I very rarely got homesick before I moved to Australia. I’ve taken numerous international trips, lived in Italy and Los Angeles, but Australia was the farthest I’d ever been away from home.
In light of being just a tad homesick, I’ve given some thought to the things I miss the most about California, apart from my friends and family!
Number 5 on my list is avocados. Not only are Californian avocados delicious, but they’re also much cheaper. We're pretty spoiled in California because we almost don't feel the seasons of fruits and vegetables change. We can pretty much get any type of fruit or vegetables at any time of the year.
I noticed prices for fruit and vegetables fluctuates as they go in and out of season in Australia more than they do in California. Avocado's are relatively cheap during the summer, but once winter hits an avocado in Australia can be anywhere for $2.50 to $4 each.
Avocado's are more of a luxury item and I tried to resist buying avocado's in the beginning, but who am I kidding! Avocado's are freakin' delicious and so now we spend a good amount of our grocery budget on avocado's. *insert hands over face emoji*. We try to refrain from eating a bowl of guacamole though… which brings me to #2.
2. Mexican food
I didn’t think I would miss Mexican food because I figured there would be some Mexican restaurants in Australia to fill the void. Although I have found some great Mexican places in Brisbane, it’s not the same…
I am an avid food lover and Mexican food is at the top of my list (after Russian food, of course). I could eat Mexican food all day, every day, and not get sick of it. I have noticed, however, it is much better when I get tacos from a taco truck rather than when I try to make it myself. Believe me, it used to be a hobby of mine to visit all the Taco Tuesday deals around Los Angeles. Thus, Mexican food is #2 on my list.
3. Trader Joes
It seems silly that Trader Joe’s made it to my top 5 things I didn’t think I would miss about California, but I find myself wishing I could go to a Trader Joe’s nonetheless.
I think the company has done a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere within each store that I want to experience. It doesn’t matter if I don’t really need anything, I will go to Trader Joe’s just to walk around the store. It feels unique, cozy, inviting and it almost makes me forget that it’s a chain.
For me, I think that the chalk art and the painted windows provide a certain inviting atmosphere. I look forward to each new season to see the painted masterpieces.
The glass windows are decorated with bright colors, with pictures of happy pumpkins and with plump Christmas trees. I know new goodies are filling the shelves that haven’t been sold since the year before and I get excited. For example, around Halloween, EVERYTHING is pumpkin flavored: the oatmeal, the bread, the pop-tarts, the granola, etc. Its pumpkin overload, but I eat it all up (no pun intended).
It also helps that Trader Joe’s is like the affordable version of Whole Foods. I still feel like I can eat healthy without emptying all my change on the counter during check-out. In addition, I can always count on a free sample and a small cup of coffee while I shop. It really is the small details that make the experience!
While on a road trip, I used Google maps to find the local Trader Joe’s so I could get that free cup of coffee and not fall asleep behind the wheel. No shame. The coffee tastes great, it wakes you up and, when you’re a starving college student saving all your money to travel, it doesn’t cost five dollar. After all, that $5 could get you a night’s stay in Thailand... just sayin’.
4. In – N – Out
Who am I kidding, everyone saw that one coming.
I think most people I know, who have had In-N-Out and leave the state for any amount of time, always get In-N-Out right after they land at the airport. You can’t get it outside California, with a few exceptions and it’s come to symbolize an “I’m in California!” celebratory moment.
In-N-Out is a clever chain. They put their bright, yellow arrowed building right outside the airport. That is a key location. Everyone who comes off a plane is usually starving and ready for high-calorie meal. You HAVE to drive by it. If you drive by it, you HAVE to stop and get something.
A juicy burger, a Neapolitan shake, some animal style fries. And now I have to stop writing because my imagination is making my mouth water…
I’ve tried to re-create the burgers at home by adding the secret sauce, but it’s not quite the same. Plus half the fun is getting to say “I want a number two” and eating your order in the plastic white and red booths.
5. The Beach
WHAT?!? You moved to Australia and you miss the beach??
Yes. Even though Australia is known to be beach central, a haven for water sports and bikinis, Brisbane is one of the few cities that does not have an immediate beach.
One of the closest beaches is about a 45 minute bus ride from the city center. On the other hand, Brisbane IS ideally situated right in between the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
The city itself only has a man-made beach called Streets Beach which is a wonderful use of public space, but all in all, it is a large pool. The “beach” is right next to the river and looks out toward the city center on the other riverbank. It’s a beautiful and unique location, but for me, seeing the skyline takes away the reason why I love going to the beach. I like to be in nature and looking to the endless horizon and hearing the waves lapping at the shore.
I have to admit, I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to the beach, since I lived a whole year only three miles (5k) from Santa Monica State Beach. Still, the beach has come to signify peace for me. It was somewhere I could always go to watch the waves crash, listen to the sounds of loud seagulls and meet friendly strangers.
The beach always re-energized me and made me feel better regardless of my mood. Now I am in search of a place that will bring the same qualities in Brisbane. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them!
There you have it. My top 5 things I didn’t think I would miss about California. If you’re ever around those parts, please stop in to one of my favorite places and tell them Vita says “hello”. Thanks for reading!