Fall 2013, Number 2: The City of Sisterly Love

That’s what they call it, right? The City of Sisterly Love?

10.4.2013_Philly_11
So the goal, as it relates to my Fall To Do List, was to “Spend an awesome weekend in Philly with my sisters” and I think it’s safe to say that I crushed this goal. 

Because I’ve put off blogging about this long enough, I’m going to stick with the “things I don’t want to forget” format I’ve been falling back on for recent travels (see here and here) while pointing you to my photos over here. Without further ado, here’s my list:

– Free sangria upon arriving in the hotel lobby? Don’t mind if I do!

– We ate really well! Dinners at Alma de Cuba and The Dandelion, lunch from Melt Kraft in the Reading Terminal Market, brunch at Schlesingers.

– On Saturday morning I was wide awake at the usual hour but Emily and Jennifer, without children to wake them, slept in. I ended up catching the tail end of the sunrise from our hotel balcony, then heading out for a walk to get Starbucks and explore the neighborhood. Much to my surprise, there were streams of 3 Day walkers passing by when I walked out of the hotel! I gave high fives, told them they were awesome, and chatted with a few walkers that I bumped into at Starbucks. It brought back a lot of awesome memories (you can read about those here if you have the desire…and a lot of free time)!

– Oh, Reading Terminal Market! You get me every time with your delicious food and overwhelming amounts of…everything.

– Saturday night we were up way past my bedtime. I ended up overtired and having giggle fits while trying to fall asleep. Obviously it was Emily and Jennifer’s fault, so I made sure they knew that I didn’t appreciate them keeping me up so late…and sympathizing with how their children feel when they are driven to overtired-ness.

– On Sunday morning I had a long run (seven miles) to get in. Luckily, one of my running peeps went to school in Philly and was quick to give me an easy running route, which also happened to be scenic. First mile: Museum Mile, culminating at the Rocky Statue and Stairs! Follow that with 6 miles out and back along the river whose name no one can properly pronounce, complete with great views of Boathouse Row. Also views of some wildlife (I think it was a groundhog), people on elliptical bike contraptions, and a team of rollerbladers skating blading in formation like Olympic speed skaters.

I think Sister Weekend in Philly needs to become an annual affair.

Number 3: Cuddle a Koala

This one did not quite happen as planned, but I would argue that a Kangaroo is close enough and so am calling it done.

More Heidi

When we began the (small) amount of planning we did for out trip to Melbourne, I thought it was important that we hit at the very least a zoo, but preferably some kind of sanctuary for native animals so that Pete could get a good look at all the wacky marsupials that Australia has to offer. Including my absolute favorite, wombats! My research led me to the Healesville Animal Sanctuary. I thought it might be fun to do the whole “get your picture taken with a koala!” thing, so you can imagine my delight when I saw that they offer “Magic Moments”, where you pay ten dollars and get to spend ten minutes feeding and petting and loving the Aussie animal of your choice – koala, kangaroo, echidna (maybe not so much petting on that one?), dingo (I’ll just pet my friend’s dog, thanks), etc… Now, if you multiply whatever you just imagined by delight to be times ONE HUNDRED, that’s approximately how I felt when I saw a note on their page about how they currently had juvenile WOMBATS that were available for a Magic Moment.

Basically, I DIED. Imagine this guy, but smaller:

WOMBAT

When I lived in Perth, I went to the zoo with my friend Rob one day. Rob loves Wombats as much as I do, and there happened to be baby wombats there at the time. They were completely INSANE, and for such a short and stout animal, they sure can run fast when they want to! We thoroughly enjoyed watching them flying around their enclosure. I was dying of excitement to pet baby wombats and shower them with lots of love, so it’s a little shocking that I was tolerant of the “scenic” route that we took to get to Healesville. You’re welcome for that, Ros. (It was actually very interesting to see the damage from the massive bushfires back in 2009 and learn about life with bushfires…blizzards and hurricanes we know, tornadoes Pete knows, but wildfires are not disasters that we are familiar with.)

We had a delicious lunch at Hargreaves Hill Brewing Compnay, and when we finally got to Healesville Animal Sanctuary I’m pretty sure that I bounded out of the car. Then I quickly stopped bounding, because it turns out that when baby wombats grow up they turn “mental” and are no longer allowed to play with the public. The woman started to describe their behavior and said that they basically think they are rhinos, running around headbutting everyone. I didn’t think that sounded so bad – they’re little, right? Then she told me after they headbutt you, they bite you. So I told her that making friends with some kangaroos was totally cool. That’s when this happened:

Number 3 on the Spring To Do List? Big fat check.

Melbourne

I will spare you all an onslaught of photos…you can find a lot (almost 200) of the photos I took on our trip over at Flickr….the ones here are a few of my favorites. We spent two weeks in Melbourne in April (it already feels like it was ages ago), and it was awesome. I could probably go on for hours about our trip, but I’ll spare you that, too. Here are the things I don’t want to forget:

Baby-size Coffee– Pete’s first experience with the smaller portion sizes: In the Sydney airport, Pete went to McDonald’s to get a coffee (we had just deplaned after a 19 hour flight from LAX and were on hour 27 of our trip. Coffee was in order). We proceeded to the gate to reboard our plane and were chatting about how Pete had survived his first trans-Pacific flight, how the quick layover at LAX was the furthest west he’s ever been in the US, and how he was starting his first visit to Australia – “so many firsts!” I said. He replied “and it’s my first time getting a baby-sized coffee!” I laughed, knowing that it would take a day or two to get used to how everything in Oz is smaller – the cars, the houses, the portion sizes. What I didn’t realize was how hung up Pete would be on his first experience with it. Thirty minutes into our flight (the last, and shortest, of 4 legs), Pete shows me the screen of his phone and says “that’s how much I paid for my baby-sized coffee!” and I see that he’s got the currency exchange app open and is shocked to learn that he’s paid something like 2.85 USD for a coffee the size of your average sippy cup.

– The heartache when we heard about the Boston Marathon bombing, and the frantic tracking down of all our friends. The worry when we learned that our friend Ryan had been injured (but was “okay”) and waited to learn more details about her condition. The gratitude for the technology which meant that we were able to keep in touch, live, with friends at home while we all tried to digest what had happened and ensure that our loved ones were safe. The comfort of being with friends who could understand our shock and sadness because they have also called Boston home. The shock of walking into Fed Square and looking up to see video of the explosions on the jumbotron. The tears I fought every time it came up in conversation with strangers over the next two weeks.

Boston Posse!

– Feeling so at home in a city so far away. From the comfort of having the same standard conversation openers (weather, sports) to having somewhere to get coffee on every corner (although far more independent businesses than we have in Boston), to the luck of having a number of friends who live in Melbourne…I never once felt like I was in a foreign city. It was so hard to leave – partly because I didn’t want to say goodbye to all the friends who we get to see so rarely, partly because I feel very much in tune with the Aussie mindset, and partly because I fell in love with the city of Melbourne itself.

Mr & Mrs– Ros and Chris’ wedding: The look on Chris’ face when he saw her coming down the aisle. Ros’ inability to look Chris in the eye during the ceremony because she refused to start crying. The cat that wandered behind them mid-ceremony. Watching two people so perfect for each other bring together their families and friends for an amazingly fun party. The reappearance of Pedro, a máquina de bailando!

– Cider cider everywhere! Not that I was worried about finding a beer alternative to drink while we were there, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that cider is all over the place in Australia these days. I would happily have managed with champers and wine for two weeks, but I loved having a new-to-me cider almost every time we were out. Pete certainly outdid me with his multitude of beer paddles, but I may have managed to try as many ciders makers (are they also brewers? I don’t know the lingo) as he tried different brewers!

More Heidi
– You guys! Kangaroos are SO SOFT. More on that in another post.

– You guys! Koalas are SO UGLY. And not particularly nice. On the day that we drove the Great Ocean Road, we were directed to a specific spot: take the turn to the Cape Otway Light, drive until you go over the cattle grate, then pull over and look up. We were skeptical, but we saw ten wild koalas hanging out in the trees! And they really are ugly! The one that was on the ground was hunting for tourists to attack, but luckily koalas are slow and the tourists were smart enough to get out of the way. An actual koala attack would have made a great story, but we were happy that we didn’t have to figure out how to get emergency medical help for an innocent tourist.

Ready Freddy!

– We spent about half a day in Bendigo (I really enjoyed annoying Pete by repeatedly saying “let’s a-go to Bendigo!” all day), mainly for the purpose of going on a tour of a working gold mine. It was pretty rad, but my favorite part was when Dale, our tour guide, was referring to how the miners were paid when it first opened. As contractors, they were paid “per foot – or in more modern terms, per meter”. Because imperial units is so antiquated, who would use those measurements these days?!

There is so much more that happened on our vacation, but these the bigger things that stick out, and a few of the little things that make me smile and I don’t ever want to forget. Check out the rest of my photos on Flickr if you want to see and read more about what we did with our two weeks!

WaterFire


Went down to Providence for our monthly pot luck at Brian’s house (for a few more weeks, anyway!) and then wandered around WaterFire for a bit. I really love WaterFire, I think I need to go more often. It was a long day – walked 12 miles (part of it through Blue Hills), came home, ate, showered, and headed to the train station. Long day, but totally worth it! Lynne made Raclette, which is totally in my top 5 favorite meals and lived up to all of the hype she’d built up for it. Lynne, thanks for the new addiction!