Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Down Under,

Upper left: Queensland train through waterfalls, Upper right, Brisbane, with Patti King McGrath; left Surfers Paradise, below, Sydney

When I'm asked, "What is your favorite place in the world?" my most common response is a question, since I have so many favorites. I rephrase, "Where would I like to return to visit, if I could go anywhere?"

The answer to that question is: Australia. Which, of course, means New Zealand, too. Anyone who's been always says they're glad they went to both countries for a rich travel experience.

Here's what I wrote to my two roommates named Nancy (yes, Nancy and Nancy), The photo on the front is a Eucalyptus, "Ghost Gum" tree seen throughout the outback or bush country. I truly enjoyed seeing this part of "down under" but I don't want to live there. It's like a mini-desert, almost Las Vegas-like. In Alice Springs, we went to the "out of place" casino.

Climbing Ayers Rock was indeed a thrill. We saw the sunset, sunrise, and many moods of the rock, then climbed over a mile to the top.

After we came down, we drank Champagne. Then I "flaked", AKA, fell asleep, on the bus ride, 6 hours, back to Alice Springs. Believe it or not, I've still got my straw hat (a Liz Burke original, later lost in Fiji).

Souvenir: Something kept as a remembrance; a memento

Went to Paddington Flea Market this morning and bought a couple of souvenirs, shirt from Bali and wool army sweater and socks (NOTE: Years later, I still wear those socks) It's cold in New Zealand, where I'll be going next. Had a spinach & cheese pie for breakfast. Was at a college party in the heart of Sydney last night. This reminds me of London because things have British names. It's bustling with 3.5 million people. Aussies are great folks. Wish I could remember some of the American jokes they told us. Seriously, they've gone out of their way to make us comfortable, as traveling at this pace is crazy.

Sydney Opera House was lovely. I really enjoyed the tour and even caught a rehearsal of the Ballet. Also we took a tour of the Harbor, saw some lovely about money. This town has the highest standard of living of anywhere I've seen. They've all got swimming pools...flying in we were all shocked. The government pays students $50 a week to go to college and gives them $2000 to $3000 to help them buy their first house. No sales tax either. It's included.
So after all these years, why would Dr. Travelbest return to the Island Nations so far away? Here's why. The pace of living on an island is just a bit slower than that of North America. They speak English, overall like American people, and the people we met were truly outstanding. Surely there are more like them still. If you are a beginning world traveler, I would highly recommend both Australia and New Zealand.

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