I’m working on getting some of my wrap ups done and will probably have more time in the coming days, but – until then – here are some thoughts from the second portion of our trip.
Arriving in Australia was great (outside of the fact that we felt like we had been run over by a truck). Being able to have conversations with everyone around you for the first time in nearly a month was a very welcome return to normalcy. Being able to look at a menu without being confused at all was another welcomed change…Outside of the fact that Aussies call appetizers “entrees” and entrees “mains.”
In general, Australia and New Zealand were very similar to the US (but much safer and more friendly). I would imagine it has to be the most USA-like place or right there with Canada.
Back to the safety point – we travelled all over AU/NZ…Big Cities, small towns, the middle of nowhere. You name it and chances are we were in that type of place. At no point did we feel unsafe. We caught some portions of the news on TV there, and usually the lead in story was some sort of animal doing tricks – or some similar goofy story. After the first commercial break (generally around the time when the NOLA news finishes up with murders and moves on to the lesser violent crimes), they would start covering the local second grade school play being put on…Ok, maybe it wasn’t that uneventful there, but it wasn’t far off.
We spent 18 days in Australia and 18 in New Zealand. I didn’t plan it so that we would end up spending the exact same amount of time in each country, but it worked out that way….And we covered some ground during that time.
I kept track of the odometers in our rental cars, and we covered about 4500 kilometers (2800 miles) along with three ferry rides when it was all said and done. To put that in perspective, driving from Seattle to Miami is about 3300 miles according to google maps. Factor in the 8 hours we spent waiting for or riding on ferries and the fact that most of the roads were not interstates but single lane mountainous highways, and I say we at a minimum covered the equivalent of Seattle to Miami.
All that driving was tiring (though usually scenic and entertaining). But – make no mistake – I wouldn’t have done it any other way. We got to see a lot of New Zealand and a good bit of Australia – both of which were great.
Australia’s big cities could have easily been US cities. They had lots to do and plenty good food to eat. The Great Barrier Reef lived up to my high expectations. But South Australia may have been my favorite. I loved Kangaroo Island and really enjoyed the wine regions we visited in South Australia.
The North Island of New Zealand was a lot of fun – whitewater rafting, wines, kayaking, etc. That said, the South Island was just on another level. Every single place we went seemed to be more impressive than the previous. Mountains, green water like you’ve never seen anywhere else, vineyards, whales, dolphins, beaches, hills, lakes, glaciers…I could go on. Needless to say, we absolutely loved New Zealand.
As far as how we’re making out with all this travelling and moving around…I think we’ve done pretty well. I didn’t mind all the moving around, and Alyce – although she complained about it – would tell you that she wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way.
We have been gone for a total of 62 days (as of the end of our second portion of Australia). That is a long time. I still definitely miss our dogs, but I know our cousins are doing a great job with them at home.
The only time I was a little tired of all this travelling was when we were leaving New Zealand to go back to Australia. We loved New Zealand so much that we were sad to be leaving, plus we were going to Australia – where we had been already. Every other time we flew somewhere, it was to a new place.
Though when we arrived to Australia we got just what we needed to lift our spirits – an unbelievable suite upgrade and Club access at the Park Hyatt Melbourne. Plus, we really ended up liking South Australia. It was similar to New Zealand to me.
So this monster trip is nearing its end. The first third (Asia) went smoothly, as did the second portion (AU/NZ). And really – as I write this – we are on our way to the Maldives, so that leaves us with 9 nights left of 75.
It’s hard to believe that after nearly two years of saving and planning, this trip is almost over. Part of me is definitely ready to get back home; part of me wants to keep travelling indefinitely. I guess we have to return to reality at some point, but we do have a couple of exciting stops left…Talk to yall from the Maldives.