Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Another Continent!

Along the Multi-Use Path in Melbourne

Australia has always been on the “we hope we can figure out how to get there some day” travel bucket list. We certainly had no idea Kirk’s Rotary Club in Tucson would ask him to be its President in 2014-2015 and that one of the perks of the Presidency is an all-expense paid trip for the incoming President and spouse. Wow! Two continents in less than 6 months.

And so we said farewell to our kitty, Marlie, on Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Melbourne, by way of Sidney, Friday mid-day. It’s hard to know what time it is when we crossed the dateline and 17 time zones; found ourselves at the beginning of Winter in June; that peds, cyclists, and motorized vehicles all prefer navigating via the left side of the road; that a plain cup of coffee can cost $4.00 while a cappuccino or such could cost $7-8. YIKES.

Trying to keep my anti-epileptic medications on an every 12 hr cycle, which has worked well being at 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for the last 9 months or so now seems to be confounded. Just what time would that be in Australia?? Hard to know.

Bikes, peds, and motorists in Melbourne share the roads, sidewalks, parks with gracious respect. I, however, just couldn't get the hang of having to cross multiple lanes of traffic to make a Right Hand turn. Scary. Stuck to the Multi-use paths. 

We found WiFi abundantly available in Nam; many villages didn’t have indoor plumbing, families were accustomed to sleeping in hammocks or on the floor, and “chairs” often were 50 pound bags of rice, but somehow virtually EVERYONE had a cell phone and a satellite dish on their roof. 

Given our experience of ubiquitous connectivity in Nam, I fully expected connectivity Down Under to trump that of Nam. Nope, not so. Oh, connectivity was available, but at a steep price, like $29/day in our hotel, or 30 minutes free from the hotel bar (with a drink, of course) or Starbucks (with a drink, of course, and a wifi code good only for 30 minutes). Or we could walk 3 blocks to McDonalds and have unlimited wifi use.  Hmmm

We decided to spend a week in Melbourne (pronounced Melbun. By American English standards, Aussies don't do "r's" very well) before Kirk’s Rotary Conference in Sydney which would be hosted on the grounds of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Visited many museums, walking tours all of which helped up appreciate the culture and history of the Country. In many ways they are ahead of the US when it comes to honoring their indigenous peoples and consciously working toward reconciliation. 

There were maybe 40 such "If I were white statements at the Reconciliation Museum. Just a sampling here.
 Kirk rented a bike in Melbourne and we had a couple of simply delightful rides along the coast of Port Phillip or the equivalent of Tucson's Loop Path around the city of Melbourne. 

 Below is a close up of the padlocks lovers affix to the bridge cables. Kinda of clever idea. We didn't add our lock of art and love to the mix.

Life Saving Clubs were everywhere, of course so is water. Had no idea what one was. Turns out instead of the city or park district hiring life guards, theirs are all volunteers, kind of a social thing. 
 After you work your hours, then you go to the pub together and enjoy each others company.
Hmmm, interesting choice of words. 

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