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22 September 2010 @ 09:07 am
Neither here nor there  
When we got our international plane tickets for this trip almost a year ago, we didn't know our in-Australia itinerary so we got tickets to and from Melbourne. Later, we found it impossible to change them, so even though we finished up our trip in Sydney, yesterday we flew to Melbourne and spent the night in the airport Hilton (and when I say "airport" I really mean it: we walked straight from the plane to our room); this morning we will fly BACK to Sydney, then on to LAX with an eight-hour layover there before finally landing in Portland.

So I woke up this morning in an airport Hilton like any other, and spent the time until Kate woke up using the fast wired Internet to shovel out my email inbox, which put my head back home even though my body's still in the Southern Hemisphere. When Kate woke up and I went into the bathroom (a Hilton bathroom like any other) for my shower, I found that I literally could not remember what continent I was on. This Twilight Zone state of mind will almost certainly continue until we arrive at PDX and, thanks to jet lag, probably for as much as a week thereafter.

Australia as a whole is also kind of a neither-here-nor-there place. Sydney has some keen and distinctive architecture but when you're standing at the corner of King and George streets you'd be hard-pressed to point out anything that indicates you're not in London. Although we're closer to Indonesia than England, the faces here are almost all white and the accents likewise. We've heard a lot of accents in Sydney, very few of them Australian; the waitstaff at breakfast yesterday were from England, Hawaii, and Croatia and this morning's was from India. There are some small amusing differences in language -- they really do say "mozzies" for mosquitoes, "sunnies" for sunglasses, and "brekky" for breakfast, and one recent newspaper headline read "L-Plater in Horror Smash" -- but all in all we're not getting the kind of culture shock you'd normally get from traveling so very far from home.

But what Australia does have that Europe doesn't is its distinctive wildlife, and we've been experiencing as much of that as we can. I'm glad to have seen the kangaroo, and the echidna, and the whale, and the giant clam. But I'm very, very tired now and it'll be good to be home.

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Kevin Standleekevin_standlee on September 21st, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
I had a similar within-Autralia issue, although in my case it meant I had to fly SYD-MEL-SYD on the same day, getting up at o-dark-early to catch the 5:10 shuttle to the airport for a 7 AM flight to Melbourne, after which I collected the needed-at-Worldcon-only luggage I'd stored at Melbourne airport, then went over to United and checked in for the MEL-SYD-LAX-SFO flights.
fjmfjm on September 22nd, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)
The faces are all White? That's how you know you're not in London. We have one of the most diverse populations in the world. 25% of our children are now of mixed ethnic origin. Get on the tube and you'll hear several of the over 140 languages spoken here.

I can't wait to show it off to you if we win a worldcon.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on September 22nd, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
Actually, Kate points out that there was a very high proportion of Asian faces in the crowd. But very few African ones.
scarlettinascarlettina on September 22nd, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
We look forward to having you home.
Smofbabesmofbabe on September 22nd, 2010 03:37 am (UTC)
I feel the same way about Sydney. I come down square on the Melbourne side of the local Sydney/Melbourne debate (which is eerily similar to the LA/Bay Area debate where I lived just before I moved here :-> ) I find Melbourne a much more distinct city whereas I found Sydney, except for the harbour, of course, like nearly any other international city.
magscannermagscanner on September 23rd, 2010 05:32 am (UTC)
Melbourne definitely a more noticeably different place than Sydney, which is simply a modern big city.

Alice Springs was Arizona with strange accents, weird alcohol laws, and desert oaks where the saguaro cactus should be. I have many photographs of rain falling in the desert, however.
Miche: kiwimicheinnz on September 24th, 2010 09:04 am (UTC)
I couldn't believe how close the Airport Hilton was to the international terminal -- it's literally a couple of hundred metres, if that.

I also couldn't believe being offered a courtesy coach to take me from the hotel to the terminal. Uh, yeah. I was like "But I've got the backpack, and it's a two-minute walk..." The driver looked so surprised that I caved. (I think he was concerned about me walking 200m unaccompanied at 5am, bless him.)