My first trip outside of Melbourne.

I cannot believe that it took me two months to leave the city since I have arrived.  I suppose two months is allowable for adjusting to work and settling in to my new life in Australia. 

I decided that my first excursion HAD to be to Hobart.  I NEEDED to see my friends.  It was three short days but it was amazing. 

I left work 10 minutes early (which for me is saying a lot, I am usually straggling behind chatting).  I had to bus to the shopping centre (the Australian spelling, I am trying to adjust to all of the extra and misplaced vowels) to buy a jacket and other necessities for traveling to Tasmania (aka warm things).  Upon entering the first store on my list of places to shop I got a phone call.  It was from work.  The first thing that popped into my head was: shit, what did I screw up.  This is my biggest fear after each shift, you just never know.  I answer and it is one of my favorite British gals: “Michelle, do you have the DD keys (narc keys)?” (In a lovely British accent). FFFFFFF.  I Jab my hands in my pocket saying out loud on the phone, “Please don’t be in my pocket, please don’t be in my pocket, please don’t be in my pocket.”  Shit.  They were in my pocket.  So, I had to move through my shopping trip rapidly so that I would have time to back track 30 minutes on the bus to return the keys.  Time was running short before my flight left.  I decided to fork out the cash for a cab so that I could get their quicker. 

I hurried home in the hope of catching a nap before taking off.  Nope.  I couldn’t sleep.  So I packed, cleaned, and twiddled my thumbs.  I was not looking forward to getting to the airport.  It would take an hour or more (driving it would be like 15 minutes by car).  Sigh.  I had to get a bus to the train stop (15 minutes).  I had a huge shock when I got on the bus.  I knew someone!!!  It was a patient I take care of but it was still exciting.  I never thought I would go about town and run into someone I knew.  As soon as I step off the bus…pouring rain.  Awesome.  I trudged to the train stop dripping wet.  Thankfully the waiting area is covered; however, the wind was spraying water all over.  Fifteen minutes of coldness and wetness.  Soon I boarded the train running through the pouring rain to the platform.  It was swift 20 minute ride to Southern Cross Station to catch the shuttle to the airport.  Luckily I only had to wait a few minutes for the bus and it was inside an underground car park (car park, another Aussie thing).   30 minutes later I was at the airport.  Finally.  I looked around to find the entrance for Tiger Airlines (its kind of like Alligent airlines in Cedar Rapids).  Well, the check in for Tiger was not at the regular terminal.  Oh no.  It was off in the back in a little shack on the tarmac.  I had to trek in the rain to this hidden terminal.  Shortly later I was checked in, eating a little lunch, drying off, and waiting for the plane to board.  Finally, off to Hobart at long last. 

As anyone who has read my story about coming over from America may know, I have struggled with plane seats.  My wide hip set makes plane riding difficult at times. Now, I have been losing a bit of weight so I was looking forward to seeing how different the seat was going to feel.  Hmmm.  This did not happen on my flight with the wonderful Tiger airlines.  I sit down, the seat fit was still tight be not as bad as I remembered.  Now the seat belt was a different story.  I took the left side, brought it to the right side, and the gap between the two buckles would not close.  The ends would not come together and make the nice little click noise.  I instantly started to panic.  To my left were two, attractive guys who looked like they were in their early 30’s.  How embarrassing!  I have NEVER not been able to fit into a seat belt.  I kept yanking and tugging trying to bring the sliver ends together.  JUST STRETCH A LITTLE MORE!  I struggled and struggled trying to bring the ends together before the attendant came around and announced out loud that the lady in 19C was too fat to fit in her seat.  Um….PANIC.  I pulled and tugged for about 10minutes sweating and having palpitations.  I cannot believe this is happening, generally when you lose weight, things get loooooooser. NOT TIGHTER.  I took a deep breath and pulled as hard as I could and then it happened. CLICK!  Finally, I was able to get the ends together.  I couldn’t move but the f’ing thing was on.  My face was red, my heart was pounding, sweat was dripping, and I was feeling a bit light headed.  I just closed my eyes and prayed that I could just fall to sleep.  I couldn’t sleep and was more legs were more antsy than they have ever been.  I probably pinched a nerve getting that stupid belt to fit.  At least the flight is only an hour. 

Finally I landed in Hobart.  I forgot what it feels like to land at their airport, kind of like you are crashing.  It’s a turbulent decent every time and due to the short runway they brake very hard.  If you didn’t know you were landing you would swear you were falling out of the sky.  As soon as the remove your seat belt sign came on I ripped that puppy off and could feel the circulation return to everything below my hips.  My stomach got butterflies of excitement because waiting for me inside was a friend I hadn’t seen in a long while.  I couldn’t get off of the plane fast enough, finally someone I knew!!! 

Rachel and her boyfriend Willie were nice enough to pick me up at the airport.  Even though I didn’t get to spend much time with Rachel when she was in the states (as she spend most of the time in bed very ill) it felt like we were old friends.  It was great to see someone familiar.  We did some catching up in the car on the way to her parent’s house.  We reminisced about her trip to Iowa a few years ago.  We got to her parent’s house to find a lovely dinner was prepared for us.  How nice!  I haven’t had a real cooked meal in over two months.  YUM!  Not only was I treated to a lovely roast with yummy veggies I got desert!  I was treated to rhubarb and apple over ice-cream.  The rhubarb reminded me of my great grandma who was always making something with it in the summer.  Now my belly was full and I was horribly tired (I worked Thursday night and never got a nap all day Friday).  After some nice conversation with a very welcoming family I finally retired.  I slept in Rachel’s old room, her nice warm room.  I don’t think I have been that cozy trying to fall asleep since I was in America. 

I was told to sleep as long as I wanted the next morning. I was sure that I would wake up at 3am since I was on a night schedule.  To my surprise, I woke up at 7am.  I slept all through the night.  I decided that 7 was way too early to wake Rachel and Willie up so I made myself fall back to sleep and set an alarm for 9.  Perfect.  Now I was well rested and ready for an exciting day in Hobart.  As the morning went on I got up and dressed.  Just as I was finishing putting on some makeup Rachel’s mom knocked on the door to tell me Scott had arrived.  He had just driven 3 or more hours from where he now lives in Launceston.  Again with the excited tummy butterflies.  Another friend!!!!  So I hurriedly finished up so I could go see my long lost friend. 

It was great to catch up with Scottie over coffee while waiting for Rachel and Willie.  It has been a while since we have seen each other but it seemed like no time had passed at all (except he looks all grown up now, haha). 

My amazing friends planned out our Saturday perfectly.  We drove to Richmond, about 20-30 minutes from Hobart I think.  Richmond is known for its historical feel.  It has a very cute historical district. Luckily I LOVE history so I really enjoyed all of it.  We went to the old Gaol (pronounced Jail…silly Australians spelling it all weird)…I kept trying to say gaol, like in sports when you make a goal.  All I did was gave them another reason to tease me and my American pronunciations.  At least I know how to spell jail.  It was very interesting to see, especially considering Australia’s prisoner history.  I loved that if I compared their technology to ours at the same time period it was very similar.  This always amazes me considering how far away the two countries are and how limited transportation and communication was between the two places.  Its no surprise how very much alike every country is these days since the entire world is able to mingle more easily and share ideas.  It just amazes me how much the same we were without even being very involved with one another.  We may drive on different sides of the road, we may sound very different when we speak, and we may eat different foods but underneath it all we are the same.  I love it. 

The town had a few cute little shops in it. I found a pretty silk scarf at one shop that I just HAD to buy.  My obsession with scarves has come with me from America apparently.  Then we went to this old fashioned candy store.  Jars and jars of candies lined the shelves.  It reminded me of the scene in the candy shop on Willie Wonka and the Chocolate factory.  I got some yummy chocolates and some strawberry twists.  The strawberry twists reminded me of my mom, sister and aunt.  We have a bag or two with us on EVERY road trip (even if it is a short one).  It was definitely one of my comfort foods. This odd lady tried to eat some of Rachel’s corn nuts, we think she thought Rachel was giving out samples.  Note to self, do not stand by the door in a candy shop with an open bag of corn nuts. Then Rachel got scolded for munching too loudly on her treat by the store owner.  What?!  I didn’t hear a thing.  After touring the Gaol (hehe) and town we had some lunch at this rustic old Inn.  I had surf and turf, delish!  The only problem is that they prepare their scallops with this horrible little egg sack called the Rose.  I don’t eat eggs of any kind so I tried frantically to remove the disgusting thing.  I am not eating that, I am not eating a scallop uterus.  They all got a laugh over my fear of the rose.  We had a few drinks to warm up and a great meal.  It was really great to be able to spend time with my friends and have such great conversation. 

After our tour of Richmond we went back to Willie and Rachel’s to chill and have a few drinks.  It was nice and relaxed.  Just what I needed!  I tried some icky Australia beer (sorry) and then had some of Rachel’s champagne stuff.  Much better.  We talked (mostly about how weird I say stuff) and watched TV (the show with the Iowans who hunt for antiques around the country…go Iowa!).  Most of our entertainment came from watching Elvis, Rachel’s cute little puppy, try to eat a boot that was three times his size.  After going attacking all of his toys Elvi got tired and pooped out on my lap.  It reminded me of when Cleo falls asleep on my chest when I am in bed.  So cozy.  The only problem is that Cleo never has smelly gas, Elvi on the other hand does.  It must have been the homemade dog treats I got him in Richmond. 

We headed back over to the Buchan house were another delicious dinner awaited us.  No, not dinner, Tea.  I was corrected all weekend that dinner was called tea.  No wonder I was getting confused at work when the old ladies tried to tell me they had a curry for tea.  Now the mystery is solved, thanks Rosemary (Rachel’s mum). For tea Rosemary made yummy pizzas.  Then I had to turn in early because of a stupid headache, probably from all of the wine I had that day.  Luckily Rosemary is a nurse too and keeps a nicely stocked medicine cabinet so she gave me some panadol (their form of Tylenol).  Which, for my nurse friends, they have in IV form here (not fair, I know). 

Sunday came far too quickly!  Scottie went to stay with his mom who lives like 40 minutes away from Hobart now.  Rachel and Willie took me to a fish hatchery (I can’t remember what the town was called).  There are tons of fish ponds all over land and you get to tour the grounds.  There are ponds and little museums about salmon and trout fishing in Tassie.  It was interesting.  I am not too into angling history I still found it quite interesting.  Besides I am happy to go to a museum about anything.  I think my dad would have really liked it.  Besides the museums we got to feed the fish.  We got these smelly pellets that you throw in the water and the fish jump all about trying to get it.  We saw some kids feeding them and the fish jumped out of the water to get the food.  I had to try it.  Rachel and I threw in tons of food but no fish decided to dance for us.  How rude.  My dreams of seeing the fish jump out of the water for my food were dashed.  Willie said if we throw them hard against the water to make a splash we would get their attention.  So here we are, chucking pellets into the water as hard as we could trying to get a bit.  Nothing.  I such as trying to lure fish with bait on a line so why would I think this would be any different?  I guess the kids before us fattened them up enough.  Discouraged we continued around the farm taking in the beautiful scenery.  We decided, after a while, to have some lunch.  On our way out we still had half a bowl of pellets so we tried one last time.  To our surprise one little trout must have been hungry so he put on a show for us and ate our pellets.  I was relived, I was starting to think these fish were snobbing me because they knew I was American.  Haha.  We ate at the adjoining restaurant which specialized in savory pancakes.  I was a bit skeptical at first but they were delish.  I had a pancake with feta, spinach, and mushrooms (my favorite at the moment).  It was awesome.  I can still taste it when I think about it.  Rachel had a curry chicken one which looked equally yum. 

We said our farewells to the fish farm and drove back to town to meet up with Scottie.  Then it was up to the mountain we went.  Scottie brought with him his wool hat (the kind that had the little earflaps), his fingerless gloves (don’t get me started on this useless invention), and scarf.  I too brought my cashmere hat and glove set, as they are my favorite part of winter, and I don’t get much opportunity to wear them in Melbourne so I had to wear them.  After our death defying trip up the winding mountain (thanks again for driving Willie) we finally reached the summit.  The views on the way up were gorgeous, I tried not to focus on the fact that we were driving up this ridiculously narrow road capable of driving off the mountain at any time.  It was flurrying a little on the top and there were patches of beautiful white snow covering the rocks.  We took a look around for a bit then decided it was too cold and got back in the car.  Well actually, it was me and Willie taking a look around while Rachel and Scottie sat in the car as it was too cold.  I think Scottie got out, since he went through the trouble of bundling up, but didn’t come down to the observation deck with us.  Ah, it was like being in Iowa on a nice winters day in December.  I just wish I could share with them a cold February day, 20 below with the wind chill.  Granted I don’t miss several weeks in a row of this kind of weather but I love getting all bundled up to go outside.  At least there was some snow as I won’t get a snowy winter for two years.  I have already decided that I would rather have below freezing temps and snow instead of 40 degrees and constant rain.  I am crazy, I know but I like snow better than rain.  Our way back down the mountain was a bit scarier as we now were driving on the edge of the narrow road.  Luckily Scottie was sitting on the left side so I didn’t have to feel like I was going to fall over the edge the whole way down.  Hobart is seriously one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.  It has beautiful blue water in the bay and gorgeously white tipped mountains in the background. Coming from flat fields of corn and soy beans this is an amazing sight. 

Then it was back for tea (yet another lovely home cooked meal, a yummy chowder).  I said my goodbyes to Scottie as he had to head back to Launie.  It was great to catch up with an old friend.  Then it was time for my ride back to Melbourne.  I was sad to leave.  I got to have a family for the weekend and got to spend time with two amazing old friends and an amazing new friend.  I can’t wait to go back!  The flight home was far less eventful, the plane was pretty much empty and the flight only took 40 minutes. To my surprise the seatbelts were a perfect fit, even with a little to spare.  Clearly the size of my backside had not increased it was that the belt was just small on the other flight.  What a relief.  Despite how much good food and all of the yummy lollies (fancy Australian word for candy) I ate there was extra belt to spare.

Sigh, back to Melbourne.  What a great weekend.

PS...I don't have any pictures as I forgot my camera.  I took one photo on top of the mountain with my phone but it was foggy so it came out kinda off.  Plus I can't get my bluetooth to cooperate at the moment so I can't upload it.  Sorry.


Hobart is in Tasmania, an island just south of Melbourne.

Hobart is marked, Richmond is just NE of Hobart.