Well where to begin. I haven’t written in about a week, and it seems to be more like a month at this point. Apartment hunting has been interesting to say the least! I’ve met several Aussies looking to rent a room, and the demand so overpowers the supply here that it is worse than job-hunting in America!
Max has a friend here in Melbourne named Matt, who is quite entertaining and very welcoming! After a long day of house hunting on Thursday, I headed over to his house for an authentic Australian brewsky and a long chat about the highlights of Melbourne (which is easy for him to outline from his chic and remote balcony overlooking the CBD (Central Business District, aka downtown). It is refreshing to be in the company of someone who is friends with Max and I am glad to make a new companion on my journey. I crash harder than a ton of bricks as I make my way back to the hotel and wonder what the next day has got in store for me – maybe it’s time to start worrying about the fact that I don’t have an apartment yet? Hmmmm……
Luckily I’ve got a savior. Jess – a girl I met via social networking prior to departing for Australia, who is quite the Good Samaritan and also conveniently needs a housemate! We officially met on Wednesday at her house, which is in a nearby suburb of Melbourne (not in the same sense as an American suburb, literally everything outside of the downtown area is considered a suburb here, though they are all fully accessible by tram, etc). After extensively house-hunting for a place in a trendy and centrally-located area in town, and running into several girls in a similar situation, I’ve made a preliminary conclusion that being her housemate is the best decision for me right now.
I’ll give you some insight to the unexpected nature of Melbourne house-hunting. On Friday, I was almost certain of a place I wanted to move into. By Friday evening, I was frantically calling every hotel in the area looking for an open room. And on a weekend night like this, why wouldn’t it happen to be the Australian open, and why wouldn’t all of the hotels in Melbourne be at full capacity?? Lovely, just lovely! And then a ray of hope: a hotel in a funky suburb called St. Kilda has one room left for the night and they let me book it by phone. I arrive shortly thereafter, and as the lady says my booking was never made, my confidence begins to falter. Damn you 2012, I committed myself to you in utter optimism! After seeing the hefty luggage I have with me, the owner agrees to find me a room and store my things downstairs.
For the first (and hopefully also the last) time ever, I find comfort in watching an inherently American sitcom: Two and A Half Men. Haha. I watch it all night, and hardly sleep a wink. Early the next morning I was off to Jess’s house with my luggage and upon arriving the pieces of my shattering puzzle begin to gravitate together again. I tell Jess about the shenanigans I’d been through in the last 24 hours, and she provides some much needed girlfriend camaraderie and offers me a lift to work. Sweet relief, a return to normalcy plus a ride to work? Back on track! As I walk around to the right side of the car like a doofus, I turn around giggling and head back to the “driver side” of her whip and hop in, giddy to sit front-seat as we fly through the labyrinth of laneways that are still so backwards and foreign to me.
After serving a group of posh Melburnian girls “high tea” at work, I headed home to get some grub and relax. Wait, rewind, I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world “high tea” is. Well, it is a fabulously awesome and overwhelmingly cute shindig that posh, upper-class girls tend to organize with their friends for their engagement (or hen), birthday, or random celebration parties. Part one: loads of tea, ranging from white tea passionfruit to English breakfast (or brekky as they call it) tea, to Tutty Frutty tea; champagne optional (although I do believe it should be mandatory instead). Part two: Chef’s platter of sample finger-foods created and served by the head chef of the establishment to whet the girls’ palates. Part three: a variety of four different sandwiches, varying from cucumber to smoked salmon salad. Part four: scones – but of course they have to be extra adorable and serve them with fresh cream and jam. Keep the teapots flowing! Part five: tea cakes! Fun cakes shaped like trendy fashion accessories such are served while the girls sip on the freshly-brewed teas and gossip about the latest hotspots in town. Anyhow, that’s high tea, now back to the rest of my day.
After walking to Cole’s, the grocery store here, I stopped at a bottle shop (aka a liquor store) and grabbed a couple bottles of Prosecco for none other than my weekend favorite – a fresh mimosa cures any fatigue! Two mimosas and a delicious sandwich later, Jess and her friend Candice come home and we spend hours girl talking about all of the differences between the areas we’re from; Jess is from Perth (Western Australia, whereas Melbourne is on the East Coast), Candice is from New Zealand, and of course I hail from the Land of the Free and Fabulous. We excitedly make plans for weekend trips together, and off I go to bed, happily full of laughs and gossip, excited to go to the Sunday market in St. Kilda in the morning.
Jess and I grab a quick brekky (points for usage, please) and head off for the market via tram and train into the city. It is about 36 degrees (close to 85 Fahrenheit) and of course, before leaving I down a mimosa and throw on my swimsuit, following strict Miami Sunday protocol. Walking down the boardwalk alongside the beach, I spot a few humorous treasures:
Mr. Bucket – a character conjured up by a local Melburnian, consisting of a man wearing a bucket over his head whose image is printed on various token paraphernalia items.
Porgy – I am reminded of my good ol’ little buddy Jorge Cotto who I attended college with and had the affectionate nickname “Porgy.” Porg, I take this discovery as a sign from God that you should probably move to Dallas, marry Karim and ya’ll should fly out to Australia and take me out for a celebratory drink on your honeymoon. Just sayin…
We enjoy bonding over girly talks about our goals and our pasts as I chug down an icy Victorian Bitters locally brewed beer and Jess introduces me to an Australian soft drink – lemonade (or Sprite) with orange bitters. It may easily become a favorite of mine as well, as it is a strong second to Sunkist.
We make our way back to the CBD where we stop at Target after I realize the UV index of 12 gives me a 75% chance of developing melanoma. Yikes! $15 Aussie dollars later we set off for the grocery store to grab a few things for dinner. Following Jess like a lost puppy through Coles, I spot it (I can just see the look on my vegetarian Miami boss’s face now) – KANGAROO meat!!!!! Elated, I rush through the rest of the store and count the minutes until dinner. The meat cooks for about two hours and Jess whips up a delicious salad with rice as I prepare for a carnivorous feast.
A before and after picture for those of you in disbelief:
And for my foodie friends awaiting my remarks – it was absolutely delicious! Savory and tender, the garlic and spice marinade gives the meat just enough kick to complement the slightly sweet and unfamiliar. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say it tastes very similar to Mom’s home-cooked pot roast, only much, much better. I’ll take a year’s supply of pre-wrapped kangaroo roasts to go, please!
Here I am, fatigued after hiking around in the stifling heat and ready for a nap. (Flashback to three days ago, it is now Friday)
Some of my favorite phrases here so far:
– mate (who doesn’t love it, c’mon)
– what’s on (what’s up substitute)
– Kiwi (slang for a person from New Zealand)
– Brekky (short for breakfast as mentioned earlier)
– Bottle shop, or a “bottle-o”(where ya get the good stuff)
– Woggy (spell? An area heavily populated with, weird, Italian people)
– Loads (i.e. there are loads of restaurants in that area, there are loads of people on the train at that time, I have loads of issues with my cell phone provider this week lol, sorry I digress…)
– “Life is good” – I’ve seen this phrase in so many publications and on billboards. Can we please adopt this motto in the U.S.? #theoppositeofpessimismisoptimismpeople!!!
– Takin’ the piss out of you (means you’re busting someone’s balls in American terms)
– Bogan (arguably one of my favorites, it’s equivalent to a hillbilly or a hick – oh Nashville town how I miss your sweet charm. I thoroughly enjoyed explaining a honky tonk to Jess today, she’s like (cue enviable accent and indicative hand gestures) “are you talking about the people with the hats?”)
– Munted – messy or disorganized, i.e. “Your hair is a bit munted today” – good thing Jess explained otherwise I would have taken it as a compliment)
Anyhow that’s all I’ve got for now….cheers!