We are about to end our trip to Australia. I believe everyone is anxious to return to the USA, but everyone of us has had a great experience in this country. The individuals in this group have been wonderful traveling companions and all have been very helpful and considerate to each other and the people we have met. I will say the group has also earned high praise for being the first group to ever be on time and almost always early, to our appointments. The last few days have offered us significant independent time to explore Sydney and the surrounding areas. Based on my conversations with the students, the quiet and openness of Kansas will be extremely welcome to everyone!
Most of the group went to the musical “Wicked” on wednesday. The opportunity to watch an international cast in a major city is something that should not be missed. The cast did a terrific job and at the end everyone in the group had a great time. The group was also very fortunate to be at the performance in which the magazine, Women’s Day Australia, was doing a piece on the male lead in Wicked. All the students were asked to be part of the camera shoot and all of them got his autograph and had the opportunity to take their picture with him. The magazine will be available online in a couple of weeks.
Thursday and Friday this week had us in a couple of different locations. On Thursday we visited Redfern and listened to an overview of health programs related to aboriginal population. A small group returned to the Bondi Beach school to help with the after school program. Saturday we packed and got ready to return to the USA.
On Friday, only two brave souls took our last opportunity to tour some sites outside of Sydney. We went to the Blue Mountains to see wander around the wildlife park, go hiking in the Jamison Valley, view the “3 sisters”, ride the world’s railway, and cable car, and finally take a cruise back the Paramatta river. All in all some beautiful scenery, although it rained most of the day. Our tour guide was a physical education teacher who had just recently taken up leading tours as a part-time job.
My camera blew up on the trip so I missed so great shots and hope to get pictures from others who took pictures. I did buy a new one and went out for to a walk around Sydney to took pictures of the brilliant architecture of the city. After I return home I will add pictures to this blog.
I also am constantly amazed at the subtle and not so subtle things in Australia that catch my attention.
1. The biggest (and best for me) attention grabber was that Australia is a Coke a cola country. No Pepsi in this country, you ask for a coke you get a coke, not a “is Pepsi okay”.
2. Australian TV is terrible. I feel as if I am watching TV from the 1960s.
3. News programs in Australia are not a significant part of programming. Politics are not front and center as it is in the states. Although there was a significant protest of the Israeli situation in Sydney this week.
4. Restaurant behavior is very different. When you go into a restaurant, you don’t sit down and wait to give an order to a waiter or waitress. In Australia, you go up to the counter place and pay for your food order and then go over to the bar area to get your drink. The order is then delivered to your table. This system is difficult to get used to, but certainly has two advantages: one, there is no tipping in Australia and two, when the meal is over you can get up and leave at any time, you don’t have to wait for the check.
5. The price of an object, is the exact price, no added taxes. So when some says coffee costs 4.00, that is what it costs. I spoke with several Australians who have traveled to the states. They all agree that one of the most difficult things for them to get used to is not having the advertised price as the exact price.
6. This is the first official day of winter for Australia – it is 70 degrees and Australians find this weather to be cold.
7. Every meal is served with fries (called chips-potato chips are called crisps). Why does it seem strange to me that lasagna is served with a side os fries!
8. Half the population of Australia wears the old converse tennis shoes and the other hall wears shoes with heels so high it is unbelievable. But, I can’t get over the converse sneakers – high fashion over here.
9. The Australian sayings are very catchy. My favorites are “no worries”, “too easy”, and “no sting in it’s tale”.
10. The world is a small world. On the tour to the Hunter Valley, we met a couple from Wichita, KS. Ah, home sounds very good!
Well, the trip is coming to an end, I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and thanks for your comments.