Not because I so desperately missed my family, but because there is something unnaturally comforting about seeing a familiar face in a foreign land.

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After spending time in Sydney, my parents and I flew to Adelaide to explore other areas of Australia. Our first day was spent exploring the city, which resulted in my parents sufficiently spoiling me. The next day we met with one of my dad’s local business friends who took us out to the Barossa Valley, one of the best winemaking regions in Australia. We spent the entire day drinking expensive wines at private tastings and being chauffeured around different vineyards. If I’m being completely honest, this was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. I have been fascinated with wine since I was very young, so I seized every opportunity to soak in the entire experience.

The next day my parents and I flew to Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third largest island, to explore bush land and see native wildlife. I have to say, Kangaroo Island surpassed all my expectations. As the name implies, there were kangaroos everywhere: out in the desert, by the beaches, in wildlife rescue parks, crossing the road in front of our Land Rover. Wild koalas were everywhere as well. We spent the following two days touring the entire island, getting to visit wildlife rescue parks, sandy beaches, and natural beauties. By the end of my time on Kangaroo Island, I had seen, fed, pet, and bonded with more native animals than I could ever have imagined.

After leaving the island, my parents took a quick personal trip to Queenstown, NZ, then returned to Sydney. In my final three days with them, I took them on the second half of their personal tour around the Sydney. We were able to make the breathtaking coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi, visit the Sydney Opera House and check out the Royal Botanical Gardens. Essentially, I crammed all the good things about my trip to Sydney thus far into six very busy days with my parents, which they were very grateful for. It was so hard to say goodbye, but I am incredibly thankful for the time we were able to spend together in Australia.

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