Well, I landed in Australia just in time to watch the Patriots lose the Superbowl in a bar full of what I assume were American students spending a term abroad (read: young, kinda annoying, drinking Budweiser, and generally Giants fans).
The other two downers so far are (A) I'm apparently allergic to much of Sydney (apparently a rare condition, judging from the utter lack of allergy medicine in their drugstores) and (B) it's very rainy/foggy here right now. Apparently this is going to last most of this week (ugh) but it's better elsewhere in the country, which I shall be venturing out to next week.
Oh, regarding the flight from SFO to SYD. I indeed had a middle seat and 14 hours is just about as long as I remember it being (I awoke from my one successful nap to find we were still only half-way there). When I bought the tickets, I indicated I'm a vegeterian with the intention of avoiding those mystery meats they serve in air. Well, apparently United decided to lump vegetarians with vegans on my flight (despite them being very distinct entries in their form online) so was served nothing but rice and vegan cookies all flight... so much for optimizing that parameter.
Other updates/learned things:
- You can get your visiting visa AFTER YOU LAND. How is this a "visa" and not just an enforced visitation tax? Just say: "Australia: A$20 admission; All major credit cards accepted" and stop trying to kid everyone.
- The non-downtown bits of Sydney look suspiciously like major suburbia in CA. In the cab ride from the airport, I half expected to drive past a Trader Joe's or end up in front of my parent's house.
- "Milk shakes" aren't what you think they are (thanks for the tip Bolin!). You'll be wanting a "Thickshake." I'll probably stop noting terminology differences soon, since I imagine there's a whole wealth of them that you probably don't care about.
- Aussies (at least Sydneyites) put sweet chili sauce on pretty much everything... ranging from nachos to french fries in my limited sampling so far.
- Having an American accent in Sydney feels much less foreign than I was expecting. Maybe that's the jetlag talking. Will have to reassess after I've done a bit more bumbling about.