Tuesday, January 20, 2009

By The Numbers: Farewell To Australia Edition

As I write this, I’m in the middle of my 20+ hour journey home, sitting between two charming natives of Western Australia -- an adorable aspiring actor moving to L.A., and the female owner of a strawberry field (WA is apparently renowned for them) heading to Miami and Key West.

Only a pair of Australians could make being in a middle seat in coach for 14 hours feel like an adventure instead of a sentence.

Over the last nine days, I’ve been fortunate to experience that signature Aussie charm over and over again. Here are some of the great memories I’m taking with me from my fourth jaunt Down Under -- By The Numbers:

Number of islands visited: 3
Number of times snorkeling: 2
Number of flights (commercial and charter) taken within Australia: 8 Number of hotels stayed at: 5
Number of personal items lost (including -- arrgh! -- my camera and all of the pictures from Queensland on it): 7
Number of Aussie friends seen: 2

Longtime friend and Canberra resident Dave and I reminisced and caught up over cocktails next to Sydney’s Opera House

Number of press trip journalists who graciously gave me his camera to use for my stay in Sydney: 1
Number of hunky Aussie males who threw me over his shoulder (and patted my derriere) so I wouldn’t have to walk across a rocky shore: 1
Number of business meetings that might lead to a blind date with an Aussie: 1
That blind date would be courtesy of Charlotte, Hilton’s charming regional PR manager for Australasia.

During a three-hour lunch at Hilton Sydney’s chic Glass Brasserie, our conversation eventually moved from work and the many natural wonders of Australia to dating and the pitfalls of social networking websites.

When I mentioned that I’m single, Charlotte told me about a thirty something male friend of hers who happens to live in New York. She offered to connect the two of us. Yes, please.

Charlotte and I also talked about America’s new president and how his election has created a renewed sense of hope and optimism not just in the U.S. but around the world. On this historic Inauguration Day, I feel excited about the new beginning that President Barack Obama is ushering in for the U.S.

A whirlwind trip to Australia and a brand new president -- two more amazing reasons to celebrate when I turn 35 tomorrow!

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