Monday, December 8, 2008

Beach in November???

I got back from Melbourne on Wednesday morning and left for Mollymook on Friday afternoon. Mollymook is a small town on the east Australian coast (near Bateman’s Bay for those of you that want to look it up). The Americans on the project decided to have a beach weekend and rented a house. There were five us there in a four bedroom house (the house was sooooo cheap and soooo worth it). The house wasn’t right on the beach but you got the best views of the beach and the ocean. I’ve got some pictures below.

Saturday morning was a bit overcast and chilly so there was no beach time. However, on the upside, as we sat on the balcony, we got to whale watch. Yes, that’s right, the whales came right into our cove and put on a show. It was pretty cool. That night we went to one of the hotels for pre-dinner drinks (gosh, I’m beginning to sound like an alcoholic). At the hotel, we got another outstanding whale show. The hotel was cool enough to lend out binoculars to everyone to watch. Hopefully you can see the whales in the pictures. From there we went to Cupid’s winery for dinner. There are some pictures below again. The sunset was phenomenal – just absolutely gorgeous. The food was great (wouldn’t suggest the vineyard’s wine though). Definitely a great night hanging out with my American friends.

Oh – we also had a “No Aussie Talk” rule in place during the trip. We weren’t allowed to talk like Aussie’s. It was good fun hearing the American version of words all weekend. You might wonder what words I could be talking about. Well, take the word depot for example. We pronounce it de-po. They pronounce it dep-o. Just little things like that.

Notice it rained this weekend??

The Race That Stops the Nation!

I got back from the States on a Tuesday and on Saturday; I headed out to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup. For those of you that don’t know, every spring in Melbourne, they have the Spring Carnival - essentially a week of horse races. It started in the 60’s when the race track wanted to find a way to get more women to attend the races. So they instituted a week of fashion shows and competitions. Each day at the race (there are four race days during the week) have a different theme and you want to dress differently for each one. On top of that, two states in Australia get the day of the Melbourne Cup off of work and it just so happens, I’m living in one of those states.

My friend Michelle and I got to Melbourne on Saturday and immediately get changed and head into the CBD for dinner and drinks (our flight was over an hour late and we flew Tiger Air – like Southwest but not as nice). We got into downtown just as the trains for Derby (pronounced Darby) Day were arriving. Everyone was dressed up with hats or fascinators and the men were in suits with bright ties and shirts. So fascinators – I got a couple of questions on this. Essentially, they’re lazy hats. They attach to your hair with combs or a headband. They’re typically made of flowers or feathers. They’re cheaper than hats and you don’t end up with hat head. We had dinner on the South Bank of the Yarra River and got to people watch. Then we went out and had a few drinks. We met a nice Australian that lives in the UK but was in town for work (the American accent – so easy to make friends)!

Sunday and Monday were full on shopping days. Neither Michelle or I had a fascinator so it was a mad dash to find one. On top of that Melbourne has GREAT shopping – a lot of stuff that you can’t find in Canberra or Sydney. Fascinators and hats are really expensive so we were trying to find ones that we liked but didn’t have to spend a ton of money on. Either way, I had a great time shopping.

Tuesday is Melbourne Cup day. “It’s the Race that stops a Nation.” There were over 100k people at this horse race. Michelle and I were smart enough though to buy tickets to a reserved section of the course so there were less people and we didn’t have to stand in line all day long to buy drinks or place bets. I bet on four races and won on two, but I won enough to cover the costs of the four bets. I can’t complain about that. We only ventured out of our reserved area a few times – most specifically for the actual Melbourne cup race. We found some elevated seats and watched the race. The horse favored to win was an American horse, so of course I bet on it. Unfortunately though, it came in near last. Quite a disappointment for everyone that bet on it. I got some pretty good shots of the horses.

Needless to say, after glasses and glasses of champers (aka champagne for my American friends), I was in a mood to go out afterwards. And the town gets crazy after the Melbourne Cup. There were people out everywhere. The atmosphere was amazing. Unfortunately though, Michelle and I had to catch a 7am flight so there wasn’t too much partying that night.

The Melbourne Cup is definitely one of my favorite Aussie experiences yet and if I’m here next November, I’m going again.

Oh – and it rained in Melbourne…I think you’ll see a pattern.

3 days to cross the Pacific and back

I haven’t blogged in awhile so I’m going to add entries based on my weekends over the last month and a half or so.

So as part of my package to come to Australia, I get to fly home every two months. In October, I decided to take advantage of the perk. I was having some issues with the yard guy and wanted to check in on the house and, well, I was a bit homesick. However, work wasn’t able, willing, whatever, to have me be gone for too terribly long. So I went home for three days. Yes you read that correctly – three days. I think I was traveling for 60 hours to be home for 72. But I got to fly business so it wasn’t all that bad.

My suitcase when I left weighted 7 kilos and it was my massive, biggest possible suitcase. I think I had a pair of jeans, three shirts, and some underwear. When I came home, I was over the weight limit! Yes, that’s how much I bought or brought back from home! You don’t appreciate the shopping alternatives you have at home until you decide to live overseas. Canberra shopping is limited, at best, and the quality of the clothing leaves a lot to be desired. So I think I did nothing but shop while I was home. You can’t say that I’m not trying to contribute to the stimulating the economy!

I also caught up with some friends while I was there. The old project I worked for was having a party on Thursday night and invited me to join them. It was fun getting to catch up with some old work people and getting to meet the newest team members. Then on Friday, about 15 of us went out for dinner and drinks.

I love living in Australia, but let me just tell you this – there is a serious difference between American men and Australian men. It’s called “The Tall Poppy” syndrome. Essentially, Australians are taught not to stand out too much in a crowd, to not be too different or better…don’t be the tall poppy. So what this means – men at bars, restaurants, the grocery store, will never approach you. They’ll look at you and smile, but never approach you. If you really want to talk to him, you have to go to him. But in the US, as my US friends know, American men have no shame! They’ll talk to everyone – it’s all about being the best in the room. I haven’t decided which approach I like best yet. You can clearly see this difference once you come back to the US. Was a bit of a culture shock.

I got back to Oz on a Tuesday and headed straight to work. I think because the trip was so short, I never really got on US time so acclimating back wasn’t that tough. It was a good trip, and I’m glad I went. I was pretty homesick prior to the trip, but afterwards, I came to appreciate what I have going on in Australia. That being said though – I’m very excited to go home for Christmas! More Shopping!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Just keep that Bono off my back

Sorry that it's been awhile since my last blog. Thankfully life and work have picked up for me and I don't spend as much time at home. I'll try to be better about keeping you informed on what's going on.

It was Labour Day weekend in Australia this past weekend, so we got a three day weekend. It’s just the spring here so things are starting to warm up and the trees are turning green. I thought it would be a good weekend to have my first excursion outside of Canberra. My friend Michelle and I decided to head to Sydney for the weekend. Sydney is about three hours from Canberra when you’re driving. We booked rooms at the Amora Jamison (apparently the Accenture hotel of choice) and booked our round trip bus tickets (yes, the bus!). We decided not to plan anything specific to do in Sydney – we’d just see where things took us.

We left work early (we work on the same project but different teams) and caught the bus to Sydney. Thank god for Ipods – I don’t know how I would have made it otherwise. We arrived in Sydney a little bit after 7pm on Friday night. From the moment you step off the bus, you can feel the difference between Canberra and Sydney. Beyond the temperature and humidity difference, there were so many more people walking around. You immediately have the big city feel. It was great after being locked into Canberra for months. We dropped our bags off at the hotel and decide to have dinner at Darling Harbour. I didn’t take any pictures of Darling Harbour and I’m not real sure how to explain it. There were restaurants and bars along the water – all of them with outdoor seating. The ferry boats and yachts were lined along the dock, there’s an IMAX and the Sydney Aquarium there as well. Oh – and the monorail – all weekend, it made me think of Disney World. We found a seafood restaurant – I had the Barramundi which is the local fish. Very good – if you come to visit, we’ll be sure to have some. After dinner, it started to rain, so we made a stop to get some ice cream and wait it out. Once it cleared up, we walked around checking things out. I was a bit tired from work and the bus ride, so we called it an early night.

We woke up Saturday to overcast skies and a high probability of rain. We get dressed and head to Starbucks! FINALLY! Starbucks after two months!! They closed all the stores in Canberra so I’ve been having to get coffee from the local restaurants, which is fine, but there is something about Starbucks that is just…better, to me. Michelle and I decide to come up with rainy day activities and head back to Darling Harbour to see the Aquarium. Unfortunately, when we got there, there were a billion kids and the line was a billion miles long. Those two things together do not make a happy Dana, so we passed. We jumped on the monorail and headed to Paddy’s Market. Paddy’s market is a huge indoor swap market type thing. For the fam, think of Nassau in the Bahamas, right off the boat. It was just like that but with better stuff. I could totally have spent the whole day there but, there were a billion people, so again, after awhile, not a happy Dana. Here’s a picture of Paddy’s Market.

From there, we decided that the best rainy day activity is to, well, shop. So, we hit the shopping district and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. We couldn’t buy too much because we had both brought small bags and we weren’t real sure how we were going to get it home. We were pretty tired from our strenuous day of shopping so we went back to the hotel and napped. From there, we made plans to meet up with some other ex-pat friends that live in Sydney for dinner. They took us out to Bondi Junction which is near Bondi Beach (but you couldn’t see the beach). To get there, we took the subway. This was probably the most advanced subway system I’d ever been on. It was two levels deep and the trains were double-decker. I felt very cosmopolitan. After dinner, we headed out to meet an Irish friend from work that was also in Sydney. He had us meet him at an Irish pub (go figure). We had to be wanded with a metal detector before we could go in. Even in the US, I’m not sure I’ve ever had to do that. The bar was ok though – nothing special. It was a pretty early night by Australian standards – we were home by 1am. Oh! I forgot a part…prior to heading to the Irish bar, we were going to have a drink at a bar in the King’s Cross area of Sydney. For those of you not in the know, this is the “red light district” of Sydney. Strip clubs line the street and men stand outside recruiting other men to come inside. Creepy.

Sunday, we slept in for awhile then headed off for more Starbucks. We then hit the market at The Rocks. It’s a pretty neat little market – lots of arts and crafts. A little more high class than Paddy’s. We stopped and had pizza for lunch and then headed over to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manly Beach. The only problem – we forgot it was daylight savings. So we missed our first ferry but thankfully, the people working at the docks were nice enough to let us catch the next one. Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s most popular beaches. Unfortunately, the weather was still crap so we only got to walk around. Thankfully though, there was a Jazz festival going on so we sat on the beach for awhile and listened to some music. It just happened that the NRL Grand Finals were in Sydney that weekend and the Manly team was playing. All the bars in the area were packed full of people watching the game. Which made it easy to get into a restaurant. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and got changed for a night out on the town. We headed out for a few drinks.

We were out late enough that on Monday we decided to sleep in as late as we could. Then we packed up, dropped our bags at the concierge, and headed back out. First we hit the Sydney Fish Market. There was food everywhere! And it was so good. I think it's one of my favorite places in Sydney. The weather wasn’t quite as crappy but still not great so we headed to the opera house. We needed to kill some time so we took a tour of the Opera house. Then we headed off towards the bus stations. Everyone in Canberra must have been in Sydney because there were four buses on the return trip.

Here are some pictures. I took more so if you’re interested, shoot me a message and I’ll end you a link to the rest of them.

Opera House

Sydney Bridge

Manly Beach

Sydney Fish Market

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I've Been Tagged

My Uncle has tagged me so in the spirit of blogging, I am participating.

Here is how it is done.

A) People who have been tagged must write their answers on their blogs & replace any question that they dislike with a new question. (note, you’ll need to pull the list of questions from Baloney's post above if you want to see which one I switched out). FYI, I'm too lazy to think of new questions, I'll just be using my Yogi's.

B) Tag 8 people to do this quiz. Hmmm...I'll have to think on this one.

1.How many songs are on your iPod? I have 1708 songs on my ipod.

2. What music would you want played at your funeral? Hmmm, tough one. I hope its fun music and people are celebrating my life.

3.What magazines do you have subscriptions to? None at the moment but when I move back to the US, I think I'm going to get Cosmo and maybe something worthwhile like US News.

4. What is your favorite scent? hmmm...fresh cut, no...freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!

5. If you had a million dollars that you could only spend on yourself, what would you do with it? Travel the world!!

6. What is your theme song? Independent by Webbie

7. Do you trust easily? Nope, prove to me there's a reason to trust you.

8. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think? I think too much sometimes and take too long to make a decision.

9.Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days? Work is driving me crazy. They're so unorganized...too many priorities. There are only 24 hours in a day people!

10. Do you have a good body-image? Better than I did a year ago and definitely better than two years ago. But does a woman ever have a good body image?

11. Is being tagged fun? Sure, why not?

12. How do you spend your social networking (Facebook, etc.) time? Mostly facebook these days but some myspace still. I also write in my blog occassionally and read my Uncle Yogi's blog.

13. What have you been seriously addicted to lately? Sour Patch Kids, Turkish Pizza (OH MY GOD - YUM), Matt Nathanson

14. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is? Uncle Yogi - he's always struck me as type A, analytical, independent, smart.

15. What’s the last song that got stuck in your head? I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry

16.What’s your favorite item of clothing? Do shoes count? I love to buy new shoes! But otherwise, a tank top and some flannel pants

17. What is the perfect birthday cake? Something with chocolate...and maybe peanut butter

18. What cartoon character is most like you? Probably Dilbert, i don't really know any other cartoon characters

19. What items could you not go without during the day? My laptop, my mobile

20. What should you be doing right now? Fixing the workplan so everyone can enter their time on Thursday

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Just call me Seppo

I just love how non-Americans feel like it’s their right, no even their duty, to have an opinion on American politics and the American way of life. Wait, no, it’s not the opinion – it’s great that they have one. It’s the need to share that opinion with Americans – it’s that need for them to feel like they have the right to share that opinion with me. It’s the need they feel to ask me who I’m voting for and then tell me that America doesn’t have any good choices anyway, so it doesn’t matter who I vote for.

It’s the need for them to tell me how American capitalism has ruined the world and how we feel the need to push our beliefs and way of life onto other cultures. It’s the need for them to call me a “seppo” (look it up in – it’s not nice) even when they’ve only known me for 3 seconds. It’s the need for them to ridicule me because I’m not forced to learn the Australian governmental system when I’m in school.

I understand that the US has a huge world presence and therefore, what we do affects a large number of people. But you know what? We do A LOT of good too! We don’t just invade countries. We also provide a lot of humanitarian aide. Most of us in the US are good people. Yes we have some bad eggs, but that can be said about any country. And YES, some of our schools have metal detectors in them, but we’re trying to make our schools safe for our kids. And when the US is 5 times the size of yours, YES, there’s going to be more violence, because there are more people!

And I don’t believe that we always push our beliefs on everyone else. I think some of you people WANT to be American. For instance – Abercrombie and Fitch are HUGE over here – even though there isn’t one store in the country. Huh, clearly, we’re not pushing that brand but yet you want it. How is that OUR fault?

I realize that I’m in your country by choice but I don’t think I’m asking too much for some plain ole respect. If you came to the US and I talked shit about Australia, you’d call me a rude, ignorant American. So why is it ok for you to do that to me?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Time Down Under - 10 Months and Counting

Hello everyone! It's been awhile since I posted anything. Sorry about that - I'm trying to get acclaimated.

So you did read the title right. I'm here for ten more months - June 2009. After talking to my manager, we decided it would be better for everyone - me, Accenture, the ATO, if stayed longer. There isn't much value I can bring in four or five months. And hopefully, I'll be running the team by the end of the year. It'll be a good thing for my career. Work is ok. A little easier than I'm used to in terms of the workload. The hard part is figuring out the politics and seeing how much change I can implement. It's a slow process but it'll be good for me to learn how to manuever the politics of the place.

My social life is slowly picking up pace. I saw my first concert in Canberra. If you like Jack Johnson, you'll like Pete Murray. He just released an album and it's pretty good. I would highly suggest it and he's great live too! Some of the folks from work go to trivia night at one of the local bars on Tuesday's. I've been put in charge of all the questions about the US. Thankfully, so far, the questions have been pretty easy. I don't want to look like a ding dong.

Other than that, I've met a few more young people on the project. There aren't very many Accenture women, so most of them are men and I am the oldest by far! But they've been great so far. They introduced me to Canberra night life a couple of Friday's ago. Needless to say, it's not all that exciting and everyone seems to know everyone. But I do have to admit, it was exciting to find out that there is even a nightlife in this town! Usually when I walk around on the weekend, it's completely dead! I obviously didn't know where to go. Oh! One other thing to note - the drinking age here is 18!! I remember now why I don't like going to 18 to enter bars. I just can't handle all the youngsters!

I'll check in again later this week!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bulldogs Bite and Bulldogs Roar!

I attended my first Australian Rules Football game yesterday (AFL). The Western Bulldogs (Melbourne) vs. the Sydney Swans. The Bulldogs came out on top by around 20 points. It was a raging good time had by all!

To explain Australian Rules to my American friends and family - take the ball from NFL (but enlarge it a bit), the dribbling from basketball, the kicking and running from soccer, throw in some mass chaos - and WAH-LA! You have Australian Rules! I really have no idea the rules to the game. It appears there is no strategy or set plays...just throw the ball out there and try to get it to your end of the field - 18 men and mass chaos. It's a pretty tough sport. No padding but there's tackling. They don't stop play unless there's blood. One of the umpires got knocked out and they just kept playing around him. They allow random people out onto the field whenever they want - trainers, runners, and the water girl. One of the best parts to the game were the runners. These guys get directions from the coaches in the coaches box and then they run out onto the field and try to tell the players what they're supposed to do. I don't think I saw one player paying any attention to those guys.

The game itself had a high school or division II colllege football game feel to it. The stadium was pretty small - held about 13k people. No cheerleaders though or band section. The cheering squad is made up of volunteers who make the sign for the team to run through and have pom poms at either end of the field.

But I can chalk it up to an experience and I might go to another game. But I think I'm too American. I like my NFL.

Speaking of the NFL, I need to say this. Brett Favre - please do not come out of retirement. Take the multi-million dollar marketing offer from the Packers and stay retired. Go into broadcasting or get a reality show. Just don't ruin your legacy by coming back and getting traded. Don't do it!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Telstra Tower

Today I decided to venture out and see some sites in Canberra. I decided on the Telstra Tower cause you can see it from everywhere in the city and I thought i could get some good pictures of the area for everyone.

The Telstra Tower is the communications hub for the Canberra area. It has a viewing deck and supposedly a exhibit on the history of telecommunications in Australia (couldn't find it though). I caught the "Tourist Loop" up to the tower. It's $3 for a one way fare on the weekends..seems a bit steep to me but i guess gas prices are affecting everyone. It was $6 to get into the tower. They have a revolving restuarant and a viewing area. The inside viewing area is nice, it has a coffee shop and a little gift shop and a 360 view of Canberra. I made my way up to the viewing area outside and it was FREEZING. The wind was blowing and it was probably around 40 degrees! Brrrr! I took some pictures on the lower viewing deck then went inside for some coffee (I had an hour to kill before the bus). I read my tourist book and had coffee to kill some time. I ended up sitting with this cute little old Australian couple. They're on "holiday" for the next "fort night". He couldn't hear very well so she had to keep yelling at him everything i said. Very cute.

I then decided to brave the upper viewing deck...but i couldn't handle it for too long. Sooooo cold! I do miss the Phoenix warmth! At least it doesn't snow here. Anyway, it was still a gorgeous day and the area around Canberra is beautiful. I'm not sure that the pictures relay that. I can't really compare the terrain to anything i know in the US. It's not like the rockies. In Colorado, it's all plains and then BAM the mountains. Here is seems more like a slow build up to the big mountains. Maybe it's like the Appalachins on the east coast. I don't know.

There are more pictures in my picasa album if you're interested.

I have to point this out. While I was waiting for the bus (which I almost missed!), I saw this car. Notice that the exhaust is by the windshield. I'd seen these cars on TV but never in real life. Just thought I would share.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Christmas in July?

For the last three nights, when I leave work, I've had the same thought. As I walk out at 5:30 and it's dark, the lights are twinkling in the chilly air, I automatically think "Oh, it's almost Christmas" (followed by a momentary panic attack that I haven't bought any presents). Then I remember, that it's July. July! I think that's one of the hardest things to get used to - that the seasons are backwards. Inside of bundling up for a football game in October, I'll be breaking out the shorts and heading to the beach.

On a side note, I wanted to mention a few things that I've noticed around here. In the US, it's pretty common that men will hold open doors for women and let women off the elevator first. I'd say it's pretty much the standard. I haven't seen that here. Men don't hold open doors and they will push their way off of an elevator. Makes me appreciate American men even more!

Also, a case of corona - $60 Australian dollars! Crazy!

And to the family - if you wanna send DVDs or something, i wouldn't turn them away. I have like six TV stations and two of them are pretty much all sports - well, rugby anyway. The rest show old American shows or crazy Aussie shows. I need something to keep me occupied!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

First Day at Work

So, today was my first day at work. It was a normal first day - mostly unproductive. They didn't have my user accounts set up yet, of course. So, they printed off a ton of power point presentations for me - mostly about the testing methodology. Yea, I wrote that in Arizona. So, I was bored most of the day. And then the jet lag kicked in about 3 this afternoon. I kept yawning. Finally one of the guys in the cube was like "Jet lag kicking in?" Umm, yes. And then the lady in the cube had her two kids with her. They hang out with her every day from 3:30 to 4:30. Oh joy. She even has a TV on her desk for them to watch cartoons. And she brings afternoon snacks that she heats up for them. How nice.

At least I'll be getting some form of exercise everyday by walking to work. I'm going to have to be one of those dorks that walks in her tennis shoes and then switches over to the heels. I walked all day in my heels today and my feet are killing me.

I'm not sure about this urban living. I'm used to driving to the grocery store and buying sacks and sacks of food and then driving home and unloading them. I can't do that here. I'll have to make short trips every day to get what i need. I even have a reusable bag.

I also had no idea how how it was to get broadband service outside the US. I'm finding that they measure everything here. I was told today that I have a cap of $5 a day for electricity usage. What the heck does that mean?? I have no idea what my normal consumption is. How am I supposed to know when I go over $5? And for broadband, you have to pay for how mucy you use. Unlike in the states where you just plug in and go. Here you have to gauge how much you're going to use. I guessed at 6GB a month. Who knows, I could use alot more than that.

Oh, and all the stores close here at 5:30. Yes, you read that right - 5:30pm. It's craziness. Oh, but they have LATE shopping on Friday nights. Woo-hoo! Wild and crazy Aussies! There's so much to get used to.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Finally - Online!!

I'm finally online! It may be dial-up but at least it's something. I'm finally in Canberra and slowly acclimating myself to the city. Getting here was a long day but it was good to know that I could do it.

The day started off crazy. I had to finish up getting the house ready - making sure everything was locked up, meeting the window guy for re-chalking, and just basic cleaning. Then it was off to pick up Merritt and drop her off at the airport. I think that's the first time I cried since this whole thing got started. Then it was back to the house to load up the car and drug up the cat. She didn't like it at all - it took about 15 minutes for me to get her to eat it. But once it kicked in, she was very cute. I wish I had taken a picture. From there, it was back to the airport. I dropped off my luggage and checked in. Then it was off to Terminal 4 to drop off Jillian and Zima. Zima was the chillest I think I've ever seen. When I tried to say good bye, she just laid there. Again, I cried...and Jillian laughed. I watched them go through security and then I dropped off the rental car and was off to Terminal 2.

The flight to LA was basic. I sat next to some high school girl going to China for some Christian thing. I did the whole "I'm reading and don't want to talk look". We left each other alone. Once in LA, my gate for Sydney was only a few gates down. This left me with alot of time to people watch. I love airports..for that simple reason alone - people watching. It's the best people watching ever. There was this guy, who I think was trying to dress like a woman, and he had the worst outfit on ever. A white button up and then these purple/black tie died stretch pants, it was awful. I was just hoping i wasn't sitting next to him.

The flight to Sydney was really great! I upgraded to Business class, and now I'm afraid I will never fly coach again. I didn't get on the upper level but, hey, I really can't complain. They were serving champagne as you were sitting down - nice. Then after take off, they were serving cocktails with warm nuts! YUM! And I didn't have to watch the movies in the pre-determined order. I could watch them whenever i wanted! Yea! So I watched Stop-loss. During the movie, we had dinner. This included a salad and appetizer - i thought the appetizer was dinner. But no, dinner was a filet migon with a baked potato and green beans! and it was good!! who knew that airplane food could be good? I decided not to have dessert - i was stuffed from the steak. I finished the movie and then laid out my chair completely. It was big enough that I was able to roll onto my side and then i was OUT. I think I slept for about nine hours. When I finally woke up, they were serving breakfast and there was only two and a half hours left to the flight. Breakfast consisted of fresh fruit and yogurt. Finally, it was time to land. I don't know how many of you have ever been on a 747-400, but the plane is HUGE. Let me reiterate - it's HUGE!! I thought for sure that it was going to be a tough landing. But NO - it was the best landing ever. So very smooth. I don't know if it was the size of the plane or the pilot but it was great. Unfortunately, after we landed we couldn't get off the plane right away. They had to spray us with some sort of Agriculture spray. Who knows, it was probably some strange Australian virus.

This is when things got interesting. I got my first stamp in my passport (woo-hoo!). And then I had to get my bags...all three very large bags. i finally get them and most of them are on a cart and I make it through customs (i had to give up my trail mix - who knew you couldn't bring cranberries into Australia?). I then find out that I have to take a bus to another terminal. Do you know how hard it is to push a cart and pull a bag behind. So anyway, i make it to the other terminal and get checked in (they waived the additional bag fee - you can thank me later Accenture). Then I get lost in the terminal. My ticket says Gate 35 but there is no gate 35. And it's not on the monitor. At this point, I'm about to cry but there are these really hot men in Cowboys jackets (I thought that meant American football, turns out it's a rugby team) and I didn't want to cry in front of them. So I buck up and find another set of monitors, and there's my flight - at gate 17. Whew. I end up sitting on the plane for about an hour b/c some dumbasses checked in but never got on the plane.

Finally! I'm in Canberra! The airport is something between the Manhattan, KS airport and the Idaho Falls airport. My family will know what that means. Basically - it's tiny. So i get the bags - again and find a cab. It still freaks me out that they drive on the wrong side. And I get to the apartment. I'll post some pics of it later. It's a nice apartment....very European. I think that's the best way to describe it. And it feels like a dorm. I've seen a few people in the building - mostly men (woo-hoo) and I've definately heard them - they were partying in the hall last night.

I walked around the city yesterday and today. The city center is nice. There's a huge mall with a Target and a Big W (aka Wal-Mart). I'm sad about the Target here. Deanna told me they weren't like the ones at home but i wasn't expecting this. It's more like Wal-Mart - no worse than Wal-Mart. I can't shop there. I don't want to ruin it for when I get back. The clothes are super-expensive but also super-cute. I may go broke. They have Subway, Starbucks, and McDonalds. They have what's called Hungry Jacks - which is really Burger King, I think.

So there you go. I'll post some pics later. And give an update on my first day at work. I hope everyone is well!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Time Zones

Phoenix Time

Raleigh Time

Colorado Time

Canberra Time