Vote Charlie!

Australia feels more like another city than another country…

Posted at age 24.
Created . Edited .

…until you start paying attention to the roads and signs and talk to people. But overall, that they speak English here makes it infinitely easier to do everything than during my experience in Argentina last year.

Before I get too far ahead, I’ll go back a couple of days to Thursday, Nov. 2, the day I was to leave for Australia.

Brad and I wanted to see each other before I left, and he had to go down to Mountain View or somewhere around there to do some paperwork for a job he just got, so we met up for a bit beforehand. He walked with me to my old apartment to drop off Vera, her crate and food with my friend Dave, who is living in my old bedroom. That household graciously offered to watch her for the month, saving me a lot of hassle.

Then Brad and I walked back to Castro, got Subway, and he had to head out right away. He was going to try to stop back after the interview, but that remained to be seen, so I had to say a possible last goodbye. It was not as bad as I thought it’d be, probably mostly because I thought I would have one more chance.

So I went back to my apartment and finished my sub. I was a bit behind in work for the week, and didn’t get around to packing yet. My boss let me pack before finishing work in case it took longer than expected. And it did. Once I finished, it appeared I hadn’t gathered very many things, considering my monthlong trip.


Everything I decided to bring for a month in Australia

I tweeted Oliver, the friend I was going to visit in Australia, to see if he thought I was forgetting anything.

After finishing my work, I heard from Brad I’d be able to see him briefly again. It took him forever to get to my apartment, but I was not worried about the timing. He finally got to my apartment, picked up some of his things, and I gave him the keys and we left together. After a few blocks, we parted ways, and again I did not tear up or anything as I feared I would. But still, I had not yet gotten excited about my trip. But I walked to the 16th Street and Mission BART station, headed to the airport and arrived at my gate with plenty of time to spare.

The time came to board, and I left the country.


It was interesting having dinner with a planeful of people at around 1 a.m. San Francisco time.


Then, after a middle-of-the-extended-night turkey sandwich, we were served breakfast about two hours before landing at 7 a.m. Sydney time.


My first glimpse of Australia (Sydney)


And the first thing we see is the Golden Arches

Upon landing in Sydney, I tried to find an Optus stand to buy a SIM card for my phone, but there apparently wasn’t one in the international transfer area, which I could not leave. So luckily I found some WiFi and was able to check into the airport on Foursquare. Then I made it over to my gate and awaited the flight to Melbourne.

Once there, I went through customs, which took quite a long time. Maybe an hour. And they took away my cuticle trimmer. :-(


Australian government could stand to hire some copy editors it seems.

This was my first long flight that spanned many time zones. I left San Francisco at 22:40, Thursday, November 1, and arrived in Sydney around 07:00, Saturday, November 3. Yes, I completely missed out on November 2. Then another two hour flight to Melbourne, and I met Oliver around noon. At that point, it felt basically like I had a long night. It seemed like it was noon, not 20:00 or whatever it was back home. So that was interesting. Going back home should be even weirder, as I’ll be flying into the past and arriving before I started.


I found Oliver, the friend I came here to visit!

Oliver and I walked from Southern Cross station toward Flinders Street station, with some detours so he could show me around the area.


Tall, skinny buildings!


Oliver claims this weirdly designed water fountain is not representative… and no, it doesn’t really catch the excess water.




Bourke Street, a shopping area


Oliver is always on his phone. Twitter and Instagram, mostly.


The roof of a mall by Flinder's Street. Already forgot which one and what this is.


My first Aussie burger and “hot chips,” but they apparently say “fries” as well. Every burger I've had so far in Australia has come with sliced beet, which they call “beetroot.”


I’ve never seen water art before.


Speaking of water, this wall of thin water is apparently good for leaves to stick to, and people use them like those letter refrigerator magnets.


Public bathrooms I guess


Flinders Street Station

Before boarding the train home, we stopped at a 7 Eleven so I could get a Myki card to use with the transit system. So far I’ve only taken then Metro train, but I guess it works on buses and other things, like the Clipper card in San Francisco.


The Myki card is Melbourne's multi transit reloadable debit card.

Trains are amazing, by the way. I am still upset Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker canceled the train project there that was to eventually connect Chicago to Minneapolis via Milwaukee and Madison. One day we will live in the future. (Dan Quayle, I love you.)


The train


The train


Focus on the scratchings