Melbourne: an acceptable level of novelty

August 21, 2010

I spent this past week at the 12th International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA XII) in Melbourne, Australia.

When I’m on trips such as this one, I want to get around the host city easily, I want to eat recognizable food, and I want convenient Internet access. I’m not especially keen to immerse myself in the local culture or geography. I’m basically a bad tourist.

As a modern, English-speaking city, Melbourne fulfilled my focused, unimaginative desires quite well. Its differences vis-a-vis Seattle were sufficient to provide some intrigue without being so large as to cause confusion.

The local unit of currency is the dollar. The bills are more colorful than American ones and worth a bit less. I can handle that.

The ubiquity of expressions like “no worries, mate” suggests that Melbourners are somewhat friendlier than Seattlites. I can handle that, too.

My hotel was a cross between a youth hostel and an American hotel, with private rooms but shared toilets and showers. No problem.

The grocery store near my hotel stocked blueberries and dates, two of the only fruits that I eat, as well as fresh pancakes and crumpets in sealed bags. I ate a lot of Nutella-topped pancakes and crumpets this week — a fine substitute for my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I suppose I could have stuck with PB&J, but, being in the Commonwealth, I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the crumpets.

In short, Melbourne is an ideal destination for uptight, unadventurous Americans like me. Should another visit be necessary in the future, I won’t be upset.

One comment

  1. I'm afraid that I'm much the same about travel. I do like to hang with the locals, but otherwise, I don't like being out of my comfort zone. Maybe I'll make it to Australia one day!

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