Bill Bryson on Australia

I love travel writing, especially with a good mix of history and humor.  Few writers do this as well as Bill Bryson does.  Here is an excerpt from “In a Sunburned Country”.

Every cultural instinct and previous experience tells you that when you travel this far you should find, at the very least, people on camels.  There should be unrecognizable lettering on the signs, and swarthy men in robes drinking coffee from thimble-sized cup and puffing on hookahs, and rattletrap buses and potholes in the road and a real possibility of disease on everything you touch–but no, it’s not like that at all.  This is comfortable and clean and familiar.  Apart from a tendency among men of a certain age to wear knee-high socks with shorts, these people are just like you and me.  This is wonderful.  This is exhilarating.  This is why I love to come to Australia.

There are other reasons as well, of course, and I am pleased to put them on record here.  The people are immensely likable–cheerful,  extrovert, quick-witted, and unfailingly obliging.  Their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water.  They have a society that is prosperous, well ordered, and instinctively egalitarian.  The food is excellent.  The beer is cold.  The sun nearly always shines.  There is coffee on every corner.  Rupert Murdoch no longer lives there.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.

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