I will spare you all an onslaught of photos…you can find a lot (almost 200) of the photos I took on our trip over at Flickr….the ones here are a few of my favorites. We spent two weeks in Melbourne in April (it already feels like it was ages ago), and it was awesome. I could probably go on for hours about our trip, but I’ll spare you that, too. Here are the things I don’t want to forget:
– Pete’s first experience with the smaller portion sizes: In the Sydney airport, Pete went to McDonald’s to get a coffee (we had just deplaned after a 19 hour flight from LAX and were on hour 27 of our trip. Coffee was in order). We proceeded to the gate to reboard our plane and were chatting about how Pete had survived his first trans-Pacific flight, how the quick layover at LAX was the furthest west he’s ever been in the US, and how he was starting his first visit to Australia – “so many firsts!” I said. He replied “and it’s my first time getting a baby-sized coffee!” I laughed, knowing that it would take a day or two to get used to how everything in Oz is smaller – the cars, the houses, the portion sizes. What I didn’t realize was how hung up Pete would be on his first experience with it. Thirty minutes into our flight (the last, and shortest, of 4 legs), Pete shows me the screen of his phone and says “that’s how much I paid for my baby-sized coffee!” and I see that he’s got the currency exchange app open and is shocked to learn that he’s paid something like 2.85 USD for a coffee the size of your average sippy cup.
– The heartache when we heard about the Boston Marathon bombing, and the frantic tracking down of all our friends. The worry when we learned that our friend Ryan had been injured (but was “okay”) and waited to learn more details about her condition. The gratitude for the technology which meant that we were able to keep in touch, live, with friends at home while we all tried to digest what had happened and ensure that our loved ones were safe. The comfort of being with friends who could understand our shock and sadness because they have also called Boston home. The shock of walking into Fed Square and looking up to see video of the explosions on the jumbotron. The tears I fought every time it came up in conversation with strangers over the next two weeks.
– Feeling so at home in a city so far away. From the comfort of having the same standard conversation openers (weather, sports) to having somewhere to get coffee on every corner (although far more independent businesses than we have in Boston), to the luck of having a number of friends who live in Melbourne…I never once felt like I was in a foreign city. It was so hard to leave – partly because I didn’t want to say goodbye to all the friends who we get to see so rarely, partly because I feel very much in tune with the Aussie mindset, and partly because I fell in love with the city of Melbourne itself.
– Ros and Chris’ wedding: The look on Chris’ face when he saw her coming down the aisle. Ros’ inability to look Chris in the eye during the ceremony because she refused to start crying. The cat that wandered behind them mid-ceremony. Watching two people so perfect for each other bring together their families and friends for an amazingly fun party. The reappearance of Pedro, a máquina de bailando!
– Cider cider everywhere! Not that I was worried about finding a beer alternative to drink while we were there, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that cider is all over the place in Australia these days. I would happily have managed with champers and wine for two weeks, but I loved having a new-to-me cider almost every time we were out. Pete certainly outdid me with his multitude of beer paddles, but I may have managed to try as many ciders makers (are they also brewers? I don’t know the lingo) as he tried different brewers!
– You guys! Kangaroos are SO SOFT. More on that in another post.
– You guys! Koalas are SO UGLY. And not particularly nice. On the day that we drove the Great Ocean Road, we were directed to a specific spot: take the turn to the Cape Otway Light, drive until you go over the cattle grate, then pull over and look up. We were skeptical, but we saw ten wild koalas hanging out in the trees! And they really are ugly! The one that was on the ground was hunting for tourists to attack, but luckily koalas are slow and the tourists were smart enough to get out of the way. An actual koala attack would have made a great story, but we were happy that we didn’t have to figure out how to get emergency medical help for an innocent tourist.
– We spent about half a day in Bendigo (I really enjoyed annoying Pete by repeatedly saying “let’s a-go to Bendigo!” all day), mainly for the purpose of going on a tour of a working gold mine. It was pretty rad, but my favorite part was when Dale, our tour guide, was referring to how the miners were paid when it first opened. As contractors, they were paid “per foot – or in more modern terms, per meter”. Because imperial units is so antiquated, who would use those measurements these days?!
There is so much more that happened on our vacation, but these the bigger things that stick out, and a few of the little things that make me smile and I don’t ever want to forget. Check out the rest of my photos on Flickr if you want to see and read more about what we did with our two weeks!