Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oprah-stralia!

The country has gone crazy!  Crazy for Oprah!  It's amazing to me the hysteria that this woman can invoke.  From the moment she landed, all of the news stations have been following her around.

Yesterday, she filmed two shows at the Opera house.  350,000 people turned up to try and get tickets to the taping.  There were only 6,000 tickets to give away.  Hotel prices are tripled for this weekend and this is AFTER Oprah has left the country (I know b/c I was going to go to Sydney but it's too expensive now). 

One of the television stations showed a woman burst into tears as Oprah drove by and waved to her.  This woman had to be in her 30's.  I thought only teenage girls burst into tears when Justin Beiber walked into a room.

On Sunday, HA and I were in Kingston getting dinner and there was a man in a suit with an earpiece.  My first thought wasn't "oh, the prime minister must be around".   No, no - my first thought was "wonder if Oprah is in town?"

This is crazy and the amount of tourism that will come out of her visit here will be on the crazy scale as well.  I'm ready for her to go home.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photography as a Social Experiment

As part of my photography class, I have to go out into the city and take pictures of random people or things.  I'm finding that people react very differently when they find themselves the subject of a random photographer.  I'm wondering if a person's reaction is indicative of their personality?  You find some people will cautiously look at you to confirm that you are, in fact, photographing them.  Others turn directly to the camera and smile.  And then there are the ones who get visibly upset, throw you a dirty look, and move so you can no longer photograph them.

Earlier this week, I went out to the bus exchange to get some motion shots and while I was there, I caught this guy on his way home from work.  The shot won't work for my photography class but I love the way he smiled at me and gave off a very friendly vibe.

Happy to be going home
I've also started my own Flickr stream to capture all the photos that I like the best.  I'm finding Flickr is a great resource for creative ideas (stealing ideas would be more apt). :)

Dana's Flickr Photostream

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lola has arrived!

My new camera bag arrived today.  Less than two weeks after I ordered it and only a week after they shipped it.  HA and I picked it up today at lunch and I just very quickly opened it.  It's beautiful.  I'm so excited to get home tonight and load it up with my camera!

I'll post pictures later with a full review!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Watery Wednesday - Lake Burley Griffin

For my Uncle Alan...


Taken with a Nikon D5000 in the evening.  This is Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, Australia.  The tower in the background is the Telstra tower.  This was taken as an entry for my photography class. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween in Oz Part 2

I had my Australian Halloween party this weekend.  Apparently, the folks putting on the party were a bit concerned that they had an American coming to the party so they really wanted to do everything up.  And they did a great job.  They had all kind of decorations and they even rented a bunch of B-Horror movies to show on the TV.  At one point they had "Nightmare on My Street" by Fresh Prince playing (though I'm not sure if that was on purpose or not).  They also carved their first pumpkin for the event.  So there was a bit of a competition between my pumpkin and theirs throughout the evening.  It was interesting overhearing the commentary.  I didn't get a picture of their pumpkin for comparison but I was very impressed with Cai's very sharp and clean edge cuts.

I was very impressed b/c Australian pumpkins are very thick.  I'd say the shell was probably around two inches thick.  That made it very had to do any circular cuts.  There were also a ton of seeds but the inside wasn't too terribly messy.  Here's a picture of my pumpkin.  What do you think?


Our costumes for the party didn't turn out as well as I would have liked.  The costume I ordered was a bit short (you could see my bum) and a bit tight.  Had I been going to a party where I knew everyone, I probably would have worn the outfit and just taking the crap I would have been given.  But since this was a party where I knew about 4 people, I decided it was inappropriate and had to quickly throw something else together.  We're having a 1920's themed Christmas party for work this year and when I was in the states in October, I bought a few props to go with my outfit.  I used those with a dress I already had and did a very lame version of a flapper.

We took along our friend MayDay who also had to throw together a last minute costume.  We went to the one costume shop in the city to try and find something but when we saw that the costumes averaged about $150, we quickly decided to come up with something else.  MayDay, in his cleverness, decided he'd go as a cricketer.  He was planning on buying the Aussie jersey for the Ashes anyway, so we did that and bought a cricket bat and some shin pads and he was ready to go.  I suspect that the Aussie's at the party thought he was a bit lame but I thought it was pretty clever for an American to go as a cricketer.

Everyone at the party got into the spirit and wore costumes.  Most of them were thrown together and included fake blood but there were a few good ones.  One of my good friends, Boris, bought a Captain America costume (clever since he's an Aussie).  He ended up winning the costume contest.  I have pictures of Captain America on my camera but I'll have to load them up later.  In the meantime, here are some pictures of me, HA, and MayDay.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Snap Happy

When I was in the States for September, I bought myself a really nice DSLR camera.  This purchase was triggered by our trip to South Africa where HA and I quickly got camera envy as all of our friends had DSLR's and their pictures came out 10x better than ours. 

Because I travel pretty regularly, I'd like to start taking some really nice pictures to better remember everything.  So, in order to do that, I've signed up for an online photography class.  I'm really excited about it and I've talked HA into a photo shoot this weekend so I can turn in my first assignment.

The problem is, as I start researching photography and looking at other people's work, I want to buy all kinds of accessories.  And today, I bought my first one.  The camera came with the typical slr camera bag - big, bulky, square, unmanageable to carry around, and just plain ugly.  So I started researching more...fashionable bags.  Don't get me wrong, I want it to be functional too but if I'm going to have my camera with me so I can take a picture when a good opportunity presents itself, I want something I'm not embarrassed to be seen in.

That's when I came across Epiphanie camera bags.  I fell in love immediately.  They were designed by a female professional photographer and all the reviews I've seen have been very positive.  On top of that, I would use this bag as a regular purse as well.  So..I ordered one for myself and am having it shipped to Australia.  I couldn't even wait until Thanksgiving where I could have picked it up from my folks for a much cheaper shipping charge.  I can't wait to get it - hopefully it will live up to all it's reviews!

Halloween in Oz

For the last two years, I've gone home in late October for a visit.  This usually gives me a good taste of Halloween so I don't generally miss it when I'm in Canberra.  This year however, I went home in October but it was for a wedding and it was too early in the month to get a real Halloween feel.  This year I'm actually in Canberra for Halloween.  It's a bit depressing.  I'm not sure how the kids get by.  There is no spending the month deciding what your costume is going to be.  Most people have never carved a pumpkin.

So this weekend, a friend of a friend is throwing a Halloween party and has invited HA and I.  She's even insisting that everyone come in costumes.  Most of the Australians don't know where to start for costumes.  They don't have many costume stores in Australia and those that they do have are outrageously priced (why am I surprised?)  Given this, HA and I ordered ours online from buycostumes.com.  They ship to Australia and guarantee delivery by Halloween (and still cheaper than buying them in a store).  I'll leave it as a surprise for what we decided to do.  Unfortunately we weren't able to do the outfits I really wanted b/c there weren't any stores online that carried the costume for HA.  Maybe next year.

In preparation for the party tomorrow, I've bought a pumpkin that I'm going to carve.  It cost $24.  You read that right.  Apparently, that's a good price.  Another store wanted $25 for really crappy pumpkins and if you try to buy them in Cairns, they're $30.  I had originally thought this was b/c they imported them from the US but, no it's because they grow them in Australia and they're out of season.  I do wonder if it'd be cheaper to just ship them into the country but the Aussies are weird about importing fruits and vegetables.

So I'm trying to come up with a creative but easy pumpkin carving idea.  I feel like there's some pressure as the only American going to this party that I should have a really cool pumpkin.  Anyone have any fun ideas?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Next Blog>>

Every now and again, I'll go onto my blog and click the Next Blog>> button to see what Blogger will return to me.  I figure it's a way to potentially find new blogs to follow and it's interested to see the type of blogs Google aligns with mine.

Today I clicked the Next Blog>> button and was presented with a blog about quilting and furniture restoration.  Hmmm...quilting?  Maybe you could justify furniture restoration as I can have a crafty side to me, but quilting?  I made one quilt square in my life for cute little Silas's baby quilt, but that came out crooked and I was a bit embarrassed by it.

So I clicked Next Blog>> again and was presented with a blog on "The Perfect Wife's Guide".  I'm not married and when I was, or if I ever am again, I very much doubt that I would fall into the Perfect Wife category simply b/c I would never read a Perfect Wife's guide.

I'm not sure how Google does the blog alignments, but I suspect it's based on whatever is put into the labels of the blogs.  I generally don't label my blogs which may be the problem.  So, over the next few blogs, I'm going to start putting crazy labels in to see if makes any difference.

I'd love for you to visit my blog and then click the Next Blog>> button to see what's returned to you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why are we doing this??

Last August for HA's birthday, I bought him a gift certificate from RedBalloons.com.au.  Red Balloon allows people to purchase experiences rather than things.  I bought him this gift certificate with the anticipation that he would use it to do the V8 Driving experience (similar to the Nascar driving experience).  I knew it was something he wanted to do but would never buy for himself.  Unfortunately, we were never able to coordinate a weekend in Sydney or Brisbane when they were having that particular experience.

So back in May, HA realized he needed to use these gift certificates before they expired (it's still legal for them to expire in Australia).  So, he went through their website to figure out which experience he wanted to do.  He settled on skydiving in Wollongong over the pacific and landing on the beach.  This was something else he had always wanted to do so he was super excited about it.  He asked me if I was interested and I said "Yeah sure, I'll call tomorrow to book in".

As work would distract me during the day and the office was closed after 5pm (as everything is in Australia), I never got around to booking in - not that I was too terribly upset about that.  In the meantime, HA had talked our friend MayDay into joining him.  So now, I was being badgered to book in on two fronts.

The weekend of the jump came and HA, MayDay, and some other friends all went to Sydney for the weekend (Wollongong is a short drive from Sydney).  On Saturday morning, I made the mistake of saying "It's too bad I never was able to book in to join you" to which HA responds "well, give them a call and see if they still have space".  Dang it - bad move on my part.  So because I'm sitting right next to him, i have to call, and wouldn't you know it - they have an opening and I sign up.

The next day we wake up bright and early to drive out to Wollongong and we're hungover, of course.  We get to the drop zone on the beach go in to let them know we're there.  The first thing we do is weigh in.  If you're more than 88 kg's, there's a surcharge and they have to match you with a person that can manage the weight.  Then they take us out and have us put on parachute pants and a harness.  They quickly give us a safety lesson which consists of:  get on your knees, arms crossed, head back, and do everything your partner says!  Ok, sounds easy enough.  Then I meet my partner.  She's about 5ft (if that) and about 90 lbs.  Really, this woman is going to carry me and jump out of a plane with me?? I'm twice her size..maybe even three times her size.  We will NEVER stop falling through the sky - I'm going to weigh us down!  I take a deep breathe and remind myself that they do this for a living and know what they're doing.

They quickly bus us out to the air field and load us up into the plane.  HA and I were able to be next to each other but MayDay was a few people in front of us.  The plane takes off and we slowly circle up to our drop altitude.  At five minutes before the drop, we all start harnessing to our partners and they roll open the door.

This is where things get interesting.

The guy closest to the door starts scooting over and then they are suddenly gone.  It's as if they were sucked right out of the plane.  It suddenly dawns on me that I'M JUMPING OUT OF A PLANE.  I sub-consciously start to dig my feet in so we can't move.  All of the people on the plane are one-by-one being sucked out and my stomach is doing flip flops.  Next, I watch MayDay scoot up to the door.  He's on his knees looking down and he looks absolutely terrified.  I start screaming his name but he can't hear me and then he's gone.

My partner is slowly pushing me towards the door.  She's half my size but she's able to maneuver me.  I start screaming "Why are we doing this?? Do we really want to do this?? I don't think we should do this!"  No one can hear me though.  I look back at HA and he's smiling and laughing like we're at the carnival.  I knew I was going to get no help from him.

The next thing I know, she's pushing my head back onto her shoulder and we are falling through the sky.  After a few seconds, she screams at me that I can move my head and gives me a thumbs up sign.  I know I need to signal to her that I haven't passed out so I give a thumbs up back.  But I truly believe that i have stopped breathing.  I don't know if i was saying it out loud or just thinking it in my head but I just kept saying "make it stop, I want this to stop, make it stop".  In order to focus, I started taking deep breathes and trying to focus on one spot.  I had stopped screaming, and I think breathing, but my partner kept tapping me on the shoulder and giving me an OK sign to make sure I was ok.

I'm beginning to think that I really am going to plummet to my death.  I'm thinking my parents are going to kill me for not telling them that I did this.  And who's going to call them? Does HA have my parents phone number?  How will my body get back to the US or will they just bury me in Australia?  Will there BE a body to bury?? And just when I've resigned myself, the chute is pulled and we start floating - literally floating.

Suddenly, this is ok.  It's so peaceful and quiet.  My partner takes off my goggles, that I now realize is wet on the inside - presumable from crying.  If I was crying from fear or from the wind rushing onto my face, I'm not sure.  But I'm suddenly having alot of fun.  We do some spiraling with the chute and I get to see forever across the ocean.  I realize THIS is why people skydive.  Well maybe not - but this is why I skydived.

We slowly make our way to the drop zone.  I can see that MayDay has already landed and is waiting for HA and I.  I pull my legs up and land on my bum.  As I'm sitting there getting disentangled from my partner, my body is fully shaking - my hands, my legs, my stomach.  I'm afraid to stand up for fear that my legs will give out.  MayDay joins me and he looks like I feel.  We both agree that we don't ever want to do this again.

About this time HA comes bouncing up to us "Hey guys, wanna do it again?? Let's do it again!!"  MayDay and I look at him like he's growing a second head and walk off.  We capped off the day with a couple pitchers of beer and lunch on the water.

Skydiving was an experience that I'm glad I've done.  I faced a fear and I made it through it.  However, I don't think I'll ever do it again.   I'm fairly certain I stopped breathing and my heart may have stopped beating at one point. 

I didn't get any pictures done, which I now regret, but this may be what I looked like.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ten Things that Frustrate me about Australia...

I do love Australia..very much so.  But I feel a bit guilty about my last post.  I love it here and would love to stay but there are some things that really frustrate me.  Sometimes I get so frustrated to the point of crying.  So, to balance the scales and alleviate my guilt, here are my top ten things that frustrate me about Australia..in no particular order...

1.  Shopping Hours - To this day, I hate the fact that I can't go shopping after 5:30pm on a week night.  The only night where the stores are open longer than 5:30 is Friday night.  Who goes shopping on a Friday night?  I'm too busy getting drinks in the pub.  Though..after the last couple of weekends, I'm not sure my knees and ankles can keep up with me on the drinking...but that's for another blog.

2.  The grocery store - now, to be fair, I should let everyone know that in general, I hate grocery shopping.  Always have and I imagine that I always will.  BUT the grocery shopping in Oz just makes it so much worse. My very first breakdown from homesickness occurred in the butter aisle at the grocery store.  I had been in Australia, and while homesick, I had been dealing with it relatively well.  But then one day I was looking for butter and I just wanted Country Crock and wouldn't you know it, they didn't have it.  I had to checkout and leave right then b/c I was nearly crying. 

3.  No free refills - that's right, no free refills even on post-mix (aka fountain sodas).  Instead, when you go to a restaurant and you order a soda, they pour it into your glass directly from a bottle.  On a positive note, Hungary Jacks (aka Burger King) in Sydney does offer free refills.

4.  Qantas - yes, I said I loved Qantas but why do you have to be so expensive?? Getting to Cairns should not cost me $1000 return!!

5.  Roundabouts - have they ever heard of a four way stop?  The roundabouts terrify me.  I never know what lane I need to be in to get off at the right exit.  The first time I drove with Max, she had to keep yelling at me "left lane!" to make sure I knew where to go.

6. $1/$2 coins - they're sooo heavy.  At least bills won't weigh down my purse!

7.  Service - The service in this country is awful.  Australia is not a tip-focused economy so this means that anyone in a service-oriented industry feels absolutely no need to actually provide a service.  You can sit at a table in a restaurant for half an hour before someone notices you.  And if you want any sort of help after you've been served your food - you can forget about it!

8.  Yutes - Really?  The El Camino?  It's not a car, it's not a truck - they're made specifically for people that can't make up their minds and are stuck in the 70's.

9.  You can't pay at the pump - You have a car and you want to fill up with gas.  In Australia - you still have to go inside the station to pay.  This country is great at letting you use your debit card just about everywhere (including cabs - its great) but yet, you still can't use it at the pump when you're filling up with gas!

10.  No Mexican Restaurants - There are no good Mexican restaurants in Oz.  We've found a couple that suffice a craving but nothing as good as you get in Phoenix.  And when it comes to margaritas - don't even think about it.  Very few places have tequila and if they do, it's generally the nasty Jose Cuervo stuff.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ten Things I love about Australia...

I was reading a blog yesterday that's being written by some friends as they drive across Australia. One of her blogs talks about how she loves Australia, but can't quite put her finger on WHY she loves Australia. So I thought I would try. Here are my top ten things I love about Australia..in no particular order:

1. Sydney - I know it's a whole city and it probably shouldn't count but i love Sydney. I think it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Granted, I haven't done that much traveling but I've been to a fair few and Sydney is just beautiful. Alot of people don't like Sydney b/c of she's overally beautiful but not me. She's sunny and the water glistens and who can say that the Opera House and the Bridge aren't breath taking?

2. Red Rock Deli chips - They have the best combination of flavors. My newest favortie is Sea Salt & Balsamic. So yummy!

3. Qantas - Qantas is the national airline for Australia. If you've flown anywhere domestically in Oz, you've most likely flown Qantas. Granted, they are usually the most expensive airline but I think they're generally worth it. I'm currently Platinum with Qantas - one of their highest frequent flyer levels and let me tell you - it is totally worth it. If you ever get the chance to enjoy the First Class lounge at the Sydney International Terminal, I highly suggest it.

4. Coffee - I'll never be able to go back to Starbucks. If i have to move home, I'm thinking of marrying my barista so he can go with me.

5. New Years Eve - Ok, so maybe this should sit in the Sydney bucket, but I love that they take New Years so seriously here. Sydney is one of the first major cities to tick over to the new year and boy do they know how to put on a show. The NYE that spent in Sydney is one of the best I've ever experienced and I would happily go back every year.

6. The Wine - they have really great wine here. I recently shared a bottle of California wine with HA and I could definitely tell the difference. Though I do love the Australian wine, I do feel like I need to admit that I prefer the white wine from the Marlbough region in NZ.

7. Banana Bread - Much like coffee, the banana bread is a staple in this country. I was never a big fan before I came here, but now I love a little blueberry/banana bread in the morning.

8. Weetbix - Weetbix is a cereal here in Australia. I grew to love it on my very early morning flights from Canberra to Adelaide. Now whenever the Weetbix commercials come on, HA likes to call me a Weetbix kid.

9. Diet Coke - Yes, I know you can get this in the US but I'm telling you, the formula is different here. It's less sweet. I'm addicted and if I have to move home, I'm going to need to get this imported into the US.

10. Finally - the people. Just as Kangaroo Chronicles says in her blog, the people here are very very friendly. Sometimes, it seems unreal to me how friendly they can be.  And, I'd say that 95% of them really like Americans and always want to know where I'm from and why I could come here.

11.  Just because I can - The Politics - I mean, come on, in a matter of hours, they had a new primer minister!  You'd never get that kind of excitement in the US!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Negative Gearing and Australia

HA and I have friends here in Oz that have been investing in properties throughout Canberra in the last couple of years. HA really wants to get into the invest property business and has asked me if I'd be interested in going in on a property together.

I've thought about it and I do think that buying a property in the CBD of Canberra would be a good idea. With so many government officials here and contractors for government agencies and the university, I doubt there's ever a shortage of people looking for properties.

My general issue with it is that the price of property in this country is OUTRAGEOUS. I couldn't afford to own my own home in this country. The apartment I live in, which about a third the size of my house in Phoenix, runs, easily, for mid-six figures. That's a one-bedroom, one-bathroom. What makes it even crazier is that salaries aren't adjusted for this higher cost of living. So given that, I'm not sure how my friends, who make realitively the same amount of money as I do, can afford their own rent, plus the mortgages of their multiple investment properties.

In theory, the investment properties should pay for themselves. Or at least I would think that's how it's supposed to work. But no so in Australia. In Australia, they do this thing called Negative Gearing. Here's how it works as I understand it - You buy a property that you plan on utilizing as an investment. The weekly mortgage is $750 but they're renting it out at $650 a week. Clearly there's already a $100/week loss. Then when they do their taxes, these losses are fully deductible and depreciation is taking into account. This will typically provide the owner with a much larger refund which then offsets the losses of the property.

So my question is - how is this a good idea?? I feel like I must be missing something about this whole scheme. If you read about this on Wikipedia, it doesn't sound like a good idea at all and apparently, this is illegal in most other countries. Am I missing something? Could I be an Australian real estate mogul but I'm too dense to realize it?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Running, running and gettinng no where...

So two weeks ago, I told everyone that I wanted to start running to help lose some weight. It started off pretty well. For the first couple of weeks, I was running three times a week and going to the gym. But then over the last two weeks or so, I've been slacking off. I've got plenty of excuses but well, if I were really motivated, I'd find a way to make it work. I'm going to get back on the band wagon in the morning by going running with HA and Snowie.

I'm not sure how people do this running thing on a regular basis. I work late so by the time I'm done, the gym is close to being closed and it's too dark to run. So this leaves me with running in the morning. But as any of ou that know me know, I hate getting up in the morning. I'm so not good at it. But I'm gonna give it a try.

Just for the record, I have lost 2 pounds so far. Not exactly the pace at which I need to be, but at least it's something. Stay tuned..

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thoughts come clearly while one walks

When I first moved to Australia, I dropped a bunch of weight. This was primarily due to the fact that I was walking EVERYWHERE. I love walking everywhere. I love not having to worry about filling the car with gas or scheduling oil changes. I love being able to leave whenever I want to without having to worry about traffic. It’s a lifestyle I quite enjoy.

There are some things that make all the walking really suck though. The biggest one is the winter. It really SUCKS to have to walk home when it’s cold outside. I wear a lot of dresses to work so during the winter, just to make it to and from work, have the choice of either a) walking in the freezing code or b) wear tights. Tights. Every time I wear them, I feel like I’m five years old again. What grown women wears tights? But its unbelievable how warm the tights are. And it helps that a good portion of the grown female population in Canberra wear tights as well. But it’s such a pain. This is definitely one of the reasons I live in Phoenix. No one wears tights in Phoenix. It’s too bloody hot!

One of the perks though of walking everywhere is that I lost a ton of weight. I got here and the weight just fell off. I was back to my early college weight and a size 10. I loved it. I felt so good about myself. But over the last few…five….months I’ve slowly put on weight. I partially blame HA. When I lived by myself, dinners consisted of a PB&J and a diet coke. Now, HA likes to have a full on dinner whenever we’re home. Sometimes we even have an appetizers. I eat so much more! So when my pants don’t fit anymore, I fully blame HA. :)

But to combat this, I’ve decided to start running. Urgh…I hate running but it’s a quick (or quickish) way to lose some weight. I decided it would do me well to post my goal up here so it’s out there for the world to see. I’m going to lose 15 pounds by July 15. Stay tuned people!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Travel Tip: Adelaide

Just a quick travel tip for any of you going to Adelaide, if you need to book a cab, be sure to give yourself an extra 30 minutes from the time that you actually want to be picked up.

Last summer...sorry, I mean "winter" for all you Aussie's...in July/August, I was traveling to Adelaide on a fairly regular basis. The one consistency was that the cab was ALWAYS 30 minutes late picking me up. So I quickly learned to book the cab for 4:30 and get downstairs at 5:00 and things would be just fine. I'd make it to the airport in plenty of time and no stress.

Oh, how quickly you forget. I was in Adelaide for work this week. Yesterday I go to book the cab and I do it for 5:00. Well, needless to say, around 5:15, I remembered that the cabs never show up on time. So I start stressing cause the cab company keeps saying that the cab is on it's way and it never shows. Finally around 5:30, the cab gets there. And of course, b/c it's so late, we've now hit traffic (mind you, "traffic" is relative). It took just over 30 min to get to the airport when it's normally a 15 min cab ride.

I had just enough time to buy a book and get on the plane. No Qantas club for me. :(

One last tip on Adelaide - I wouldn't suggest the Hotel Grand Chancellor on Hindley. While it was generally clean and near restaurants, it just needs alot of love. Half of the shower curtain holders were broken and the ones that were working, didn't even match. The vents were covered in dust and god knows what else. I just chose not to think about what might be in the carpet. It was certainly not what I would equate with a four star hotel. But if you're staying in Adelaide, I would suggest the Medina - it's an old historical building so it has lots of character and it's very nice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

F1 or NASCAR? You decide...

So one of the many things that I've been exposed to since I moved to Australia is Formula One racing. Each year in late March, Austalia hosts one of the races in Melbourne. It's a big deal and a major Australian event. So, of course, I felt it was my duty to attend.

I've been to a NASCAR race in Phoenix, and while it was very redneck, it was also a ton of fun. So, I thought maybe the F1 race would be similiar. So lets compare:

NASCAR - cars go in a circular lap
F1 - Cars drive a circuit which requires both left and right turns
Discuss: The level of difficulty is higher with F1 due to having to turn both ways

NASCAR - All fans get to sit in the stands and see the whole track
F1 - If you pay $600 for the weekend, you can get a sit in the stands and see the cars for the two seconds as they drive by
Discuss: In terms of a spector sport being watched in person, I believe that NASCAR wins hands down. While every seat may not be fabulous, you generally get to see a large portion of the track.

NASCAR - Non-race entertainment is generally limited to the shopping for souvenirs. At the Daytona 500, I think you can camp in the in field.
F1 - There are in field concerts on the day of the race
Discuss: Not sure which wins here as I thoroughly detest the type of music they were playing at the concerts at the F1.

So final decision - I vote NASCAR. Maybe it's the American in me but I truly believe that for an in-person sport, I believe that NASCAR provides better entertainment. I'm sure F1 has a higher degree of difficulty and there is more strategy, blah, blah, but if it's no fun to watch, then it means nothing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

6am Flights...Who thought that was a good idea?

We're in Brisbane visiting HA's family. It's only 8am. That means we were on the plane at 6:30 this morning. Which means I was awake at 4:45. And anyone that knows me very well knows that I don't do mornings well. Poor HA has had to deal with my crankiness.

And because I'm going to Adelaide Tuesday morning, I have two more of these ridiculous flights. Booo!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So many places, so little time...

Before I leave Australia, there are number of things I want to do.

1. Visit all the major cities
2. See "The Rock"
3. See something in the Opera House
4. Attend all the major Australian events
5. Go to New Zealand
6. See the Great Barrier Reef
7. Go on a wine tasting tour

So far, I've either done or scheduled most of these things. But there are still a few of these items outstanding. I'm now getting very close to the date they've set for me to go home. This time around, I don't anticipate that they'll extend me, or if they do, it won't be for long.

I've now gotten to a point where I need to decide what is really really important. So far, I've been to all the capitals with the exceptions of Darwin and Perth. I've spent time in Adelaide but it was for work, so I don't really count it. I haven't been to Uluru ("The Rock") or New Zealand or on a "good" wine tasting tour (Hobart doesn't really count).

How do you decide what's the most important to do when you've been given this amazing opportunity to live and work overseas? I feel like I've wasted my time - but at the same time, I've lived like an Australian rather than a tourist.

Now, do I risk the wrath of my boss and ask for lots of time off to finish out my list or do I prioritize them? And what about the money? Getting to these places won't be cheap.

I'd be open to any suggestions people might have!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oh to be a Newbie...

I've been reading through some of my old blogs and it's making me giggle how much culture shock I went through. I can't believe I thought Starbucks was better coffee. There's no way I believe that now. I'm a bit concerned about what I'm going to do when I move home and want a good coffee!!

And my first trip to Sydney. Now it seems like nothing to head off to Sydney. I know my favorite areas of the city - I have some favorite restuarants even. I love Sydney. I cannot suggest it highly enough to people. Here in Oz, there's a bit of a rivalry (ok, more than a bit) between Melbourne and Sydney. You typically like one city more than the other. I am, without question, a Sydney girl. I could live there very easily. If you've never been, I would highly, highly suggest it.

As much as I might complain about some things in Oz (commentating of the Olympics, no refills), I really do love it here. The people are generally very laid back and easy going people. The weather is good, there are lots of food options, and lots of traveling options.

This weekend there are around 10 of us renting a house in Ulladula. The house is right on the beach with it's own pool and it's own access to the beach. There's 12 acres of land and it should be pretty quiet. Which is good considering we're taking the Wii and the Wii fit board to have a tournament. It may just get a little bit crazy in Ulladula this weekend! :)

Next weekend is Canberra Day weekend so we get a public holiday (woo hoo!). I think HA and I are heading off to Sydney and the Hunter Valley for some wine tasting. At minimum, we'll be at the beach.

Stay tuned..I'll post pictures.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Olympics

One of the things that I find I miss the most about living here in Australia is my affliation to sports teams. I don't really "get" most of the Australian sports. Cricket is alot like baseball but goes for five days. I'm definitely not into that. Rugby (either of the leagues) and AFL are just confusing. See my first blog for details. So, in the nearly two years, I haven't really had much in the way of sports in my life.

So, when the Olympics started last week, I was kinda excited. Everyone loves the Olympics, right? The Olympic spirit and all that. So I was fully under the impression that it would be much like the US where the Olympics were played in prime time and you get to see everything.

You'd think after living here for nearly two years, I would know better.

No no...the Olympic telecast starts at 11pm and goes for three hours. Now, if this were live or even just a few hours delayed, I could probably get in line with that. But no...it's pretty much a 15 to 24 hour delay. Which means, if I'm reading any sort of media outlet during the day at work, I'll know the outcome before I get to watch it.

But again..fine, I signed up for that when I moved to Australia. What really gets me is the actual telecast and the commentating. HA and I were watching the mens mogals the other night where the Canadian won gold and the Australian got the silver. Wow! A silver medal for a country that is known for it's beaches...and really..it's an OLYMPIC SILVER MEDAL. Be proud..be happy. But alas...they spent the next hour trying to talk themselves into the fact that the Canadian should have won the medal. A literal play by play of the two runs. AN HOUR.

Ok, if it were the US that looked like it should have won the gold, maybe we would have spent an hour detailing it out as well. But then to make matters worse, they don't really show much of the olympics. Most of the show is commentating and talking. I just wanna see the action. Show me some figure skating..and not just one couple but the whole series of things.

Maybe over the weekend I can stay up and watch some of the olympics. I just miss being in the US and being able to be a proud American without coming off like an obnoxious American.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The traffic is gonna be miserable....

President Obama is coming to town! Stay tuned for more information!

Friday, January 15, 2010

An Aussie Christmas...

Its amazing the things you don’t notice around you until someone who isn’t used to them points them out. I’ve brought two Australians home with me for Christmas – HA and Boris. They’ve pointed things out to me that I would never have thought twice about but when I consider it, those things are uniquely American.

• HA loves the yellow school buses. It hadn’t dawned on me that they don’t have school buses in Oz – instead they use public transportation.
• I’ve gotten so much grief from both of them about the four way stops. They want to know why we don’t just use roundabouts and what happens when people pull up to all four stop signs at the same time. They won’t take my word for it that it never happens! They insist that there’s an intersection somewhere in the US where there are four cars sitting there waiting for someone to figure out who has the right of way.
• And everything is big here. You know, when you live here full-time, you just get used to the size of everything but when you come back to the US after being gone for so long, it can be amazing. The grocery stores in Oz are half the size, at most, to the grocery stores here. When I took HA shopping in Phoenix, I was even a little overwhelmed at all the choices. And the movie theaters – they’re huge too. Not to mention the drinks and popcorn. The boys loved it that you could buy this massive sized popcorn and then get a free refill.
• Oh and the refills! You don’t get free refills in Oz! That is definitely one thing I miss.
• One thing I do love those, are the highways. They are so well built and it makes traveling in this country so easy. The roads are straight and narrow and well maintained. Driving 700 miles, when the weather is good, seems like nothing.

I really enjoyed bringing some Aussie’s home with me for Christmas. Its refreshing to see your country through the eyes of someone who’s experiencing it for the first time. While, of course, there were things they didn’t like or didn’t understand, but for the most part, they seemed to enjoyed themselves. And for me, it just inspired me to love my country even more.