I was quite surprised to hear my travelling companion complain about Qantas Airlines, since their word-of-mouth reputation in America I had always thought to be positive, generally. Or at least, I imagine the average American’s knowledge of Qantas is still limited to that bit from Rain Man where Dustin Hoffman freaks out about being on any other carrier than the Big Q because of Qantas’ safety record.
I can attest to two Qantas-related topics: one, their safety record has continued unmarred. (I arrived safely.) The second is that the service was fine, the TV sets and video games in the back of the seat in front of me made the seven-hour flight from Singapore very comfortable. (Sadly, the movie choice was limited to such Academy Award-nominees as Fantastic Four and Bewitched. Clearly there is room for improvement.)
But anybody who tells you that Australia sucks is just mental.
Melbourne has leapt to the top of my list of Pleasant Places to Visit and Potentially Live – English-speaking Division. The weather has been warm with occasional rain that gets wisked away quickly, the people have been friendly. And there is a preponderance, a bevvy, a veritable multitude of coffee shops that have street-side seating.
Sidewalk seating is so important to Melbournians that even fast food joints like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger Ki – I mean, Hungry Jack’s have them. And that’s another great thing about this beautiful city – there are as many coffee shops as there aren’t chain stores… of any persuasion. Sure, there’s 7-11′s, and the aforementioned regurgiburger joints, but by and large, Melbourne seems to be chain store free.
The benefits of this can’t be understated. Sure, as a traveller you love those fast food joints because you’re (usually) assured a clean, if not always Western-style, commode. Those’re big points in places where you if your waste gets flushed, it’s more often than not done with a bucket.
Generally, though, and hopefully without seeming anti-globalization, commercialized shopping drains money away from an area, prevents local business from competing with each other and sucks out innovation like a motorized siphon.
Aside from an initial confusion over how to order a regular coffee – long black for regular and long white for milk with your java – I think I’m acclimating quite well to a place where the Corriolis is in full (reverse) effect.