touchdown in US, wrote this from the airplane

I don’t have much else to say about the Internet situation in Australia except that it surprised me. Maybe if I had been with more net-native locals I would not have found the quest for Internet so taxing, but as it was, I felt a little hunter-gather-y trying to figure out what part of my day I had to dedicate to finding access so I could check email and upload a few pictures. Serious props for the local public library systems of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney — and the coffee shops of Perth — for having almost the only decent (and affordable) wifi in the whole country.

I’m writing this from the plane. We left at 11 am Sydney time and will arrive in LAX about five hours before we left, timewise. Add to this the daylight savings change of a few days ago and I expect to be thoroughly confused by the time I get home. There’s a real-time map of our journey on the little teevees in front of us so I know, to the minute, when we should be touching down.

A lot has happened, nearly all of it good. We finished our Great Ocean Road drive and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. What a totally beautiful unforgettable trip. We got to Melbourne in decent time for a fun lunch with some local librarians. One of them told me that she had the keys to the Melbourne Atheneum and Kate and I and Tim got an impromptu tour. I went to two MetaFilter meetups in 24 hours, one in Melbourne (Japanese food, fun techie folks, ice cream, rooftop bar!) and one in Sydney the next afternoon (harbor walk, emu pizza, silly photos, lots of Americans!). I’ve always enjoyed meeting MetaFilter people and it was fun to have Kate along for these.

The early downside to Sydney, soon rectified, was our hotel room. I booked us a room where I had stayed last time, at the downtown YWCA Hotel. This time it was a more touristy season and so our room — the last in the place, they told us — was small, had a single giant bed (I have now learned the difference between “twin” and “double” in Australian), no windows that opened, and poozly AC that didn’t really work. In short it was a sauna, and we were exhausted and sunburned and in need of rest. Kate and I turned on all of our “How can we make this right?” customer service charm, but the folks at the desk couldn’t fix the problem. I wound up renting a computer at Kinko’s, logging in to, booking us a room slightly south of the cental business district, asking for and requesting a full refund at place #1 and walking us a mile with our gear to the new place, all after about 9:30 pm on a Sunday. Yay for us!

The new place was amazing and friendly with ice cold air conditioning and a fun quickie mart around the corner connected to a Malaysian restaurant where all the cab drivers hung out. That restaurant was the source of one of the best meals I’ve ever had — tasty, but also in a “Wow this day has been one huge tiring hectic hassle and now I’m going to get into bed in my PJs and eat honey chicken and fried rice and isn’t life grand?” way.

We had a day in Sydney to wander around, spend our extra Australian money, and be sad that we couldn’t stay longer which I think is always the best way to leave a vacation. Kate and I got along great, just really great. I have to remember that even though I’m sort of used to having a sister who is fun to hang out with, game for almost everything, and has complementary sensibilities to mine about travel, money, other people and how late to sleep in the morning, that most people don’t and I should count my blessings about this from time to time.

What do you think?