By the time Todd returned, we had to get a move on up to Chatswood where he works. Todd had planned to have us join the regular Friday lunch crew from his office so I could get to know some of his coworkers. The group had already decided where lunch would be that week and Todd did his best to prepare me for what they refer to as "the hanging duck place." True story--there are actual hanging dead ducks when you walk through the front door. The amount of authentic Asian cuisines in Australia is unreal. And, this place would fall into that category. But, the food was really good and it was great to finally meet all of the people I had been hearing about for the past couple of months. I ended up sitting next to one of the more talkative people from Todd's office. This guy has been in Australia for his entire life but apparently really likes Americans and American culture. Because one of my biggest fears here is making a total idiot out of myself by doing something "wrong" it was great to get the Australian scoop from him. No matter where we go, Todd and I seem to talk to people (both Americans and Australians) about the similarities and differences (most differences) between the two cultures. It makes me wonder if we will ever get past that point or if that will always be a topic of conversation.
After lunch, we ran by Todd's office so I could meet a couple more people and so we could print off just about every piece of information about ourselves. We were planning on going to a cell phone store that afternoon and in order to get a post-paid mobile account (a cell phone with a contract), you have to show them about 17 different forms of ID. They also want to know all about your job, etc. To me, this was one of those lose-lose situations because they won't give you a cell phone without knowing that you have a job here but it is awfully difficult to get a job without having a cell phone. At the end of the day, it all worked out and now I have a cell phone with all of two contact saved in there.
That night, Todd and I met up with the only other person I know in Sydney (the other person saved in my phone besides Todd) and her husband for dinner. They are temporarily living very close to us and are actually looking to rent a place very close to our apartment. We had a lovely al fresco dinner and took an after dinner stroll around the neighborhood. On the way back to our place, I snapped this picture on the new phone.
The bridge really is impressive at any time of the day, but I think it's truly at its best at night with the rest of the city lit up behind it.
By Saturday morning, I was itching to go to the beach as it was another gorgeous day. Todd and I ran across the bridge to the Botanical Gardens (a huge green space in the middle of Sydney just by the Opera House) and walked around a bit. I mentioned this area before as it was the first place Todd took me when I visited back in September. It is wonderful and as you walk from one area to the next, you get the feeling you are being transported into various locations--there are places that feel just like the parks we have in Atlanta and then all of the sudden you walk under some trees and you feel like your in a tropical jungle right down to the crazy looking birds then you exit on the street and you feel like you are in an urban city again. That is one thing about Sydney that I didn't know before I got here--it is constantly surprising you.
Later that afternoon, we headed out to Manly beach. We took a short ferry ride to Circular Quay (pronounced "key") which is like the Grand Central Station for ferries. Then, one more ferry to Manly. It was PACKED!
Everyone I've met here has been saying that this has been a "cold" summer and clearly we weren't the only ones wanting to take advantage of the warm weather that Saturday. From there, we walked to Shelly beach. Luckily, Shelly beach wasn't quite as crowded.
On the walk in between, Todd was all about some water dragon spotting.
After taking in the sun, we head back to grab our two ferries home. That night, we went out to eat at a cute tapas places just down the street with Todd's work bff and his fiance. Todd's office is a bit like the UN--there are people from all over the world working there. And, this guy was no different--he and his fiance and both from Ireland. They just returned to Sydney from Ireland where they were for a couple of weeks and have lived in Australia for about 4 years. It was great to get a little advice from them about how to deal with living so far from family and friends.
We had a bit of a quiet morning on Sunday and then met some friends to go to an area called Balmoral. This little area is one of the cutest I have seen yet. It is right on the harbor, has great little shops and restaurants and water access. The beach area is all the way down at the bottom of a huge hill. Luckily, once we walked down to join our friends at the barbeque, we realized that there is a bus that will take us all the up to the top of the hill. Thank goodness Todd downloaded that transit app on my phone or else I might still be walking up that hill. It was a bit of an overcast day. But, it was perfect for sitting outside, enjoying some food and getting to know a few more people.
On the way back, we hopped off of the bus to grab some groceries. I was spoiled when we lived in Atlanta because I had access to some great grocery stores. What they have here is not exactly Publix. But, we went to one of the larger Coles (probably the biggest grocery story chain in Sydney) and were able to find just about everything we wanted/needed. We have been able to find Australian equivalents to just about everything with a couple of exceptions. For instance, the Greek yogurt here is not exactly the same and they don't have half-and-half, not to mention that it is impossible to read the nutrition labels.
Yesterday, Todd returned to work and I started working a little harder on the job search. When I needed a break, I wandered to the park across the street to do a little reading and had this as my view.
Once Todd got back from work, we took a walk around the neighborhood and headed towards a park Todd had visited a few times.
This time, instead of looking for water dragons, Todd did a little kookaburra spotting.
I think the flight, the lack of sleep and change of weather has finally taken its toll on me. So, instead of doing some neighborhood discovering, I ended up taking it a bit easy today and finishing cleaning up the apartment.
So, that's it--our first couple of days in our new home.