Yesterday after we finished some home shoppin' at Ikea, I nearly jumped out of the car to get a picture of the excitement going on outside of the church. I tried to make the photo super big (it looks very blurry if I try to crop it), but you can probably make out the horses and the enormous crowd of people behind it. There were bells going and a gorgeous bride and several photographers. It was quite exhilarating. There was a little girl standing on the balcony above me who was clearly much more electrified than me, though.
Later on, we decided to go on a date for dinner. We have an Entertainment Book
(=AMAZING!!! Get one and you will save so much money), and there are numbers of coupons for restaurants around us. We finally decided on Outback Jacks
, because they have a huge menu (and Alastair wanted to find out why their chicken parmi was $23 as opposed to normal chicki parmies which are more like $17-18).
We expected the experience to be so-so. It's a chain restaurant with a tacky name, so I didn't think that I would get any mind-blowing food. I was anticipating a dinner with too-large portions, mediocre food and screaming kids running around the dining room.
I wasn't surprised to be greeted by a crocodile on the way in (please only look at the croc and not my awkward hand placement on my leg). There were also fake crocs dangling from the ceiling.
We sat down and ordered our beverages. I got the house savignon blanc, and Al ordered a beer on tap. After we got our drinks, our server told us that we had to go to the front to order our food. I'm used to doing that at pubs, but I thought it was strange that we had a server take our drinks but not food orders. It was also a proper restaurant; not a pub. In the end, though, it wasn't a big deal.
It wasn't a big deal, because the food blew us away! I ordered the Atlantic salmon with bearnaise sauce, and it was just fantastic. Al got a chicken parmi. He ate it so fast that he didn't offer to let me try it or take a picture. He said it was the best parmi he ever had in his life, and he would go back to Outback Jacks in a second just to get it. Apparently, it was the quality of the chicken that made it so expensive and delicious. Many places pound their chicken patties too thin to appear larger on the plate or use chicken that isn't good quality. This, I guess, was perfect. Two great meals! Thank you, Outback Jacks!
We also picked up ice cream at Dairy Bell
on our walk home. The ice cream was fantastic, but I was really surprised when they told me that they don't give out samples. I thought that was a bit stingy, given that almost all places let you try the ice cream before buying it. Either way, it was worth the money.
When we got home, we collapsed on the couch and watched the Adelaide Crows beat the Hawthorn Hawks. GO CROWS!
Now, here are our home fixins that we did over the weekend! We got a table runner and chair cushions from Ikea. I finally pulled out our rug to put under the table, and I put out the place mats. The eating area looks so much better!
Now that we moved the rug, I have a little area of the family room to put my home exercise equipment.
We also bought more storage from Ikea. Now, we don't have to put everything on the kitchen bench/counter.
Today, we finally bought a new welcome mat from Bunnings Warehouse. The one that the old tenants left was gross.
We also bought patio furniture! The whole thing cost us $50. Bargain! We can now take in the nice views while sitting outside.
You only have to look beyond the tables and chairs to see what our next project is.
We have a few small tress, but we'll probably find some cheap grass. Mondo grass
seems like a reasonable option. Even when we move out, I'm sure the tenants will like having that over lots of dirt.
I also want to introduce you to my new garden friends. Al bought them a few weeks ago to keep me happy and also to keep Chippity Hippity
company. I haven't named them yet, but suggestions are welcome!
I am now snacking on a Picnic Bar
from a bag that I bought to bring home for the fam and friends. I guess I'll have to replace them before I go. For the record, it's hard to avoid those when they're in the house!
Once upon a time, an Australian boy lived with an American girl in the sprawling northern suburbs of Chicago. The American girl had never been to this mythical place called Australia, but the boy told her many stories about it. She hoped that she could travel there one day. One of her favorite stories that she heard from the boy was about a place on top of a hill where tall furry creatures hopped around with their babies in their pouches and gigantic rodents ran wild. He told her about the dogs that lived there but preferred to live outdoors and without a master. The girl knew that when she made her long journey to the other side of the world, she must visit this place.
In September 2009, she did. She went to Cleland Wildlife Park.
The Australian boy and the American girl started at Waterfall Gully
and walked up from there. It was a very long and a steep walk, but they knew they made it when they saw little animals hopping on the other side of the fence.
When they got inside the park, the American girl saw her first Tasmanian Devil.
She was saddened to hear that many of them were dying from cancer.
Then she saw the wild dog, called a dingo, that the boy told her about. It was sleeping.
She also met a large rodent. It was very friendly. It may have been a potoroo or a bandicoot.
The boy and girl then met the tall and furry animals with the pouches. One of these creatures really loved the food in the bag that the girl and boy bought at the front gate.
The gray kangaroo tried to steal the brown paper bag out of her hands. The girl thought it was very comical.
After the American girl had her laughs, the native boy wanted to feed the funny marsupial.
The little creature held on tight with both hands while he ate.
This photo became of favorite of the girl.
The girl loved her playful little 'roo.
Not all of the kangaroos wanted to play.
Some of the kangaroos were not hungry.
The American girl did not want to leave the kangaroo enclosure, the the Australian boy told her that they had to leave. They spent a lot of time there, and there was so much more to see!
There were emus.
There were wallabies. The girl learned that they were little kangaroos.
The girl saw a foot sticking out of a wallaby pouch! The stories of the babies in the pouches were true!
There was even more to see, but the rain began to fall from the sky. The girl and boy were very cold. They knew it was time for them to go, but they knew they would be back.
The American girl told her mother and father of her adventures in her letters. After a while, they also took the trip to this mythical land of hopping, pouched creatures.
Once again, they fed the kangaroos.
They met an old and serene koala bear.
They saw the pelicans that the American girl often saw when walking along the river.
There were many birds there. When the American girl tried to feed the duck below, it walked right up to her and bit her on the leg. Everybody, including the girl, responded with shrill laughter.
The American girl loved her duck bite. She did not want her little wound to heal. She wanted it to stay there forever so that it could always remind her of this magical place. Plus, she knew that her duck bite would make good stories.
Day after day, the American girl dreams of this place. She is glad that she was able to tell the story of the place called Cleland, and she hopes that all of you will go there one day.
I am happy to say that we had a good inspection. I wasn't worried, though. Our place was very clean.
I had a very special post planned for tonight, but I think I might wait for a few days. Today, I'll talk about my trip to the Grampians. The Grampians is a national park in Victoria, which is a bordering state to South Australia. It holds a very special place in my heart. Al took me there exactly one year ago, and I could easily go back there again and again. There are a lot of pictures in here, so enjoy!
Below, we're leaving Adelaide. It's a 5-hour drive to the Grampians....
with a whole lot of looking at this. When you go to the Grampians, the mountains literally shoot out of nowhere. You see flat plains...and then you're suddenly in a mountainous national park.
Look what we found in the fridge in our cottage! Butter, Toblerones and champagne
The owners provided cereal for us
Hiking to the top of the Pinnacle. It's one of the most popular hikes in the park. You have to do a bit of ducking as well as hiking. Can you tell that I'm wearing a Cubs shirt?
The view from the top of the Pinnacle
You climb these stairs to get the best view. These kids were on a field trip!
Climbing down the Pinnacle in an area called Silent Stream. You can't hear anything.
This was our city center. It's so quaint.
This was the outside of our cottage. Many of the houses in the park have this kind of aluminum siding, because it's more prone to fires. When it's dry and extremely hot in the summer, wildfires are unfortunately likely. If you remember hearing about the horrible Australian wildfires in 2009, then you have an idea how bad dry and hot conditions can be. Those wildfires took place in Victoria.
Look what we found sniffing around our yard!
Boomerang throwing area?
This was a breathtaking view. From what I remember, this is an Aboriginal museum.
On our twilight kangaroo walk. Here's a fact: the best time to spot kangaroos is at dawn and dusk.
They were everywhere!
We saw more gorgeous views on our second day of hiking.
McKenzie Falls. You have an easy hike down....
....and then you realize that you have to hike back up!
We went last year, because we had a three-day weekend for Labour Day (same idea as the American's Labor Day, just has an extra letter). We would love to go again this weekend, but we have to save our money for other upcoming holidays. I'd go every year if I could. If you ever come to Australia and want to do something amazing but not so touristy, I definitely recommend giving the Grampians a go. It's about five hours from Adelaide and four hours from Melbourne.
I can't wait for tomorrow. I have the afternoon off, because our office closes at one. I'm probably going to have a relaxed afternoon, and then I have a very fancy dinner at the Convention Centre. Stay tuned for an update on that on Saturday!
Before I start my post, I want to thank everybody who has been reading! Since I moved to Weebly on Saturday, I've had over 96 page views. I was expecting something like 5, so this higher number makes me very happy! Please continue reading my blog, and feel free to comment or ask me questions.
In other news, I have heard two separate traffic reports in the past week about kangaroos hopping around the roads and blocking morning traffic for commuters. I love Australia.
This morning, I found a most welcomed visitor in our apartment (it wasn't a kangaroo, sadly). I noticed it as I walked towards the closed bathroom door and thought to myself I swear I turned off the bathroom light last night! As a matter of fact, it wasn't the light but actual sunlight beaming through the window. Absolutely shocking! Most of August and September have been cold (highs of about 55 degrees during the day, which is cold here), dark and rainy. The rainfall here has broken records. There was a two week period where it poured down non-stop, all day and all night. For Adelaide, that is unheard of. The climate here is arid and dry, so it usually just sprinkles a little bit when it rains. We're all ready for it to be hot and sunny- as it should be in Australia!
Before I go, I want you all to know that I'm going to start recapping exciting events that I've experienced since I moved to Australia. Here's an idea of what you will see:
- Travels around Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, the Grampians in Victoria)
- The Royal Adelaide Show
- My engagement in Clare Valley
- My trips to Cleland Wildlife Park
- Adelaide Fringe Festival
- My parent's visit to Oz
For those of you who have never been to (or don't know very much about) this wonderful country, you can also expect more facts from me in the future. Bye for now!
Wow, this is my first blog entry! I can't believe it. Actually, it's not really my first. I had to do a blog for my AP Environmental class during my senior year of high school, but I don't think that counts! Nobody even knew what a blog was at the time. Let's just say that this is my first blog post that I've ever wanted to do.
Now, if you're reading this, then you know that I've been living in Adelaide, Australia for over a year (since May 12, 2009). I probably should have started this blog as soon as I moved here, but better late than never! Right?
To refresh your memories (or give you a brief Adelaide tutorial if you've never seen the e-mail), I am going to post my e-mail that I sent to my close friends and family after I first moved here. Read below, and enjoy!
Hello friends and family,
Greetings from Adelaide, Australia! It's hard to believe that all of
you in northern hemisphere are experiencing warmer weather than me in AUSTRALIA, but it's still in the sixties (sometimes low 70's) in what
would be late November weather in Chicago. If I wanted to, I could
comfortably wear flip flops and shorts during the day in winter
weather. Not so bad, right?
As it turned out, that long 14 hour plane ride that I experienced two
weeks ago from LA to Sydney was nothing less than pleasant. The Qantas staff spoiled us with two full meals, bags of chocolates and dried
fruits, apples, blankets, pillows, and a goody bag for the flight
including a toothbrush, toothpaste, a pair of warm socks, a key chain,
and those things you put over your eyes to block out light so that you
can sleep. Then, there was the entertainment system. For no extra
charge, I watched "Confessions of a Shopaholic", "Paul Blart, Mall
Cop", "The Reader", "Milk", and "Vicky Christina Barcelona". If I
hadn't slept for six hours of the flight, then I could have enjoyed
dozens of other movies, unlimited TV shows, and lots of games to play.
In other words, for those of you who dread long flights, you can
easily make time pass faster with the entertainment system. You can no
longer use the long-boring-flight excuse to not visit me!
First sight of Australian land
We got into Sydney around 6 am (I couldn't see the Harbour Bridge or
Opera House, sadly), and we had to sit on the plane for over 40
minutes so that they could check every passenger for swine flu. No
joke. We all filled out forms before we landed, and then these people
(called the quarantine people) stormed the plane, checked our forms,
and examined every person who said that they showed symptoms in the
past week or were around people with symptoms. I don't know if it's
still a hot topic in the US, but people are still crazed about it
here. It finally made its way to Adelaide, and two public high schools
are closed for a week. Poor parents. They're also quarantining cruise
ships. Medical experts here predict that as much as 2/3 of the
population will get it here. It's almost winter-the start of the flu
season-and people worry that it will mutate into something evil if the
swine flu mixes with the regular flu. Sorry to bore you with all of
this, but this is all I ever hear about in the news! I'm sick of it!
Anyway, the 40 extra minutes on the plane followed by the slow
immigration line, waiting forever for my bags, and standing in another
long line to get my bags scanned was enough to make me miss my
A few hours later, my adventures in Adelaide began. We pulled up to
the house greeted by red, white, and blue balloons that his grandma
tied to the front fence. She also attached a kangaroo post card, and
she bought me dozens of patriotic cup cakes. I'll post pictures of that later.
I spent a lot of my first week fighting jet lag and trying to get
oriented with the city. Adelaide is a great city. Al's house is about
a ten minute walk from the actual city. I just walk to the end of his
street, cross a busy road, and walk across a park to get there. They
live on the nicer part of town- the east end. The west end is more
industrial and seedy at night. The bulk of the cool and pretty stuff
is in the northeast part of town, which is conveniently close to us
(although the city is small, and you can almost reasonably walk/bike
anywhere). Adelaide also loves its parks. The city looks like a
slightly tilting rectangle, and the whole thing is surrounded by
parklands. You must go through a park to go in the city. The Torrens
River borders the north part of the city, (funny story- a weir broke
at the beginning of this year, and all of the water drained out. It
probably wasn't funny at the time, but now all of the water is back)
and you can paddle boat all year round! You can also take a boat to
the zoo. One of my favorite parts of Adelaide is the Adelaide Hills
east of the city, which are gigantic and almost look mountainous. The
tallest point is Mt. Lofty, and the base is only about a ten minute
drive from Al's house. We climbed it last weekend. It was over an hour climbing what felt like a 90 degree (but not really, because that's
not possible) incline. If that was bad, imagine going down!
I set a goal to climb it ever weekend so that I can get amazingly good at
doing it, so we'll see! You can also change paths around the base and
head over to Cleland Wildlife Park. You can pet kangaroos and all of
these other Australian animals! We might do it tomorrow.
At the top of Mt Lofty
Culturally, this place feels more European than home. For one thing,
they never use their dryer! They hang their clothes up in the back.
The sun dries it, and it saves energy. Also, the pace of life is slow
and leisurely. There is never horrendous traffic. People stroll. Think
of it like Italy, but people almost always smile and say hello.
Friends sit outside and drink coffee...for hours. The architecture is
Victorian. There's nothing wrong with working at your neighborhood
supermarket if you want to make a few extra dollars. Nobody will judge
you. A lot of people DON'T go to uni (what we call college). If you
do, though, you go in your own city and live at home. Every kid in
kindergarten through 12th grade wears a uniform- it doesn't matter if
you go to a public or private school. You don't have to tip. Ever.
There are always markets to get fresh fruits and veggies. People are
also incredibly fit. Adelaide is designed for walking and cycling.
There are bike lanes on almost every street and a lot of nice
paths-such as the one you can ride along the Torrens to the beach or
the other way to the Hills (aka suicide). Ahhh and if you don't want
to walk, there are buses everywhere and trolleys you can take to the
beach. So basically, if I don't learn immediately to drive Al's manual
car, I'll still be okay!
The animals here are also a little crazy. For instance, there are
black swans (or some kind of swan- they're black) that just hang out
on the bike path next to the Torrens. They move out of your way, but
slowly. So far, I have not been attacked. I also saw a group of them
earlier this week crowding around a parked car with a little boy and a
father begging for food. There was also a pair of them waiting- I kid
you not- to cross a busy road. They were standing together and turning
their heads to the right and left as if waiting for a big opening in
the traffic. I never saw how it ended.
Then, Monday, I was on a walk
when I felt something hit me hard in the back of my head, move around
in my hair, scratch my face, and fly away. It was a magpie. I found
out later that these bird like to find random people to "swoop" and
then fly away. I guess I was just lucky that day. I also got attacked
last week by a mob of angry biting ants while trying to get my bike
from the shed. No bite marks, at least!
As for Al's friends and family, everybody is nice. Everybody in this
country is nice (or at least the people I met). His mom is super easy
to get along with. I think she likes having me around. I also love his
oldest brother Nick (26) and his girlfriend Anna (25). They just moved
back to Adelaide from Sydney, and Anna is totally into musicals and
Zac Effron and all that stuff. What could be better for me?
I'm going to start volunteering for the Australian Red Cross in the
next couple of weeks. It'll be a one-on-one counseling program, so I'm
pretty excited for that. Then, I'll be on the hunt for part time jobs
which shouldn't be too difficult given that his mom knows a gazillion
I have a temporary phone number for now, but I think that's going to
change this weekend. The best and cheapest way to talk is through
e-mail (obviously) or Skype. Regardless of whether you have skype or
not, send me an email if you want to chat, and we'll set up a time.
Also ADD ME if you have gmail and use gchat! ok??? I miss all of you,
and PLEASE keep me updated on your lives as much as possible.
Lots of love and kisses
Hope you enjoyed! As you can imagine, a lot has changed since then. I now work full-time and share a tiny one-bedroom flat with Alastair, who is now my fiance! I never volunteered for the Red Cross. It would have conflicted with my work, but it would have been a great opportunity. I also never climbed Mt Lofty again! Hopefully, this blog will motivate me to do it. I'd love to post some pictures.
I'm going to end this long post with some beautiful pictures of Adelaide. Note to self: find more pictures of the city and beach. Catch up soon!
'Car park' at base of Mt. Lofty
Waterfall Gully at the base of Mt. Lofty
Where I used to write e-mails in Al's old bedroom. I look thrilled about the picture
Feeding a kangaroo at Cleland National Park