20 – 25. December
Melbourne – Christmas with the Vanzyl family
Written by Alex
In order for me to make my flight from Brisbane to Sydney, I had to leave Byron Bay and sleep one night in Brisbane. The bus-ride was uneventful and had a bed reserved, but somehow getting to that bed turned into quite a problem. The bus driver dropped me off in the area and simply pointed up. So I followed "up" but realized very quickly that I was totally lost. After asking several people and walking up and down several hills and getting a different answer every time, I called the place in despair. Somehow, after 45 minutes I arrived and then had to figure out how I was going to get to the airport at 5:45am. The young girl at the counter was really quite unhelpful and I finally just realized I would need to get a cab on my own. I was hungry and tired, and that combination is never good.
The next morning I made it to the airport, boarded the plane, arrived in Sydney, put my luggage in storage in the international terminal, took the train into the city, walked to the internet cafe where I was supposed to meet Patrick and logged into my email. "Alex, PLEASE READ....not an emergency, but really cool" or something like that were the words that I read. Happy to have made and even happier to have a chai in my hand, I clicked on the mail. To make a long story short: Patrick would not be meeting me at the Internet cafe in Sydney. Instead I would be seeing him tonight at 7pm in Melbourne.
It seems that the night before, with the help of a bottle of wine, Adrian had extended his gracious hospitality to include us in his family's Christmas plans. So at 2am, Patrick called the Around the World help desk and changed our flight to Bali to the 29th of December. What followed next included buying me a ticket from Sydney to Melbourne, attempting to change our domestic flight from Jakarta to Bali, sending me an email about our spontaneous change of plans and staying up all night in the process. When I had read the whole email, I sat back in my chair and smiled. He was lucky I had just been in Byron Bay for five days, doing yoga, eating well, being and sitting at the beach. I called him and over skype saw that he hadn't slept and assured him that this unexpected change was indeed not a problem. I would not be in Bali in less than 15 hours - it was amazing how right that actually felt.
I stayed at the Internet cafe instead of wasting the time at the airport and left in enough time to get my bag in International and then head back to Domestic. I arrived as planned and Patrick was waiting at the gate as promised. The drive to Adrian's house gave us just enough time to fill each other in on the last past five days and then it was time to simply enjoy Christmas time. Adrien's girlfriend was also visiting from San Francisco, so we had a lively house, full of energy and excitement. I just seem to remember cooking, eating lot of chocolate cake, playing with Lego's on the ground and indulging in Adrian's super fast Internet connection. They all probably think that we are a little computer happy - because we spent to much time there uploading photos and stories. But it was easy and there! Amidst all the chaos, it was really quite wonderful to be with children and family at this time of year.
We of course could not leave this bunch without one night out on the town. Patrick had already found the 80's bar in downtown Melbourne, so there was little reason to come up with a new venue. Amethyst, Patrick and I took the train into the city, and in the poring rain waited for Adrien at the station. It seemed there would never be a break in the rain, so we bolted to the next possible restaurant/bar, ordered some drinks and just enjoyed city life. We were joined by two of Adrien's work colleagues and somehow Patrick convinced them to join us. The rain had stopped and now we had all the time in the world to leisurely walk to the bar. And once we arrived, the party began. Strangely enough Adrian and Patrick actually realized that they had been in the same bar the week before at the same time (patrick had arrived one day early in Melborne and had enjoyed his night out alone) - they just never knew it. We danced, we danced and we danced. It was blast. The night ended with a quick stop at a rooftop speak easy for one last night cap, before meeting our pre-arranged cab and heading back to the suburbs.
As for Christmas itself - family dinner and presents were celebrated on Christmas Eve. We were joined by Adrian's parents and his brother's family. With children in the house, the gift exchange is always lively and tonight's excitement was ecstatic. The best story, one that we have shared over and over, involves Aaron and some light sabers. It was Aaron's turn to open a gift and he was handed a rather big box, not much smaller than him. He tore a bit at the paper and though we couldn't see what was inside, his eyes had obviously seen a treasure - they were big and round and the smile that was growing across his face was almost infectious.. He tore away at the paper and then we could all see what the excitement was all about - Lego's and Starwars, together. "This is the bestest present ever" he yelped and with that Adrian could rest assured that he had hit the jackpot. A Starwars Lego set - with handfuls of light sabers, a Wookie, a princess and all the other little characters. Needless to say, after Christmas, Patrick and Aaron spent a lot of time on the floor, engulfed in the Lego world.