Friday, January 2, 2009

On the other side of the world

So I made it. After 36 hours of travel I am finally on the other side of the world. I finally got frustrated with America's lack of interest in the world juniors (It's not on TV in LA... all channels are football) and TSN's lack of broadcasting online to said LA, and the fact that at that point USA was winning 2-0 but I didn't know how the goal were scored, that I packed up my computer and went through security where the internet was no longer free. Since paying 5$ for a game I couldn't watch wasn't in my wallet, I've been offline since. I don't even know who won... Sweet. Canada won 7-4! Ok, enough with the hockey... there isn't even any ice where I am unless it is in your rum and coke. So on the other side of security (which by the way, the line up for was shorter than that in Saint John. Yes, it is true. LAX had a shorter line than YSJ. ok, ok, one was way before any flights in that part of the terminal went out and the other was during prime time, but it is still pretty amazing). So there I spent my last few hours on North American soil... trying to sleep in very uncomfortable chairs with armrests.

Then it was time to board the plane. They called our flight number, we handed them our boarding passes and passports and walked through the door. On to the tarmac. Ok, it wasn't even tarmac, but a parking lot. I went through security at one of the biggest airports in the USA to walk in a parking lot and get on a bus. Yes, it is true... apparently you can take a bus to get to Australia. After they decided that the last person wasn't going to show up, the bus took us way out down the runways to a stand alone boarding ramp attached to a 747. Strange, but at least we got on a plane. (I'm not sure how watertight the bus would be for driving on the ocean.) I sat down in my seat and promptly fell asleep.

I woke up some time later as the food carts were going past. So does Qantas do something special for new years? I don't know... it was after midnight at that point and there was a headset and customs card sitting on my lap. But I did get the food. And all things considered it wasn't bad (I was pretty hungry) and the attendant gave me an extra big marshmellow in my hot chocolate. (Don't worry dad, you have absolutely NO competition). So 15 hours of movies and sleeping later, I started to feel the plane descend. All the diving has been great - I can clear my ears very easily and sense pressure changes pretty quickly. But the coolest part was that as the flaps on the wings moved for descent, I caught a glimps of Australian soil through the wing. and then it appeared on the other side of the wing. And the trees got bigger and bigger.... and we landed.

Going through customs.... My biggest dilema was do gum and mints count as food? I'm still not sure, but after much thought I declaired them anyway. I got through customs stage 1 easy enough. Then had to wait for my bag. And while I was waiting another customs guy looked at my form. It is so informal here... lets just chat as you are standing at the baggage carrousel. I love it. Anyway, I had checked that yes I had food and yes I had recently been in a wilderness area (that's what your house is dad, a wilderness area). So as I already mentioned the food was gum and mints (I really didn't want to throw them out), and after some thought he decided they really didn't count. And then hiking really didn't matter since I had been wearing different boots at the time (it was deep snow). So I got my stamp and after the dogs checked the bags I was free to go.

Standing in the airport, not really knowing where to go. This was where my plan ended... just get to Australia and figure out the rest when I got there. Ah, that wonderful sign "i". You always know good things will be under the "i". In this case, a bunch of hostels with addresses, multiple maps of Melbourne and information on what to do in the city and shuttlebus tickets. So I pick up all of the above and went to find the shuttlebus to take me into the city.

I decided to walk to from the bus dropoff to the hostels. I had addresses and a map so all was good. And it was, until it started raining. But after that many hours in a plane all weather is appreciated. So I just sat under a overhang in front of a building reading my brochures until it stopped. Then I continued on my way.

I finally decided on a hostel - Bozo Backpackers. and like Bozo the clown this place is colourful. Bright yellow walls with pink and blue doors. but it is small, has a courtyard, free internet and isn't far from the main part of the city. I'm sharing a room with a German girl who is here on a working holiday visa. She seems really nice. Today was her day off, so she was in the room when I got here.

I spent the afternoon wandering around the city. I started at Queen Victoria Market. That place is huge. I'm used to only two or three meat/fish counters. I couldn't even count how many this one had. There were counters dedicated to free-range organic chickens. And then there were the fruits and veggies and general merchandise and the list goes on. My first thing was to buy sunglasses (because by this point it was getting pretty bright outside). and I found them. and bought them. and then found 4 more stalls selling sunglasses. but I still like the ones I got the best. My second thing was lunch - which after much going in circles ended up being 3 kinds of curry with a mango lassi. Then I walked down the street. And down another. and another. and the more I saw, the more I remembered from the last time I was here. The architecture around here is super cool. Alix would be impressed. Old and new are beside each other and it works. I found out that the place to be is on the front lawn of the library. So many people just hanging out on the grass. So many people walking the streets. People watching was pretty cool. And then I ended up at the river. So I just sat beside it for a while, watching the tour boats go up and down. And then I walked along it. and looked at the statues. Then, since I was getting tired I decided to take the free tram tour of the city. Great idea - except that it is a free tram, so it was packed. And many of the people were just using it for transportation not a tour. So it was loud, but I could still usually hear the tour guide recording. Until I ended up next to the two yelling two year old german twin boys. Just don't ask me any details about the city. I took the tram part way around again.

And now I'm back in my hostel, trying to stay awake and vaguely plan my day tomorrow so I can start to overcome jetlag (I keep thinking I don't have jetlag, I'm just tired.... ) but since it is now 9:15pm I think I can safely go to bed.

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