Australia done and dusted
While the voyage there was long - oh so long! why??? - I really feel lucky to have been able to discover at least a bit of Australia. And I say a little bit, because as a product of the American education system, I didn't realize until recently that Australia was nearly the same size as the continental US!
I had to spend a few days in-country before I was allowed to go visit my first customer, which luckily gave me the time to swing by Melbourne to visit some old friends who used to live in Paris. They were wonderful hosts and took me to several wonderful places. We drove along the Great Ocean Road:
And checked out a few vineyards:
My time with them went by far too fast, and then it was off for a week of work near the Barossa Valley, north of Adelaide. It was pretty remote there, the weather was atrocious and I didn't have internet all week, but I met some lovely and generous people.
Then it was off to Sydney for the weekend, and I walked my socks off for three days all over the city.
I couldn't get over the expansive blue skies; they reminded me so much of the wide open spaces in Minnesota. But the thing that struck me the most about Australia was the people - everyone I met was so friendly and talkative and curious. So even though the trip was horrendously long, it really made for a nice change of pace after all the 'difficult' places I've been traveling these past few years. It was such a relief to 1) be able to communicate with everyone without needing to use hand gestures or Google translate, 2) be able to dress normally 3) to not have to worry about my safety, 4) to be able to eat fresh fruits & veggies and 5) to not have to be paranoid about the water or ice cubes. I mean, you really don't realize how much all of that stuff wears on you when you travel until you're in a place where none of that is an issue! So I'm not sure if I'll ever go back again since it's so far and I won't likely need to go for work a second time, but I'm definitely glad to have been there at least once. It's just too bad New Zealand wasn't in the cards this time...