The Long Road Home - Australia in Review.

Trip Start Sep 30, 2010
Trip End Oct 29, 2010

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Where I stayed
Ibis Budget Hotel Sydney Airport Mascot
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our flights back to the states were exactly as our incoming flights, I would fly to San Fransisco, then catch a quick flight up to Portland. Karla left before me to connect through Honk Kong (still no stamp) and then Los Angeles, and finally make it into Portland about two hours after me. The airport hotel in Sydney was cramped but functional, there was a Krispy Kreme and a McDonald's with free wifi next door, so I knew what my morning would consist of. Karla awoke at the ass-crack of dawn to catch her flight, my departure wasn't until that afternoon. She kissed me and grabbed her suitcase, before she was even out the door I stretched out diagonally in the bed to get the last of her warm spot. I chuckled to myself: the honeymoon was officially over for sure.
When I awoke a few hours later I found a txt message on my phone, Karla had made her flight on time, but not without complication. The international terminal in Sydney is Terminal 3. We were staying next to Terminal 1 and 2. Logic would only suggest that if I could turn my head from left to right and see buildings one and two, that three should probably be somewhere in this zip code. Not the case. It's about a ten minute bus ride that seems to take you all the way to the other side of the airport where the separate international terminal is. The bus to take you from the domestic terminal to the international terminal costs $5! I think this is highway robbery. It's YOUR fault your put the third building so far away, YOU need to get me there, not CHARGE me to get there. In the end we needed to use up our Aussie dollars before we left so whatever. But it really left a bad taste in my mouth.
I checked in and left my bag, then went duty free shopping, which is always fun. I brought back some souvenir trinkets and a few packets of kangaroo jerky so friends could get a taste of the outback. I also picked up a very expensive bottle of Cuban rum that I was planning on sneaking through customs. I'm not sure why, but there is an allure to Cuban rum and cigars that I don't think the rest of the world really understands. It's only because we Americans are not supposed to have it. In reality, I don't even know if a TSA agent would really do anything about it unless you flaunted it in their face.
I had just two Aussie coins left to spend (aside from the stash I had decided to take home and keep), so I bought a drink at a vending machine and sat at the window watching the planes taxi from terminal to runway. I plugged in my iPod to get that last little bit of juice and reflected a little on what we had just been through. We had met lot's of people and made lots of friends. It had been 29 days (30 if you count Oct. 1st which was stolen from us when we arrived). We had toured Seven major cities, and the Outback, driven almost 1500 miles and spent 9 hours in various Quantas flights getting ourselves around inside the country.
My favorite locations were probably the two extreme places that we visited. The tropical rain forest near Cairns and the arid red center at Uluru. Being in the tropics is always fun and feels exotic because it's so different from where I live. As for my experience at Uluru, I really feel blessed that we got to see the rain and were spared from the heat that normally exists in that area. Seeing all the cool desert plants in bloom was also a once in a lifetime thing. I wouldn't expect anyone to have the same experience  that we had out there.

 Aside from the Outback and the rain forest, what we saw of the East coast was beautiful and spacious. All flora and fauna aside, I saw many similarities between the lower east coast of Australia, and the west coast of the US. I think for this reason SE Australia didn't seem so exotic to me, it felt like I was visiting a new dialect of my own home. Listen to this description:
The long rugged coast line gently curves inward as it goes south and is a mixture of rocky capes and pockets of sweeping white sand beaches. Just inland is the main highway, named the Pacific Highway that runs North to South along the coast, running through cute little coastal towns at times but mostly cutting through raw forest parks and national scenic areas on their way to larger cities.There are three large states touching the Pacific Ocean, most of which is lightly populated with only a few major harbors in its entire stretch. These states population is mostly located in four or five major metropolis areas just inland of the coast. Most of the population lives between the coast and the mountain range that runs almost the length of the coast, just a hundred miles inland. When the weather permits the people love to get out and enjoy nature. Camping, hiking, mountain biking, surfing, kayaking, para-sailing, scuba diving, and many other active outdoor activities are common, and the people go to many of the regions national parks and recreation areas to do these activities. If you journey into the few cities you'll find suburbia surrounding a metropolitan center that is set around a river or ocean bay. On the weekend you'll most likely see people getting together and having a BBQ, watching football on TV if it's the season. The general attitude is friendly, and there is an above average level of recycling and eco-consciousness.

Now you tell me, am I talking about the Pacific Northwest or the SE coast of Australia?

(explanation if you don't see the connections)
The three states could be OR, WA, and CA. Or they could possibly be Vic, NSW, and,Queensland. The US 101 and AU1 are both called the Pacific Highway. Of the three largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney are on bays, Brisbane CBD straddles a river. On our side Seattle and San Fransisco are on the bay, Portland is straddling a river. As for the mountain ranges and the population, you'll just have to look at a population density map, and then a geographic map.

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