It’s hard to put into words but even after visiting many times over the years it feels different somehow this time…

Being home in Australia for Christmas has been a real treat, especially since both Zach and Sam were able to be here with me, feeling very blessed for us to be spending this festive time of year with family and friends…in a warm climate! 🙂

I have to say the weather has been fabulous, in fact, maybe a little on the warm side even for me at a balmy 38C on Boxing day.

What has been especially great has been their ability to connect with my siblings and their cousins and second cousins, and spend some quality time with them as adults.

Sam and I have been staying at an Inn quite close to the Lake in Ballarat (a large regional city) about an hour and a half NW of Melbourne. To my delight I discovered a French Patisserie in town, and so most mornings I get up early with the sound of birds warbling and chirping outside my bedroom, slip on shorts and a t-shirt and then walk to bakery.

It was only kilometre or so from the Inn so an easy walk in the fragrant morning air. You have to love the sweet smell of summer sun and flowers, and such a change from the cold North American winter that we left just days before.

Sam and I explored Melbourne on Christmas eve, leaving on an early morning train to shop and generally enjoy the city together. Zach had arrived the day before and he and his friend Jess met us for lunch in the CBD (Central Business District).

Incredible to think that we were able to get together 16,000 km’s from home for lunch. He’s been staying with Jess and her family in Richmond which is a cool inner city suburb of Melbourne’s near east.

As I write today’s story, Sam ventured to Melbourne on the train with my best friend Craig for another of their special shopping extravaganza’s. On our last visit he set the bar extremely high with their day together, this time I’m sure will be no different! 🙂

As you could imagine Sam was a tad excited this morning for her shopping trip, slathered in sunscreen and with money in her pocket she was all set and raring to go when Craig dropped in to pick her up. 🙂

As well, Sam has been checking out the local real estate market for me…so kind of her! She’s made it very plain that she wants me to buy a house and live in Australia here part of the year so she can come live here as well. She definitely seems to have it all worked out! Lol!

We’ve had an amazing time with family and friends, albeit too short. As always the week has flown by just a little too quickly, which I suppose is normal especially when you’re constantly on the go.

It will be hard to leave…this trip has been a great reminder of how incredible Australia is, not only for its natural beauty, its summer heat and the family and friends I have, but also seem to have acquired a new appreciation for the lifestyle that it provides as well.

There’s no question that it’s been a bit of a watershed moment, in that perhaps I’d like to spend more time in Australia after Sam heads off to University. Time will tell I suppose.

So I just need to figure out the timing for when I’ll be in Canada, Australia and Italy in the coming years, while still being able to see Zach and Sam on a regular basis.

I know, such a tough life eh???

Tomorrow we leave for the next part of our adventure, an early morning flight to Sydney and three days soaking up the culture, food and sights of this incredible cosmopolitan city on the harbour.

We can’t wait!

Until next week.