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This, Our Independence Day

USA | Friday, 4 July 2008 | Views [1448] | Comments [3]

Luna Park in St. Kilda, Melbourne.  That's my travel buddy for a few weeks, Edwin.

Luna Park in St. Kilda, Melbourne. That's my travel buddy for a few weeks, Edwin.

Table of Contents

1. Celebrating Independence Day
2. Australian Winter? An oxymoron?
3. Oz vs. the U.S.
4. Emotional Check-in

This is a sad post to write, indeed. Here it is July 4th… yet there will be no fireworks, no BBQs, no bike parade, no red white and blue. This may be my first uncelebrated Independence Day.

No, wait, I take that back. I will honor this day: as my own Independence Day… my traveling here on my own, being in Australia, back in the city I fell in love with two years ago, rediscovering it, and myself, anew two years later. Ah, yes, that sounds much less depressing.

So Australia’s all sun and surf, right? Well, right, but even Aussies (“OZ-ees”) need a break once in a while. It’s winter here in Melbourne, and it’s obvious by the jackets and occasional scarves I see locals wearing. Frankly, I think the scarves are over-doing it. It barely gets below fifty here. When Patrick started to complain that it was cold, I gave him a long, hard Bostonian stare. Obviously this guy would never survive a New England winter.

I must admit, it was a bit of a wake-up call arriving in this weather; but it wasn’t the temperature change that shocked me so much as the short days. (“Or long nights,” Patrick told me, “if you’re an optimist.”) It’s 6:50 am and the sun is still sleeping in her nice, warm, probably-somewhere-over-New Zealand bed and it doesn’t look like she’s going to sleep in for at least another half-hour. And last night skies were getting dark at 6:00 pm (as opposed to the New Jersey 9pm). That was a bit strange.

But the biggest shocker was when I was walking around the North Melbourne suburbs yesterday and smelled a wood-burning stove. That was too much for my poor, confused senses to bear. Worse than jet lag.

So for the next three days I’ll be exploring Melbourne, Oz’s second-largest city. They have great public transportation here – trains, trams AND buses (oh my!). The fares are more expensive here but they have a different rate system ($3.50 for 2-hours unlimited rides, $6.65 for full-day unlimited rides) and are far cleaner and more reliable than anywhere I’ve seen in the States. Each stop there’s a running display saying when the next train/tram/bus is coming.

As far as gas prices go, I dearly hope that everyone reading this journal already knows that the world is paying much more for oil than we ever have. ‘Stralians are paying equivalent to $6.50/gallon, and prices, like ours, are also rising. I was surprised to hear that they have an economy dip as well, as well as similar housing problems. I guess economic fluctuations travel faster than air planes these days.

Also what it unfortunate is that now the Australian dollar is roughly equal to the American dollar. When I was here last it was US$0.85 to AUS$1.00 so I was having a hay day, everything being cheaper for me than the price tag indicated. (What does that expression mean, anyway? Is it hay day or hey day?) Now, an AUS$12 meal is, well, US$12. Stinks. I guess I better cash in my chips soon before it gets worse!

It feels good to be here. Although there are some things about being here that throw me off, it doesn’t feel too strange or that unusual. I guess partly because I’ve been here before, but partly it’s just my nature. Those who know me well know that often big life changes don’t affect me terribly much emotionally; more over, I recognize and just accept what’s happening or about to happen in the same way that we accept that today’s Thursday or that it’s 7:00. What is, just… is, to me. So I’m here, and it’s 7:12 am and I’m in Australia and everyone has funny accents and the money’s different and I’m wearing my or Patrick’s sweatshirt every day and that’s all fine with me.

The sun’s rising!

Tags: australia, melbourne



Ah, the nature of "is", as explored in Oz. Or not explored and just accepted. Travel, even vicariously, can be confusing. And touching, whether one examines it or not, I suppose.

So now you've gone wandering. Or looking. Don't count the effects until they hatch, perhaps?



  Ralph Jul 6, 2008 1:23 PM


Ah, the 4th wasn't the same without you. As always, we schmoozed on the beach, stood in line for the outdoor shower, and watched the entire Surfs game (they lost big time) just so we could see the fireworks after. But the spunky Number 2 cousin wasn't there to entertain us, poke fun at Uncle B, play Settler with H and J, and search for Dots at the game.
everybody says hello and LOVES your blog.
love Mum

  Mum Jul 7, 2008 1:11 PM


hay day, ha! now forever and ever i shall always think of diving into bright golden bales of hay whenever i hear that. and then being itchy and picking straw out of my hair for the rest of the day...stupid hay day.

i miss you! i'm eagerly reading up on your travels from my lab and imagining your coastlines and OZee accents and sunshine. sounds like you're enjoying every moment, and i wouldn't expect anything less from you.

hugs to the moon (and intercontinently too, of course),

  Carly Jul 31, 2008 4:00 AM



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