December 29, 2006

  • Things are much more expensive in this country than I was prepared for.

  • It is not very easy to be an ‘independent’ traveler in this place. Most trips/excursions need to be done through a tour
    company. That being said, there is really no need to book well in advance; there are tons of travel companies where you can
    book trips with only a day’s notice.

  • Many words in my vocabulary needed to be changed. Breakfast became ‘brekky’, slot machines became ‘pokies’, liquor stores
    became 'bottle shops', gummy candies became 'lollies'  and raisins became ‘sultanas’.

  • Instead of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ out here, their more common terms seems to be ‘Happy Christmas’.

  • While the Great Barrier Reef has some amazing soft coral reefs, I thought the fringing reefs in the Whitsundays were just as

  • When being out on the road, it felt like I was on an Australian safari. Giraffes and elephants were replaced with koalas and

  • I thought I would be able to cover a lot of ground in a month. I was wrong. There is sooo much to see out here. I had set my
    expectations way too high when I thought I was going to make it out to the west coast.

  • If anyone is ever traveling down the east coast, I definitely recommend a stop in Noosa. I was only there for a couple days but
    could have easily spent more time there. I look forward to going back at some point.

  • In my personal opinion, I think Adelaide is worth the trip solely to do some wine tasting trips. I used Prime Mini Tours and I
    could not have been more impressed. I spent one day in the Barossa Valley and another day in the Adelaide Hills and
    McLaren Vale. I would recommend both! Adelaide also happens to be a perfect spot to head out on a Great Ocean Road trip.
    This way, you can see it in its entirety.  

  • I am listening to ‘We Built This City’ by Starship right now in a café as I am typing this (for those who don’t know, the song is
    about San Francisco). This is quite fitting since there is soooo much truth to how similar Sydney and San Francisco are. One
    guy that taught me how to make candy (and let me come behind the counter to learn some skills) in Sydney was quick to say
    ‘Our sister city!’ when he found out that Ari, Monique and I were from San Francisco. Of course, everybody calls it ‘San Fran’
    (I’m letting it slide though I would looove to tell them that nobody from San Francisco would say that). I am now very proud
    that these two cities are so often compared to each other. But I have to say something. This die-hard San Franciscan is putting
    it out there…I think Sydney trumps my very own City by the Bay.

  • The YHA hostels are a great way to go. They are consistently great. If you are spending a good amount of time in Oz, I would
    suggest getting the membership as it will save you $3.50 every night that you stay at one of these.

  • If you see a yogurt stand/shop, GO! The yogurt is simply incredible tasting. I can’t stress this enough.

  • Adelaide is worth the trip to do some wine tasting. There is also some wine tasting to be done at Penfolds (within the city) as
    well as a great market. I would also suggest signing up to do the Haigh’s chocolate tour. Oh yeah. Also Kangaroo Island
    (though, sadly, I didn’t have any time to go).

  • The Adelaide to Melbourne (or vice versa) is a great way to see the Great Ocean Road. You don’t miss out on anything. The
    coast is filled with wonderful things to see the whole way.

  • I had no idea how common koalas were going to be. I knew about kangaroos. That being said, both of them are absolutely
    adorable and I never tired of seeing them.

  • They have Tim Tams in at least seven different flavors out here. Pretty amazing stuff for Tim Tam devotees.

  • Dingoes are pretty ugly. They pretty much look like wild dogs. Though it was fun to say ‘The dingo ate my baby’ in my really
    bad Australian accent.

  • Holy cricket fever! I was in Oz during the ‘Ashes’. It was very poorly explained to me. All I concluded was that they have a
    series of ‘tests’ that occur in the major cities (Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, etc.) and life in Australia revolves around this.

  • Australians call the English ‘POMs’. This stands for ‘Prisoners of the Motherland’.

  • At home we are spoiled by certain things. For example, when we get sushi we believe that it is only natural that ginger and
    wasabi are part of the deal. Not so out here. You pay extra for these things. You also get an allotment of one packet of soy
    sauce per order of sushi. I was taught how to use these things very sparingly.

  • Another thing we take a bit for granted (and for that matter, a bit of advantage of) is getting bread before dinner when we are
    at restaurants. I don’t think there was one restaurant in Oz that didn’t charge for this. And when I say ‘charge’, I don’t mean
    having to pay $1. I mean that they have ‘Sourdough Bread served with pats of fresh butter’ on the menu as a starter for
    around $6 or $7. If you were at a restaurant that served it with something as exotic as olive oil, you would be talking about an
    additional $2.

  • I found out that Aborigines only became labeled as ‘people’ back in 1969. Up until then they were in the ‘plants and animals’
    category. I have not fact-checked this; I’m just going by what somebody told me. But if this is true, it is crazy to believe that
    this was not even 40 years ago!

  • Kangaroo meat was on menus in every city. Three months ago, I would have for sure tried this. My Chinese market
    experience still haunts me and the thought of envisioning kangaroos on the chopping block made it easy for me to have no
    desire to eat one. From what other people told me, though, it tastes like meat but is a bit gamier.

  • If doing a Whitsundays cruise/sailing trip, I would splurge and spend a bit more money to not be on trips that are almost
    entirely made up of the backpacking crowd. I heard from several people who went for the cheapest one and came away from
    it with a not-so-great memory.

  • The letters ‘CBD’ stand for ‘Central Business District’.

  • One of the main department stores out here had Christmas windows that consisted of a nativity scene with Australian
    animals. It was called ‘Wombat Divine’. I don’t really know who is who in nativity scenes…but I can tell you it was cute. I think
    the wombat was Jesus and a kangaroo was Mary. Aside from that, there were koalas and emus that also filled in for some of
    the Bible peeps.

  • Some of the Australian markets were wonderful. Especially the Central Market in Adelaide and the Queen Victoria Market in

  • Sparkling Shiraz and other sparkling red wines are phenomenal. I can’t wait to get some of these when I go home.

  • It is somewhat of a myth that you will have a hot Christmas when spending it in Oz during their summer months. Mine was as
    cold (if not colder) than most of the ones I have in San Francisco.

  • There are camels in the Barossa Valley. Who knew? Apparently, camels were brought out here back in the day by countries
    like Pakistan. Now Australia exports camels to the Middle East. Interesting, huh?

  • They love their pumpkin products out here. I have to say that I love them, too. Sandwiches, quiches, lasagnas, salads, soups.
    You name it, there is probably an option that consists of pumpkin.

  • They also love their honeycomb out here. And what is not to love? Honeycomb Kit Kat, Honeycomb Corn Flakes, Honeycomb
    Cupcake Mix, Honeycomb Cookies…this list goes on and on…

  • When picking up sushi on the go out here, they don’t cut the rolls up into six pieces like at home. They serve it as one roll (i.e.
    pre-cut). It is almost like eating a wrap.

  • They have a smoothie chain in Oz called ‘Boost’ that is extremely similar to Jamba Juice. I loved this.

  • It would seem that to go snorkeling or swimming in the ocean in the summer would be ideal – nice and warm. Nope. It was
    warm…but it was necessary to wear a full wetsuit. Why, you ask? Because once summer rolls around (when one would think it
    would be the best time to go since the water is warm) it becomes jellyfish season. The word on the street (or at least along the
    coast) is that their stingers are beyond the most painful thing a person could ever experience in their life and the toxins go into
    play right away. So while in the Whitsundays, wetsuits had to be worn at all times while in the water.

  • It pays off to book trips/excursions a few days in advance as things do book up. I found this out the hard time several times.
    The term ‘go with the flow’ can be used here…but only to a certain degree.
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