Dale S. Brown of Washington, DC is one of the nice people I met last year on a trip to Russia, and she kindly agreed to write a guest post about her recent trip to Australia, a country I have never visited. An edited version of her post follows.
"Australia, a Friendly and Safe Country
My trip to Australia the first two weeks of November, 2015 was wonderful. My friend and I got a deal which enabled us to take the trip within our budget.
We took the Free Walking Tours in both Sydney and Melbourne, Both tours had guides who were humourous, informative and great at keeping their groups together. At the end of the tour the guide asks tourists to pay what they think the tour was worth, so it actually isn't free, but you pay what you can afford. Their dependence on tips practically guarantees quality tour guides.
We visited almost all the top tour destinations including the Sydney Opera House, took harbour tours in both Sydney and Melbourne, visited the Eureka Tower in Melbourne and the Sydney Tower in Sydney. We also saw the Australian Museum, the Art Museum of New South Wales, and the Queen Victoria Art Museum, and visited both Bondi and Manley Beach.
The Australians we met were friendly and willing to help us. They cheerfully gave us directions and told us about the customs and people of Australia. Of course, it helped that they spoke English.
We felt safe in Australia. In Melbourne we were out after midnight on crowded streets where we felt very safe, perhaps because the country has strict gun laws.
Australia reminded me of life 20 or 30 years ago in the U.S. Small businesses and independently-owned restaurants outnumbered the chains and franchises. Meals at restaurants were relaxed, and servers didn't grab your plate as soon as it looked like you had finished your meal (as they often do in the U.S.)
All in all, the trip was definitely worth the long plane flight."
Dale got a package that included round trip air fare and six nights in a mid-range Sydney hotel for $1,884 U.S. per person. She added on trips to Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as costs for meals and sight-seeing. She sent along a great photo to accompany this post, but unfortunately clumsy me could not find a way to post it.
If you have always wanted to visit Australia, this should be a good time. The Australian dollar, like the Canadian, has declined because of low prices for commodities and is trading in the 70 cent U.S. range.