Bad Blood & the Land Down Under: How long is OK to stay with Relatives?

Thank you for continuing the journey. Perhaps you have noticed the theme of “transcendentals” in between the lines. We have also tried to combine those with a good story that could prove useful to even the most experienced traveler.
Now, let us continue where we left off. We had experienced 13 fantastic days in China, and were about to head off to Australia. We had no idea of the “Bad Blood” that would await us...

Cold all the time… even while inside

We spent the month of July in Australia, which is the coldest month of the year: about 15C. After two blistering hot weeks in China it felt more like -10C for us. We were cold literally all the time, even while inside. Of course it didn’t help that none of the houses had any central heating. We were told that many people in Australia do not invest in heating systems, as the winter months are short and do not really become too cold anyway. We do not know if this is an accurate fact, but it certainly was true during this visit.

Would it be too generalizing to say that people are leisurely?

Sydney reminded us a lot of Stockholm. Lots of water channels, streams, and parks. Although there are skyscrapers in Sydney, which you cannot find too many of in Stockholm. The culture of Sydney seemed to be a mix from several different nationalities, and people were rather leisurely. They seemed to love surfing and having fun. We have encountered Australians many times on our travels, and they have always left us with a rather leisurely impression, regardless of their ages.
We experienced and saw pretty much everything we had expected to in Sydney. Of course, as we were there during the Australian winter, we never tried the famous waters (just visited the beaches). The day that we departed from Australia, we knew that we would one day return and possibly get the chance to experience the lovely sea. It turns out that, in 2015, we got our divers certificates in Cairns which was really fun. Ironically, that was also during the Australian winter months, which made the experience a very very COOOOOLD one, but more on that in later articles.

How long is it OK to stay with relatives?

Vedran & Dilek were houseguest at Vedran’s aunt during the entire Australia visit. She lived in a small apartment with her two sons. She made us home cooked food every day, which was exceptionally delicious, and her sons drove us around everywhere and showed us several amazing outdoor adventures (more on that in the ensuing articles). Although we were super grateful for this hospitality, we also learned never to stay with relatives for more than a couple of days (and we have not since).
Even if you do not ask for any special treatment, your relatives may feel some obligation to take care of you and entertain you when you are a house guest. After a while it could (understandably) become trying for them, especially if you share a small space. Please also keep in mind that any home visit disrupts the natural dynamic of the host family.

If timing is bad - just say NO to family visit.

For our hosts it was particularly awkward, as one of Vedran’s cousins had just married an ex-girlfriend, whom he had reconnected with during a holiday earlier that year. The marriage had been necessary in order for the girl to move to Australia, but the family was anxious about the entire situation. She had not yet arrived to Sydney. To add complexity to the situation, Vedran’s aunt was not in the best of health.
We had no idea at the time, that our timing was bad. We understand that it is hard to say NO when relatives from another country want to visit, and we truly appreciate how much our hosts wanted to take care of us. Nonetheless, our advice to anyone taking on hosting duties is: Explain that sharing accommodation is not opportune at the moment rather than risk putting strains on relations. Any traveler (and relative) will understand. Besides, you can always enjoy each other’s company while sightseeing, touristing, and dining.

We support Equal rights for all

Rainbow flag for Equal rights

One of the cousins in particular had issues with Dilek, raising his voice and commenting in a negative way. Vedran believes his cousin had difficulty relating to independent women back then. During an LGBT discussion, that cousin made a plunge towards Dilek and was very vocal against LGBT rights. We were saddened that such opinions exists in the world, even in our own family, and strongly want to emphasise that we believe in EVERYONE's equal rights.
Today, that cousin is the father of two daughters and may have changed his position (at least on women). This is the backstory (although not the complete story) to why we never stay in the same house with relatives for more than a couple of days. Even when they assure us that they would be delighted to have us, that there is plenty of room, and timing is good.
It was a painful lesson to learn, but please take note that this can happen to anyone, regardless of how tight your family bond is. To break a bond can take only minutes, but to repair one can take decades…

Let us know how you handle receiving and being a house guest.

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Sydney Skyline

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