Across the World and Back Again

After a ridiculously fun and exciting month away, I’m back! I can’t believe that my trip is over, and I’m still a little jet-lagged, but I want to get everything I can down about the trip before it all starts to slip away. I don’t know how I’m even going to begin to tackle this, but I think it’s all still fresh enough to recount to my satisfaction. And to Sarah’s, as she’s told me she is looking forward to my recap, and I don’t want to disappoint!

But a quick note before I do: I want to thank my lovely sister, Stephanie, for keeping my blog company while I was gone. She’s currently loving LA and getting closer and closer to getting a job everyday. She’s definitely doing much better than she’d been doing in NYC, so I’m happy for her!

And one more note: I wanted to make this recap complete with amazing pictures, but unfortunately, I’m the forgetful type who leaves cameras and iPods in my sister’s car before getting on plane rides home…so no pictures as they are currently traveling home through the kindness of UPS. Fail.

So…here we go.

On Tuesday, I left my house at 4AM (painful, I know) and traveled to LA. I ran into my American camp BFF, Sharon’s, arms around 2PM Cali time, and we proceeded to spend a ridiculous EIGHT hours in LAX, waiting for our flight. (My dad wanted to pad my flight time, just in case…they wouldn’t even let us check our bags until 6!) It seemed an endless wait. Finally, at 10PM, we boarded our 15 hour flight (economy seating surrounded by 4, yes FOUR, babies…for 15 hours.) Luckily, I’d been up for about 22 hours at that point, so I fell asleep halfway through Mamma Mia, which I couldn’t even see as in economy, the only screen you get is a giant projection at the front of the section, which short people can’t see. Again, fail.

But when we got off the plane in Melbourne, it was totally and completely worth it. We walked out of baggage claim, and standing in the middle of a huge crowd of people, was Sarah’s smiling face. She screamed. We all ran to each other and hugged, and I instantly felt somehow at home, halfway around the world.

That was instantly tested when we got in the car, which if you don’t know, is doing the whole other side of the road thing, which you don’t think will be that weird, but it totally is! Every time Sarah made a quick left turn, I had a heart attack. On the drive, Sarah pointed out some landmarks to us as we drove through the heart of Melbourne, and I could tell how excited she was to tell us about the city.

Sarah warned us that the first day would seem like a blur, and she was definitely right. I know we got back to Sarah’s apartment in a very posh neighborhood on the cutest street ever, before heading out to explore the city. We walked around one of the big shopping streets then met Sarah’s dad for lunch (who, over the course of the trip, became one of my favorite people ever), but the whole time, I just felt weird. I thought jetlag was just tiredness, but it was really just an off-feeling. It was bizarre.

That night, I somehow pulled it together enough to make a good first impression on all Sarah’s friends at their favorite pub, the Knott. We (Sharon and I) got a Pot and Parma (pot of beer and chicken parmesan – omg, so delicious!), and met some fabulous people – Anna, Katie, Taryn, Sheeho, Dan, Steve – I didn’t know it then, but many of them, too, would soon become some of my favorite people. I should have expected that Sarah would have amazing friends – I mean, she’s friends with me! – but I was surprised by how welcoming they were and how genuinely excited they were to meet us. Sadly by nine, the jetlag got the best of us, and we had to head home.

Friday we hit the ground running. We drove about an hour outside Melbourne to hit the first of many elementary field trip-like attractions we would visit on our trip. Seriously, everyone we told about this outing had the same reaction – Oh my god! Puffing Billy! I haven’t been there since I was four/three/two! (The age somehow always got younger.) Basically, the Puffing Billy is a historic steam train in the Dandenong Mountains.

It’s tradition for kids to sit on the railings with their feet hanging over the side of the train (affectionately know to us later as sitting “Puffing Billy style”) We thought we would go for a half an hour ride (courtesy of Sarah’s dad – a big wig in the tourism industry who, along with Sarah, a force herself in the industry, got us tickets to EVERYTHING.) We got on and enjoyed the ridiculously beautiful views of the countryside. When we got to the first stop, however, we were ready to head back.

Unfortunately, we were told we had tickets to the next stop then an hour “layover” of sorts until the train went back the other way. We made the best of things and decided to get lunch at the little snack stand, which we were told was the only place to eat. We ate outside, where Sharon and I had our first sighting of a magpie, a freaky looking bird who got entirely too close to my sausage roll. (I also tried my first bite of meat pie!)

We then walked around the area to look at some more animals when we discovered an actual restaurant with indoor seats and non-microwaved food. Thanks Puffing Billy workers for that tidbit of information. Oh well. We had fun. On the way back, we got an indoor “private” car, since it was a bit chilly, and had some…interesting conversations until a couple got in the car behind us and proceeded to make out the entire ride back!

We then rode back into town to meet Sarah’s work friends for drinks, but not before stopping at her office and taking some ridiculous photos. (They’re coming, I promise!) Sarah’s work friends were lovely, again not surprising, but also not surprising, jet-lag kicked my ass again around 6, and we had to head home before I fell asleep at the bar.

And, now I have to go get ready to go grocery shopping with my mom. This recap is going to take longer than expected…luckily, nothing interesting is happening to me at all right now, so I feel like I have time to do this trip justice.

On one more note: class starts today at my college, and for the first time in four years, I’m not there. I’m trying to ignore this fact t0 the best of my ability.