Posted in Daily life, Pacific Ocean

Christmas vacation 2016

When I grew up, Christmas always followed the same rituals and traditions. The Adventskalender, the food on the 23rd, setting up the tree, the Christmas room being locked on the 24th, fondue and presents, everything was following the same script every year. And, since I really liked it that way, I was determined to follow the same path when I had kids.

Well, apart from the Adventskalendar, that didn’t really work out. Out of the last 5 years, I think we’ve had “the same” Christmas maybe twice. Instead we’ve been at my mothers place, been skiing and spent the day at the beach. And this year we’re doing something else again: we’re out on a cruise.

Trouble was, the boat was leaving from Sydney, which meant we’d have to get there first. And, in order for the flights to be affordable, as well as us having a chance to see a bit of the city (Willemijn and the kids haven’t been there yet), we decided to take an early flight. A really early flight. Like, 7am early.

Having packed out bags on Friday night we got up on Saturday on the early morning hours and left the house before 5am. We had put blankets and pillows in the back in an attempt to lure the kids back to sleep while we drive the 45 minutes to the airport, but no such luck. While Willemijn was dozing next to me, Kai and Luka were way too excited to contemplate a nap.

Parked at long term parking, now waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the terminal.
Parked at long term parking, now waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the terminal.

We arrived at the airport with time to spare, parked the car and headed off to the Virgin Lounge for brekkie. One of the few good things that comes out of spending a lot of time in airports and away from your family. The flight was on time and we arrived safely in Sydney.

Brekkie at the lounge: waiting for the pancake machine to finish baking.
Brekkie at the lounge: waiting for the pancake machine to finish baking.

We had booked a transfer to the cruise terminal by bus, which left a few minutes later and dropped us in the middle of the city. This also meant that our baggage was taken care of, leaving us free to make out way to the opera house.

Welcome to Sydney! The famous Harbour Bridge is always a nice background for a family picture.
Welcome to Sydney! The famous Harbour Bridge is always a nice background for a family picture.
We were not completely alone at the Opera House.
We were not completely alone at the Opera House.

The day was warm and sunny, unlike the mood of our children. The hunger and the lack of sleep were catching up to them, so we decided to go look for some food. We found it at a food court close to the harbour, where Kai was able to score some of his favourite food, dumplings, and Luka indulged with a Happy Meal from Maccas.

Thus strengthened we made our way down Pit Street for some last minute shopping and headed back to the harbour, only to find out that boarding was no possible yet for us. So we spent a couple of hours at the museum for modern arts, which offered free entry, family activities and some excellent hot chocolate.

After being checked in by Jeroen (how come there are so may Dutchies here in Australia?!) we got to our cabins, where our bags were already waiting. And before we could even properly check out the ship, the lines were already being cast off. Driving out of Sydney harbour with the setting sun was a sight to see, especially since we were able to do so from our own balcony.

Before we even departed we had to take part in the mandatory evacuation drill. Along with the 2000 other passengers on board. With all the waiting we had to do, I just hope the ship sinks slowly...
Before we even departed we had to take part in the mandatory evacuation drill. Along with the 2000 other passengers on board. With all the waiting we had to do, I just hope the ship sinks slowly…
When we finally made it on deck we were shown how to put on the life jackets and that, yes, these are the life boats.
When we finally made it on deck we were shown how to put on the life jackets and that, yes, these are the life boats.

We ended the day with some buffet food and an early night. It had been a long day. But we were all looking forward to the next 10 days with lots of food, many activities and, above all, a lot of relaxing.

Sydney harbour is a very busy place.
Sydney harbour is a very busy place.
Mom and dad - ready to go cruising.
Mom and dad – ready to go cruising.
As is Luka.
As is Luka.

We’re out on a boat!

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