It’s been three days since we arrived, and for the most part I have only positive things to report. The weather is GORGEOUS – it was about 78 degrees and completely cloudless yesterday – there are lots of great food options, the city is unbelievably clean and beautifully landscaped, and we seem to be getting acclimated to the time change. Whereas we both woke up at around 4 am yesterday, we went to bed at 10 last night and woke up at 6:30 this morning, which is far more normal.
So here are my observations so far:
-There are like NO fat people here. I guess that means I better join a gym pronto. There’s a small gym on the top floor of our hotel, along with a pool that has some sweet views, but I’m kind of itching to join a place with classes and stuff. I guess that’ll have to wait till we move to a permanent apartment.
-The architecture here reminds me of Berkeley and San Francisco a lot. We took the bus out to Bondi Beach yesterday (love that it takes like 20 minutes to get from the city centre to a rad beach), and there were all these little hills with a mix of craftsman cottages and modern apartment buildings.
-Mel Gibson’s divorce was the biggest news story in the country for the first two days we were here. He doesn’t even live here anymore! Along the lines of television, we currently get like ten channels, one of which is Disney. Half the shows are made in Australia, including one about three chicks who become mermaids (I think it’s called “H20: Just Add Water”). Who knew?
-The crosswalks here SUCK. It’s easy adjusting to the cars being on the left side of the road, but it takes forever waiting for crosswalk lights to change, and people here don’t seem like huge jaywalkers.
-Stuff is generally more convenient and plentiful than I’d expected. For instance, there are tons of food courts and restaurants underneath seemingly every city block, and we’ve already been to four different supermarkets that are underground adjacent to various train stations. Not only are the supermarkets way bigger and better than what we had in Scotland, but they all seem to be open till midnight (even later than our supermarket in NYC!). Since I’d read that everything closes at 5, this has been a very pleasant surprise.
-As evidenced above, there’s a decent amount of stuff here that we also have at home. Everything’s just slightly off. See below.
The other day when we rode the train back into the city a dude got off with a surfboard. That was really cool. One thing that’s tripped me up: on their menus what we would call “appetizers” are referred to as “entrees.” WTF? Today we ate lunch at this really delightful outdoor cafe in Woollahra and I felt like such a dumbass when the waitress asked if we wanted our bruschetta as an entree. The husband quickly answered “Yes,” but I of course had to hesitate and act like a spaz and be like, “No, we want it before our main course,” which then of course confused the waitress. That will take some getting used to.
Yesterday we spent most of the day walking around Darling Harbour and the Royal Botanic Garden, and in the afternoon we took the train/bus out to Bondi Beach. We ended the day at the Westfield Center in Bondi Junction, which is this enormous 6-story mall that seems to go on forever (see various mall pictures above).
I marvel at how walkable and pleasant this city is; everywhere we go I keep waiting for neighborhoods to get sketchy or dirty, the way it inevitably happens in San Francisco or NYC, and yet everything just stays clean and bright and covered with flowers. It almost doesn’t feel real. Check out this picture from the Botanic Garden, with the CBD (Central Business District) in the background. Unfortunately it’s kind of hazy (I took it with my iPhone and the sun was just too damn bright for it to handle), but I think it nicely captures how the city balances all this lush greenery with clean, modern architecture. I’m really excited to go running around there!
I’ll end with a picture of something that totally made my day. So my dad is kind of addicted to buying new electronic gadgets, and a couple years ago he decided to try out Slingbox, this contraption that you hook up to your home cable box that then allows you to watch your home TV through your computer from anywhere in the world. Not only can I now follow the Red Sox and Patriots, but this morning at 11 am I was able to sit down and watch LOST live. I’ll also look forward to watching Gossip Girl in the same way when it comes back next week. More to come soon!