Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ordering Coffee in Melbourne

We again enjoyed what must be one of the world's shortest scheduled flights on a 747, a 438-mile hop on UA between SYD and MEL to ferry passengers and planes between the two airports and only open to passengers connecting to and from UA flights in SYD.

Immigration was quick and friendly. For whatever reason, an official let us completely bypass the fairly rigorous Australian quarantine inspection, that they (along with New Zealand) apply understandably to keep their islands free from invading plant and animal diseases.

We stopped at an ATM (fortunately for us, the US $ continues to have moved up somewhat against the Aussie $) and wandered around the airport, a very pleasant place, after checking in at the Airport Hilton and being told we might have a room by 11:00 a.m. The Hilton is housed in a portion of the airport's parking garage and just a brief walk from the terminal itself.

Brian blew it again ordering coffee in hotel restaurant. One doesn't order coffee here. It's a little different. Brian, trying to blend in with the natives as an "old Australia hand," blurted out that we'd like long flat blacks. The young woman behind the counter looked politely startled, as there's really no such thing. "Do you want hot milk in it?" she asked. Brian, who is known for losing his poise in such situations and blurting out "yes" to whatever is suggested, blurted out "Yes."

Kathy was very polite about pretending to like her resulting cup of flat white that was really more of a café latte, one of her least favorite caffeine concoctions - it least it wasn't sweetened.

Brian recovered in time to ask the young woman at the front desk how to order a plain black coffee with milk on the side. She sweetly instructed us to ask for a long black with a jug of milk on the side. That's called an Americano in some other countries, and it often tastes like watery coffee, because it's basically water added to espresso, which to the Aussies is a - here it comes - short black.

In any event, Brian has now written down "long black with a jug of milk on the side" in his notebook, so as to be prepared for the next coffee ordering challenge.

We're now ensconced in a lovely corner room on the sixth floor, overlooking the airport and runways. The superb soundproofing completely isolates us from the noise of takeoffs and landing a few hundred yards away.

We may meet a fellow Flyer Talker, pat89339, later for dinner. She flew on the same flights from SFO onward. Oddly enough, we bumped into "Pat with a bunch of numbers" (as she calls herself) once before when she noticed our Flyer Talk luggage tags while we were all boarding at Melbourne. Flyer Talkers don't need secret signs - those fluorescent luggage tags do the trick.

After a long shower for Brian and a longer bath for Kathy, our latest trip to Oz is starting off in fine fashion, as long as Brian keeps his notebook handy the next time we want a "long black with a jug of milk on the side."

No worries...

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