Posted in Australia, Travel

9 things I miss about Australia

We recently visited Australia and had an absolutely awesome time.  I found out that some friends and family actually read this blog! Hi!

On arrival we immediately noticed three things: how well dressed everyone is, how affluent the country appears, and how much the price of everything has gone up since our last visit a year ago.  Since when did a McDonald’s meal cost over $8?  Since when did an overseas stamp cost $2.55?  And since when did a Cherry Ripe* (see below) cost $2.50+?

That aside, here are some things I realized I really miss about the land down under. Obviously it’s not an exhaustive list…and a worrying number of the points below relate to food.

1. Storms

They have proper storms in Australia. As witnessed by the recent storm-pocalypse of Brisbane. Always good when you go to stay with friends then have 1.5 days without power.

2. Vegemite on Toast

Craved it.  Note, must be proper Australian bread.

3.  Food in general

Everything we ate was awesome (and very expensive).

4. Prawns [shrimp] are the correct size

I.e. Massive.  That’s not a prawn, THIS is a prawn.  Preferably cooked on a BBQ by a blond Australian man holding a beer (not pictured).

5. McDonalds

Edible! Also apparently now called “Macca’s”.

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Melbourne

6. Coffee

So much coffee.  Even in Melbourne airport they have a helpful sign telling you where you can buy it in the terminal.  The man at the lovely Cafe de Aura in Redcliffe, Qld, made a pattern of a phoenix on my flat white.

7. Place names

What’s the name of that creek? So strange.

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8. Sunsets

Ok, so I know LA has awesome sunsets (due to, ahem, smog) but somehow I just prefer the Australian ones.

*9. Cherry Ripes

A wonderful, Australian only, Cadbury’s chocolate.  Savored until the next supply run!

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Questions: What do you miss about ‘home’? | Any thoughts on Vegemite?

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Posted in Australia, Travel

Australia trip – summary part 3

It was now time for us to head back to Melbourne to collect our new US visas and fly back to Boston. We renewed our visas by post to save having to go to the embassy. However this plan turned out to be flawed because despite the website saying we could expect them in our hands in 7-10 days, it was now 12 (business) days after we posted them and they still hadn’t arrived.

We phoned the embassy and got to speak to an actual person – who then proceeded to give us a lecture on how we shouldn’t make travel plans before we had our visas.  I was tempted to lecture back about the misleading information on their website, but of course I didn’t.  He did, however, tell us our visas had been approved, but had not been posted yet.  Our flight was in 36 hours.  And how long did the embassy predict it would take to post the visas? “Up to 10 business days”.  Whatever.

We stayed in the Sofitel (my review here) as a treat – another of our favourite hotels – and caught up with friends, went for runs and stressed out about visas.

Inside the Sofitel, Melbourne (this picture is a couple of years old now).
Inside the Sofitel, Melbourne (this picture is a couple of years old now).

In the meantime we also stocked up on supplies we might need in the US:

Darrell Lea and Cherry Ripes  - yum!
Darrell Lea and Cherry Ripes – yum!

At 8.30am the next day, just over twenty-four hours before we were due to get on a plane we went to the GPO in Melbourne again to see if our visas had arrived.  We chewed our nails while the post office lady went into the back to look.  She came back empty handed.  But before we could form a thought (scream, cry, laugh etc) she told us the mail delivery hadn’t arrived yet.  Relief! Sort of.  She promised to phone us when the delivery came in, and amazingly a couple of hours later she actually did!  Our visas had arrived – 23 hrs before departure. *Phew*.

We then had a great afternoon visiting old haunts and having dinner with an old friend.  Then late at night we made the trek to Melbourne airport and stayed in the most hilarious hotel – the Ibis Budget (my review here). It was perfect for an overnight but of course we didn’t get much sleep – thinking about the end of our trip.

Melbourne from near the Botanic Gardens.
Melbourne from near the Botanic Gardens.

Really not that interested in coming back, the next morning we got on the plane back to Boston: 15+hrs on a Qantas A380, 7hr wait at LAX (oh my god kill me now) then a 6hr flight on American Airlines.

But now we’ve been back a week or so, the snow has melted and the spring flowers are out, and I’m ready to face another 12 months in the USA.