Let's begin, shall we?
10) You get what you pay for. Every journey begins with a single step, and that would be the Idaho Falls-to-Salt Lake City leg in this case. The plane ride was cramped, as usual. Then there was the "quality" hotel I managed to book on Hotwire (buyer beware, folks). The shuttle was a black SUV with no recognizable name on it--the driver spoke a single word of heavily accented English ("Quality! "Quality!"). When I arrived at the "hotel," the poor desk clerk proved why she worked at this particular establishment--she looked exhausted, and then told me she shouldn't have done "so much X at the rave last night." My key wouldn't work. Twice. I got reassigned and my key wouldn't work again. But I learned if you just pulled the handle up instead of down, the door worked just fine--Hell, I didn't even need a key! The lesson? For Christ's sake, spend $20 bucks more and stay at Motel 6.
time to recline. In my lap.
|Much better... Thanks Virgin Australia.|
8) Exchange rates. Need more evidence that these aren't the good old days anymore? First, just for the record, you can only get 11 pesos for every dollar. Hmph. Second, it costs $1.1998 (OK ... a buck-twenty) for an Aussie dollar. That's like three beers over the course of $100. Geh.
7) LAX. Again, if you need proof that we've fallen a bit behind, just visit this Third-world barrio and I'm sure you'll be satisfied. It's so rickety that I didn't even know there was a 4.5-magnitude earthquake beneath us, because I couldn't tell the difference.
6) Layovers. Ten hours? Really? On the plus side, I got damn near a full day's work in, but I had to pay $50 just to find an internet signal at LAX (it's still America, right?) that didn't require me to watch a penis-enhancement commercial. I suppose I could have just spent $50 on penis enhancement, but, you know, it's the principle.
5) Bag fees. So, let me get this straight. On two separate flights I paid $25 per flight to check a single bag on Delta, just to get from Idaho Falls to Los Angeles. On Virgin Australia, I checked two bags for, um, free. Up yours, Delta.
|It's Australian for Advil, mate.|
3) The customs process. The question on the entry card into Australia asked me if I'd visited a farm, handled any farm animals (tee hee) or been in any "wilderness areas" within the last 30 days. I had, indeed, been in a wilderness area, so I checked "yes" on the card. When the customs agent looked at my card, I got sequestered into a line with what appeared to be the entire population of the Shandong Province of China. Thirty minutes later, a cheerful Aussie agent looked at me and said, "Hey mate... so you've been on a farm?" I simply said, "Nope. I went fishing in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness." He grinned, and said, "You're good, mate. Enjoy your visit."
2) Summer. Wait ... no. Winter. Yes, indeed, it's winter Down Under. It's not your average brutal eastern Idaho winter--it's more like winter on the northern California coast. But when you show up in Keens and a pair of shorts, and it's 45 degrees outside, winter is winter.