Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Melbourne (Pronounced Mel Bun)

It's New Years Eve Eve here in Australia. And it's amazing how many places close down for pretty much the entire week of Christmas - New Years. We've tried to visit a market in Adelaide, a few restaurants in Melbourne, and boxing day (Dec. 26) forget about it...

Last night was spent traveling on a night bus (Greyhound Australia) from Adelaide to Melbourne. Our friend James was totally great; riding the shuttle with us to town, feeding us a ramen noodle type dish beforehand (me goreng it's called, and it's MUCH better), and taking us to a great Chinese place for chicken and dumplings before boarding. He even waited for us until we got on the bus right at 8:00PM. The Aussies in general are extremely considerate and polite people. Bus drivers, locals, the people at hostels and supermarkets... all overly nice.

The lifestyle is very care free here (like you said, dad). For example, it's not looked upon as wrong or uncommon to take a sick day (or vacation) from work. America allows 3 weeks of vacation and sick days combined, on average, whereas Australia allows 5 weeks. Our host Josh just took off 2 weeks of work and he is not looked upon any differently for doing so. I know my dad has a hard enough time as it is taking off one day of work even when feeling very ill. Also, healthcare is universal here, the wages are much higher (James gets paid $21/hr working at a supermarket) and college loans work much differently (much better).
  • Nobody has to worry about getting hurt and not having insurance to cover the hospital expenses in Australia.
  • There are 3 different types of pay at jobs in Australia: full time (same as America but with the longer vacation and sick time allowances), part time (less per hour, but still have sick time and vacation time), and casual (which is what James works as; not promised a certain amount of hours, no vacation or sick, but get paid a higher rate).
  • College loans are apparently forgiven if the total debt is below $27,000 (I could be wrong, but James thinks that's the case) and best of all, students don't have to start paying off their loans 6 months after graduating from college, which they do back in The States. Instead, they will get placed into a job related to their field AND ONLY THEN will they start paying back their college loans.
Talk about a better socioeconomic system, right? But the grass is always greener on the other side... Australian's will have their fare share of problems to talk about in terms of their own country. Everyone here is very up-to-date on current issues, compared with America, and Australian's are a lot more water conscious. They have to be with the frequent droughts that occur. I've also noticed the architecture being extremely different, specifically in residential neighborhoods. Brick and cement houses are very common and the roofs are made of metal (either tin or aluminum) or terra cotta.

A typical residential house in Adelaide, Australia.

The last thing I'll mention is that Elisha and I are currently "couchsurfing". Most of you have probably heard about this from me already, but couchsurfing is a social networking website that connects travelers to other travelers worldwide. How it works is that everyone makes a profile about themself, then finds other "couchsurfers" in the city they are traveling to. Melbourne alone has over 1000 couchsurfers who live there. Amherst has about 75 - 100. This year I've had one person from Pittsburgh and another person from California stay with me and my roommates. Now I am the guest (Elisha, too) instead of the host!

This is Amy and Josh, our couchsurfing hosts. Both are from Oregon and they moved to Melbourne in February of 2007.

We arrived in Melbourne at 7am this morning, took a commuter train to a suburb called Northcote, and walked a short distance to Amy and Josh's apartment. They greeted us warmly by making us a fruit salad and tea/coffee breakfast, showed us our air mattress / bedroom for the next 3 nights, and gave us a key for us to go in and out as we please. Elisha and I needed a bit of relaxing before venturing out for the day, so we took a seat on their couch and spent the next hour or so using the internet. Amy then came back from her friend's place and the three of us (Elisha, Amy and myself) went to the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria, a museum with aboriginee art among other things in the main city).

The National Gallery of Victoria, where we went today.

To wrap up, tonight Elisha and I are making diner at Amy and Josh's and then head down the street to where another friend of mine from Europe is playing music. His band is called the Lost Note Foundation (for a sample of his music you can check out his myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/lostnotefoundation) and he will be playing live tonight around 8:30. It will be good seeing another face that I met in Europe again.

Well, that will probably be the most comprehensive blog entry that you read during this Australian adventure. So I don't blame you if you stop reading after getting through with this! No no, I'll try keep up with this as I am only connected through most of you through this website for the next 3+ weeks. But in return, you must leave me more comments! Thanks to those of you who have already left them, but I expect more of the same from you as well as others! See you all soon, and how is the weather back home?

The weather here is pretty much...

Sunny, sunny and sunny - EVERYday! Knock on wood...


  1. Hello travelers!
    So nice to be able to read about your adventures. I'm sure you have many more to share and I can't wait to see the pics. I'm sitting here staring out the window at yet another snow storm! It sounds like you have met some really great people along the way. That's what it's all about. The sites are great, but building relationships is even better. Keep the posts coming when you can, it's great to hear about the trip. Love to you both, and keep smiling!

  2. Hope you guys are having a blast! I remember the steamy weather on Christmas feeling a little strange when I was in Sydney, but I had no complaints about spending the day at the beach! Let me know if you have any questions when you get to Sydney...enjoy taking it all in.
    Happy New Year!

  3. Pat (Elisha's Uncle)December 31, 2008 at 2:07 PM

    Happy New Year you guys!! Missed you at Christmas, and am a little jealous as the snow is flying outside (again!)

  4. Tom (Elisha's other uncle)December 31, 2008 at 5:29 PM

    I am so excited that you guys are with good friends and are having a great time. Like Pat, I am jealous about the nice weather you are having. Tonight, as we toast in the new year, we will hold you both in our thoughts and hearts. Looking forward to the pictures and stories. Happy traveling. We love ya both.

  5. Candy (Elisha's Aunt)December 31, 2008 at 7:40 PM

    Hi Elisha and Ryan,

    Glad to here that you are having a good time. Uncle Fred wishes that he was with you, as it would already be the new year. Wishing you safe travels. Love you both.

  6. Hi! It's great to hear about your trip this way. I'm glad you're having a good time, meeting up with nice people, seeing the country. As was already said, we missed you both at Christmas and look forward to seeing you and hearing all about your adventures when you return. Happy 220! Love, (Aunt)Dorene (and Aunt Mary)

  7. Happy New Year albeit a day late and for you and additional 16 hours late too. Arthur and I stayed at Nancy and Massimo's New Year's Eve and last night. Watched movies yesterday and just relaxed. We watched "Eagle Eye" which stars Shia LaBoerf and we all concurred that we thought we were watching you as the resemblance is uncanny. Good flick too. Loved reading your blog and it sounds so great what you have been up to and informative as well. Looking forward to reading more entries. Will read it to Grammy later.

    Love you both,

  8. Hi all
    Gretchen - just had to say we watched Eagle Eye on New Years Eve! I hadn't thought about it before, but you're right, there was quite a resemblance.
    Happy New Year to all ~