One of the highlights of our round-the-world adventure has been spending time with my parents, first in Israel/Palestine in October and second in Sydney in April. We planned our travel to coincide with my parents’ trip to Sydney, and we had a great time together. We spent many hours laughing and making jokes as we always do, and oh yeah, we also saw some great sites.
We met Mom and Dad at Sydney Airport after their long flight from the United States, and they were amazingly awake and cheerful. Rather than resting for a couple of hours as we had anticipated, they were ready to tour the city. We had a great introduction to Sydney thanks to I’m Free Tours. The idea is that you take the free tour, in our case a two-and-a-half hour overview of the city, without paying. Then, you tip the guide at the end. It was great, and I recommend it to anyone in Sydney.
On Sunday, Mom and Dad were up early (just like at home), and we joined St. Stephen’s Uniting Church for Palm Sunday worship. On Sunday afternoon, we headed to Bondi Beach for the beautiful walk from Bondi to Coogee Beach.
On Monday, we headed west to the Blue Mountains where we saw the Three Sisters rock formation. I learned that the blue in the Blue Mountains comes from oils released by eucalyptus trees.
We visited Featherdale Wildlife Park so Mom and Dad could see koalas and kangaroos.
We learned about Aboriginal culture on a Sydney Harbor cruise with the Tribal Warrior Association, which provides education for indigenous and non-indigenous people. We listened to a didgeridoo, practiced indigenous dances, and learned about Aboriginal peoples in Sydney and beyond.
We enjoyed Sydney Harbor and shared a picnic in the Royal Botanic Garden.
The highlight of our time came from two performances at the Sydney Opera House. The first was J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion inside the opera house, and the second was Verdi’s Aida on the harbor with the opera house as the backdrop.
Jesus’ words sung in Bach’s St. John Passion were deeply moving: “Es ist vollbracht!” “It is accomplished!” And the chorus’ words, “Ruht wohl” (“Rest well”), shaped my experience of Holy Week.
Aida was on a grand scale. The head of Nefertiti, which towers over the stage, is eighteen meters (nearly sixty feet) tall. The show was outside in the elements, and the pouring rain, whose arrival coincided with the Triumphal March, only made our experience more memorable. We donned ponchos and stayed until the end when Aida and Radames died as the orchestra’a music faded away.
Our time ended in Circular Quay when we took Mom and Dad to their cruise ship. Happily aboard, they can rest, and we will too! But we will have wonderful memories of our time Down Under.