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About Me, travel

TGIF! And Australia Recap

Hello and happy Friday!

I’ve been home a week and am still recovering from jet lag. A few stats from my trip:

  • 2 new continents visited
  • 25,625 total miles flown
  • 11 flight segments
  • 8 airports
  • 3 currencies
  • 2.5 time zones + DST/No DST = I nearly made a minor scheduling error once (driving from one Australian state that didn’t observe DST into a neighboring state that did and not realizing there was a time difference)
  • Nearly 2000km driven in 3 different rental cars
  • 4 Australian states visited (One was only an airport layover, but we were there for close to 3 hours. I’m counting it.)

A few observations:

  • We’re spoiled in the US by the ubiquitous access to fast wi-fi. Australia is primarily ADSL for residences and small businesses which = slowish download speeds and tiny upload pipes (256k in many cases). Internet is also often expensive–up to $40/3 days with a 2gb limit at one hotel!
  • I decided not to use my mobile data/minutes unless I absolutely had to. It was odd not having a constant data connection, especially in a place where you regularly have a lot of questions about your environment to which you’d like answers (“What is the exchange rate today? What is that landmark over there? Is that spider/jellyfish/ant/snake/plant going to kill me?”). I don’t think I had realized how much I take that always-on availability to information for granted. Withdrawl was a bit rough at first, but after a few days the eye twitching subsided.
  • Australians are generally incredibly nice and outgoing. Almost everywhere we went, we had great interactions with people in shops, restaurants, coffee houses, hotels, and even airports. (With one exception, Australians proved that airline ticketing and gate staff don’t have to be awful–but perhaps that has more to do with the fact that perhaps Australian travelers aren’t mostly awful?)
  • There isn’t a lot of apparent diversity in Australia. Government statistics show that of ‘overseas born’ residents, nearly 30% come from either the UK or New Zealand.
  • There is a very serious coffee culture in Melbourne, but you can find excellent coffee in Sydney and other towns as well (especially where Melburnians have set up shop, like Noosa).
  • Australians (residents of Victoria in particular) are mad about horse racing. We happened to be there during the Melbourne Cup, which is like the Kentucky Derby x1000. Melbourne Cup day is a public holiday in the state of Victoria (where it’s held). More than 100,000 people pack into Flemington racecourse, and you will find a good deal of the rest of the country comes to a halt to watch the Cup as well. It was quite the spectacle. There is also a tradition of women wearing fancy dress and outlandish hats (we even saw this in Cairns, Queensland on Cup day).
  • Thanks to Australia, I have a new favorite summer beverage: Lemon Lime and Bitters. Essentially a lemon lime soda (think Sprite) mixed with Angostura bitters or its equivalent. I’m not generally a soda drinker, but this is a delightful mix of citrus, sweetness, and bitter. Best with a squeeze from a fresh lime wedge(…and I think the right gin would improve it too).

Without further ado, a few more pictures:

Sydney Circular Quay, Opera House and CBD taken from the Harbor Bridge

Daintree Rainforest, NE Queensland. This is taken on Thornton Beach south of Cape Tribulation. You can see how the rainforest meets the ocean

Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the largest koala sanctuary in Australia

A wall of the outer Great Barrier Reef, taken at Hastings Reef

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