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Where Australia Wins

Tasmanian beach

A gorgeous Tasmanian beach.

As an expat, I find myself often debating on the pros and cons of my home country (USA) and my adopted country (Australia) — especially when life gets frustrating. When it comes to things like convenience, cost of living, shipping times, online shopping and so forth — anything logistical and cost-based — America wins. Almost every time. So, when I’m wanting to work on the business-related things I am working on now (that’s another post), trust me, I think nothing more than about how easy this would all be if I were still living in the land of Lincoln.

And then I hear about freezing cold winter storms dropping feet of snow on people, and honestly… I cringe. (Although Sydney’s weather has been less than stellar these days, too.)

With something like 11,000 beaches, tropical rainforest, desert, plains, waterfalls, gorges, mountains, curious wildlife, and vast expanses of open, natural wonder, one could argue that Australia wins the award for natural scenery. And do notice that I say “argue”.

Talking about quality of life overall, with that laid-back Aussie lifestyle… well, that’s no contest — so why even bother bringing that topic into discussion.

As funny as it may sound, I was reminded of two other places where Australia wins while cruising on the Carnival Spirit: coffee and tipping.

napkin folding

Napkin folding from our very excited waiter — and one never expecting a tip.

You’ve probably heard me talk one time or another about coffee around the world and how Australia has actually produced a rather snobbish coffee culture (don’t deny it people, it’s true). I didn’t believe it when my Aussie friends who were traveling with me back in the Baltics were mentioning how much they were missing a good coffee, but, yes, the Australians take coffee pretty damn seriously. With barista training courses and a quite decent pay for a top cafe barista, Aussies (and now myself) will tend to migrate to a joint that can give them a solid brew consistently.

In the same light, Australians tend to talk down on the American style of drip coffee – to which I immediately jump in to the rescue. When Sophie stood there on the deck of the Carnival Spirit and mentioned something in the line of how Australians view American coffee as being mediocre, I took it upon myself to explain that it’s just a different thing. See when Australians talk about a “coffee”, they are more than likely talking about something made from espresso – a cappuccino, a latte, and so on. Of course a drip coffee would taste watery after a life of that. But then Americans treat the drink of coffee more casually. It’s a throughout-the-day type of drink to many, and much easier to do so.

australian coffee

A cappuccino — how very Australian.

Anyways, my point was that the American cruise ship – the Carnival Spirit – has been Aussified before making its landing down in Australia, and one of the main points in doing so was giving all the staff proper coffee-making training. I will admit, while I am perfectly content with a drip coffee, when it comes to a good cappuccino, the Australians have America beat; this was a fact I didn’t realize until after returning home for the first time in 3 years to be met with one poor cappuccino after another (too hot, too burnt, too milky, etc.).

Now tipping is another contentious topic. To be honest, I do appreciate a tipping culture, and that is a post I plan to write later on. However, it does make life easy when you know your tip is already built into the cost of a dinner out. There’s no worry in your mind about sitting for too long and wasting a server’s time, or needing to tip for it. I appreciate the benefits of it in that regard, but…. but… the Aussified tipping structure on the Carnival Spirit made this point INCREDIBLE. No tipping required, ever! I could imagine that being a major win in the Aussie cruise ship over American simply because you don’t have to mentally factor that into your experience. Someone on Facebook actually warned me about gratuity at the cruise ship bars – not here!

Australia truly is a brilliant place. As with anything, there often comes a bit of the bad mixed with the good. Like… oh, how that gorgeous landscape with countless days of sunshine is accompanied by a very thin ozone. Damn… Australia, you definitely do not win on the skin safety front!

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*My cruise on the Carnival Spirit was provided free of charge. Read about my initial cruise experience here.


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6 Responses to Where Australia Wins

  1. Bianca March 21, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    Coming from Melbourne I do miss good coffee when I travel. In Asia milk is such a rarity that I just make do with the drip coffee. But my next big trip is to France so I’m not anticipating the same issues!

  2. Richard Crest April 17, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    Different culture with different taste of coffee, I love to take a sip good cappuccino in Australia.

  3. JC May 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    I was thinking about just this the other day when I ran out of yet another one of my favorite Australian products and discovered there’s no distribution in North America.


    -Skin care: the sunscreen and natural skin care products are the best I’ve ever used. These people, they know how to work zinc and make non-toxic moisturizer.

    -Directness in Communication: at first off-putting, I really miss people just saying what they think. I still do this now that I’m home and I’m amazed how quickly it solves problems.

    -Beer sizing: especially in WA, the ability to be served beer in ice cold 7oz increments never lost its charm for me (also: chilling the glasses for the win). I think Aussies are as neurotic about beer as they are about coffee.

    -Style: my Aussie girl friends pictures on FB are magazine-worthy and not even trying, even during heatwave summer festivals and races. HOW?!

    -Home and Away. I am still trying to figure out how to bypass the country block so I can stream stories about beautiful men sometimes living in a caravan park to my heart’s content.

  4. Ruthi August 23, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    And then again in China no tipping required at all! makes the bill shrink quite a bit for impoverished travellers such as myself.

  5. Drop Bear Adventures September 9, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    we have visited Australia last year and enjoyed on the 4×4 drive on Noosa, we are thinking of coming back this year to do some whale watching and maybe exploring more of sunshine coast. 🙂

  6. pete January 28, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    As someone from rural north of Melbourne, I missed the sounds of Kookaburras when I lived in Sydney, Singapore, LA and Minneapolis….but ice cold beer certainly hits the spot for an Aussie.
    Best beer joint in Sydney summer…. Fortune of War pub at the historic Rocks certain times in summer the beer taps were kept sooooo cold that beer comes out as a slush of ice just on the verge of melting. Heaven on your tongue !
    The worst part of being an aussie overseas… no vegemite, meat pies and mildly cold beer.
    On the other hand…despite watery coffee etc etc one cannot beat Midwest USA hospitality…lovely people.
    Tipping is a growing trend in Australia albeit very slowly. It’s not based on the cost of the meal just the service…pretty much the loose change approach plus a dollar coin or two.
    As a uni student long ago, I once waitered on a table in a Melbourne restaurant that the customer spent over a thousand dollars after winning a huge amount at the races…adored my service…tipped sixty cents ! The customer considered that a nice gesture …LOL

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