Saturday, June 6, 2009

Welcome to Melbourne!

We arrived in Melbourne last week amongst much fan fare--I mean I assume those folks at the airport wearing masks were there to greet us. Sure they were taking every one's body temperature, but they spent extra time with us. You know, because we are so important. Okay perhaps it was merely because there were three of us and it takes a bit longer to thermally scan three people, but we felt like rock stars nonetheless. I am certain, however, that we did get some preferential treatment in the Customs line. I declared a stack of stuff and was simply asked to explain myself briefly and was then waved through to the exit. Do you think my screaming 2 year old son had anything to do with the speed of my dismissal from the Customs area?'s worth considering. Next time I might just have to pinch one of the little people right before we get to the front of the line so as to expedite the process. You know, after a 15 hour flight that was diverted to Sydney for several hours before finally landing in Melbourne, I'm going to do whatever it takes to shorten the time spent waiting to get out of Customs.

Coming home from the USA is always a trip. Firstly, returning "home" to the USA is always a trip. After living here in Australia for 8 years now, going back to the USA always takes a bit of getting used to. Then after we're there for two months we are used to it. So when we return to Melbourne, it's like a whole new place. It's crazy how no matter how many times we make exactly the same journey, we always experience this little bit of culture shock on both ends. No matter how much mental preparation goes into convincing myself I won't be affected, I always am.

My first shock when I arrived in Australia last week was when the Handsome Australian was not at the airport waiting to collect us. I would have thought that after five weeks away and a flight that had been delayed in arriving by three hours, he'd have had plenty of time to get himself to the airport. Apparently not. See, this whole swine flu mania is sweeping Australia. You think it was bad in the USA back in May, the Americans--as paranoid as they are--have got nothing on the hysteria that is running rampant in Australia. I think at some point the Handsome Australian was convinced we might not even be allowed entry to Australia because of the fear we could bring the flu in with us. He told me over the phone several days before our departure that I should prepare myself for several hours in clearing customs, that there would be heaps of paperwork and that we'd be checked thoroughly before being allowed in. Great. That's something to look forward to after a long flight I thought. He was so convinced that we'd be waiting in queues for ages that he instructed me to dump any food I'd carry with me so I would have nothing to declare. I'm sure this sounded like a good idea to him at the time, but have you ever been in a long ass Custom's line with two hungry kids? How would I explain that the only food I had I'd left in that rubbish bin just back there? Yes, sometimes the Handsome Australian's advice is best listened to and then ignored.

Our actual experience in Customs this time was quite a positive one. We were greeted by people wearing surgical masks not too long after we disembarked from the aircraft. They merely directed us into various lines where the thermal scanning was taking place. This meant two guys aimed a little camera at us for about 3 seconds and then waved us through. No hassles at all.

Passport control was a breeze, the bags came out in a timely fashion and even the pram was waiting for me in the oversize luggage area--something that has never happened before in my entire history of making this journey. Piled all the suitcases sky high on the little trolley they provide, picked up screaming two year old, handed in required paperwork, answered the standard beef jerky question--no I don't have any beef jerky--and then I was waved to the exit. We were free!!

Meanwhile the Handsome Australian was waiting patiently at our home--about a 40 minute drive from the Melbourne Airport for our flight to land before he departed home to come and collect us. This explains why he wasn't waiting in the crowd for us when we arrived.

To assuage the disappointed children I quickly herded them into the airport cafe and bought them some apple juice. I also needed a coffee. You know, when you need a coffee for sanity purposes? Yeah, it was kind of a coffee emergency. Two apple juices and one coffee--$15.90AUD. Wow. That's a lot for three drinks, I don't care where you are. Welcome to Melbourne folks! Welcome to Australia! Prepare your wallets to take a beating.

Yes, it seems two months erases all sorts of memories.


Rita said...

Yes getting used to Australian prices is a tough transition, especially when it comes to children's clothing and shoes. Heck any clothing and shoes!! And groceries, don't even get me started on that one!

Annelise said...

What's with the beef jerkey?

suzinoz said...

Well Annelise, you'll just have to come to Melbourne to find out!

Annelise said...

Well, if I have not desired to travel to Australia before the beef jerkey is sure to tempt me! lol
I do need to come. It is a combination of long flights, no travel companion and need of a lot of funds to spend when I am there!!! I am a broke lady, don't you know?
Would the eldest child allow me to visit without Sir Milo Pawter?

suzinoz said...

Annelise--buckets of money are no longer required to *get* to Australia. My sister just paid $2200 for FOUR people TOTAL!!! That's just over $500 roundtrip from MEL to LAX. That, my friend, is insane!! I told you there were cheap fares out there.

Annelise said...

Getting there is not my financial is the staying there and traveling while there...