Big Question Marks

Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Xmas from us!

Melbourne Xmas (11)
Originally uploaded by bigquestionmarks.
Merry Christmas and happy new year everyone! We've been soaking up the atmosphere of Melbourne for the past few days and loving it. Our first few days were a bit chilly, but it's definitely getting hotter (33 today, hotter than Cairns). We've even been taken by surprise by city sunburns, and we're now slathering on the sunscreen!

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas-- we did, weird as it was to have no snow, no Xmas cookies, and no family nearby. (Miss ya all!) We spent Xmas Eve with our surrogate French family-- us and five Frenchies parked ourselves al fresco at a long table at an Italian restaurant hidden down a small cobblestoned side street in Melbourne's CBD (in Australia they call downtown "the CBD", aka Central Business District). We sat around eating yummy Italian food and drinking wine for more than five hours (those French like their long dinners-- apparently so do we!). Christmas Day was extra lazy... lazing in a giant hotel bed, watching movies on TV like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the live, Jim Carrey version, was actually pretty good!) and Babe ("That'll do, pig"). Then it was off to meet another international bunch for our good friend--and fellow pear-picker-- Andreas' last night in Melbourne. Andy's from East Germany (you may remember him from past blogs) and heaps of fun, and though we're super sad he's left us to explore South America, we're happy we managed to see him before he took off. With Andy, there were some lovely Italian ladies cooking the feast-- Anna and Marina-- and one Indian and one Malaysian girl to mix it up with a couple of Canucks. Good fun! Melbourne definitely has that international feel, much like Toronto did for us, so it's not hard to feel at home here. On Boxing Day, we dropped Andy off at the airport and then it was time to get onto apartment-hunting...our next true adventure, as it seems.

For those of you who have been to Melbourne before, you'll understand why we LOVE Fitzroy and hope to live there. It's artsy, bohemian, full of cool shops and bars, and just north of the CBD. But it's been a bit of a pain to be in the city with our van-- Adrian's become a brilliant parallel-parker and Dayle's been a super-awesome navigator--so we decided to move south to the beachy suburb of St. Kilda (where there's lots of parking) for a bit while we look for a more permanent place to live. We're in a hostel now-- hard to adjust the first night (how we LOVED our xmas hotel- Miami Hotel) but it's not a terrible place to sleep. Yesterday we went to the beach (not the greatest swimming beach, but hey, it's got sand) and had a nice breakfast out, and pretended we were tourists. Plenty of shopping and drinking temptations in St. Kilda-- it's a really cool neighbourhood, though we wish it was walking distance to downtown-- and we were highly entertained to encounter our first stray cats/prostitutes/drug dealers in ages. Good fun.

Last night we checked out our first apartment... errr, flat, I mean. Lovely sounding in the advertisement (as they always are): courtyard, washing machine, TV, fully furnished, short or long term stays OK. We got there and they forgot to mention: the kitchen stank and lacked a tap for hot water, the bedroom was sans curtains and had the air of a junkie palace, the bathroom was grunge central, there was a packet of rat poison sitting outside one bedroom door, and OH WAIT-- there wasn't a DOOR from the outside courtyard to the inside. It's unbelievable what people try to pass off as a "home". Daisy must have left some rubber on Fenwick Street-- we sped off as quickly as we could.

But, fingers crossed, we'll get out of bunk-bed life soon. For now, while the city is still asleep for the holidays, we'll take in as much beach and cappuccinos as we can (another great Aussie concept we've discovered: when a coffee's included in your breakfast, that means you can get an espresso, a cappuccino, whatever fancy coffee, etc). Soon enough, we'll be working and back to our normal city existences. And the jobs can't come fast enough, because Melbourne is full of exciting stuff to do and fantastic concerts to spend money on (and nooooooo Huntsman spiders, yippee)! Fingers crossed we can somehow get to Big Day Out to see Bjork and Rage Against the Machine at the end of January...