Day 6: A Meandering Discourse on Various Topics

I am at least a little sad that I don’t have access to these things while in Australia.  In no particular order:

  • SiriusXM (specifically Madison, Richard Blade, 1st Wave, Alt Nation and SiriusXM U)
  • View of DC from Metro’s Yellow Line
  • 9:30 Club…it’s been way too long since I’ve been there.  Bands and concert attendees alike LOVE this place, and for good reason.
  • Merriweather Post Pavillion.  I wasn’t sure I liked outdoor venues until I came here.  Operated by the same people behind the 9:30 Club, so maybe that has something to do with it.
  • My friends and family (duh)
  • FrozenYo’s coconut frozen yogurt
  • SweetFrog
  • DC itself
  • Lavender Moon Cupcakery’s triple Belgian chocolate…seriously the best cupcake ever.
  • BGR The Burger Joint’s turkey burger
  • My favorite yoga teacher from the gym at work
  • Watching NFL football (Go Packers!).  Football was my Sunday afternoon activity of choice in the fall and winter.  But when the games air in America, it’s already Monday morning in Australia.
  • Being in the loop about sports and DC sports teams (Go Capitals!).  I’ll even miss the way the DC sports teams who make it to the playoffs choke every year without fail.  Sigh.  (I swear they’re cursed.)
  • My car
  • Rustico’s carrot hummus and lamb ragout

Things I Love So Far

  • AirBNB has served me well so far, and this apartment is no exception.  I have the place to myself, which is nice.  I can see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge from my living room window.  I have a small balcony.  My host is pretty cool.  Bus stops are plentiful and easy to get to.  Taronga Zoo is maybe 20 minutes’ walk from here.  There are beaches nearby, also reachable by bus.  Did I mention the rooftop view is insane?
  • Mosman itself is a really cute, walkable suburb.  There are a few things I recognize (Nando’s Peri Peri, Lululemon), as well as a chocolate shop, cute cafes and coffee shops everywhere (although most of them close after lunch), promising restaurants, yoga and barre studios, and a lot of upscale clothing stores I can’t afford.
  • Sydney is just a beautiful city.  I can admire it from my living room and I can get there in maybe half an hour without difficulty. Like DC,  I think there must be something interesting happening there all the time.
  • My Amaysim Unlimited SIM card and plan.  Buying a SIM card meant I didn’t have to get a new phone.  I get 4 GB of data for $40 a month and unlimited calling.  I was really glad my host recommended this to me!
  • Google Maps and Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage have become invaluable to me.  I didn’t have steady WiFi or phone access for a couple of days and thus I was very leery of wandering too far from the apartment since I had no Google Maps to tell me what bus to hop on or which way to walk.  And while I recognize that you can learn a lot by getting lost (did that a fair amount of that in Northern Virginia), Google Maps has saved me at least twice from accidentally wandering in the opposite direction of my destination.  I’ve used FaceTime at least four times this week to talk to my parents and friends, and it’s been wonderful.  I’m so glad that so many of my people from back home have Apple products so we can text and video chat for free!
  • I got to see one of Sydney’s famous fireworks shows last night!  They don’t skimp on these things.

Potential Concerns

Australia’s fire season last year was really awful.  Before its official beginning on October 1 this year, there were 60 fires in New South Wales alone.  Summer 2012 was also terribly hot here.  September 2013 was the hottest on record for the area.  What will summer 2013 be like?

Transportation seemed really expensive for the bus and ferry trips I’ve taken so far.  I purchased a quarterly pass good for all ferries, buses and trains.  It was $654.  It’s for unlimited use, so I better damn well get my money’s worth.   If you use this five days a week, yeah, it’s probably a good deal, but I haven’t done too much exploring so far.  I had to order this pass online because it’s difficult, if not impossible, to buy it at a storefront.  Until I get it in the mail (this coming Thursday–how long could it take to send a pass in the mail?), I’ve been getting individual passes for each roundtrip.  A roundtrip bus ride to downtown Sydney was $9.20, and it was roughly half an hour each way.  This is expensive by DC standards; as I recall, the bus rides I took were maybe a couple bucks each.  Today I took the ferry (partially because the International Fleet Review is happening and I wanted to see the boats up close) and the cheapest option to do so was a day pass.  $22.  Plus, transportation is really confusing; they just changed the system so that MyMulti1 passes are no longer good for ferries.  I purchased the MyMulti3 because it was good for everything–I haven’t figured out what my primary modes of transportation will be or where I’ll be going regularly.  Also, why don’t they have a SmartCard equivalent here?  WMATA’s SmartCards allow people to put a certain amount of money on their cards beforehand; plus, they’re more durable than tickets and they’re good for all trains and buses.  They’re also widely available at stores and Metro stations.  The Opal card has only just become available, but it’s not good for all “zones” or all modes of transport.  For my purposes, it wouldn’t do me much good as I have yet to take a train and have only ventured downtown twice.

When I got here on Monday, Sydney was 14 hours ahead of America’s east coast.  Last night, (most of) Australia sprang forward an hour.  In a few weeks, America will fall back, widening the gap to 16 hours, presenting an even greater challenge to communication between me and all my friends and family back home.

That’s all for now.  I hope to get back here tomorrow to talk more about the International Fleet Review and the fireworks display in Sydney last night!

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