When I picked my mom up at the airport in my 1984 Toyota Landcrusier (check driving manual transmission and driving on the left side of the road off my life to-do list) she commented that Hobart was much bigger than she imagined. “There are tall buildings here!” she said. Yes, a couple. We have a Lululemon in the mall– this is not that podunk of a place. But it’s not exactly a big city either. It wasn’t until we landed in Sydney and took a stroll downtown during rush-hour that the size of Hobart and the drastic difference in our Tasmanian pace of life was made apparent to her.
Carlos and I landed in Sydney back in September but we were anxious to continue on to our new home in Tasmania so I never felt like we toured the city properly. I was happy to go back with my mom for a girls’ weekend and see some places I missed the first time around. For our first night we stayed with my college friend Claire’s parents in Cremorne. Abby and Robert live in an incredible neighborhood perched on a hill between the two inlets of Mossman and Cremorne Bay. It was so fun to catch up with them (and by proxy I felt like I was catching up with Claire) and show my mom a local’s side of Sydney.
From there we moved into the Rocks area which was centrally located and full of charm, albeit a bit touristy. On Friday after a walk along the Harbor Bridge we took advantage of blue skies and spent the afternoon walking along the seacliffs from Bondi to Coogee. We watched the massive waves pound the empty shoreline and swimmers continue on with their workouts on the beachside pools as if it was a kiddy pool. It made me want to throw on my bathing suit and get to it.
The weather turned to rainy Autumn on Saturday and sent us inside to the Australia Museum. I was pleased to tick off all of the animals we’ve seen in the wild in the taxidermy exhibit and learn more about the Aboriginals whom we don’t see at all in Tasmania. We feasted on Malaysian food at the Chinatown night market at Mamak — a restaurant that apparently always has a line wrapped around the building and our visit was no exception. The hour wait was so worth it. I haven’t had Asian food like that since… Asia. And I was able to show off my whisky prowess at The Braxton Inn, a speakeasy whisky bar downtown. I had hastily read a review of it online but didn’t know the exact address. We asked a local hotel and they sent us to the appropriate street. Beyond that, we were on our own. After doing a couple of laps on the block I noticed a long, dark passageway. We made our way through with a bit of trepidation but it was a dead end. I knew we were on to something though so we waited across the street until a couple of people dressed nicely walked down the same alley and followed them. The dead end had a small utility door that lead us to a set of service stairs. Beyond the next door was a lively, twenties themed bar full of swingers and a jazz band. Perfect. I ordered a bourbon and a rye to try (both from the Bay Area) and was in heaven. Mom loved the chase and it makes for a great memory.
My mom and I are eerily similar and traveling with her was easy. That said, of course we have our own idiosyncrasies that are more pronounced when it’s just the two of us. Shortly after dinner one night she opened her arms wide for a hug. I went in eagerly (always fond of a good nuzzle) and she then apologized for “some of the stupid stuff” that comes out of her mouth. I laughed. It’s true I’ve always been critical of her in that way– what daughter isn’t?– but I say stupid stuff too. And when we aren’t together I often think “oh my god, I sound just like my mom.” So, if I haven’t learned by now to pardon my mother for her quirkiness, I’ll never be fully accepting of my own. And as I suspected, time with her was a pleasant reinforcement of how lucky I am to be in Australia this year and how I wouldn’t necessarily have made the plunge if she and my dad hadn’t forged the way with their own epic adventure abroad thirty-plus years ago.
Before parting ways on the sunny Sunday morning, we went for a long run along the water, the Opera House, through the Botanical Gardens and Hyde Park. It was Sydney at its finest. I’m so glad I was able to share it and my time in Australia with my mummy.