Monday, July 31, 2006

Men at Work and Manly

Phew. I made it through my first week of employment without any scratches (although maybe a bruise here or there!). Granted it was a three day week, but those are minor details. Minor!

So I'm working for Citibank in their Credit Cards division and more specifically, the Insurance Distribution section. I'm filling in for the Marketing Coordinator. It promises to be a hectic job, but I don't mind too much. I can handle it for the next four weeks !

The weekend was brilliant! It started getting fun on Friday at lunch. One of the women on the team was going on Mat Leave so we went to this very very posh French restaurant at the Hilton and had a lovely 2.5 hour lunch complete with wine and the such and paid for by the company. This was AFTER we had already had cakes and sausage rolls in the morning delivered in by St Michel's. After a couple of hours back at the desk we went to the monthly staff meeting where there were free booze, candy, chocolate bars and chips.

After work the drinks continued to flow, with workmates heading to the Coronation Hotel across the street. I swear I only intended to have one glass, but somehow one turned into two and after that I was being handed glasses of wine so I really couldn't refuse. The night got even more interesting when I randomly accepted an invite from a co-worker to go to a birthday part at the Coogee Bay Beach Hotel. Oh OK, twist my arm. So I danced some more, drank some more and eventually found myself left to my own devices. And that, of course, always spells trouble for me.....

Saturday I tried to repent my sins from the day before (the eating/drinking ones) by doing a long sessoin at the gym with my workout buddy, Brett. Of course later in the evening I had some more bevvies, so not sure how much the workout session helped. Saturday night Brett took me along to a club called Mylk, where he was to meet some 'straight' girls that he'd made friends with at a football game. There was $20 cover, but we were able to get in due to being on a guest list and the first round of drinks were also free! After awee while Brett got tired of teh straight club and we headed to Stonewall. My first gay clubbing expeience in Australia. It was brilliant, but there are way too many good looking gay guys. Very disproportionate representation of good lookin gay men vs straight men I say!

Sunday I was woken by Garth, my other flatmate who decided it was alright o barge into my room and jump on my bed at 9.30am. Not impressed. The three of us went to Chinatown for Yum-Cha (aka Dim Sum) and proceeded to pig out on copious amounts of eveything that was presented to us. Of course, after that Brett & I decided we might as well continue to be gluttons, so we bought candy and chocolate at Woolworth's and stuffed ourselves some more.

It's awonder they let us onto the boat to Manly - we probably posed a threat of sinking it, but anyways. Right,so I FINALLY saw the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay, and I am glad I waited. The sunshine was brilliant yesterday and it was definitely a 'wow' moment when I realised that I was indeed in Australia, far far away from everything and everyone I know. But I'm not homesick in the least :)

Manly is a kind of posh area of Sydney and you have to take a ferry to get there from the city. It has it's own beach and a great shopping area. It kind of reminded me of Miami, except there were loads of surgeres in the water and the sand was soooo soft. It was like walking in talcum powder. I waded in a wee bit, but the water was still kind of cold. It is winter after all. Capped off the night by having wine adn wedges with Brett and Peter on a balcony overlooking the ocean. It was the perfect way to end a magnificent weekend!

Of coures now I am sick. I know I have only myself to blame but it's no fun!

Oh - final note.I WAS going to send postcards to people whose addresses I had but somehow managed to misplace every single postcard I had bought. Sorry for the delay, I'll get on that asap.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Wooloomooloo Or Something Like That

Let's Talk About Food

Bananas have never been my fruit of choice, but they are cheap and easy to carry. They are also an integral part of my Blueberry Banana Soy Shake as prescribed by my nutritionist. So there I am innocently wandering through the local grocery store, Coles, checking out the exotic fruits and veggies on offer when I come across the banana display. Bananas on this particular week are $15.99 per kilogram. Now I can't say I'm the kind of shopper who normally pays attention to Per/Kg prices, but that seemed a bit steep even to me, so I just broke off one banana and made my way to the check out. This banana, of Australian origin, was $3.00. I Come to a Land Down Under where Bananas Plunder.

Turns out Larry the Cyclone wiped out 90% of the banana crop earlier this year and while I vaguely recall hearing about this crises, I didn't realise how serious it could affect one's diet until, well, I found myself wanting a banana and not being able to afford one.

Tonight I cooked Kangaroo Kebabs. It turns out kangaroo is one of the cheapest meats you can buy and is also quite a healthy meat - lower in fat than steak. So I turned on the grill, which in and of itself was quite a harrowing experience. Here I was worried about poisonous snakes and spiders when really I should have been concerned about gas-lit appliances. In any case I learned the hard way that one should not turn the gas for the grill on and then spend several minutes trying to light a crappy match. That is unless one wants to burn the hair off one's hands...and possibly more. Anyways I then proceeded to burn the kangaroo but it tasted quite good dipped in ketchup.

Tomorrow I enter the world of work after a good five month hiatus. And I daresay I will be jumping in the deep end of the pool. Turns out jobs are aplenty in Sydney so no worries if you're thinking of coming DOwn Under - you WILL have employment! I had three offers on the table and opted for a position as a marketing assistant with Citibank. I was forewarned Citibank is pretty frantic place to work - eating lunch is sometimes not possible and no one leaves the office before 7.00 Lucky for me I get overtime pay and lucky for me it's only a 5 week contract.

I love the place I am staying - more specifically I love the area it is in and the people I am living with. Shacking up with two gay guys in Surry Hills. One of them is Canadian and we've become fast friends and gym buddies to boot. Oh and speaking of gyms - I signed up for one and have gone the past three days :)

Spent the weekend meeting new people, shopping and trying to behave myself. It was a brilliant time! I can't wait til it gets warmer though - this rain and cold is kind of reminding me of Edinburgh, which oddly makes me miss it even more!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Finally, I can think again!!! The time zone changes, late nights in San Fran and doses of Nyquil (I know, I know...I did swear them off, but then I got a cold on the plane trip and, well, they're back in my good books) had effectively thwartede any ability I might have possessed to create a coherent thought or sentence. I think I've managed to overcome the jet lag, no thanks to my weekend adventures though! And the cold is gone, gone, gone!

Right, so I've been in Oz for 6 days now. I think it's rained at some point during each and every one of those days. Not that I mind, it's like I'm back in Edinburgh (minus the bloody hills and men in kilts). A quick recap of what's happened (apologies, but am still lacking ability to be creative and witty - one step at a time as they say!):

Thursday - Arrive in Oz and am elated to be let in the country without a hitch (good thing I threw out that apple before I got to Customs!). Check into B&B then decide that I dont need a nap after my 18 hour flight. Opt for a quick rendevous into the City Centre, where I manage to get my visa label, tax number and mobile service sorted. Early to bed.

Friday - After much deliberation, I decide to check into Kangaroo hostel, even though I've already reserved a spot at another hostel (Tokyo Village). Turns out I made a wise decision as hostel is brilliant - more like a big shared house, with mostly long-termers and mostly guys. Meet with Scott, whose room I will be living in for the next month. We sort out details and then I open a bank account. So easy compared to the UK.

In the evening, I FINALLY meet my name twin (note to self : check off from list of 101 things to do). We are both a bit under the weather (me with a cold, him with an skiing injury...yes, I did say skiing....they do get snow in Oz !!)

Saturday - Lunch with Scott and some of his mates - Dim Sum in Chinatown. They should call it Dim Yum!!! Random wandering in the afternoon, somehow manage to buy an item of clothing.

Saturday evening is night out with fellow hostellers, beginning at a pub with cheap but good food and ending at a bar with just cheap..not good. Pause to pose a rhetorical question - Why do Irish people always seem to find their way to the most Irish sounding pubs/bars when they are away from their homecountry? On the roster this particular night: Paddy MacGuire's, Three Wise Monkeys and Scruffy Murphy's.

Sunday - Oh how glorious sleeping in can be. Print off coupons for free gym trials around the city..this way I can avoid committing to one for a littel while. I feel like a promiscuous gym-goer who is afraid to settle down for fear of what she will lose. What I stand to lose is A LOT of money. One quote for a month-long gym membership was $180!!

Sunday evening = Pirates of the Carribean Part Two. Not fair!!!!

Monday - Job search officially begins. Only slightly successful, but haven't given up hope quite yet!!!

Tuesday - Moved into new flat and went to the gym. That is all I did

I am so tired.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Made it to the other side of the world in one piece!! So I've been in Sydney for about 36 hours - all is well so far. I was a wee bit tired arriving after my 18 hour flight, but somehow managed to spend the entire day walking around the CBD and getting stuff done.

Last days in San Fran were brilliant. I could definitely do with more of that city so I guess it's a good thing I'm booked on a return flight there next year :) Super sore legs from walking up hills and the such.

OK, back to Sydney - will not comment on the city yet. I haven't seen enough, but damn I'm proud of how much I've got sorted already: my visa label, my tax number, my mobile, my flat for the first month and my bank account. Efficiency of Australian services definitely helped!

Staying at a hostel just a block from my temp flat (in Surry Hills). Saw the flat today - it is A-OK - nothing fancy but it will do and apparently I will be living with a Canadian dude too!

Meeting my name twin tonight - excited about that. Just wish I didn't feel like sniffling every two seconds and now I am burning up. I think I am actually a bit sick, but in denial.

K - gotta go!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My 4 night, 5 day stopover in San Francisco was only meant to be a chance to catch up on my sleep and get geared up for the tortuous 18 hr flight to Sydney. Well, well, isn't it always the case that when you have no great expectations about a place, you end up having an AMAZINGLY BRILLIANT TIME??

This is not to say that I was under the impression San Francisco would be boring or like any other American city. Quite the contrary - everyone told me it was a wonderful place and I had no reason to doubt that it was, but to be fair, I was focusing most of my energies on the final destination.

Well, in any case, I am in love with the city and, if I weren't going to Oz, I daresay the immigration officials would regret letting me in the States - cause I'd be trying to settle in here :)

The hostel I am staying at is absolutely the BEST! It's called the Green Tortoise hostel, and it's got loads of character, loads of fellow travellers and loads of free food!!! Seriously - free brekkie every day AND free (decent) dinner 3 times a week.

So, upon arriving Friday afternoon, I v. quickly befriended an English girl who's been travelling America for the past 9 weeks. We headed out to explore and eventually made our way down to the famous Fisherman's Wharf, which was totally touristy, but I loved it! Ghiradelli's chocolates, clam chowder in sourdough bowls, homeless guys holding signs that read 'Need Beer', and an absolutely beautiful view of the harbour - the Golden Gate Bridge and A;catraz island.

After a bit of wandering, we headed back to the hostel for free dinner and then freshened up for the hostel pub crawl. Despite going on only 3 hours sleep from the night before AND gaining 4 hours in tiem difference, I somehow managed to last the entire crawl - I think the vodka drinks helped. We met some English and Danish blokes and a good night was had by all.

The next morning Claire and I made our way back to Fisherman's Wharf. Claire had a ticket for the Alcatraz tour and I was going to try my luck with a Stand-By, since they were all sold out for the next two days. Well, as it turned out..the horseshoe is still residing in my behind, and I managed to get a ticket for a boat leaving before Claire's. Once on the island, I waited for Claire and then we toured it together. It was prett y spectacular - there were birds everywhere, and I learned that the island used to be a military fort and was also the site of a Native AMerican protest during the late sixties. We saw the cells where Al Capone and the Birdman spent their nights.

After Alcatraz, we made our way to the famous Powell-Mason cable car line, and hopped on for a ride up the steep, steep hills of San Francisco. I actually stood on the side rail and hung out of the car - it was brilliant! Plus we managed to avoid paying the ticket price, although I still don't know how.

That evening we met up with some English blokes from the hostel and tagged along with them to a fancy restaurant/club, which they'd reserved the night before. The place was called Asia SF, and specialised in Asian Fusion food. As well, all the waitresses were transgender illusionists and all quite stunning beauties. I was jealous of their cellulite free legs. They did lip sync/dance routins on the bar while we wined and dined.

Yesterday, we decided to hire bikes and cross the Golden Gate bridge. It was an absolutely brilliant way to see San Francisco. It was sunny when we started towards the bridge, but the bridge itself was cloaked in a low, heavy cloud. It was foggy and bloody windy crossing the bridge and you couldn't see for any distance ahead or to either side. Once we made it to the other side the clouds miraculously parted and it was sunny once again. The clouds continued to hang over the bridge as we ventured on towards Sausalito city, which was a seaside town that reminded me of a cross between the French riveria and a quaint English town. We whiled away a few hours there, just enjoying the town's lovely mainstreet and harbour views. Finally we took a boat back to Fisherman's Wharf and headed back to the hostel for a good long sleep - well deserved I daresay/

Today the plan is to go to Downtown San Fran for some shopping and then to catch a movie tonight - An Inconvenient Truth! Tomorrow is my last day here, and I head off to Oz at 9.30 pm. Looking forward to it all, will post again once settled in the land of Oz!

Friday, July 07, 2006

I made it!!! Ecstatic - bless American Immigration Officers in Montreal :) Yeah! So San Francisco is, based on first impressions, absolutely gorgeous and fun! The hostel I picked is big on activities and free dinners and all that jazz, so can tell it's going to be a great weekend already :)

OK, that's all for now, off I go to explore the bay area!