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Sunday, September 26, 2010

This is Australia Calling - welcome to Brisbane (Pronounced Brizbin)

Sorry for the delay in Reporting - the Aussie's are a bit tight with their wifi.

We had a great flight from Honolulu to Sydney on Hawaiian Airlines. After that a crowded shuttle on Jetstar to Brisbane. The whole trip took about 12 hours. This is the first time we crossed the equator - and because we threw in the International Date Line - we arrived here almost two days later - never saw Sunday.

Trying to evaluate Australia after walking around downtown Brisbane for one day - is like trying to figure out the USA after one day in Tamaqua. But it is fun picking out the different things. Obviously they drive on the left side of the road - their electrical plugs look funny and everything works on 220 volts. Thankfully all Apple products can work 110 or 220 volts.

Brisbane along with Melbourne and Sydney make up the top three cities - and Brisbane only has 1.4 million folks. So even downtown here does not seem busy or crowded. Since our hotel and convention center is along the river near several colleges - it is a young crowd here. You expect high prices downtown and by convention centers - and that did not disappoint us.

Our hotel wanted $30 a day for the internet - so I was on a search for some free wifi. Most of the signals I found were passworded until I got to the Queensland State Library. Also our hotel is connected to the convention center where they want $5 an hour for wifi. Luckily - Lulu got a password for it - and now I have a good source of free wifi to upload my page and pictures. I type slowly.

The Australian dollar is worth 96 US cents. They are proud of that because their dollaris raising to almost match ours. They do love everything about the USA - so much of their news and TV is American.

The AFL - Australian Football League - is more like rugby - soccer - and NFL combined. Their do pick up the ball - hold it - throw it - kick it. They do not wear pads - just little tight shorts. I imagine women like watching it better because of the tight uniforms. Funny - they just had their "superbowl" last weekend. The roosters and dragons played to a tie. So guest what - they are having the "superbowl" again this weekend! It sold out 80,000 just like that. They did have plenty of tickets open to the public - not just season tickets.

Brisbane is on a big meandering river - reminds me a bit of New Orleans. At one time - the river was very important for transportation. Today - it is an excellent backdrop for recreation with river walks - bike paths - foot bridges - and parks.

I plan to get out from Brisbane on a train to see some countryside. Lulu is very busy with the convention - so she will not see much of anything but this city. Her free time will be in New Zealand next week.

Lulu gave a big workshop on Monday. She delivers the keynote speech on Wednedays. then has one more seminar on Thursday. The convention is mainly school library professors from all over the world. Marcia Mardis - Lulu's "partner in crime" at FSU is here and they have teamed up to offer some interesting programs.

Weather - it is their first week of spring - but temperatures have been in the 70s - maybe even 80. It was sunny yesterday - but today is overcast. Flowers are in bloom here. I am in shorts and sneakers.

On Friday - we will fly directly from here to New Zealand. There we have 5 days - an SUV - and no reservations. We plan to just start in Christchurch - drive in a circle and end up back at Christchurch. It will be colder there because New Zealand is farther south - the last stop before Antarctica. It will be my first attempt at driving on the left side.

With the exception of the Jetstar flights to New Zealand - we are flying mostly Delta - and also using Hawaiian Airlines. In order for Lulu to be re-imbursed - she must use an American airline. Hawaiian Airlines also offers FF miles through Delta. After these flights we will be "gold medallion" flyers. It reminds me of Amway a bit - basically - they give you more free upgrades and let you on the plane first :-) Also - Hawaiian Air was the only US carrier to fly from Hawaii to Australia.

Our friend - Ben Houser - spend three months in New Zealand every year. They like to go fishing there. Unfortunately - he is not there now. He did give us tips on what to see.