The journey — 23 hours in transit
*Why is it always so hot when you first get on a plane?*
To make my life easier while travelling for 23 hours (Ottawa to Sydney — I would be taking another five hour flight to Perth, my final destination, later), I was only taking my small backpack on board and invested in a neck pillow (which I didn’t use once and accidentally left on the last plane).
I think my packing skillz are pretty top notch — mostly because my mom never let me take more than a carry-on sized bag on our two week trips to Italy — so I was initially confident that I’d only need to bring one full-size checked bag.
I ended up also needing a carry-on size. I packed and repacked a few times, fighting with the bathroom scale (does anyone every like the bathroom scale?) and still ended up with an overweight bag (thanks mom for paying the overage fees).
I flew American Airlines the whole way. The first flight was easy: Ottawa to Philly. It was only an hour and 30 minutes. No TVs but there were pretzels, cookies, and drinks. I tried to find the Halperts in the Philly airport, but no such luck.
The second flight: Philly to LA. It was six hours, I was window seat with two people on my right, there were no TVs and no meals, but pretzels and cookies again. It wasn’t ideal but I slept for most of it. Also, the American Airlines staff are lovely.
The third flight: LA to Sydney, fifteen hours. The big planes are AMAZING. I wasn’t even going to be sitting in first class, but I was excited to walk through it. The bed chairs are REAL, people.
The Louis Vuitton luggage peaked back at me through the open storage bins as I made my way to the less-spacious-but-still-better-than-most economy section.
There were pillows and blankets, a pretty phenomenal movie selection, and really great food (gelato!).
And here’s the best part: when checking in online the night before, I decided to upgrade my seat a little bit from sitting window in the middle of the plane with two other people between me and the aisle (and therefore the bathroom), to a window seat at the back of the plane with no one behind me and only the possibility of one other person beside me (it was still free when I booked).
Worth the 96USD, especially because no one did take the other seat.
All in all, I didn’t find the trip that bad. It was actually enjoyable. My flight times were great, my layovers short, and I arrived early morning in Australia — crucial to get over jet lag more quickly.
First impressions — the toilet, crossing the street, and my accent
I think your brain will automatically try to compare something new to something you’re familiar with — I was trying to do that when I first got to Australia. It’s tropical, but not like going down south. There are suburbs, but not like home. It’s not Italy — I don’t know what it is. It’s something entirely different and it’s wonderful.
I live in a bachelor apartment just outside the CBD (Central Business District — like downtown) and in front of a park/river that are popular for events.
After more time spent here, some parts definitely remind me of Ottawa and some of Toronto, but it’s always sunny and warm so everything just looks beautiful all the time. It’s autumn (not “fall”) right now but it’s still very hot, usually getting up to the high 20s. And it feels so much hotter than the temperature says, the sun is stronger here and underestimating it is a mistake. I wear sun screen (I’ve never been one to wear sun screen) if I’m going to lay outside.
The food is great — most things are similar to what we’d have in Canada, but the produce tastes so much better because they have more locally available. The eggs are better here and almost all are cage free. There are fig, pomegranate, olive, avocado, and mango trees that just grow around the city. I find the prices in Perth to be very comparable to Ottawa, I spend about $30 to $40 on groceries that will last me a week and a bit.
There are a few oddities such as Vegemite, which you either love or hate (I hate it).
Restaurants are also similar, but some major differences:
- going out to eat seems a bit more expensive, but the price includes tip and tax so it more-or-less seems to work out in the end
- there are no greasy spoon diners. Every breakfast place will have things like avocado toast and buckwheat pancakes with raspberry coulis
- chicken parm is not served with pasta, but with “chips” (fries — although chips like we have at home are also called “chips”) and is a pub food
- bars, also known as “hotels” (but hotels are also called “hotels”) range from swanky to danky, just like at home, but alcohol is serious business no matter where you go. Especially wine. I used to bullshit my wine knowledge when I served at home, but I was told I’d be promptly fired if I gave misinformation about wine here. The bartenders always know the intricacies of their drinks and can make great suggestions
- McDonald’s is called Maccas, Burger Kind is called Hungry Jacks, and there are KFCs everywhere
I don’t really know if the toilets flush the other way, I forgot to check before I left home and when I showed my family my toilet (great Easter dinner FaceTime fodder), we noticed that the water just gushes straight out, not in any particular direction.
Crossing the street is a life or death matter because I automatically look the wrong way. Driving on the other side of the road is super trippy, even as a passenger. I still try and get in on the wrong side of the car. I don’t think I’ll ever need to drive, though. Living so close to everything, I like to walk. And if I take transit, it’s free in the CBD.
I haven’t seen a kangaroo or koala bear yet, nor anything that could kill me (that I know of). The birds are different — yes they have seagulls, but also more ravens, pelicans, parrot-type-things, and this one bird that sounds like it’s throwing up and crying at the same time.
I love when people when people imitate my “accent.” I still don’t accept that I have one — Canadian English is so flat comparatively. I never get tired of hearing other people speak, and every time I meet a new person, their accent still surprises me.
So, all-in-all it’s pretty great here. Feel free to visit, I have a futon ~~