Big Question Marks

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Playtime in Melbourne

It's been a busy few weeks, but though we've been working a whole lot lately, we're trying our best to make sure there's still time for fun. Although it's gotten chilly and the streets are no longer filled with summertime tourists, and the festival-a-week season is long over, there are still plenty of fun things to do in the city. Here are a few of our recent highlights:

- The Game On exhibition at the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image): an art show all about video games. How cool is that? We went a few weeks ago and found it to be all about nostalgia, and surprisingly not full of gaming nerds as we had suspected. There were multiple interactive exhibits (sooooo many games to play!) which highlighted just how much video games are part of our generation's (and so many others) growing up. There were write-ups on game genres, historical timelines, international games, music, pivotal characters, and more. And we especially had a good laugh when we noticed how many arcade games had a dad at the controls while their little kid waited anxiously to get a turn! It was kind of a all-you-can-play buffet of games-- definitely worth the $15 admission. Some of our favourites at the exhibition included Street Fighter, Lemmings, Chicken (a much-pixellated game where a chicken/yellow blob has to cross a busy highway and not get run over by trucks/speeding square blobs), Galaga, Wii table tennis, Way of the Exploding Fist, and a Japanese game which simulated driving a slow-moving train.
- Dining out: We are big fans of the Italian eateries on Lygon Street (near our house), as well as the $9 Indian dinners at Funky Curry on Bourke Street (CBD), and most recently ate delicious Chinese cuisine under giant Chairman Mao posters at Post-Mao Cafe in Chinatown (apparently the chef used to cook for old Mao). We've found excellent Japanese fast food in the food court at Crown Casino and some really interesting Japanese treats at Kazen in Fitzroy. Oh... and then there's Chocolateria San Churro (a strange and interesting chocoholic paradise which specializes in, yes, everything chocolate, in drink and in solid form in a cafe setting; although the white hot chocolate is great at first but soon feels like you're drinking a cup of butter). And then there was that lovely multi-course pancake dinner at the very charming and old-school Pancake Parlour... Melbourne has not been disappointing our appetites!
- Drinks at cool spots like the Croft Institute, a science-lab/school-themed bar hidden deep in the alleyways of downtown, past smelly wheelie bins and lots of graffiti; the overpriced but heaps-of-fun Mai Tai, a kitsch Polynesian-themed bar which serves its most popular cocktails by the giant bowl; and at Spleen, a shabby-chic and laid-back sort of place in the CBD which we end up at a lot.
- Possum-feeding in Carlton Gardens: For some reason this activity never gets old. Especially after a few overfilled glasses of wine at the Post-Mao Cafe.

Still to come:
There's still so much to do here (it's starting to look as though we may stay in Melbourne til November or December!)... including checking out the rooftops from the Rialto Tower, the Melbourne Aquarium, dining at a Greek restaurant (the city has something like the second-largest Greek population after Greece itself), and perhaps doing a little shopping for artsy trinkets at the weekly St Kilda Esplanade Market. Not to mention a trip out to Phillip Island (an hour or so away) to see the teeny fairy penguins march in the Penguin Parade!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Working for 'the man'

Yup, that's right, the news is out. We're now BOTH bank monkeys, typing up files and looking at data and following protocol (kinda like CTU but a bit less glam). Although she was getting lots of annoying errands done, 3 weeks of 'vacation' was enough for Dayle-- and she's landed herself a temping job at ANZ as well. Although we're in different ANZ bank offices, in different city suburbs (Adrian's in the heart of the downtown business area and Dayle's building is in Richmond, nestled in between a Ferrari dealership and countless wacky interior design showrooms), we're both part of the same bank family now. Dayle got the call last Tuesday and began work the very next day in the "Travel Card" section, processing forms for this cooler version of the travellers' cheque. It's amazing to see how many people have 12,000 Euro to slap down in card form, and also sad to see people's Aussie dollars get decimated by the British pound. But there's plenty of folks heading out on vacation now, that's for sure... and it's making our poor little (constantly growing) team work really hard. But nice people, decent pay -- ah, a job's a job. And way better than fruit picking! Luckily we've just discovered our company email address book, so we can chitchat under email subject lines like "Further information needed re: application". Too cool.

We went on a little shopping spree this past week, finally giving into the chilly Melbourne weather and buying ourselves winter coats. And of course, now it's 18 degrees in the day! Nonetheless, we are very excited to wear our new coats. We're learning some tips on how Melburnians stay warm, living in old houses without insulation- layer, layer, layer! We've actually even turned on the furnace lately (it's freezing at night!), something that led to great debate and a week's worth of household tension between us and our New Zealander housemates; we've since learned that in New Zealand, people simply DON'T heat their houses, and if they do, it's with a fireplace/wood stove. (Reminds us of our rustic cottage in Stanthorpe!) And they consider heat "a luxury", which was equated to owning a dishwasher in the 'heated' discussion. Ha! It was getting so cold in here that we were feeling like we might as well been sleeping in our van outside, and we were beginning to wonder if we'd just acclimatized so much to the tropical weather (not that it's been tropical here for ages) that we can't take the cold anymore. We are so sick of hearing "This is nothing! You're from a cold country!" And then we went out for drinks with an Irish and an English couple and discussed the philosophy of heating-- and as it turns out, they've all been using the furnace for weeks now. Sure, we're from countries which get cold, but you know what? We heat our houses to make it bearable. It's just how it works in the northern hemisphere. We felt much better after that.

Last weekend we also did a little exploring, and checked out the insides of the Hotel Windsor, a grand old 19th-century hotel which is on the edge of the CBD, right across from the state parliament building. Apparently many Aussie prime ministers have stayed there over the years since it was built in 1883, and it reminded us of the grand old CP hotels in Canada. The chandeliered lobby is beautiful and it was cool to read through the historical blurbs & photographs, including how a politician (a premier?) took ownership and sold booze there illegally for years. One day when we're rich and visiting Melbourne again, maybe we'll stay here instead of good old Miami Hotel (our Xmas abode). It's funny how there's so many buildings one might take for granted in their own city, passing them every day without any notice or understanding of their history. It's fun to be a tourist in your own town! Next mission: read up on the history of Melbourne. We'll relay what we find!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

We's famous Mama!

Among other greats who frequent this blog; Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Keanu Reeves (the list is mighty). We happened to get an email from a corporate representative from 'Schmap' who loved our photos and wanted to know if they could use them on their interactive map. Naturally we said yes, and they used 2 of our photos here and here. Which makes me think about how we could land a job that looks for other peoples pictures on the web.