7 things I learnt as an Australian in Denver
1. The American stereotype is 100% true...except for the obesity.
If you've been following me on Twitter, you'd have seen the outrageous things people have said to my face. The common attitude towards travel tends to be 'why', instead of 'why not', and conversations regularly zig zag between racism, ignorance and reality television. But in Colorado, at least, people are actually more active than the average Australian. The number of runners and cyclists out in blizzard conditions is the stuff of Nike advertising.
2. People are obsessed with the idea of being 'hipster'.
This one really confuses me. If you like a nice band, you're hipster. My beanie slipped a little back off my forehead, and I was hipster, apparently. There's a palpable cultural segregation. You're too cool, or you're not cool. You're one of us, or you're one of them. They find identity in their tastes. It reminds me of being 16 again. There's no spread of culture because people desperate to be 'hipster' won't share, and people who judge 'hipsters' for trying so hard won't try anything new for fear of becoming one of them.
3. It's more beautiful than Australia.
I must disclose that there's a lot of Australia I haven't seen. But I've never seen, or heard of, anything quite as stunning as the view you get of the Rocky Mountains even from the heart of downtown Denver. I always hated running outdoors until I came here...now I run just to take it all in.
4. Unless you eat crap, it's not that much cheaper.
We Australians have this fabled concept of America being unbelievably cheap. $10 for 50 McNuggets, I used to tell people, shuddering at the price of fast food here. But here's a secret you don't hear very often: it's only fast food that's cheap. For some bizarre reason, the government subsidises junk food, and the normal, healthy stuff like nice brunches or fresh veggies is pretty much the same price as it is in Australia. And though alcohol is less heavily taxed, it's still the same price once you factor in tips at bars. Sorry to break it to you.
5. It's a beer lover's heaven.
Sure, I miss a good drop of Alpha, Box & Dice, but the sheer variety of beer available in Colorado is so overwhelming that I've gone months without wine now. I could have a different local beer every day for years and not have the same one twice. I never used to be a beer girl, but I've even come around to dark stouts and IPAs out here. The craft breweries are incredible.
6. And a pot lover's heaven.
If you like to eat it, you can get a marijuana-laced version of it. I'm not joking: chocolate, pastries, even sushi. Not my vice, but fascinating nonetheless.
7. But a coffee lover's hell.
Order a macchiato and you'll get a bucket of warm brown milk tainted with sugar and chemicals. Ask for a flat white and you'll get confused looks. And don't even think about requesting a ristretto or lungo. No sir, you'll have burnt, black, caffeinated poo water or you'll have nothing.
PS: (Somewhere between marathon training, the Christmas season, and settling into my new job as a magazine journalist in Colorado, I lost touch with blogging. You could call me undisciplined, but realistically I was merely un-tripod-ed. Really, though, I had been stacking piles of books precariously on a desk just to shoot photos.
After a prolonged, nigh emotional wait, a Mefoto Backpacker tripod, with its teeny build perfect for mountain hikes, has arrived in the mail. And with some shoots already around the corner, there's more to come yet.)