Friday, April 30, 2010

Happier Posts

See .. I told you! haha on to happier posts.

Here are some pics I realize I haven't put up yet. They are from about a month ago but I will catch up. Better to keep things as chronological as possible I guess. I will try to write a brief explanation for them as well.

This was taken from the rooftop patio just outside our hotel room. The photo doesn't do it justice. It was the most amazing sunset. The lighting hitting the clouds made the whole sky look ablaze.

People really like to paint their cars here. We see them all the time. So weird. I feel like I'm living in Fremont or something. Anyways, this one was particularly amazing. Please note the handmade antennae affixed to the roof. Um yeah .... and its on your team.

Sydney has so many beeeeeeautiful parks. This was taken in Hyde park which is the equivalent to Central Park. Its right next to the CBD (central business district) and is one of my favorite places to read, and John's to draw.
This photo is the beginning in a saga ending with me scrubbing Sydney's red light district off my bare feet.. as you can see above John and I took a long walk around town one day. This photo was taken in Circular Quay which I have since learned is pronounced Circular "KEY". This is the area of Sydney where all of the ferries and cruise ships come to dock.

Here we are looking all couple-y in front of the opera house. Don't mind the wikked tan lines. They are better now :)

One of the highlights of the day .... giant cheese ball. Holy NOM!

We kept walking to the other side of Circular Quay where there is a great view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge aka "The Coat Hanger"

Around the next bend we came up on the Opera House. Such cool architecture.

I decided to to take a few artsy fartsy shots.

.. and a shot of Farm Cove. I jog around this part of the Botanic Gardens when I have the energy. There is a path that winds around the cove here. Our apartment is just on the other side of that far hill.

And then ....

my sandal broke.

As you know, once your flip flop breaks there is no limping around on it. Its just done. No sense in trying. As I mentioned our house is on the other side of that far hill in the previous photo. At this time we were still at the hotel which is one hill beyond that and happened to be located in the middle of the red light district, a neighborhood good for entertainment but not exactly the place I wanted to be walking around barefoot.

The first part of the journey wasn't so bad because I could walk on the grass through the botanic gardens. Once we got to the Finger Warf near our place now we decided to cab it back to the hotel. The cabby got stuck in a one way area and couldn't turn around easily. Instead of paying the guy a million bucks to take us door to door John said for him to drop us off, in the middle of Kings Cross = YUCK. I had to walk about three blocks without shoes through some nasty back alley coated in 20 years of bum piss and frat boy barf. I immediately jumped in the shower upon arrival. HA HA :P

Long time no type

First of all I apologize to those who actually follow this blog. I know i haven't posted in a while. There are a few reasons for this but I am sorry for the 40% that can be attributed to my own laziness.

The other 60% I blame on the last month or so. Its been a doozie. Nothing terrible but it has been one of the harder months through this whole experience. We knew going into this that not every day was going to be crocodile smiles and rainbows over the opera house. haha I believe the last time I wrote we were still staying at the hotel. Since then we found an awesome apartment which we are sharing with our roommate Lindsay. But the last month was full of setting-up-house activities some of which made us want to bash our heads on the beautiful stone counter tops.

We have quickly found that, while Sydney is an absolutely beautiful city with perfect weather and plenty to do, the system and infrastructure here in Australia has a little left to be desired. Nothing we can't move beyond but we have had many an "Oh Australia" moment.

Examples ... (sorry this may sound a bit negative, keep in mind that we are totally over all of it at this point and really enjoying our stay now but to recap the last month here you go)

1. In order to rent our refrigerator we had to give the rental company a copy of our passports not drivers licenses, credit card, previous rental history with references, a copy of our lease with references, and at least three personal references of people who live in Australia that don't live with us and aren't family members. At the time I told the guy "I don't know three people who live in Australia" to which I got a quick "tough shiz". Fortunately we made a few friends out here who were kind enough to vouch for us. All this for a used small fridge by US standards that is probably worth about $400.

2. In order to get a Blockbuster card we had to again bring copies of our passports because they wouldn't accept our CA driver's licenses, credit card, phone number and a copy of our lease proving residency. When you make an account with them they don't give you a Blockbuster card. You have to remember the phone it is registered under and the pin number. We went through all this and went to go pay for our movie, come to find they have a $10 minimum for debit/credit card transactions. We walked out, cooled off, got cash, went back, got our movie, THEN come to find out the disc drive for my computer has decided to crap out on us. LOL! <--- really, its laughable at this point. :) 3. The electricity is billed differently here. They basically hedge on what you are going to use because they will only send someone out to read the meter every quarter, not every month. So right now we are paying $80 a month for electricity (which is way more than we paid in LA) for the next three months because that's what the reading was last quarter. When they come to read the meter next they will adjust the rate. I have the feeling that if it is less they will probably not tell us. I'm sure we will be notified if it is more though haha!

4. Oh the internet. This is where the differences between the US and OZ are most apparent. First of all it seems that the phone companies and the internet providers are in cahoots. They want you to pay for a phone line which no one ever needs in the day of cell phones. If you don't have a phone line they make you get one, for an additional contract through a company unrelated to the ISP. Once that is in place you can have someone come check to see if internet is even possible at your home. Yes, here in OZ there are places where you can't get internet. I don't know how people survive. In addition to the phone line thing most of the ISP require a 2 year contract. This obviously doesn't do us any good because we aren't going to be here that long. We tried checking with the cable TV providers but were told by one that we can't get cable in our building, another wanted a 2 year contract. So after a solid week of searching and talking to these providers on his lunch, on a pre paid phone by the way, John was able to find one company who would give us internet through the phone line via one company, not two, and without a 2 year contract. In LA we paid $15 a month for internet, here we are paying $60 but that's the way it is and we are lucky we can get it at all it seems. You would think that they would want to install the internet as quickly as possible so they could start charging us, nope. We were told it might take up to 28 days. TWENTY EIGHT DAYS!!!! WTF!? yeah so after a week we called back and I was a beotch to them. It got the ball rolling though. They had to send one guy out from the phone company to check the line, then another guy to connect the wires or something to our unit. THEN they sent out a courier with our modem who I had to send back because he ding dong dashed the first time. The guy who came to set up the service didn't set anything up really. All he did was make sure the line was open and said "ok good luck". I had to call the IT guys at the provider and sit on hold for hours to get it working. John had to set up our wireless network himself. .. yeay for men :)

5. Most of the bills here are paid weekly or fortnightly (every two weeks) yet employers pay you every month not every two weeks. Because John and I got here ahead of our roomie we handled most of the deposits and had to float rent for the whole unit ourselves for a few weeks. Also, his relocation bonus worked like a reimbursement or expense account so we had to wait for that to come back to us after submitting our receipts. We felt like we were bleeding money for the first month or so. Things are sorted out now that Lindsay is here (the roomie), John got paid, and the relocation bonus was deposited into our account. But man we were living pretty slim for a few weeks there!

So anyways, we had a month of frustration setting things up, we watched our savings whither away and had no internet connection to keep in touch. Add to that the fact that we tapped out our relocation bonus and had to wait for the roomie to get here so we could get the rest of our furniture. It was a little desolate in our house with only a bed and no outside connection. But all is well now. We have furniture, free TV thanks to a socket in the wall connected to an antenna, savings back in the bank, a credit card back in the black, and internet that, for the most part, seems to work ok.

All is right with the world ... on to happier posts! :)