Hellooooooo from Bendigo!

Greetings from the other side of the world!

Initial thoughts — it doesn’t feel like I’m on the other side of the world.

Australia is so westernized that it feels like I’m in a U.S. city I’ve just never visited before but people talk funny and drive on the wrong side of the road. Oz in a nutshell.

Okay, well there are a few more differences than that. Here are my initial observations:

  1. Drive-thru bottle-os are a thing. These are open-air liquor stores where people can pull up, tell the teller what they want, then pick up the order and pay. Alcohol on demand. Not a common occurrence in the States!
  2. Shoes = optional.
  3. Some people are very friendly. Some people are very weird.
  4.  Some people are strikingly beautiful. Some people are very weird.
  5. There are distinct Aussie accents based on geographical regions. Generally, the more country, the thicker the accent.
  6. Most houses are one story. No upstairs, no basement. A second level is a commodity for the well-to-do.
  7. It’s hot. Even in the winter.

Does that paint enough of a picture? Probably not but that’s okay. That’s what photos are for!

bendigo_1

I arrived at the Melbourne airport Friday night where my beautiful friend Sasha picked me up from and drove us two hours back to her house. Unfortunately it was too dark  to see much off the highway on the way, though I was yearning to see some kangaroos.

Sasha lives in a quaint city outside Melbourne called Bendigo. At first glance, it seemed very similar to small-town (well, mid-sized-town) America: a bustling Main Street, plenty of mom and pop shops and cafés, a local park, bars, theaters, pharmacies, etc., and then residential areas surrounding downtown. Sasha lives in a spacious one-story home with a big back yard. Though she lives with roommates, she still has two spare guest bedrooms — enough for me and my stuff!

I passed out early that night after a quick take-out dinner, but I needed to sleep off the jet lag to prepare for the days ahead. It still didn’t feel like I was in another country that first night, but I knew the realization would sink in shortly.

The next day, Sasha was preparing to have guests over for her birthday party that night. I got a chance to see everyday Bendigo as she and I ran around town running errands and picking up goodies. We went to a shopping mall where I got a party dress and cute shoes (the first of many pairs of shoes), then to a Walmart-type store for party decorations and a punch bowl, then to the chemist to pick up a prescription, then to a discount store for party lights.

Meanwhile, we stopped to get lunch with Sasha’s darling friends Jeremy and Nadine at an eclectic, hippyish café in downtown. I got my first Australian cappuccino — delish — and had a go at the Aussie version of nachos.

Later we headed back to Sasha’s to prepare for the night’s festivities. Slowly her friends trickled in and one-by-one I got to meet the gorgeous Aussie youth. (Wait that sounds weird — they’re not children, just, like, young adults you know?)   And as the bottles popped, we got more and more in the party spirit and had an awesome time. I even taught her friends good ‘ol American Flip Cup 😉

Photos courtesy of Sasha and her friends.

Later we headed a bar that is pretty much a staple for the kids in Bendigo and I got my first Australian night out. Turns out, partying in Oz is not much different from  partying in the U.S. Who would thunk?

We stayed out for a few hours but headed home before it got too, too late. After a busy day and eventful night, I finally felt like I was in Australia. But just, the western part….

Needless to say, I slept well.

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