After another week of urban-living, Tom and I decided to escape Sydney for the weekend and visit the famed Blue Mountains. Although, it's hard to call it an “escape” when living in Sydney is such a lovely experience.
Either way, we left for the weekend to visit the mountains. Our adventure (or I should say, my adventure) started on Friday afternoon. While Tom was working, I had the unfortunate job of picking up our rental car.
All by myself, and left to my own devices, I had to drive for the first time outside of America. On all our past trips, Tom kindly assumed the driver role. So, trying not to let on to the all-too-trusting car rental agent that I had no experience driving on the wrong, I mean “left,” side of the road, I confidently took the keys and failed miserably by walking to the wrong side of the car.
Walk with me for a moment. Pass through the urban canyon of shiny glass skyscrapers laid out on either side of you, blocking the otherwise unobstructed sun. Despite the ‘scrapers attempt to envelope you with their long-stretching shadows, glimpses of the bright blue-sky peek through.
Till now, you feel as though you could be in Any-City, USA. Then you hear a lady behind you greet her friend, “how ya’ going?” and a man hurries along his companion, “come on, mate.” A sign advertises an $8.50 “breakky,” the Australian term for breakfast. (They love to shorten words here and add a diminutive ending. Other examples include koaly and footy). You are not in America.
We finished a week in Melbourne with a rather strong buzz; not of the alcohol sort, but from the caffeine. We had been warned that Australians in general, but Melbournians in particular, are extremely discriminating when it comes to their coffee; so much so that a Melbourne local not only has his favorite cafes, but his favorite baristas too.
From my own informal and by no means exact survey, I would guess that each block in the city averages at least two cafes, of which the vast majority are small and independently owned. Not only are supremely high-quality beans the simple standard in this town, but the baristas are of equally high caliber, weilding a portafilter and steamwand with such agility it would make any American-born hipster blush. And this is precisely why Starbucks didn’t stand a chance in this town.
Chink, chink. I heard the electronic lock on the hotel door release and in walked Tom looking pretty swanky in his designer suit.
“Hi, babe. How was your…”
He stopped mid-sentence when he turned the corner and saw me forearm-deep in a sink full of dirty laundry in the hotel bathroom, scrubbing my underwear and shirts and draping them across the shower to dry.
His initial thought was to remind me that we do have money to pay for laundry services now. But a more pressing question entered his mind instead:
“Why in the world do you have so many dirty clothes already?”
I had arrived just two days ago to meet Tom in Australia.
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!