Family Affair

Just a week after raving about bullet journaling and the structure it provides me I took a break from it. But for good reason — my mom and sister came to visit.

This does not mean I gave up my planning tendencies though. I usually spend a great deal of time researching a city’s sights, attractions and restaurants when I travel. I’ll devise detailed daily itineraries, plotting out the most logical walking routes to fit in everything I want to see that also takes me to pre-determined restaurants for meals or snacks along the way. I find the walking routes helpful as they optimize the experience of a city by ensuring I’m always traveling between attractions on vibrant, main roads rather than side streets. I also get lost easily. Not all cities cater to vegetarians as well as others, so researching restaurants is also crucial — for both me and my travel partner — to avoid hunger-induced grumpiness.

I took a slightly more “relaxed” approach to my family’s visit since I’m somewhat familiar with Melbourne now. Rather than devise daily walking routes, I created a spreadsheet that contained an overview of each day’s activities and then slotted those activities into morning, afternoon or evening columns. Relaxed, right?

In the weeks leading up to their arrival I played with the organization of this spreadsheet a lot. People kept asking if I was excited about their upcoming visit, but in all honestly I was more worried about entertaining them than excited. I worried because we live in the suburbs and there’s not much to do out here. I worried where I’d take them if it rained. After the fifth or sixth person asked I realized I was missing the point and stopped planning. I had a rough idea of what we would do each day. There was no need to further agonize over the details.

They arrived on a Tuesday morning, however my mom’s luggage did not. It missed their connection in Sydney but was coming in on the next flight so we waited at the airport for it to arrive. My itinerary was immediately derailed but it didn’t matter. I was just happy they were here.

The next couple of days had to be modified too. I had a full day of sightseeing planned for Wednesday. We would take in 360 degree views of Melbourne at the Eureka Tower Skydeck; stroll Southbank, a scenic waterfront promenade that stretches along the Yarra River; check out Federation Square and the free exhibits at ACMI and the NGV; walk through Crown, an opulent casino/entertainment complex; and spend some time exploring the Royal Botanic Gardens. Everything is close to each other but it proved to be too much walking so we decided to move the Gardens to another day. My mom and sister also weren’t much interested in ACMI or the NGV so those stops were omitted. The following morning, a “quick trip” to the grocery store ended up taking half a day. Never underestimate how busy a grocery store can be, especially right before the Easter long weekend.

During the twelve days they were here, I ended up using my schedule more as a suggestion rather than a definitive plan. I was happy I had it, but found it was better to enjoy their company as we wandered off course to browse a shop, rather than worry over whether we would still have time to make the next planned stop.

And we still did a lot! We saw penguins at St. Kilda beach, went shopping on Chapel and Greville Street, drove along the Great Ocean Road to see the remaining eight of the 12 Apostles, had high tea at a literary-themed tea room, explored the Queen Victoria Market, saw koalas and kangaroos at Healesville Animal Sanctuary, took in a Melbourne International Comedy Festival show and made custom Kit Kat bars at the Kit Kat Chocolatory.

My mom and sister left yesterday, and as I write this, the house feels very quiet and empty. I can see how it might be easy to become homesick now so I’ve made sure to fall right back into routine. I’ve updated my bullet journal and created my daily log for the day. Next up: the pile of laundry that has resulted from their stay.