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Once around the world (IV): Bargain hunting as a holiday sport
Despite the general rise in costs: Australia by no means has to empty your holiday budget if you are willing to make small savings every now and then. There are many tricks. It is best to buy alcohol before entering Sydney on the way from the plane to the passport counter. In this duty-free shop, the prices for spirits are astonishingly lower than in Asian airports - and up to two thirds cheaper than in the Australian "bottle shop". Once in the country, hundreds of dollars can be saved by occasionally dining where the Australians eat: the RSL. In these state-subsidized ex-soldier clubs, of which almost every village has one, you can get a full menu for under 15 Australian dollars (9.20 euros).
Knowledge also pays off when looking for souvenirs. German visitors actually always buy the same three souvenirs: koala or kangaroo plush toys, Akubra hats and of course the didgeridoo, the traditional wind instrument of the North Australian Aborigines.
When it comes to koalas and kangaroos, it's the cheapest in the supermarket. Usually they come from the same factory in China as the much more expensive ones from the souvenir shop. Akubra hats, these "typical" Australians made of rabbit fur, are best and cheapest to buy in a small town farm shop. Just where the farmers shop. It gets more difficult with the didgeridoo: the market is flooded with wind instruments. But the didgeridoos sold in souvenir shops in the cities for 50 to 100 Australian dollars each are usually made in China and painted with Aboriginal symbols in Sydney. If you want a real one of these instruments, you not only have to spend up to 700 Australian dollars, but first find the right one. "A good? Didg? Has to be a love for life," says the well-known didgeridoo artist Andrew Langford. Certainly not love just for vacation. A good quality wind instrument - a piece of eucalyptus wood hollowed out by termites - is most likely to be found where it is played: in northern Australia. It is best - and usually cheaper - than in a store to buy it in an aboriginal settlement, where the artist can explain the spiritual background of the painting to one of the artists. And as with all love: the tone is more important than the appearance. If this "is right for you, it is the right instrument," says Langford. Not that playing a didgeridoo is easy. Learning to breathe is not for everyone. In many cases, the didgeridoo ends up in a corner at home in Germany and collects dust. It was just a vacation love after all.
quarantine Australia and New Zealand share an almost manic determination to enforce import regulations. The geographical isolation of Australia and New Zealand from the rest of the world has kept diseases and epidemics afflicting agriculture in Europe and other continents from getting there. To protect this condition, countries have implemented the toughest quarantine regulations in the world. Every visitor has to fill out a form on the plane stating that they will not bring any food with them. If he has any food with him, he must either leave it on the plane or declare it upon importation. Many edibles such as chocolate and other confectionery are allowed - provided they are declared. Anyone who does not do this faces severe penalties.
Fines The fines run into the thousands of dollars; and a few weeks in prison are not excluded. Meat products such as sausages and canned meat have no chance of being waved through by customs. Anyone who tries to smuggle food will be caught with a guarantee: Each piece of luggage is X-rayed with a special machine when it is imported. Walking shoes you have brought with you always lead to an unpleasant surprise. If these are dirty on arrival in Australia or New Zealand, they must be scrubbed by the owner before entry - under the watchful eye of a customs officer.
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