Arrived back from Oz on Saturday evening. By today I'm feeling OK but last couple of days weren't great. You know you're body's in trouble when you leave Sydney at 7pm Friday evening and get into Honolulu at 8am Friday morning.
Come away from Australia really impressed. Quality of life as defined by bars, restaurants, shopping and great weather appears to be excellent. Depending on your view of winters, that alone could make quality there a lot better.
Interesting conversations with locals. Right now, Australia is dis-attached from what's going on in the rest of the world and but it's hurting none the less. A couple of the major banks (one government owned) have been moving interest rates up. Personal loan rates over 9%. Three increases in less than a quarter! Limo driver we took to the airport was desperate to keep his limo going - so hanging around hotels picking tourists is part of his new gig.
Some prices in Australia are steep. Gasoline at $1.37 litre. Good luck finding a restaurant with 'mains' less than $35 and appetizers less than $15. However, travel is cheap. Airfares between major cities at less than $100. Trains a super bargain.
Remain super impressed with Qantas. Their in-country and international services which include internet in all their lounges and meals/booze on all their flights is way different from the abuse we take in North America.
Return trip also included 2 legs on American Airlines. First left Honolulu 2 hours late. By Qantas standards, basically no service between Honolulu and LA. Second boarded on time but delayed 45 mins to toss off baggage from a passenger who was on the flight but the airline thought wasn't!
Maybe its the contrast to Oz but America's apparent infatuation with rules to keep everyone safe gets really tiring. At times a bit of a horrible joke too. We arrived at the Honolulu customs desk just in time for the computers to crash. Apparently there is a back-up plan, but it doesn't work if no one knows their on-line password. We got through just in time. Other 5,000 people may still be in line.
Overall, great trip. Now, back to reality.