Sunday, October 16, 2011

DISHWASHER! And, how the UPS man saved me.

That's right, our apartment now has a dishwasher.  (I'll get to the UPS story in a minute.)  Todd and I were talking via Skype (how did people survive before this?) and he took the camera into the kitchen to show me this new addition.  I could not be more pumped!  Don't get me wrong, I feel like we hit the apartment jackpot when we found a place with a stove/oven, fridge (and a large one at that), washing machine AND dryer.  During our week and a half search for an apartment, we certainly did not find anything with the number of amenities our current place has.  But, we did spend almost an entire day just washing dishes and silverware when we moved in and were unpacking.  Bye, bye nail polish after that day.  Todd can attest to the fact that I am a little bit of a germ freak when it comes to dirty dishes.  (I did used to have color-coded cutting boards to avoid any cross-contamination.)  If I had my way, I would put everything in the dishwasher.  So, this was quite the early birthday present for me.

On another note, this was Todd's first full week of work.  The transition and the new job seem to be going really well.  I think there is a definite sense of comfort in the fact that he is returning to a company where he knows people.  Though it sounds like there are certainly new people working there that he had not met, it is nice that he knows some of the people working there already.  I know he misses the people he worked with at his last job, but I think this situation is ideal for a smooth transition. 

I had a bit of an funny week.  Preface to this story--Todd and I decided it made the most sense for each of us to sell our cars before we left.  Todd already sold his car (which worked out better than we had even hoped) and I have been planning to sell my car in December.  My car, though older, has been good to me since I got it just before senior year of college.  Prior to this Australia plan, I was just going to drive it until it died and then get a new car.  Well, this week, I thought my car might have other plans.  On the way to dinner with some wonderful people from work, my car just would not start.  Thankfully, after a jump from a sweet coworker, it started up again.  I went to dinner as planned and drove home.  At first, we all thought the lack of starting was due to some corrosion on the battery.  But, after cleaning off that corrosion, my car would not start.  Because it was still relatively early in the evening, my plan was to jump it again and drive somewhere that would replace the battery.  As my mom and I stood in the garage about to use her car to jump my car, a friendly UPS driver showed up to help up with this process.  Thank goodness, because I have a feeling things might have gone from bad to worse if the two of us were left to our own devices in this situation.  I don't know why UPS has its drivers delivering packages so late at night, but I am certainly thankful he showed up when he did.  I drove the car to a Pep Boys down the road and got there just in time for them to replace the battery before they closed for the night.  I also got the flu shot this week and kept up my 5 year streak of getting sick from it. 

These are definitely just little hiccups during the week.  All in all, they are nothing to write home about and certainly nothing that I could not handle.  But, it's odd to have these things happen without the ever-calm Todd to help.  And, it's even more weird to have to wait 5 or 6+ hours just to tell him these stories.  I think we are very used to everything being instantaneous, particularly information.  I can know what pretty much all of my friends (and people I haven't seen since college) are doing at any one time just by clicking on Facebook.  But, with the crazy difference in time, it is usually at least 6 hours before Todd and I can talk about anything that has happened. 

I promise that once I get to Sydney, I will start posting pictures of amazing scenery and stop getting all philosophical about our move.  In the meantime, here's another picture of the bridge (from our apartment).  I can't wait to climb it--eek!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Trip to Sydney in Photos

Entirely too much has happened in the past week and a half for just one blog post.  And, seeing as my body is still trying to figure out what time zone/hemisphere it is in, I thought it might be more fun to share some photos from the two weeks I spent in Sydney.

Here is my first flat white.  Australia doesn't really do drip coffee--everything is espresso-based.  A flat white is pretty much a latte.  It is delicious, but like most things in Sydney, it is expensive.

This little baby was $3!!
This was the view from the first hotel we stayed in--not too shabby.

During the first day, we walked around Sydney and did some sight-seeing.  We stopped at a place called The Opera Bar were we had our first Australian drinks.  One of the few things you can get for a reasonable price in Sydney is wine.  Again, not a bad view.

At The Opera Bar, I was introduced to one of the more simple but delicious stapes at most Sydney restaurants...potato wedges.

They are just baked potato wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce.  Pure genius.
Being in the parks in Sydney is almost like being in the zoo.  Because many of the animals (birds in particular) are not common to Atlanta, we couldn't help but try to chase them down.  I will spare you the photos of the eels, though.

During one of the few days we took off from apartment hunting, we headed to Darling Harbor.  Though very touristy, it is still wonderful and worth seeing.  Earlier in the week, I had seen a news report on one of the morning shows about a new playground being built in Sydney.  Without meaning to do so, we stumbled upon this new playground while walking from Darling Harbor.

I had to share this photo because neither Todd nor I could get over the fact that kids were just climbing up this structure without any supervision/net/safety precautions.  In the US, this would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.  But, I guess when you live in a country with the most deadly animals in the world, a little climbing is no big thing. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we did eventually find an apartment.  Todd knew right away that this place was a gem.  I, on the other hand, took a little convincing.  It is so incredibly clear now that this apartment is perfect for us.  I already miss it and am excited to get back to it.

The apartment is at the top of a hill and in walking down to the end of our street, you will hit water and see this view.

The apartment is in an older building and has been somewhat refurbished.  There are two bedrooms, a pretty decent kitchen and a wide open living room area.  Much to my surprise, not all apartments (even furnished ones) have a fridge, oven/stove, washer/dryer and dishwasher.  In fact, some places have none of these.  Luckily, we have all of the above with the exception of a dishwasher.  After spending an entire day washing dishes, cups, glasses, etc. by hand, Todd is looking into renting a dishwasher for the place.  Here our a few photos of this humble abode.

Our living room--don't you love the one tiny photo on the HUGE wall?  We are working on fixing that.
Another view of our living room area
Our kitchen--this is HUGE compared to most of the kitchens we saw
Extra bedroom/storage room
Guess who loves the view from the living room...

Because we were constantly rearranging things and doing two weeks worth of laundry, we did not get around to taking a photo of the bedroom.  Hopefully Todd will be able to upload a photo or two.  We are fortune to have some great closet space in the bedroom which will come in handy when I move the rest of my clothes over in January.

After checking out quite a few neighborhoods, hunting for apartments and finally working to get settled in our new place, we didn't have much time before I had to head back to the US.  We spent my last day in Sydney walking from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day and it was nice to finally be able to relax a little.

The day after our beach trip, Todd and I headed to the airport to say goodbye.  It certainly wasn't easy and not knowing exactly when we will see each other again makes it worse in some ways.  I know that he will be back in Atlanta for Christmas but we aren't entirely sure how soon before Christmas we will get to see each other.

Todd started his job the day after I left and said it could not have gone better.  He has been hanging out with people from work outside of the office and getting to know our new neighborhood a little better.  I think it makes all the difference in the world that Todd knows quite a few people in Sydney already.  And, I know they are thrilled to have him back.  Within minutes of posting something to Facebook at the Atlanta airport about his return, Todd received numerous phone calls and messages from people in Sydney telling him how excited they were that he would be returning. 

Coming back to work for me was bittersweet on so many levels.  I love my job more than I thought anyone could love something called "work."  And, I absolutely adore the people I work with everyday.  I am trying to trust that this move will include finding something as fulfilling as I am doing now.  On the other hand, I miss Todd immensely and am counting down the days until I can return to our adventure together in Australia. 

Hopefully this wasn't a picture overload!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Step Closer

We are one step closer to actually having a home here in Sydney.  Today we completed an application to rent an apartment in an area called McMahon's Point.  (It's a two bedroom in hopes that we will have some future guests.)  The plan is to finish signing all of the lease info tomorrow and pick up the keys to our new place.  After we get the keys, we will be renting a car to pick up some little things for the apartment (though it's furnished, we want to have our own sheets, silverware, etc.).  Then, we'll stay just one more night in the hotel and make our final move on Friday morning. 

McMahon's Point is a peninsula that juts out into the water.  From the train station, you can walk directly downhill out to the harbor.  Thank goodness our place is at the top of the hill because I don't know that I could walk all the way up the hill every morning.  I am really looking forward to finally feeling like we have an address and a place to live.  Once we get in the place and get a little more situated, I cannot wait to share some photos.  For now, here is a photo from the bottom of the hill. 

Not a bad view
Big shocker here, Todd loves the new place because we have a view of the bridge.  He LOVES bridges...

Todd looking longingly from Observatory Hill
I have to say, one of the most amazing things about Todd (besides his love of bridges) is that he has kept me laughing since we started dating.  And, luckily this trip has been no different.  I have run the gamete of emotions since we got here and we have certainly been in some of the most interesting situations while looking for apartments.  But, I can always count on Todd for a silly look when someone says something completely off the wall to us or a great joke about the completely awkward situations we have gotten ourselves into while being here.  This has been a pretty hectic week and I am sure I would not have made it through without this guy.

View from Woolloomooloo--yep, that's the real name of the city

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunny Side of the Street

It is amazing just how much weather can impact your day and even your mood.  Saturday and Sunday were two of the most rainy and cold days imaginable.  In fact, Sydney experienced more rain in that 48 hour period than they have in 93 years.  Thanks a lot for the warm welcome. 

Todd and I spent all day Saturday looking at apartments--attending what they call "inspections" here.  The inspections last about 20 minutes, so you have to be there as close to on time as possible.  We spent the day running from one place to the next to ensure we were on time for as many of the showings as possible.  It is important to note that the rental market here is completely different than in the US. 

All of the rental properties are leased through real estate companies and because these properties are in such high demand, the real estate companies don't have to do much to try to sell you on a place.  They also don't have to clean up or make the place look nice because it's pretty much a given that every place will be rented very quickly.  There was one place we looked at that I legitimately thought might have been the scene of a violent crime.  But, I'm sure it will be rented--if it isn't already rented. 

With all of the rain and grossness of the day, it was difficult to imagine what these apartments might look like on a nice day.  That being said, we weren't over the moon about anything we saw.  Side note, when people ask me how I knew Penn State was the right college for me, I tell them about the first day I went to visit.  It was rainy and cold and just about as gross as you can imagine.  But, I still absolutely loved the place.  I figured that if I could be that excited about a place on the most awful day possible, it was the right place for me.  Saturday was just like that rainy day in State College--the only difference was that I couldn't see myself living in any of those places.  Granted, a 6 month lease is quite a bit different than 4 years in college.  But, no one wants to move into a place they are disappointed in from the get go.

So, that brought us back to square one by Sunday.  We decided to take the day off of looking for places and instead embrace the laid back Australian culture by having a couple (or more) beers and watching rugby.  We ended up walking around a new neighborhood in order to get to the "hotel" (i.e. bar) to have a few drinks.  Seeing a few other areas helped us make the decision to widen our search and possible think about moving into neighborhoods we had not originally considered. 

We spent a good portion of Monday exploring new areas and making appointments to view apartments on Tuesday.  We are headed out the door now to see some of these places.  Fingers crossed, we will have more luck today--the sun is most certainly shinning today and I'm hoping that is a sign of things to come.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On Hawaii Time?

Todd and I arrived safe and sound in Sydney about two and a half days ago.  Much to my surprise, the flights here weren't nearly as difficult as I imagined.  Neither of us slept much, but we were able to catch up on some movies we wanted to watch and get some sleep here and there.

Not sure why I'm so excited to be on a plane for 24 hours.

By the time were arrived, I'm not sure Todd or I knew which way was up, let alone what time it was.  But, we did our best to stay awake as long as possible.

We saw the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens (a beautiful space similar to NYC's Central Park) and the Harbor Bridge.  Clearly, Todd's favorite part was showing off the bridge--I am convinced he might move across the world just to be in close proximity to a "cool" bridge.  Then, we walked through a great area called "The Rocks" which consists of old "hotels" (i.e. bars) and little shops. 

After a quick stop to grab a drink and a local specialty--potato wedges with sweet chili sauce and sour cream (so delicious!), we headed back to the hotel.  Our extended stay hotel is just across the street (make sure to look right, left, then right when crossing) from a mall.  One of the more surprising things about Sydney has been the malls.  The one close to us is quite large and has a couple of grocery stores inside--right next door to department stores.  There are also specialty food stores in these malls.  We walked up to a seafood store/fishmonger right next door to an electronics store.  It was a bit odd to say the least.  
Once we returned to the apartment, I completely passed out.  Todd woke me up to go grab dinner and then I went right back to sleep.  

Yesterday, we checked out the first of quite a few apartments and headed to a neighborhood called Kirribilli which sits very close to the harbor.  

Though that first apartment was a bust, we decided that either Kirribilli or a neighborhood a little farther north called Crow's Nest would be good choices for our first apartment here.  Last night, I yet again fell asleep early, woke up to eat dinner and then went back to sleep.  Todd seems to be pretty acclimated to this new time zone whereas I think my body thinks I'm stuck somewhere between Hawaii and here.  

After seeing a ton more apartments today, Todd and I worked up an appetite for some fish and chips.  We stopped by a hotel to grab some really good bar food and watch a football game--Australian rules, of course.  Todd is doing everything he can to explain the rules to both rugby and Aussie football.  So far, it is super fun to watch but I'm not positive I always know what's going on with the game.  

Fingers crossed, I'm going to do my best to stay up until a regular time tonight.  It's not looking so good though...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Packing and more packing

As I write this, T is sitting in the bedroom putting the last of his clothes in 'space bags' to pack for our trip.  I, on the other hand, am sitting on the floor seeing as we don't have a couch anymore. 

Hopefully it is not too obvious that I'm trying to avoid the last little ends that are always the most annoying to pack.  I did, however, pack a good portion of my clothes already.  Now we are ready to get on the plane...

Flying this way would save a little money at least!

Can't you tell how much I've packed?  It's a little funny because I'm going to come back after our trip, so I can't take everything with me.  But, I think we finally have a good plan as far as what we are each taking with us.  One step closer!  I honestly cannot believe that we are going to get on a plane it just a few short days.  And, with everything that we have to do before the trip, I have a feeling those days are going to just fly by.  Luckily, after a few hiccups, we were able to find someone to take our apartment and T was able to sell his car.  I really did think to myself earlier this week--if I ever had any doubts that this wasn't the right decision, they were put to rest when everything that needed to happen before this left actually fell into place.  We will meet the person who is buying T's car first thing on Saturday morning (before heading to the Tech game).  And, we sign over our lease on Monday afternoon.  Hopefully after that point all we will have left to do is get on a plane!  So crazy--I don't think all of this will be real until I step off of the plane in Sydney. 

T's last day of work is tomorrow, so it's time to get him so beauty rest before saying the first of his goodbyes.  I can't wait to post some great pics from Australia next week!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mini-time capsules

It's time to start packing!  And, I have moved enough times to know how stressful it can be.  It seems that moving across the world only adds to that stress.  A few weeks ago, we finally firmed up our travel plans.  T and I will leave Atlanta in the middle of September.  I'll stay with him in Sydney for about 2 weeks and then come back to Atlanta to finish out the year at my job.  But, T will stay in Sydney and start his new job the afternoon after I leave.  When I get back I'll be shuffling between friends' houses and my mom's place for three months--not ideal, but after taking a look at the other options, it seems like the best solution.  We are planning to be completely out of our apartment by the time we leave later this month.  So, we are packing up everything we each own and separating into piles--bring with us/store here.  Side note--this does mean that T and I won't get to see each other for about two and a half months, which kind of blows. 

Luckily, we are in agreement over what should be stored and the few things that we will take with us.  As we put most everything we own (that hasn't already been sold) into boxes, I keep thinking of where we will be when we open them.  We have decided that we will stay in Sydney for 3-5 years.  By the time we open these boxes, so much in our lives could potentially be different.  The plan is to come back to Atlanta, but who knows what will actually happen.  I can't stop fast forwarding in my head to a time when we'll be opening up those boxes again.  Maybe that's how I'm keeping myself from stressing about the fact that so much of our stuff still needs to be packed.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Everything must go!

So, it's clear now that I was stressing over what turned out to be nothing.  Last week, I was majorly worried about how my boss was going to take me telling her the news about the big move.  Well, it couldn't have gone better.  It is always so reassuring when people agree with the decision T and I have made.  And, luckily everyone at work was absolutely behind us. 

Now, we are on to some more next steps.  We are selling EVERYTHING...well, not everything.  But, it certainly seems like that.  The apartment is slowly clearing out but I think the more things we sell and move out, the more we realize just how much stuff we have.  The whole stuff thing is interesting to me.  These are just things and they are 100% replaceable.  But when you've spent the past 6 post-college years amassing all of these things, it starts to feel weird just selling them.  Not to mention, it seems like all of my stuff is selling and none of T's stuff seems to sell.  I'm going to start double-posting all of his stuff on craigslist.  The more we sell, the less we have to pack, right? 

Right now, T is in the midst of packing up all of the stuff we will be storing while we are in Sydney.  I, on the other hand, am hanging out in bed and nursing a killer cold.  Hopefully, this cold will subside soon because we only have 3 weekends of college football before we leave.  And, I would love to be able to go to the home opener.  Here's hoping that the pressure-washer doesn't show up at 4:00 in the morning like it did this morning. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dropping the News

The visa is done, T's job offer is signed and I only have one more thing to do--quit my job.  Actually, we have thousands more things to do (sell all of our stuff, pack, find me a job in Australia).  But, I think until I tell my boss our plans, the move to Sydney won't seem real.  We board a plane to Australia in 23 days (thank you countdown app--I think I may have just vomited a little in my mouth out of shear anxiety).  And, there really isn't any more time to stall in telling my boss that we are leaving.  Originally, T and I planned to go out to Sydney in October, but everything has been moved up a few weeks.  Which means we leave on a flight September 20th.  If all goes to plan with my job, I'll come back at the beginning of October and finish out the year at my current job.  This being the second time I have quit this same job, I am not sure how the news will be received.  (Unlike T's job where there were lots of hugs and congrats.)  So, the stress of this news has lead a little girl talk with a very supportive friend, some wine and just a touch of baking.

Speaking of friends, luckily, I was able to spend the weekend with some of my favorite people, one of whom I've know almost my entire life.  And, she will be welcoming her first baby in just a few short months--can't want to meet you, Baby Kate.  As some of this Australia stuff gets real, it makes be feel incredibly lucky that I still have a few more months with these great friends.  Preparing for this trip has been a study in dichotomy as it has been difficult not to focus on the events and people we will miss dearly when were are away while trying to keep in mind the exciting things we will surely experience in Sydney.  It's hard not to relate everything to what we will be here for and what we will miss.  Even seeing previews for movies and new TV shows is a constant reminder of what we will miss.  I am reminding myself that even though there are things we are missing, we have great adventures waiting for us in Sydney and those wonderful people in our lives will stay in our lives even a half of a world away from us. 

Tomorrow we will be one step closer to those fantastic times.  Keep your fingers crossed that the step goes easily.