I spoke with my friend Sharon for 45 minutes last night. (Note to my brother Larry who pays our cell phone bill: she called me.) She and her new husband Mark are now living in Melbourne, Australia. I was really happy to talk with her. We hadn’t spoken in a while. First, she and Mark were traveling on their honeymoon. When they finished their honeymoon, I was out of town for over a month.
(A short aside: Sharon and Mark have traveled more than any other people I know. Sharon’s passport is over 50 pages, and she has had to add pages twice. She and Mark met in Machu Picchu; they started “dating” over email in the following year as they each journeyed separately around the world. Mark, a designer by trade, created a fantastic invitation for their wedding party in Australia. It shows every flight Sharon and Mark took after they met. I’ll take a photo of it at some point and post it. At the wedding, I made the comment that their relationship can be measured in miles rather than years.)
Sharon is having a fun time in Australia, but she still experiences some culture shock. For example, when you rent an apartment in Australia, it only comes with a range and oven. You have to purchase any other appliances you want, including a refrigerator. And refrigerators cost three or four times more than what you pay here!
I would like to visit Sharon and Mark in the next year or so. Flights to Australia are quite expensive. A typical coach fare on Qantas from New York to Melbourne ranges from $1,300 to $1,500, but some days the flights can be as much as $3,900! At that price range, it is worth pricing out round-the-world fares. Why just visit Australia when you can visit Europe and Asia as well? The flights to Australia are also long; the New York to Melbourne flight is over 23 hours airport to airport! When you factor in the time zone changes, you lose almost two days when you fly to Australia. Regardless, I will make it out to Australia. And I want to see a platypus.
I previously mentioned how my camera died when I visited Pittsburgh to see Sharon and Mark get married. Fortunately, other people were clever enough to bring working cameras to the wedding. Sharon was kind enough to send me several photos from the wedding. They got married at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. It was my first time at Phipps, and it was very relaxing to go to a wedding surrounded by plants and flowers.