“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
Well a sleepy-eyed Chicagoan made her way from O’Hare airport all the way to Hong Kong International Airport, which would have been a much better story had there been time to venture out of the airport (upon completing the 5 minute train ride and 30 minute walk to my connecting flight’s gate, I was glad I had opted out of exploring the city). On the flight to Hong Kong, I met a man who was originally from Chicago and had moved to the Philippines to work in the film industry – AWESOME! He’s lived there for six years and says he’ll never move back to America – encountering free and open minds is a beautifully inspiring thing.
On my final connecting flight I met Casey, a Canadian girl who relocated to Australia six years ago by herself and now lives in Melbourne. From the price of nail polish remover to the best island to visit in Fiji, this girl shared every ounce of wisdom she had and gave some great insight into the mind of a local. After ensuring that I got my bags and made it through customs, we exchanged information and made plans to grab a drink sometime…exciting!
As I walked through the doors, a surreal sense of my location swept over me like a wave crashing onto the shores of Miami Beach (ok, so maybe a much more aggressive wave than that). Although it was 95 degrees, it was dry and I was soaking up every second of it through my velour sweat pants and long sleeve thermal. As I walked along the sidewalk looking for my shuttle, I instantly noticed the hype about Australians…they are awesome and super friendly. Each person who worked at the airport looked at me and asked me if I knew where I was heading (in that oh-so-cute twang of theirs) and pointed me in the right direction, wishing me a cheers along the way.
Culture shock hit as I climbed into the passenger side of the shuttle – on the curbside, across from the driver, who drove along the left side of the road. As we chatted about the best places he recommended in Melbs, I cringed at the oncoming traffic to my right and rethought my original plan to purchase a scooter. After checking into my hotel I headed out to China Town to get my phone all hooked up (which was quick and easy, coincidentally the only issue came on the end of T-Mobile, who apparently sent me the wrong unlock code – surprise!). Once I purchased a phone and a few other necessities I headed back down the busy street, taking in all of my surroundings. Who knew there was such a large Asian population in the center of Melbourne? Per Casey’s recommendation, I stopped at a fast food joint called “Pie Face,” where they look at you funny if you ask for a pie with fruit in it – their pies are all meat and serve as a quick to-go snack (or take away as they tend to call it). Of course I had to make like the locals and top the delicious eat with to-MAW-toe sauce, or otherwise known to Americans as ketchup!
Through the rays of sunshine above, I spot sweet irony in its most tangible form – alas, next to my hotel stands a towering Batman-like high-rise, far too similar to my favorite building which is visible from the apartment of one charming blue-eyed man in Nashville, Tennessee. I do believe the world sometimes has an eery way of reminding us of those we love, no matter how vast the distance between us.: )
After finishing my snack I spotted the fluffy and enticing pillow lying on my bed; laying my head down for just a second with every intention of troubleshooting my phone, I was asleep before I knew it. It is now 3 a.m. here and I am wide awake, wishing I could go back to sleep…I have big plans for tomorrow that include meeting my friend Jess who I am absolutely stoked to finally meet, visiting the bar I’ll be working at and of course, hitting up the beach!! Stay tuned for some REAL local insight tomorrow – my first official full day in Melbourne.