Monday, July 12, 2010

Time to Catch You Up

Hi Everyone:

Since we have been so busy looking for a place to live I have only been able to piece together this blog post bit by bit.  It covers several days.  For those of you waiting for this update, sorry for the delay.

Store Front vs. Mega Mall:

Walking down Coogee Beach Road or Bondi Beach Road you see rows of small doorways that open to different stores. Each doorway is only about 10 – 15 feet wide.  In some cases the inside of the store goes back about 2 or 3 times that far back. Some have downstairs space. Every once and a while the doorway opens to a grocery store.  There are all different types of shops located right next to the other - news agents (newspapers, magazines, bus tickets, etc.), fruit and vegi stores, real estate, restaurants, pharmacies (chemists as they are called here), clothing stores, hair salons, travel agents, banks, grocery stores, bottle shops (a place to buy alcohol) all squeezed in to a one or two small block area. Its an amazingly efficient use of space.  It doesn't look like a great place to shop, but it is.  All the stores collectively offer everything you need to live.  Its a very convenient way to shop.

All the restaurants are set up for outdoor eating which really sucks during this cold weather although they do provide outside heaters and minimal indoor seating. The weather was been a cool 60 degrees, sometimes windy and rainy; sometimes sunny. I’m told this is the worst of their winter weather and it will be over in a short 6 weeks. That’s sounds good to me. We are also having to adjust to winter hours where the sun goes down around 6:00 pm.

The local mall is amazing.  It is 5 stories high and has one of those large tv screens hanging from the ceiling. 

The Baths:

Just down the hill from our hotel next to the beach is a man-made pool.  You can see it just below the stairs where Jenna is standing. It is used to hold the sea water for swimming laps without having to deal with the open waters. Most people swim in the open waters anyway - this pool is for pansies.  Almost every city with waterfront property has one or two of these pools (or baths).  Some, like this one, are made with cement walls.  Some are just fenced in (usually chainlink) sections of shoreline.

The Plants:

The plants and trees are awesome. I love that people have Birds of Paradise plants in their yards like any ol' bush.  There is also a beautiful plant about the size of a lilac bush with a spray of red pedals on the tip of every branch. It looks like an enormous poinsettia. It very well could be a poinsettia, I haven't had a chance to ask. I have also see many unique and interesting trees including palm trees.  There are many common plants like alyssum, heather and daisies here as well.

The Birds:

The birds are fun to look for around here. We have seen common birds like starlings, pigeons and seagulls but the fun ones to look for are the parrots, cockatoo and flying foxes (giant fruit bats). The parrots are just plain beautiful to see. As Jenna and I were walking back to our hotel the other day we happened upon a pair in a tree that didn’t seem to mind that we were so close. I was able to get a pretty good picture of them. The cockatoos are crazy. They are big and white and as they fly through the sky they screech like a prehistoric bird (Taradaktal). I’m sure you know what I’m talking about but I can’t spell it to save my life. I can’t even get close enough for the spell checker to help me out. Every time we see the giant fruit bats, Jenna yells out “Batarama!”

               Yep, he's hanging out at the local dumpster.

Driving has been all Dave’s business. I’m the co-pilot who navigates complicated maps. Jenna is the bored passenger who wonders when the heck we’re going to be done looking at places. We have been driving through so many areas, past so many houses, and yet we are having difficulty finding anything. Everything at our rent cap is usually taken by the time we get there so we are looking at places above our cap and finding some that are good possibilities but probably won’t be approved. We are striving to get a place by Monday July 19 as the next day is the beginning of the next semester of school and we don’t want Jenna to have to wait to get started. We have certainly become familiar with the area and are getting around pretty good.

See maps at to see the road work.  It takes a couple cups of coffee to navigate through these mazes of roads.

Interesting tidbits:

Brekky 6AM. This was on a sign at the Hungry Jacks fast food restaurant. It’s similar to our Burger King. It just cracked us up.

They have Subway here! Since Jenna has pretty much gotten by on McDondald’s (she has practically every character from the Shrek movie from her kid’s meals), Subway is a great alternative. Other than that, one of our favorite restaurants is Hurricanes.  Dave and I had a killer rack of ribs while Jenna enjoyed her favorite item of bbq'd chicken and chips followed by a bowl of ice cream.

Chicken Sauce: We are always asked if we want any kind of sauce with our food whether its brekky, lunch or dinner. Dave asked what was included with a McDonald’s burger he wanted. He was told, ‘Tomato, lettuce, onion and chicken sauce’. Huh?? What’s chicken sauce? Can you guess?

Doors: If they don’t slide open you push them to go into a building. Think about it every time you open a door in the States, the majority of the time you pull the door. Every time I come to a door here, I have to think twice.

Which side of the sidewalk do you normally walk on when people are coming from the other direction? Here you have to remember to go on the left side of the sidewalk. Similar to when you drive.

Myth Breaker: The water in the toilets here do not flush in the opposite direction of our US toilets.  The water just goes straight down the hole. There are usually 2 buttons on the top of the tank to choose from. One gives you a gentle half flush while the other gives you a full robust flush.

The people here are so friendly and they love our accent. Dave keeps saying, but you’re the one with the accent.