Monday, September 13, 2010

One month review

Obviously this is a bit overdue as we passed the one month mark on 02SEP, but I actually wrote this around that time and just haven't had a good opportunity to upload until now.

Australia Summary
Australia is a relatively easy but expensive place to travel. Probably on par with New York City, where I lived off & on for the past 10 years. A bunk in an average hostel is $25 per night; a private double is closer to $30pp. A budget hot meal is $8 and up, not including drink. Public transportation within any city center averages almost $4 per ride. Flights between major cities, with the exception of the far west, cost around $150OW. My favorite experiences in Australia generally were snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef despite the bad weather that day, our 3-day trip to Kangaroo Island, the food markets in each city - especially Adelaide's Central Market, and hanging out with our new couchsurfing friends.

A few other comments about our trip so far:
  • Less free wifi than expected and connections slow at best
  • Cool weather but never so rainy that we felt like we couldn’t venture out
  • English spoken everywhere if you can get past the Aussie accents
  • Mixed reviews of independently-owned hostels (cleanliness, noise, amenities, "free" breakfast)
  • Doing laundry is a bit costly at $3 each to wash & dry and $1-2 for powder
  • Have had to check my backpack on all flights due to very tight carry-on baggage restrictions (size & weight limits)
I also wanted to mention my original packing list. I have used pretty much every item I packed so am happy with my overall selections/amounts with a couple of minor issues:
  • My spork apparently broke on the flight over even though it was in my carry-on bag. I had used the spork previously for our Yellowstone & Crater Lake vacations so I'm not sure what happened, but the manufacturer was responsive to my customer service email and offered to send me a couple of replacements while we're traveling or else reimburse me for the replacement cost.
  • One of my convertible ExOfficio shirts has come apart at the cuff and I just need to take the time to hand sew it back together.
  • My REI fleece jacket's right arm seam started coming apart on the flight from Los Angeles to Sydney and eventually pulled all the way out. Fortunately it was double-stitched and the second seam is holding so far.
  • My pair of REI capri pants is too big in the waist. The only way I can wear them is with Greg‘s belt cinched up as tight as possible.
  • My cute Merrell street shoes aren’t sturdy and supportive enough for all the walking we're doing. The only reason I brought them and not my Merrell hiking boots was due to space constraints in my backpack. I purchased a new pair of waterproof Oboz hiking boots (company headquartered in Bozeman, MT) at a Kathmandu store in Rotorua, NZ. They weren't cheap, but I can now walk miles without any discomfort.
  • My favorite items that I'm most thankful for so far: my Timex Expedition watch with Indiglo, dual time zones & alarms; a reusable grocery bag; eBags packing cubes that keep my backpack organized; my 3 pairs of Columbia Titanium Mumbai Mover pants - perfect fit, very chic, quick drying; SmartWool socks; long underwear to sleep in on those cold nights; Hilo Hatties (rubber flip flops) for relaxing at the hostel; XL travel towel (as opposed to the smaller ones I've carried in the past).

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