During the month of August, I was fortunate to spend 3 weeks traveling in Australia. My life partner, Jack is a professional speaker and scheduled seven gigs there, which is how I ended up in “Oz” for so long. It was a great trip; I made many new friends and learned a few things along the way:
- It’s really not that far away! From Los Angeles to Sydney is a 14-hour flight. Like Jack says, “that’s just a meal, a nap, and a movie away”. When you board international flights, they usually depart in the late evening. Right after boarding, they provide a meal and then it’s time to sleep (it’s late at night, so a 6–8-hour snooze works out). I highly recommend noise cancelling headphones and an eye mask to help eliminate outside noises and light. If you need a sleep aid, I suggest bringing that along, as well. Before you know it breakfast is served, and you are on the ground. Voila!
- Australians have their own slang and it’s wildly amusing! For example, I had to get used to people asking, “How are you going?” compared to the American version of, “How are you doing?”.
- Footy = Football
- Ankle Biter = Child
- Coldie = Cold Beer
- And my all-time favorite, “Seppo”, which loosely translates to American. I’m not sure how they arrived at that, but it goes something like this: Yank > rhymes with septic tank> abbreviation for septic is “seppo”. Thus, Jack and I were referred to as “seppos” and we were not supposed to be offended. For more: check out the Australia Slang Dictionary.
- We visited 4 major cities in Australia: Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and then Brisbane. Each city has its own personality and vibe. Melbourne brings a strong business feel, where people dress up and are less likely to give a standing ovation after a performance. Sydney is quite metropolitan. Both are great walking cities. It was my first visit to Adelaide, and there, out in the country I felt like I was traveling from village to village. We went out to breakfast one morning and found out that breakfast places didn’t even open until 9:00am. Maybe because I have always been an early morning person with my work and all, but 9am seemed quite late to open a breakfast spot.
- Each evening that we went out to dinner with friends and business colleagues, we noticed the same pattern. A few moments after you were seated, you were expected to order. Unlike in Europe where meals are more leisurely, or in America where you order drinks first and then your meal, requesting a slow-paced service if you desire. In Australia, you are expected to order right away, and you are served almost immediately. Another unexpected element is that everyone orders an Entrée and a Main. An Entrée is what we call an appetizer, and a main, is well, your main dish.
- Driving on the left side of the road looks difficult but it’s surprisingly easy. While in Brisbane, I wanted to get a manicure, so I borrowed a friends’ car. It was the second trip I had been on where I would be driving on the left side of the road, and I admit I was a bit apprehensive. But once I got behind the wheel and took off, it was not that hard. Admittedly, I drove slower than usual and took my time parallel parking or backing out of a parking space. Thank goodness for the rear cameras that are now standard in cars.
While down under, we did some unique exploring and had a lot of fun along the way.
We golfed at the World’s Best Backyard Golf Course in Brisbane (as featured in GOLF Magazine!). This course is owned by Jack’s longtime friend and colleague, Rob Nixon. We tried to perfect our wedge and putting game for 3 days. 9 holes, 3 greens per hole; all in one backyard. There were 34 of us in the tournament and I am very proud to say I came in at #33. I gave Mario a big hug and a handshake for saving me from last place.
After we left Australia, we stopped in Auckland, New Zealand for a couple of days before heading back to California. I still can’t believe I rode to the top of the Sky Tower, the tallest structure in Auckland, at 1,076 feet above sea level. You don orange jumpsuits and ride the elevator to the top. Then you get hooked onto multiple safety straps and go to the tower outside, near the very top and walk around the entire tower platform (with no fence or bar to protect you). Thankfully, I am not afraid of heights, but I was happy to be back on solid ground after an hour. I highly recommend you check it out with a friend!
So, next time you are thinking of a great place to go for an extended vacation, consider Australia. Another bonus is that they have opposite seasons to us (since they are in the Southern Hemisphere). In August, it’s almost spring and the weather was mild. Make a bucket list for your travels and check them off.