Posted by David
After a few months in Asia, we really needed a place to just chill-out and relax in an English speaking country. Australia was perfect. We stayed in two different places near Sydney, Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach. We visited with friends who included us in on all their activities, introduced us to their friends and treated us just like family. Thanks to Susan Banki, her husband Josh, and their daughter, Pepper (1.5 years) as well as her mother Judy Banki visiting from New York; Cindi Lefari, and her husband Gary Treanaman, and their kids Samara (9), and Ethan (7), and John and Susan McMahon, and their kids Rowen (9), and Sabrina (3). You all really made the Australia experience happen for us.
Here are some of our Sydney highlights
- Ate meat pies with sauce (that’s ketchup to us)
- Swam and body surfed in the Pacific
- Rikki was stung by a blue bottle (jelly fish sort of creature)
- Saw Circus – Oz (awesome and the third circus we’ve seen on this trip)
- Enjoyed watching our friend Susan Banki doing stand-up comedy (on the topic of refugees which she somehow managed to make funny)
- Hung out with Judy Banki (Susan’s mother) who is a fascinating 84 year old woman (and 1948 graduate of the University of Wisconsin) that helped convince the Vatican to stop teaching Catholics that the Jews killed Jesus Christ (this was included in Vatican II (see articles on “Nostra Aetate)
- Went to the Torango Zoo – saw the kangaroos, wallabees and Tasmanian Devils. Did not feel good about the kangaroo we had eaten earlier in the week.
- Took the ferry across the Sydney Harbor
- Had many views of the Sydney Opera House
- Maya and Amy went to see the Picasso Exhibit
- Went to Samara Treanaman’s nine year old birthday, at the beach of course
- Saw our Australian friends that we met when we were in Sapa, Vietnam – Katrina, Craig, Brooke, and Jade
- David bought a used 29” big wheel unicycle to carry with us to New Zealand (and beyond?)
- Ate great food cooked by friends and even had friends over to our place.
- Got haircuts, went to the mall, and made several trips to the hardware store to fix the toilet of our small apartment
Here’s a little overview in pictures of our stay in Australia:
Cindi Lefari, Susan Banki, and Amy...friends from 20 years ago during their time together on Otzma in Israel. Cindi and Susan grew up together in New York where they went to the Bronx Academy of Science. Ironically, they live blocks apart in Sydney, Australia!
Playing at the beach and training for bungy jumping in New Zealand
Susan Banki, Josh McConnell, and Pepper. Susan is a professor at the University of Sydney, Josh is a rocket scientist turned corporate consultant, and Pepper is just plain cute. Incidentally, Josh was born in Skokie.
Eva doing some body surfing on Bondi Beach.
I couldn't get enough of the beach.
Amy, appearing Live at the Sydney Opera House!
Maya on the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.
The iconic Sydney Opera House.
What would Australia be without a Kangaroo sighting? This is not the one we had for dinner.
Samara and Ethan Treanaman teaching us some acrobatic yoga moves.
Playing with new friends.
John and Susan McMahon. Susan is from South Bend, Indiana and John is from Pittsburgh. They met at Notre Dame, lived in Chicago for a while, and then moved to Sydney where they've been for 14 years.
Celebrating Eva's 11th birthday at a Korean restaurant in Sydney with The Banki's (Susan and her mom Judy who was visiting from New York), and the Lefari/Treanaman family (Cindi, Gari, Samara, and Ethan)
David, Judy Banki, and John McMahon. Judy dated the lyricist Jerry Bock (most famous for writing the lyrics for all the songs in Fiddler on the Roof) when they were both students at University of Wisconsin in Madison!
Susan doing stand-up comedy. She and several other academics performed stand-up comedy routines about their individual disciplines as part of the Sydney Festival. Susan's jokes were about refugees (she somehow made it funny), an agronomist who joked about soil, and a few others who I can't really remember.
All in all it was a great couple of weeks and we got re-charged for a month driving around New Zealand in a camper. Stay tuned for a post about some of the amazing things we have seen and done in our first week in Kiwi-land.
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