Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hunting for good beer

The apartment we just moved into is right above a shopping center. We have a grocery store, drug store, dry cleaner, Chinese massage, several places to grab a bite to eat, and a Liquor Store - Bottle Shop as they are called here. I have wine at my fingertips! Want a cocktail, but don't have all the ingredients? Why, you can just pop down and pick up whatever you need. It is all just an elevator ride away. Except decent beer. The Bottle Shop has a woefully mainstream selection, where Golden Ales are deemed strong, and a Craft Beer is Sierra Nevada. (odd thing to import!) My poor Aussie husband was very disappointed. I felt bad. And so I went on an expedition through the nearby shopping districts. All the main roads have at least a block-long grouping of shops and restaurants on them, so it was just a matter of finding the right type of shop on any given main road.
One day last week after a visit to the Australia Post shop, I almost bumped into a sandwich board advertising beer on sale for Father's Day. (it is the first weekend in September here, not June) I walked in and was surrounded by Beer Nirvana. They had an amazing selection of Stouts, shelves of actual IPAs, and even stocked selections from Moon Dog, our new favorite brewery. I couldn't wait to bring my husband there! We have to leave our complex to get the good stuff, but it is worth the 15 minute walk. NOW we have everything we need!

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Apparently people in Melbourne are very worried about toilet odors, During our apartment search, I noticed something I thought was rather odd - the bathroom extractor fans were all above the toilet. Not anywhere close to the shower, which is what I would expect when you want to prevent moisture from hanging around. No, it is above the toilet. I finally asked a real estate agent about it, and he exclaimed "to get rid of the smell"! Okay then... There is even a product on the market called "VIPoo" which according to the TV commercial (during prime time!) you spray into the toilet before you "drop your devil donuts" to "seal in the smell".  I am not kidding.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Almost Moving Day!

The Moving Gods are smiling upon us! We have only one possible day to move into our "real" apartment, and we have been able to schedule everything on that day. Everything!
Our very important appliances- refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer, and TV - will all be delivered. Our beautiful container that has spent weeks at sea will be delivered and unpacked. I cannot wait to see my treasured pots and pans.
My Aussie husband will be happy to see the container for different reasons as he will be able to sleep in his own bed once again. And he will have more than 7 changes of clothes. OK - so that is something I am happy for, maybe more than my husband. And SHOES! I will have all my shoes.
We only brought 3 checked bags with us so wardrobes have been limited, with emphasis on work attire for him. Emphasis on clothes that would pad the carefully packed bottles of Madeira for me.  Priorities!

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...)