A few thoughts as I travel through Australia and New Zealand:
- Saying you’re an American gets a mixed reaction over here. But saying you’re from California almost invariably gets a warm response.
- If there’s a recession on in these two countries, it’s not immediately noticeable. Everywhere we went, we’ve seen large crowds of people spending money and enjoying themselves. The attitude is positive and welcoming.
- Air New Zealand is an outstanding airline: The service on the ground and in the air is outstanding, and everyone they’ve met has a great attitude. They’ve accomplished the near-impossible: creating a safety video that people actually tune in to watch—it’s so entertaining.
- Virgin Australia, OTOH, is a poor imitation of the parent Virgin brand…like Southwest without the efficiency or outstanding service. In fact, at times it reminded me of the old PanAm shuttle—and not in a good way. Made me wonder if I should have been flying Qantas, which I would not have predicted. My advice: Avoid them at all costs.
- Eating eucalyptus leaves is not a great way to get energy, which is why koalas need to sleep nearly 21 hours a day. Oh, and koalas are maruspials like kangaroos, they’re not a kind of bear.
- We’ve literally tripped over Occupy protests in both Melbourne and Sydney. Both times everything was peaceful and well organized. In Sydney, the police escorts (on foot, horseback, and in vehicles) greatly outnumbered the actual protestors. Their big banner focused on getting troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq—not one of the issues engaging their American counterparts.
- Unclear on the concept: One of the top seafood restaurants in Hobart, Tasmania serves farmed Atlantic salmon instead of the local Tasmanian variety, which is quite good. Huh?
- If you want to understand the idea of conscious competency, try driving on the left side of the road after a lifetime of driving on the right. Requires thought and focus!