Wednesday, August 17, 2016

One Last Weekend

This weekend was our last in Melbourne, which is sad beyond belief. Luckily, it was pretty epic and consisted mainly of baby goats. If you don't like goats 1) you may want to skip this post and 2) why.

Main Ridge Dairy Tour


Peter and I spent most of Friday packing and doing non-exciting moving chores. Anyone else think moving is among the top 5 most annoying/time consuming/frustrating tasks in life?

Saturday Peter worked and I headed down to Main Ridge Dairy with Matt and Lauren for a little tour of the farm. Lauren is on the Main Ridge VIP email list (hardcore) and they did this same tour last year. After seeing photos of all the baby goats they got to hold, I was excited to join them this year.

I love how they just kneel down randomly.
Lauren is pretty much a goat whisperer. 
The owner of the farm gathered our tour and we headed into the field to meet the goats. They are clearly decently intelligent creatures, because they recognized the owner and came running over to us. I'm sure they were just hoping for some food, but we felt like they were super excited to see us. 
We toured the pastures where little baby goats were being born pretty much daily, and then stopped at the baby goat pen to play with the little guys. At first they didn't know what to make of us, but they quickly warmed up.
In fact, it turns out goats really, really love hair, so pretty soon Lauren and I were being mobbed by baby goats trying to eat our hair. Disgusting? Yes. Simultaneously cute? Yes. 
At the end of the tour, Lauren asked about what they do with all the goats. Main Ridge has a really amazing selection of goat cheeses, so some are used for their own purposes, but most of the males are given away. She actually offered us a few free goats, but we had to (sadly) decline, which was somewhat painful. I've always thought of myself as the type of person who would never, under any circumstances, turn down a free goat.

Footy Game


On Sunday, Peter and I went to our last footy game. We've been to four or five over the past two years and have really enjoyed them. We have been casual Richmond fans, and they were playing on Sunday, so it was the perfect opportunity to bid farewell to our careers as footy spectators. We got to see a beautiful sunset, and underdog Richmond was actually winning for the first three quarters. Unfortunately, they pretty much blew a huge lead to lose the game, which was sort of what we have come to expect from any team we cheer for. We are from Minnesota, after all ;).  It was still fun to watch, and we left a bit sad that we wouldn't be watching any more footy games (live, at least) any time soon. 
Peter enjoying a pint and a pie, despite his team's soul-crushing loss. 

This week has been a whirlwind of selling furniture, canceling services, setting up things in the States for our return, and feverishly trying to hit up all our favorite restaurants. I think we are in a bit of denial that our time in Australia is coming to an end in just a few short days. We are looking forward to seeing family and friends much more frequently, but it's not going to be easy to say goodbye to our lives in Melbourne.
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mornington Peninsula Day Trip

A few weeks ago, we took a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula with our friends Matt and Lauren. I visited the area almost two years ago (on the windiest day in the history of the world), but Peter had never been. This visit was much less dramatic, thankfully. Also, linking back to the last time I was in Mornington at the beginning of my blog reminds me how terrible my early photos were. Apparently I did not know how to edit. Or resize. 

My favorite stop on this trip is hands down the goat farm. I have no idea if normal people are as obsessed with goats as I am, but I literally want a herd of them when I grow up. I may or may not have spent a few hours the other day researching farm land. 
Who could not love this face?!
The Mornington Peninsula is home to a bunch of beautiful wineries with stunning ocean views, like the one below, so we had to stop for some scenery and tasting.
We headed to Cape Schanck, which is the scene of my closest near-death experience to date and the sorce of the drama I referenced above. Read this post for context. I will admit I am a dramatic person, but I stand by the description in that post. Also, I had forgotten that it was in Mornington where I first saw a Huntsman spider. I've only seen one or two more since then, which is one or two too many. They are hideous creatures that I am not sad to leave behind for good in a couple of weeks.
The weather was so much calmer this time around and the hike down to the water was shockingly enjoyable in the absence of a hurricane/tornado.
We took the coastal route back to the city and stopped a couple times to take in the view.
And stopped at Dromana Beach, which is a highly underrated Melbourne beach in my opinion, just in time to catch the sun setting.


Happily, I will be making one more trip down that way before we head back to the States! There is an event at the dairy farm this weekend and I'm obviously going.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Big News!

It's official...after two glorious years in Melbourne, we are moving back to the States!

When we moved to Australia in July 2014 we planned to stay for two years (the length of our visas) and return to the States around this time. However, earlier this year, Peter's company offered the option to extend our visas for another year, which we immediately accepted. We both love living in Melbourne and weren't (and still aren't) ready to leave. We basically planned to stay until a promotion came up for Peter back in the States, which we thought would likely happen mid-2017. We were really excited about the opportunity to stay a bit longer than our original plan and fit in some more travel and adventure...I mean really, who would turn down an extra year in Australia?!

Well, long story short, that promotion in the States came up earlier than expected, and Peter was offered and accepted the job a few weeks ago. This is great news for Peter's career, but not so great news for our bonus year in Australia...we will be moving back to the States in a little under two weeks. We are really excited about Peter's new position, being closer to family and friends, and starting a brand new journey. We aren't so excited about leaving Melbourne, which has been a fabulous home for us these last two years, and the friends we have made here.

I haven't yet mentioned where we will be moving because.....we don't know. Peter's new job will be remote, as in he will be working out of a home office 50% of the time and traveling 50% of the time. He will have a portfolio of six or so accounts spread out around the States, so our location is pretty flexible, as long as we are living near a major airport. So, we have a few ideas about where we'd like to live, and what would make the most sense with Peter's new position, but I'll leave you in a bit of suspense until our plans are a little more solid ;). The plan for now is to stay with family in Minneapolis for a few weeks until we know where we're headed!

I plan to continue blogging about recent trips (Japan and Tasmania) and the moving process, and then I'm not really sure what will become of this blog? We'll see what happens. Also, if anyone in the Melbourne area is interested in buying a bunch of IKEA furniture....hit me up!
Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hello From Tasmania!

Sometime last week, we decided to take a last-minute long weekend trip to Tasmania and arrived yesterday. We are staying in Hobart, and have so far spent time exploring the city and surrounding areas. We are absolutely loving Tasmania and wish we had much more time here! Tomorrow we head up to Freycinet National Park, where the famed Wineglass Bay is located. Tomorrow is also Peter's 28th birthday, so hopefully he will get to do some celebrating despite all the driving! 

Here are just a few pictures from my iPhone (sorry for the janky quality- I'll post pictures from our camera when we get home). 

We stopped for lunch on our way in from the airport, and this place was amazing. I had a super-fresh Tasmanian salmon sandwich and Peter raved about his meat pie. 
Peter in front of our bed and breakfast, ready for a day of sightseeing. 
Our B and B...the cutest place ever. 
We drove up into the mountains and saw this group of kids frolicking in a rogue patch of snow. Exciting stuff for the Aussies! Not so much for us ;). 
Pirate's Bay lookout. 
A random beach we passed on our drive. 
A quick brewery stop before dinner tonight. 
We will be up bright and early tomorrow for another day of exploring before heading for home on Monday morning. 

Follow along on Instagram if you don't already! laura_christian89 and peterchristian21 
Thursday, July 21, 2016

Exploring Western Tokyo: Shinjuku Gyoen

As I mentioned in my first post about our Japan trip, we divided Tokyo into three general sections (central, western, and northern) and spent one day in each. On the day devoted to western Tokyo, we started off by visiting Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the city's largest parks. It's located just a few blocks from Shinjuku Station, the world's busiest transport hub, used by an average of 3.6 million people per day. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to explore this serene park just around the corner from the hustle and bustle of the station. Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the best places to view cherry blossoms, which, as I mentioned, we missed by just a few weeks. Even so, we thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery. 
 The rare photo of both of us!
Japanese women, and some men, seemed to be very sun-conscious and dutifully carried umbrellas rain or shine.
 The Taiwan Pavilion, located near the center of the park.
 The NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building.
This might be my favorite picture from our entire trip. Just an older man, painting in the park...pretty much the definition of #goals. In all seriousness, this guy was super talented and I bet he has a really interesting life story. This was one of those moments I wish I knew the language because I would have loved to have a conversation with him!
This park was absolutely PACKED with children. There seemed to be a playgroup meeting at every corner, and kids were running around everywhere.
 I had to include this photo. These kids were the CUTEST. Also, extremely stylish.




Check out previous posts from our trip to Japan below!


Arriving in Tokyo/First Impressions


Exploring Central Tokyo:



Akihabara Electronics District
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Exploring Central Tokyo: Akihabara Electronics District

Our last stop in the central Tokyo area was the Akihabara district, also known as the electronics capital of Japan. It. Was. Crazy. I cannot overemphasize the sheer number of electronics stores lining these streets. I have absolutely no idea how they all stay open and manage to make money, but there was an endless supply of TVs, computers, cell phones, video games, washing machines, batteries, etc. Peter and I weren't shopping, but this would have been a convenient trip on which to forget a phone/camera/computer charger. Alas, for once, we remembered everything. Go figure.

 The Akihabara area is also a hub of the gaming culture, something we aren't familiar with, but were nonetheless fasciated by. There were entire stores dedicated to anime, manga, and various collectibles that I couldn't identify but assume have a huge and dedicated following in certain parts of the world.  We had no idea what 99% of the stuff was, but it was really interesting to walk through some of these stores and witness die-hard fans in their element. 

We were there in the evening, but it was still plenty crowded. Apparently on Sundays, the entire main street is closed to traffic, so if you want to witness Akihabara in all its glory, I'd imagine that's the day to do it! Below is one of the side streets, which generally featured the smaller retailers. 
We then turned onto the main road and wandered up and down the street a few times, popping into a couple of the larger stores.
Below is a Sega store (one of the few things I recognized!) and a Sofmap store, which I learned is one of the largest, most famous, electronics chains in Japan.
One of the quirkier features of the Akihabara district is the prevalence of maid cafes, where young female waitresses dress up as maids or other anime characters and serve/interact with diners in character. I think. Honestly, I was trying to figure out if there was some....other....aspect to this attraction, but from what I could tell, they were pretty family-friendly. The maid cafe concept was totally foreign to us, and we didn't actually visit one (see: above fears), so this analysis is just based on my own observations. Several of these girls roamed the streets, and I tried to get a few photos, which I quickly learned they don't appreciate.

Also, a note about the below photo: plaid is apparently all the rage in Tokyo.
Before heading back to our hotel, we stopped into what we assumed was a Sega store, for old time's sake, but turned out to be a giant gaming center. It was one of the cooler and more entertaining things I've ever seen. Each of the four or five floors seemed to have a slightly different theme, lined wall-to-wall with various video and arcade games. I saw what had to have been one of the more talented gamers on the planet playing something that looked like Dance Dance Revolution. He struck me as the most coordinated nerd ever.
Peter played a couple of games before we conceded that we were no match for these hardcore gamers and headed for home. I hope to one day be as cool as any of the people in the above photo.

If you want to experience the electronics and gaming culture of Tokyo, Akihabara is definitely a must-see. I enjoyed our experience primarily because there weren't tons of tourists when we were there, especially in the Sega center, and I like feeling as if we are seeing a culture as it really is. All in all, it was a really fun way to spend the last couple hours of the day!




Check out previous posts from our trip to Japan below!


Arriving in Tokyo/First Impressions


Exploring Central Tokyo:


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Movehub Feature

Hello, readers! This might be my shortest post of all time, but I was recently featured on the website movehub.com and wanted to link to the interview here, in case you're interested.

About


Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!

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