Tag Archives: Sydney

The Other Fellow First

If you don’t know me, it’s simple. I have a life saying, The Other Fellow First, which has been preached to both of my children since day 1. The motto comes from Camp Dudley. Sebastian & Louisa will be going for their 4th season this summer and are the 3G of Gammills.

So why mention a camp motto now? Let me explain. When you put yourself out there in the world, in places that you have never been, have no idea about the language, and are basically in a vulnerable position, you find that many people from many cultures have the same life motto simply by experience.

For example:

  • A friend of my cousin’s welcomes us (strangers) into their home in Wanaka, New Zealand, serves us a delicious steak with plenty of wine, and then says we are welcome to stay as long as we want.
  • Air BnB host takes her day off to drive us around Sydney and then to share a secret beach to swim.
  • Another Air BnB host uses her day off to drive us to the Barossa wine country and takes us to exclusive wineries that she has access. Cool!
  • Australian volunteer in Nusa Penida, Indonesia, notices that Sebastian really likes fireworks on New Year’s Eve (shocker!) and gives him an armful to take on our journey to Bali.
  • The sister of a friend not only hosts us in her apartment but takes us out to dinners and arranges our sightseeing in Malaysia.
  • An elderly Thai woman with her adult daughter are sitting next to us at a food stall in Bangkok. Daughter hands my wife a local drink and says, “Here, this is for you and what Thai like to drink.” Then her mother turns around and hands us a grilled banana. Yum!
  • I’d like to close with yet one more example of why I feel strongly about education through experience for my children. Onn is a longtime high school buddy and I am glad that we’ve stayed in touch over the years. To put it simply (and I will be sharing a separate blog on our Penang experience), Onn took us into his home with his family and provided a place to stay. More than that, he showed my children the meaning of The Other Fellow First. He embraced them, taught them some martial arts, fed them amazing foods, and played with them on ziplines and ropes. I could go on and on but the moral of this story is that both Sebastian and Louisa saw how happy Onn was to share his life and talents. How he truly practiced and lived The Other Fellow First.

My perspective is quite one-dimensional when it comes to teaching my children (just as many parents, we want the best for them). It’s a wonderful feeling to experience and share similar values with both friends and strangers from all walks of life. And even better when those people impact your children in a positive way, much like that teacher you always loved!

The Other Fellow First – a darn good reason to get outside, meet others, and share your values! Thank you to Onn, Wai Fung, Sue, Mel, the Turner Family and everyone of you that practices The Other Fellow First!

P.S. Just off the press are these two articles for you to enjoy and they apply to this blog: Timeless Appeal and NYT Solo Traveler

From NSW to Queensland

Tomorrow we wrap up our first 2 weeks in New South Wales and head to Cairns, in Queensland.  Looking back it feels that we have been in Australia a lot longer, yet we already feel that we will miss it.  The last week in Sydney was a lot of fun. We spent a true “carioca” day at Bronte beach. I call it a carioca day because it felt just like the warm days of going to the beach in Rio. Bronte was certainly our favorite city beach, it had the crowds but there were a lot more families laying around.  And we had 3 options on where to swim:  jump in the ocean, dive into the natural ocean pools, and the salt-water swimming pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Surfers, lots of surfers around, and a mix of beautiful people, families, kids, tourists, all blending in together. Not even the chilly Pacific Ocean water deterred us from jumping in, it was a perfectly warm day after all. I chatted with a Brazilian guy playing with his son of how wonderful it must be to live in Sydney. In his own words: “É o melhor lugar do mundo. A Australia é um Brasil que deu certo.” Interesting!  The following day we headed to the Royal Botanic Gardens, which is to the right to the Opera House overlooking the Sydney Harbour. We brought a picnic and had a relaxing time walking around the beautiful gardens (free entry!), enjoying the fantastic views and checking out an afternoon wedding party at the gardens.  Sydney residents are fortunate to have the Royal Botanic Gardens right on their backyard.


Royal Botanic Gardens


View from the Botanic Gardens




Happy Family, Gorgeous View

We decided as a family that on Monday we would split up and Sebastian and I would have a mommy-son day. We researched some activities a few days before and decided on 2 attractions. Took the bus in the morning to Sydney CBD to do the Escape Hunt Experience, which is a new attraction that started only 2 months ago in Sydney.  I had a blast with my boy as we tried to solve a robbery in less than 90 min through various clues and codes. In the afternoon, we went to the Sydney Aquarium,  on Darling Harbour. The Aquarium has a nice sample of the marine life from the Sydney Harbour and the Great Barrier Reef.  We all met at home at the end of the day to share our adventures and agreed that it was a nice family break. Look forward to trying it again in another city, next time it will be a mommy-daughter day.


Mommy-Son day at Escape Hunt

We spent Tuesday with our wonderful airbnb hostess and new friend Sue as she took us to Watson’s Bay, which is a ferry ride from CBD. Watson’s Bay is a fishermen town where we had a delicious lunch: fish and chips and seafood chowder. We then headed to Shark Beach, on Nielsen Park, where we all went in the bay for a swim. The water was warmer than the ocean and the beach has a net to protect against sharks (!).  I am not kidding!  Sue made a delicious farewell dinner for us and the 4 of us know that we now have a good friend in Sydney. We enjoyed her house and playing with her dog Bronte. We will certainly miss Sydney and Sue!


With Sue, at Watson’s Bay


Sue’s home






Day with my girls!

Yesterday set the mark for Sydney starting with a father-daughter day. I really enjoy our time together talking about life, foods, and friends while enjoying the natural beauty of Sydney. We began at a local bakery for breakfast before walking down to our favorite beach to relax; Bronte’s a medium-sized cove with plenty of sand and crashing waves that give you a calming sense of relaxation; there are always a few surfers but it doesn’t get the crowds of Bondi. Plus, Bronte has several natural pools created by the break that allow you to swim safely. After our break, we went on a culture walk along the coastline for the “Sculptures by the Sea” show taking exhibit ‘selfie’ shots! With our appetites ready, we grabbed a table at the famous Hurricane’s in Bondi. We feasted on ribs and burger sitting next to the visiting Brazilian Rugby National Team! Yes, we brought leftovers for Sebastian and Leti. For dessert we watched the San Francisco Giants win in the World Series and bumped into 3 fellows from the Bay Area. Our plan to visit the Sky Tower (2nd highest observation deck in Southern Hemisphere) failed due to high winds but we did meet a few Brazilians on the bus ride home – there are many that come to study English. When we walked by a store window full of Guaraná, we had to buy a bottle to celebrate a wonderful day together – just my girl and me!

Lipstick oozing out of the rocks exhibit

Lipstick oozing out of the rocks exhibit

Famous Hurricanes Pork Ribs

Famous Hurricanes Pork Ribs

Yeah baby! Ready to chow down

Yeah baby! Ready to chow down

Selfie with Extra Large Ants on rocks exhibit

Selfie with Extra Large Ants on rocks exhibit

Bondi beach

Bondi beach

After reconnecting with the mother-son team about their day, Leti and I dressed up for a night at the Sydney Opera House. We walked along the wharf with city lights and bridge illuminating around us to arrive at the famous shell. Everyone has seen the outside, but the sound and the feelings generated inside are out of this world! A quick glass of champagne and we thought we were ready until… The Gloaming opening set. Wow! Amazing! This is an Irish group that plays Celtic tunes and nearly 20 minutes later we could finally exhale and open our eyes to the beautiful architecture within the shell. An awesome night to be Americans in Australia enjoying Irish culture! As one of the musicians said, the music is nothing without the listener who feels something powerful within; I was reminded that much of our journey around the world is about listening.

Go raibh maith agat!

Adult selfie - we're so cool!

Adult selfie – we’re so cool!

Ready to jam!

The Gloaming set in Opera House