Saturday, March 23, 2013

Australia: The first week

Hello everyone! We've been in Melbourne for nearly a week now, and have had a chance to get our bearings. Here's how the first week has been.
On our way to Pearson -- bye Toronto!
The Flight
We left Toronto at 6:40pm Saturday March 16th and flew to Melbourne in 25 hours (with a stop in Los Angeles). The Toronto to LA leg was easy with wifi on the flight, snacks (purchased at Pearson for the mere price of a kidney), and extra leg room on our seats. The flight to Melbourne was long. The in-flight entertainment had a display with Los Angeles time, Melbourne time, and time remaining. I celebrated both when the hours remaining dropped to single digits and when there was less than an hour left. The food was actually really good (beef stew for dinner; eggs, spinach, tomato, and cheese for breakfast), so way to go Qantas.

The Arrival
We arrived in Melbourne at 9:20am Monday March 18th. It was grey and cloudy, but a huge relief to get off the plane. We got through immigration very quickly (I've been asked more questions trying to return to Canada), collected our bags, and met the driver we'd hired to help us get them into the city (we're staying in the neighbourhood of South Yarra, it's very trendy). It didn't take long at all to arrive on the doorstep of our temporary accommodations with all our belongings several hours ahead of schedule.

South Yarra: Airbnb success
At this point, the rain had stopped so it was warm and sunny. Dave guarded our suitcases while we waited for our apartment to become available, and I went to get something cold and caffeinated in the commercial area nearby (Toorak Road, for those following along with a map). At least along Toorak Road, they are crazy for French patisserie. Everywhere has crepes, macarons, and croissants, so it kind of felt like being at home in Montreal, except I've never seen a coiled danish called an "escargot" before. I'd read in advance that Melbourne is very into coffee and cafe culture, but I didn't realize they had new names for everything I thought I knew. The "iced mocha" I ordered ended up having ice cream in it, which was both unexpected and delicious.
The garden with its resident ginger cat.
Settling in to our temporary apartment.
Eventually, we got our things into our apartment, changed clothes, and had lunch at "kanteen" -- a very cool restaurant on the Yarra River. I had the best lamb, green bean, and okra curry ever, and Dave had (delicious-looking) smoked salmon and poached eggs.
The Yarra River from kanteen's patio.
We booked our accommodations on airbnb, partly thanks to a recommendation from Catherine E. We're so happy that we did, we really like the place we're staying, especially because we aren't paying hotel rates.

Life
Since the first day, things have been a bit less interesting, and a lot more like work. We've had to set up cell phones (mobiles) and banking, and find ourselves an apartment (which is an ongoing thing). I've been into work, met a bunch of wonderful people, and begun a lot of health and safety training along with a little bit of science. The weather is lovely (not too hot, not too cold), and all the conveniences we're used to at home are available here.

We bought our first Aussie appliance, a coffee grinder, because most of the coffee in the grocery store is espresso ground, and we need a coarser grind for our aeropress. Of course, we will keep everyone posted on the fun things we do here, but we will need to get past the stage where we are spending our days filling out forms.
Birds-of-paradise, just an everyday garden plant.
All our love,
Liz and Dave

Coffee Glossary
coffee = espresso
long black = americano
flat white = latte no foam
iced coffe = ice cream, coffee, sometimes whipping cream on top
iced mocha = ice cream, coffee, chocolate sauce, sometimes whipping cream on top