After spending the past two days firstly attending Clive’s youngest grandson’s dedication and then visiting his mother, we are now focusing on our upcoming trip to Europe and the U.S. This trip will be the longest time Clive and I have been away from Sydney, three months total, September, October, and November.
September 1st, our departure day, is the first day of spring in Australia. The fourth quarter is my favourite time of year here, so why are we leaving just when the days are getting longer, the weather even more beautiful, and everything blooming? My dream has always been to follow the sun, to luxuriate in the long twilights and late darkness of the northern hemisphere summer, enjoy the colours of autumn in the U.S. and Europe, and return to Sydney for spring and summer Down Under.
Earlier this year, I left the business world with the hope and intention of spending more time travelling. As it turned out, Clive and I spent unplanned weeks in the U.S. in May and June, moving my mother from hospital to rehab to assisted living. My new-found freedom from counting corporate vacation days made it relatively easy to extend our time there, an incredible blessing; sometimes the Universe supports us in amazing, unexpected ways.
Our upcoming trip is primarily to see my mother again, and continue the work that needs to be done in New Jersey. But it’s not in the emergency mode it was earlier this year, and we want to take advantage of two things:
1. New Jersey is much closer than Sydney to Paris and England
2. What keeps travel fresh for us is including something new each trip
Clive’s maternal grandfather and great-grandparents were from Scotland, a country I’ve always wanted to visit. Clive said he’d like to show some of it to me, and walk in his grandfather’s footsteps in Stirling. So we plan to do this, as the first week of a 2-week break for “just us” in the middle of our various family activities.
Travel from Sydney
There are a number of ways to travel from Sydney to the U.S. and/or Europe. The most straightforward is a standard return (round-trip) ticket; e.g., Sydney-New York via San Francisco (our preferred route) or Los Angeles, or Sydney-Paris via Asia: Singapore, Hong Kong, or Bangkok, depending on the airline. We have also done a number of around-the-world variations, such as Sydney-New York-London-Paris-Singapore-Sydney, which is cost-effective but tiring when trying to fit ambitious objectives into a limited number of corporate vacation days.
I’m now thrillingly free of years of counting vacation days, and because Clive owns his company he can organise time off, although he says he works for a tough boss who doesn’t pay him when he’s on vacation. We decided to travel via Paris this time, do two “hops” across the Pond for the flights to the U.S., and spend time in Europe in the middle to break things up:
- Sydney to Paris, via Singapore
- a few days in Paris, then the first trip across the Pond
- Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, to spend time with my mother, and get the house where she lived for 54 years ready for sale; visit other family and friends in New Jersey and Connecticut
- Washington, D.C. to visit my son in his new city, and catch up with friends there
- Ipswich and Felixstowe, England, to see Clive’s father for his 89th birthday and go to the Speedway, one of his father’s passions; visit with other family and friends
- just us: a week to explore Stirling, Scotland
- just us: a week in Paris, then the second trip across the Pond
- a month in New Jersey; try to complete work on the house
- return to England for a final visit with Clive’s father
- last few days in Paris
- return to Sydney via Hong Kong
It’s a lot of juggling as usual, and our time in Paris is limited to the days at the beginning and end, and a week in the middle. I wish we were spending more time in Paris. But for this trip, it seems we have the best balance possible, given the enormity of the tasks that must be done in New Jersey and the desire to spend quality time with Clive’s father in England.
We’re flying Qantas from Sydney to Singapore, Air France from Singapore to Paris, and BA for the two jumps over the Pond. We are big fans of Singapore Airlines but neither of us has ever flown Air France; their fares were better this time and we’re looking forward to the flights between Singapore and Paris.
I’m sad to leave Sydney this time of year, but I know we’ll be back in time for Christmas carols on the beach, watching the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour.