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Tag Archives: Australia

On Cell Phones

Remember huge amount of trouble that we went through to get cell phones?

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Total pain in the neck. Would you believe that they got turned off a few weeks later because the correct paperwork had not been filed?

Fortunately for me, Chris got to brave the cell phone store without me the second time around. The phones are on and working again and all is right with the world.

 

On Air Travel

A few weeks back I mentioned my disdain for checked bags. They make me nervous.

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It is no surprise that I was super upset when, after six flights with the same bag I was nearly forced to check it when leaving Melbourne. It turns out that they are extremely strict with checked luggage there. I talked my way out of it. Close call, huh?

Ironically, thanks to Chris’ huge purchase in Kuala Lumpur (more details next time) I elected to check my bag for the final of eight flights on my journey. Go figure.

On Toilets

I prefer the ‘Western’ variety. Not really a surprise.

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I wonder if I would feel differently it I had grown up with the other variety? I bet I would. I always appreciate ‘Western’ toilets with instructions, we could use more of those at home. Maybe that would prevent the ‘splatter’ so common on public toilet seats.

On Chinese Candies

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Acid Horns do not taste good.

Well, not to my American palate anyway. During my week in China, one of the ladies in my meeting would pile the middle of our tables high with candies and sweets late in the afternoon in attempt to keep us awake and focused. Each day I would eagerly anticipate this event like she was the Easter Bunny or something. Most days, I was sorely disappointed.

I clearly don’t understand Chinese candy. There were many corn-flavored treats. I am still not sure what flavor the Acid Horns were. After all, you can only ask ‘What is this?’ so many times before people suspect that you might not like it.

Next time I go, I think I will bring some American candy. I wonder how it will go over?

One of my co-workers brought Jolly Rancher chews to Australia. The Aussies seemed to think that they were way too sweet and flavorful, but the group did seem to polish off a few boxes of them each afternoon.

On Expensive Bananas

Food prices in Australia were very high in general compared to US food prices, but the first time I tried to buy bananas there I was especially taken aback.

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During the last grocery run of my trip, I finally got to the bottom of it. See the fine print? Remember the flooding in Queensland earlier this year? It seems to have wiped out the banana crop severely cutting supply and thus driving prices sky high.

I asked a few people why they didn’t just import bananas. After all, most of ours in the US come from South America. The opinion on the street was overwhelmingly that Aussies would rather buy bitter, overpriced bananas than anything imported. That’s some serious national pride, especially from the point of view of this girl with a one (or more) a day habit.

It is pretty amazing how a few hours can change so much. If you recall, I hightailed it out of Hardware Lane on Friday night. It looked so cool, but the crowded alley coupled with the overbearing restaurant hosts were a bit too much for me.

Fast forward to Sunday.

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Hardware Lane by day is completely different. It is quaint, charming, and somehow reminds me of eating at a cafe in Paris.

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By day, the hosts and hostesses are much lower key, the crowds are thinner, and the server was even willing to entertain me customizing my order. Not only could I sub grilled chicken for the smoked salmon that I am not supposed to eat right now, but they were happy to make my salad extra big with double rocket at no extra charge. That definitely would not have happened on Friday night.

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In the end, I had a pretty good Sunday afternoon. It was sunny and felt much warmer than it had all week.

After lunch I went on an unsuccessful to buy a white long sleeve rash guard for Chris. No dice. Beggars can’t be choosers, he may have to settle on a black or blue one. For some reason, maybe the fact that it is winter, even stores labeled ‘such and such’ surf shop are not selling rash guards. Go figure. I’m sure I’ll come up with something before I leave.

Grilled tiger prawns, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and red onion on a bed of leafy yumminess. The most delightful meal that I have eaten in weeks.

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A decent salad was pretty tough to track down here. I wonder if it is a cultural thing? There are many prix-fixe menus here that include a salad course, but it took me nearly an hour to track down a place that was serving giant dinner, or in this case lunch, salads to satisfy my oversize American appetite for animal proteins and leafy greens.

I’ll have to ask someone at work about this on Monday. Are Australians typically opposed to salads AS their meal?

Overall, this morning was a huge success. In addition to locating a salad, I got my hair cut and highlighted, something that I was not brave enough to attempt in India. I am not so worried about the Indian cut, but in a place with very few blondes, I am hesitant to ask for highlights.

It seems that haircare is one of the few things in Melbourne at a reasonable price point. Food prices here are just off the charts. Worse than London or Tokyo. Even in the grocery store. I am thankful to be here on work’s dime, but even still, I would not typically buy a work meal that I wouldn’t be willing to pay for myself; it seems kind if unethical to me to do so.

I am not much of a city person, but Melbourne is a big city that I would be happy to live in, well, other than the high cost of living. The atmosphere is pretty laid back, I feel relatively safe walking around alone, even at night, the traffic isn’t bad at all, and the vegetables are safe to eat. Maybe we can get another transfer.

Kidding… Kind of…

My big afternoon activity was be a self-guided bicycle tour of the city. I didn’t feel like hitting the hotel gym and I found out that I could rent a bike for the day for $2.50 to explore the city’s 18 miles of paved bike paths.

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In reality, I did not make it nearly 18 miles on my three-speed wonder bike, but I did have fun and was able to cover a lot more ground than I could have on foot.

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I headed south of the Yarra River through a few parks before looping back up north into the city centre where I wandered the streets some more on the way back to my hotel.

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I am really enjoying the multitude of tiny alleys lined with cafes. I may head back to this neighborhood for dinner!

This week was spent in Melbourne, the food capital of Australia. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten out much because I spent most of the week working day and night, I suppose that is why my job sent me here, huh? Luckily, this evening I was able to get out and walk around for a few hours between my work day and my night meetings.

I’m a not so cool kid who has conference calls at 10 PM on Friday. I can’t worry about that though, I decided to just roll with it.

Since it was my first night with my dinner plans completely in my own hands, I was excited to wander the streets of Melbourne and find the perfect dinner. For me, that meant a salad as big as my head, hopefully with grilled chicken on it.

Don’t laugh. If you lived in India and could only eat leafy greens at your own risk, you would be on a mission to find salad as well.

I started out by heading for a little alleyway nearby called Hardware Lane.

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This is supposed to be one of the more trendy areas to eat in Melbourne right now. As I approached the lane, I could hear musicians playing outside and see tables of people spilling into the street under awnings and heaters. Remember, although it is a mild winter, it is still winter here.

It looked like the perfect place to eat dinner!

As I began to make my way down the narrow walkway between masses of dining tables in the street, I quickly realized that this was more like running the gauntlet than a lovely dinner in the making. Restaurant hosts wound through the crowd behind me animatedly touting tonight’s specials and making me feel slightly claustrophobic and uncomfortable.

I wanted out. Now.

I began to wander back toward my hotel, reconsidering my dinner plans along the way when I spotted the Ugg store. If you know me, you know that I have a weakness for boots, especially the furry, ugly, Ugg variety. Naturally I went in, but I immediately rethought that decision because I know that Chris would not buy into me owning a third pair of Uggs.

I nearly escaped without any purchases until I spotted these.

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Baby Uggs. 0-3 month ones to be specific. They are tiny and fluffy and wonderful and Chris did tell me to buy a baby-something in Australia. I think have verified that he probably meant a stuffed kangaroo or something to go with the stuffed panda that I got in China, not Uggs with a lifespan of three months. I’m sure he’ll get over it in a few hours.

Anyway, back to my dinner situation. I headed to the next neighborhood that I knew, Chinatown.

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At this point I was hungry and no longer worried about eating salad, which was a good thing because I wasn’t too likely to find it there. I considered a second night in a row of kimchi, as last night’s was pretty awesome, but I couldn’t find a decent place to eat kimchi alone non-awkwardly.

My dinner mission led me out of Chinatown, via the Greek Precinct, where I almost got my salad, through a neighborhood that I will call Little Vietnam, and finally into a shopping mall where a display window caught my eye. Still no dinner after wandering around for two hours.

My next stop was the Lush store to get more bar shampoo. I happened to notice it in the basement of the mall from three floors up. Somehow I remembered that they sell bar shampoo and that my old shampoo bar is nearly used up. Score!

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Time for dinner for real though. Frozen yogurt sold by the gram. Salad just wasn’t in the cards tonight. Afterwards, I headed to the grocery store to supplement my fro-yo meal with veggies, hummus, and whole wheat pitas.

Tomorrow I will make a better effort to track down a salad. Maybe those lively haunts on Hardware Lane are a bit lower key during the day.