Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Australia at Last

After a 4-hour flight to LA, then a few hours layover in the cruddy LA airport, then a 15-hour flight to the Melbourne airport, then a 30-minute bus ride to the city center, and a 30-minute tram ride to my hostel, and I finally arrive to find it closed. Then it started raining.

I don't freak out, I'm just tired. There's a number to call, and there's a cafe next door. So I do that, and wait, and think about how anticlimactic my arrival to Australia has been. It's an expensive flight, and a long flight, and I even missed Christmas for it. And when I get there, the city is pretty much shut down because it's a national holiday, and I'm just sitting around waiting to get into my hostel. It's like no one cares that I'm here.

The cafe owner cares though, and offers to make me a glass of fresh-squeezed mango juice even though I tell him I can't pay him since I don't have cash. He says not to worry about it, that he trusts I will come back the next day and pay. So I drink that, and continue to wait, and think about the bendy straw.

Once I get into the hostel and take a shower, I feel a bit better. The hostel's okay, kinda grimy, but clean enough. The shower is hot, and the bed is clean, and the wifi is free, which is why I picked the place. The people are actually quite nice. Most of them are here long-term for several months or so. They have work visas and are working around Melbourne and living here. I feel like an outsider because the others are becoming fast friends after spending so many weeks living together — they had a Christmas celebration and they frequently cook dinner together — but everyone is very chatty and nice to me even though I'm not part of their group.

I explore the neighborhood a bit; a half mile or so away I find a cute area with a lot of cafes and boutiques. The next day I explore downtown Melbourne and visit a few of the major monuments of the city. I do a lot and I see a lot and I take a lot of pictures, but I feel lonely. Jake sends me a video of his family opening my Christmas present, and I am sad to have missed the celebration. His mom gave me a light-up globe.

I'm kinda glum most of the day. Maybe I'm just jetlagged. But I'm a little sad that there's no one to laugh at some silly shop names with me, like "Lord of the Fries" or "General Pants Co." Other things bum me out too, like that there aren't any classes this week at the cooking school I wanted to check out, and the Queen Victoria Market doesn't have produce today, just souvenir trinkets. I could also be looking for reasons to be bummed out because that is how I feel like feeling.

Maybe I just expected visiting a foreign country to be so much more exciting. I like things about Melbourne, but I'm not excited about it. I have no one to be excited about it with.

I've traveled alone before, and I know this'll pass. I have two more days here before I head to New Zealand to meet a friend, which will be totally different. I don't have anything to be glum about. For now, I will keep myself busy and occupied. Tomorrow I will work all day, which I'm actually looking forward to. I think it'll cheer me up. The next day I might do an all-day wine tour, which will super duper cheer me up.