Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two English speaking countries, separated by a common language

I've stepped foot on Australian soil !!!

I think this is my 15th foreign country (see the rest here Countries traveled to ), and that number only seems like a drop in the bucket of all the places I want to go.

So bags were packed; an 85 liter backpacking bag and a regular school backpack fit everything I think I will need...

The flight here was not bad at all; I left LAX 10:30 pm and transit time was about 19 hours, so I arrived at local time about 10 am. Now some of you may be gasping, thinking that is an awfully long time to be in transit, but let me explain why it wasn't. So first, LAX on a late Tuesday night isn't so bad, security went fast and there was no cavity search, so I knew things were looking up. Once I finally sat in my aisle seat on the Air New Zealand plane and got situated, I was all nervous and such. I kept telling myself to breath and relax, and then the most relaxing thing you could imagine happened..... the safety instruction video came on. Now normally this wouldn't calm me at all, but guess what the video clip was a cheesy safety instruction video made by the one and only Bear Grylls -- only on Air New Zealand!!! Take a look here, and tell me what you think ??  Feel safer now? Thanks Bear Grylls  Air New Zealand became OK in my book, but they sweetened the deal with complimentary full dinner, complimentary alcohol, complimentary breakfast, my choice of new release movies on my own screen, and the friendlist flight attendants I've met. I think American airlines need to take a hint. Honestly though, after a 2 hour movie, dinner, and 2 glasses of red wine, I feel asleep for 10 hours! I woke up with 1 1/2 hours left til landing and breakfast on its way.

I had a 2 hour layover in New Zealand where I contemplated exiting the airport and traveling around New Zealand for six months. I want to go to that country so bad!!! But, I decided trying kangaroo meat was more important, so I went to my flight gate.

So upwards and onwards, after landing and standing behind some really smelly guy in the customs line, I was admitted to enter Australia...and I'm still smiling about it. I had a friend back home hook me up with this buddy and wife who live here in Melbourne (thanks smokin' joe!) and they were kind enough to pick me up from the airport, they are so sweet. I am staying here for a couple of days until I can figure out a place to live close to campus.

In the meantime, I have been running around with Walt and Lorraine who live in a suburb outside of the city. So far this place reminds me a lot of home, but there are some key differences. Like there are sheep everywhere and much more open spaces. They spell tires, tyres, and yogurt, yoghurt, and trolley is a shopping cart, and globes are light bulbs and that everybody is friendly. I learned that southern Australians talk much faster than northern Australians. That there really are times that I can't understand what somebody is saying. That I'm 17 hours ahead of home. That things are more expensive here unless they are goverment subsidized (some of those things include milk and eggs), that gas is like $6/gallon, the public transportation system is great, it is hard to find a regular sized black cup of coffee, and that I won't run in to TOO many spiders and other deadly creatures while inside the city.

So I leave you with this...Remember the old ad slogan, "Beef. It's what's for dinner." Well tonight's meal is "Roo. It's what's for dinner," so Kangaroo steaks it is!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Everyday in Australia

I leave for Australia in 4 days.

My preparation includes: seeing what the current exchange rate is, packing away all my "stuff," doing all the San Diego summer stuff like the Del Mar fair and Padres game, seeing all my friends and family, packing my bag, checking the Australian weather (most days 35-55 degrees F---bbrrrrrrrr!), and most importantly, getting EXCITED!!

As part of my preparation, I am trying to figure out what a normal Australian day consists of ???

So thanks to my friend Morgan, I now know some every day things, and check it out it includes -->  Killer Koalas!!! 

(Click on the above "Killer Koalas")

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Australia is synonymous with animals - I'm headed to BATMANIA !!!

So when I tell people that I'm heading to Australia, some of the first things out of their mouth is "wow there are some crazy animals there! Have you heard about all those dangerous and poisonous things there!?" Well I say, YES, I don't live in a hole, I know that Australia has quite the reputation and The Outback sure does have a daunting and exciting sound to it. But let's take a realistic, closer look at what animal dangers I will be encountering... 

Before Melbourne was Melbourne, it was called Batmania.... 
Other names Melbourne had were  Bearbrass, Bearport, Bareheap and Bearbury.

Getting the hint?? I think I'm either going to be running into Bruce Wayne or I'm stepping back in time to the 1999 movie, Bats. 

Well rest assured friends and relatives and that weird person who shows up on my Google Analytics from Germany.... Melbourne was not named Batmania because of bats, it was named that because of one of the founding fathers whose name was John Batman. 

So now that we cleared that up, let's take a look at some of the other quirky animal encounters that might come up in Melbourne. 

Well I was planning on bringing my goat "Pinkie" into the country, until I read the laws...
"Under local Melbourne by-laws, it is an offence to drive your goat (or dog) harnessed or attached to a 
vehicle in a public place. It's also illegal to sing a rude or bawdy song within earshot of another person."

I guess she'll have to stay at home  :-( 

So I can't bring my goat for transportation nor will I be delayed in traffic by people pulling goats...I won't be attacked by bats in "Batmania"... should I be knocking on wood?

Well then I read that Melbourne is officially the fox capital of the world, with between 6 and 23 foxes per square kilometre in the urban area of the city. That compares with 4-6 foxes per square km in country Victoria and around 13 sheep and 3 people per square kilometre in Australia.

So this foxy lady is headed to foxy Melbourne, hanging with foxy 2 weeks (to the day!). 

And I leave you with one animal thought....... About 90 tons of dog poo is left on the streets of Melbourne every day.

That sounds like an incentive to come visit me while I'm studying abroad!!!