Thursday, August 10, 2017

Winter in July? Bah Humbug.

I have only been in Australia a few weeks but already I am thinking that the Northern Hemisphere is a better place to be in winter, especially if you celebrate Christmas. Christmas has lights and presents and parties, and you hardly know it is dark and the weather is crappy as you flit from one cheerful gathering to the next.
In the Southern Hemisphere during the darkest days and the worst weather, you have...nothing.

OK, so there is a half-hearted attempt at frivolity with a few scattered "Christmas in July" activities, but they seem to be held at the equivalent of a Rotary Club and involve people much older than I am.
Not exactly my idea of something to clear my calendar for.
They tell me it is awesome to have Christmas during the Summer as you can have pool parties and picnics on the beach and everyone wears Santa hats with their swimsuits and it is all very jolly. I experienced Christmas in Australia once, but I'm pretty sure I was too jet-lagged to appreciate the finer points as we had just arrived in the country Christmas morning about 6:00 am.
I'm sure it will be wonderful. In four and a half months.
In the meantime, I am scouting out anything that advertises wine and warm food so I can at least try to enjoy being thrown back into Winter. Spring is coming soon, isn't it? Please?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Home Appliances = White Goods

I am learning so much about appliances or "White Goods" as they are called here. What if you want a different finish on them? Do they call them "Stainless Steel Goods"? Probably not...
We have sorted out the refrigerator issue as the current tenant of our soon-to-be home has graciously supplied the measurements of her current fridge. (which she is taking with her) Yay! Now we can get something reasonably big and be assured that it will fit. As I am an American, I will of course insist on a Big American Refrigerator. So, one appliance down, many, MANY more to go.
Electric plugs and voltage are different here, so none of the dozens of kitchen gadgets we had in the States will work. Sadly we had to bid goodby to the Cuisinart. The KitchenAid. The handheld blender. My beloved rice cooker. Vacuums, lamps, fans, they all went.
Fortunately my Aussie husband understands the importance of getting new kitchen gadgets STAT! We will be shopping this weekend. =)

The other thing that is different here is that electricity has peak usage periods throughout the day and you are charged different rates depending on when you use it. Maybe there are other places that do that too, I have never really paid attention. I will be paying more than just "attention" if I don't shop for appliances that have a high Energy Star rating. I got all excited about the awesome features on a washing machine until my husband pointed out it only had 2 Energy Stars. It has been crossed off the list. I might be down at the river with a washboard at this rate...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Renting in Australia - things are different here.

So after much confusion, a lot of running around, and 5 million stupid questions, we have found an apartment to rent. It was an ordeal!
Apartments don't get listed until about 4 weeks out from their available date, so we had to wait until later in July to look at places. They are listed online, not on a common website but through different agents. The agents are the ones who set up public viewing times, so we had to register for a viewing with the specific company.  Once our registration was confirmed, we had to make sure we showed up early as you only get a 15-min window to preview the space and if you are late you could miss it, tough luck to you! And the inspection times? Scheduled on week days, during the day - so how are you supposed to go if you are actually working to make money to afford that apartment?  
After our whirlwind inspection, trying to elbow past 5 other people to see what the bathroom looks like, if we thought we wanted it, we had to rush home and submit an application with a bunch of supporting documents to prove we could afford it. With some agents you can fill out the application online, with others you have to fill out a paper form then scan it and email it to them. They will present to the landlord who looks at the applications and approves on a "first in, best dressed" basis. (it really pays to get your application in first; apparently if the first applicant is reasonably qualified they won't even look at the rest) They rent by the week here, so move in dates are all over the place.
Another odd thing: you have to bring your own refrigerator! I find this really weird, as every apartment we have seen has a different sized opening allocated for the fridge. What if yours is too big? Or what if you have had to buy a tiny one to fit into a previous place, and now you get a bigger, better kitchen? Do you have to buy a new one every time you move? What do you do with your old one? Is there a huge secret market for previously owned refrigerators? I'm going to have to look into this...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Australia here we come!

(I forgot to publish this prior to my "We've moved" post... ooops!)

I have to admit that when I first met my soon-to-be Aussie husband, I harbored dreams of living in Australia. After actually visiting the place and meeting his family and friends I was SURE I wanted to live in Australia. Well as luck would have it, my Aussie husband was offered a job transfer to Melbourne! In Australia!!!
Who says dreams don't come true?

 I will be sad to leave my friends and family in the States, but hey - I get to live in Australia!

We've moved halfway around the world! Now what...?

So what nobody ever tells you about moving internationally is that until you get moved in to your own apartment or house with your own furniture, you have nowhere to call "home". It is a very unsettling and lonely feeling. Even in this era of Skype and Facetime and Whatsapp, you feel totally disconnected from anything familiar and comforting.
They also don't tell you just how much work is involved in getting your life going in a new country. Sure - you know you are going to have to work your ass off to get all your things sold and the rest of your stuff packed and your accounts closed in your "from" place, but if you are like me and haven't moved more than a few miles in the last 20 years, you forget just how much you have to do in your "to" place.
Setting up bank accounts, getting debit/credit cards, buying a car, switching over your mobile phone service; these are all things you have to do almost immediately. Done? Great! Now you get to figure out where to live. And how to find a place. And how the whole Real Estate thing works. It is nothing like House Hunters International where you have a charming agent to whisk you all over town and show you places well out of your price range so you can choose one and live happily ever after.
Our Australian experience finding an apartment deserves its own chapter.  Even my Aussie husband was confused!
I can't imagine what it would be like if they didn't speak the same language. (mostly...)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Foodie Bucket List

So I have mentioned that we have crossed off an item on our own personal "Bucket List" on our last trip - percebes. We also managed to cross off a couple more items that we didn't even know we had on our list until we experienced them, like sushi fresh from the Tsukiji Fish Market just steps away, or the piure we had in Santiago. Sort-of a cross between a barnacle and a sea urchin, it was something we had never heard of.

We also have a wine bucket list, and are determined to taste the great wines at their point of origin.  This especially holds true for fortified wines. So far we have been to Jerez in Spain to learn about Sherry, Porto to drink Port, and our favorite, the Portuguese island of Madeira to taste all the different varieties of their delightful wine. Still on the list is Marsala... There are the incredible wine regions in France, Germany, and Italy, not to mention the "new world" wines. We also are open to seeking out  other types of beverages, as when we were able to attend a Cidre dinner just outside of San Sebastian, where you take your glass into the barrel room and catch the stream of cider straight out of the massive barrels. It was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Airports as Destinations

So I was talking to my Aussie husband about my travel "bucket list" the other day, and realized after he agreed to everything I said that we truly do belong together.  Who else would have to fly into the most "interesting" airports in the world - not to visit the country they are located in, but just to land at that airport?  We both (separately) flew into Hong Kong's old Kai Tak airport, skimming the apartment buildings on approach. My husband has flown into Lukla in Nepal when the runway was dirt and describes it as harrowing. One of our favorite destinations is the Portuguese island of Madeira, with its runway built on piers over the ocean along the side of a mountain.
We are in the process of planning our next vacation and the conversation centered on which airports we have to visit. I think next on our list is Princess Julianna airport in St. Maarten so we can hang out on the beach and have jets land right above our heads, Gibraltar might be a close second.  Courchevel in France would be awesome, but we would need to go there in winter for the full effect of the snowy mountaintop landing. Toncontin in Honduras used to be dangerous, until they extended that runway so it is now off the list. We could go to Scotland and land on an official beach runway perhaps, or maybe fly to one of the many Greek or Caribbean islands that have tiny runways.  So many options!