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Sydney to Melbourne *There are many more pictures at end of entry!!*

Written on: Friday February 22nd, 2008

A journal entry from: Australia

Finally! It's here! The much-awaited first journal entry! It wasn't easy finding a suitable spot for writing. We're currently staying at a lively hostel that's mostly populated by drink-happy Germans. In fact I just passed 3 of them in the hall and they promptly shouted, "Look, the American girl! From Kentucky! Kentucky Fried Chicken!" Ah, that's a new one. How would they like it if I shouted the most famous aspect of their country at them every time we passed one another?: "Look, those German boys! From Germany! Hitler!"

Anyway. I guess it's time to get to the play-by-play of our trip thus far.

We took a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco and had a 5 hour layover (the consequence of traveling on a budget), so we took advantage of it by venturing out into the city, which was new to me but an old favorite of Adam's. We went into Chinatown after some stumbling about like flaming tourists and found a particular restaurant Adam had been to years ago, called Sam Wo. It was tiny. I mean cramped. Not a tourist attraction, as we were the only white people there. But the food was good and came with a complete lack of insects (in Chinatown in New York I wasn't so lucky). You can tell you're in Chinatown when they serve your drink in those tiny bathroom-sized dixie cups. I love it.

The subsequent flight to Auckland was overnight and took about 12 hours. We thought we'd be smart and take Tylenol sleep aid to get through it. We realized later than we had taken sinus medication instead, which explains why neither of us could sleep (I can hear some of you laughing at us now). It was cold and cramped and generally sucked. But we did have a pretty good choice of movies and tv to watch (Sara- I finally saw Atonement! It was quite good).

The flight to Sydney was another 4 hours. I finally was able to sleep for a reasonable amount of time just because I was so incredibly exhausted by that point.

Things went downhill when we got to Sydney. We went to get our bags and mine was missing. A little angry, yes, but surpised? No. This seems to happen just about every time I fly. That was the situation at first, but then they found my bag, which was wrapped in a plastic bag because it had a big gaping hole in the back of it, with jewelry spilling out of it and forming this big tangled wad that was nearly dragging on the ground. And that's when the bad mood (to put it mildly) reeeally took over. I was exhausted, I looked like hell, my feet were killing me because of the new ballet flats I stupidly chose to wear and to be honest, we were both starting to stink. Try not to be grossed out.

We waited in the baggage issues line, or whatever it is, and the lady informs me that they will replace my bag but I'll have to call somewhere in L.A. to make a claim for property damage. She said she'd e-mail me the phone number and all the information I needed that day. Well, alright fine, let's get out of here.

She never did. A little angry, yes. But surprised? No. We did get the new bag that day, but you cannot imagine the pain of trying to find the right person to call for this property damage claim, and actually speaking to a person, or speaking to the right person, or even figuring out how to use a payphone in Australia and how much money it takes and the money we spent on the internet looking up this information and why are all the numbers different lengths and why can't you transfer me and who do I talk to and... I was downright pissy that first day. I'm amazed Adam was able to put up with me as beautifully as he did. He is one patient man.

I think we've finally got it sorted out as I received a claims form in the mail a couple days ago. I should get around to filling it out tonight. I do hope to get some money back because they damaged over $300 worth of clothing and jewelry. It's as if someone shot the thing; it's unbelievable that it happened accidentally. Look at some of what they did! (Look right)

Back to the Sydney airport - after carting my blown-up bag to customs I discover that I've lost my customs form and have to go back and do another one. I was ready to cry at this point and half was. Then we couldn't find the place we had to go to to meet up with our free ride to the hostel for about 20 minutes. I think at this point I was slowly shuffling through the airport with dry sobs escaping from me every now and then. And still Adam had unbelievably high spirits and incredible patience.

After a shower at our hostel, which was a YHA in downtown Sydney, I felt muuuuuuch better. Like a human again. The hostel was extremely nice and the first two nights were already paid for by our work abroad program. (On a side note the two free breakfasts we got as well sucked. A croissant, two pieces of toast, some cereal but no soy milk and a shot glass of orange juice. I'm serious. That's how big the glass was. I thought it was a joke. But all their glasses in this country seem to be kid-sized.)

After the shower and the morning spent trying to sort out the baggage issue we somehow mangaged to walk around the city for a few hours on our aching feet. We had fish 'n' chips and strolled around beautiful Hyde Park.

That was pretty much our stay in Sydney - walking around the city and seeing what we find. We went to famous Bondi Beach but it was a spur of the moment decision so we were ill-prepared in our jeans. It was refreshingly devoid of high-rise condos. We walked in the surf and managed to avoid getting eaten by a Great White. How, I do not know, because everyone seems to think Great White Sharks continually leap out of the ocean to bite the heads off unsuspecting tourists.

We really enjoyed the suburb Paddington which has a more laid-back feel to it than city center. It has some beautiful old terrace housing which I wouldn't mind living in. We ate dinner there at a great place called A Fish Called Paddo where they gave me enough fries (or "chips") for 3 people and we enjoyed our dinner outside in the backyard. It looked like the restaurant had been put in a very old, charming house.

Then we sampled local beer and wine on the roof of the hotel next door. This was done on the advice of a New Zealander who was in the process of divorcing a North Carolinian. He actually paid us the difference of the price of beer and that bar vs. the generally lower price at other places! Just because! We watched the sunset from the roof :)

The night before that we ate a place in the suburb Surry Hills at a place called the Strawberry Hills hotel. Now this was fantastic because not only did they have $5 meals but they also specialized in drunk singing locals. I swear they broke in to song randomly and I felt like we were in some comedy sketch.

We managed to meet our first locals at a pub recommended to us by our guidebook, where a group of young locals asked us to be in the picture of everyone's left feet. It was as completely random as it sounds. 

Oh! I forgot to mention our fabulous balcony at the hostel. We somehow managed to get 1 of only 2 balconies in the whole huge hostel which had a great view of the city. One of my favorite parts of the trip so far was when Adam sat on it one night and played his guitar. I found it very picturesque and romantic.

Here's a bad quality video of it, in which a siren interrupts him:

We've decided to stay in Melbourne because A. it's cheaper and B. it's the cultural capital of Australia. Known for great fashion, art and food. We haven't seen a huge amount of the city so far but what we have seen is nice!

We took an overnight bus two nights ago to get here. Another 12 hour overnight ride. Once again it was completely awful. I hope I never ever have to travel that way again. It should be declared a form of torture by the UN and prohibited. After that trip we again slept for 12 hours, just like we did after the plane ride to Sydney.

We're staying at a much smaller hostel now and there's a lot more camaraderie between the guests. The owner, Patrick is extremely nice. It's an old mansion that's pretty cool and reminds me of those old Charleston houses but it's also quite obviously very old, which has its drawbacks. I saw a huge spider in the bathroom today but managed to narrowly escape death by deadly Australian creature once again.

We did a lot of "admin" stuff today, as Patrick called it, like buying groceries, opening a bank account, getting our visa stickers in our passports, doing laundry, and writing this blog. I hope we continue to find free internet like we've got here so we can keep the adoring fans up to date.

That's all for now! Please leave comments for us! We miss you!

Enjoy the street dancer!

 

From T-dawg on Feb 22nd, 2008

I probably should not tell you this but i definitley laughed somewhat hard at the sight of your mutilated bag. I'm somewhat impressed, it seems the airline has outdone itself in baggage handling. The jealousy continues, as does the planning to visit you in New Zealand. If you'll be there til june 09 then the plan here is a year from now. Good luck finding a job! LOVE YA!

From Ian on Feb 23rd, 2008

I am glad things are looking up after the bag incident. I replied to your email with information on subscribing to your blog. Good luck, be safe, and send me details on New Zealand! Love you guys!

From Ian on Feb 23rd, 2008

By the way - an English favorite of mine - called a chip butty (butty = sandwhich). Take some white bread and put your chips on it, sprinkle with some salt and a decent amount of malt vinegar. It is cheap and good! Trust me on this one...

From Sara on Feb 24th, 2008

See. Ripped bags. That's what you get for ditching your mate for your boyfriend to go move to the Outback instead of Europe. So there. :P Haha, just kidding hun!!! Sounds like you're starting off on QUITE the wee adventure, don't worrying, just think off all the good that extra cash is going to do later, haha, great pics, love you, miss you!!!!!!!! xxxx

From Chynah on Feb 24th, 2008

Can I come, too? Seriously. I wanna go with you guys!!! Despite the unfortunately comedic beginning to your trip, it sounds like things are going well. Love yah!!!

From Aaron on Feb 25th, 2008

Hey Guys! Your there wow!!! Sorry about the luggage misfortune, but you will remember everything for the rest of your lives. The pictures are amazing. Can't wait to see you guys soon!!!