Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brighton Beach

I've been absent from blogging for a few days due to the disaster that is our apartment. After six weeks of battling cockroaches, we have concluded it's a losing battle and the only way to get rid of them is to move! We have been embroiled in an all out war with the landlord to let us out of our lease without paying all/some of the thousands of dollars in fees they are asking. So far, no luck. Apparently they don't view cockroach infestations as a serious issue...the landlord compared it to her experience with ANTS in her apartment. Her advice? "Just deal with it." Ok then. I could write endless blog posts about it, but I think you would probably rather read about the beach :).

Yesterday we took the train about 30 minutes south of the city to Brighton Beach. Spring is right around the corner and there were tons of people out enjoying the 70 degree day. This particular beach is famous for its array of colorful bathing boxes. They are individually owned and apparently worth a few hundred thousand each! It was fun to see all the different colors and designs. 
Here's the beach from a distance. 
We each posed by our favorite, or in my case, the one that matched my shirt. 
After admiring all of the boxes, we sat down on the beach to watch the kite surfers and take in the beautiful views. 
I have come to the conclusion that, like most water sports, kite surfing is harder than it looks. I have no idea how they manage to steer those things. If my failed waterskiing attempts are any indication, I would be an awful kite surfer. I'll leave this activity to Peter, who said he would love to try it. 
I love being able to sit on the beach and simultaneously enjoy views of the ocean and the Melbourne skyline.  
Peter exploring!
Beach selfie. It's hard to take pictures together when it's just us two, so until we make some friends you'll probably be forced to look at one too many close-ups of our faces. 
It was super windy- excuse the hair struggles.

We got some ice cream and then walked back to the train station through a beautiful, quiet neighborhood lined with extremely nice houses. One was for sale and the sign advertised it as "3 million plus". Which basically means if you have to ask, you can't afford it. 
Today it's back to work for Peter, and back to job searching/sending heated emailed to the landlord for me! We hope the end of our apartment nightmare is in sight. 
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Graffiti and Class

I had a meeting with our landlord today regarding the ongoing cockroach issue in our apartment. The outcome of that meeting warrants its own post, but on my way to her office I walked down Hosier Lane, situated on the east end of the CBD. I've mentioned a few laneways, for which Melbourne is famous, in previous posts. Hosier Lane is known for its graffiti artwork.
I guess the majority of the graffiti art is commission by the city, but obviously random amateurs have contributed as well. I've never seen anything like this laneway before; it's pretty amazing. I felt like I was on the scene a hardcore rock music video or something.

Now for a complete juxtaposition, the Chanel store on Collins Street, which is where the landlord's office is located. 
Hosier Lane and Collins Street are actually perpendicular to one another, though they seem worlds apart. This is one of the many reasons we love living in Melbourne. There are so many different neighborhoods and vibes within the city there really is something for everyone. No wonder Melbourne was just voted the "Most Livable City in the World" for the fourth year in a row! Life ain't half bad Down Under.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


It's not technically spring in Melbourne yet, but it's sure starting to feel like it! Up until this week, it has typically been between 55-65 degrees (sorry Celsius people-I still haven't perfected my conversions) and often windy, so it's been pretty chilly without at least a light jacket. But today felt like the real deal- I wore a sweater and was even a little warm. Plus, the sun was out almost all day. No more of that constant winter rain we experienced when we first got here!
(The guy in the cross walk clearly didn't get the memo as he's sporting a puffy jacket more suitable for Minnesota winters. Or the year 2001, but that's another post.) This is Centre Place, a notable lane way with some funky coffee shops, a soup restaurant, and some bars. Although we live right around the corner, we've never eaten at any of these restaurants. It's kind of funny how you get into a routine without even noticing it. Lately, we have been eating borderline obsessively at an Italian restaurant down the road called Vapiano. I think it's actually a German chain, but it reminds us a little of Cosetta's in St. Paul. We're totally addicted. We've been going about 3 times a week and yesterday when Peter approached the counter to order, the chef said "the usual?" We should probably cut back a bit...

Here are a few pictures of what we have dubbed "Vap" aka our second home:
We should branch out and try some new restaurants, but it's just SO GOOD. 

Here's the forecast for the next few days, which I'm pretty excited about.
Looks like a good weekend for a stroll on the beach! 
Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekend Pictures

I took a couple of blog-worthy pictures this weekend while we were out and about:
I love that there's a thing called the "McMate"! So Australian. So awesome. 
Myer, one of the department stores at the Emporium, has an entire Mossimo clothing section. I don't know how, since I thought Mossimo was Target-exclusive, but this could be a poser brand. I'm finding out there are a lot of those. For example, there is a Target here that is apparently not affiliated with the American Target, despite using the same logo, typeface, etc. Peter and I wonder how this is legal? Surely it violates some kind of copyright law? 

In any event, this picture is for my South Dakota relatives- representing in Melbourne! If you think the presence a University of South Dakota t-shirt in Australia is more than a little random, you're not alone. I don't get it, either. 

Peter next to the United States panel on the Sandridge Bridge over the Yarra River, which is devoted to immigrant history and features 128 of these panels representing countries from which Melbournians originally immigrated. 

This is the Southgate shopping center on Southbank. It's kind of an indoor-outdoor mall with an extensive food court and restaurant selection. Among them, an ice bar, which I am dying to try. Basically, you put on a ridiculous looking parka and go into a really cold room with ice sculptures and a bar carved out of ice and drink. What's not to love? Plus, the Real Housewives of the OC went to one last season, so you know it's cool-no pun intended.  

This is an Instagram photo of Federation Square, right across from Flinders Street Station and a popular gathering place in the CBD. The Square has free wifi, which is handy for those of us whose wifi works approximately 27% of the time. On a good day. 
Yesterday, we went to IKEA, which is in a mall that also contains a pet store, and I was THISCLOSE to bringing this adorable puppy home. Unfortunately, the store was closing at the precise moment we got there. Probably for the best. SO not the right time to get a dog, especially since apartments here generally don't allow pets, but I was tempted! 
Sunday, August 24, 2014

Oreo Observations

Lately, we've been craving Oreos for some unknown reason. The past few nights after dinner Peter will run to Coles, the grocery store around the corner, and pick up a box. The cookies themselves are the exact same as far as I can tell, but we don't feel as guilty eating the entire thing, because it's tiny! The biggest box on the shelf looks like this, and my hands are the size of a 10 year old's:
So small. So, observation #1 is the size. Oh, and the box is $4. I really do feel like the Aussies are getting jipped on this one. Especially because, according to the box, there are more cookies than before! Was the last box, like, one individually wrapped Oreo? 

Observations #2: "choc cookie" I guess "choc" is short for chocolate? Not sure about this one. All I think of when I see this is "chalk" which isn't entirely appealing when used to describe an Oreo. Not that it stopped me from eating them, of course. 

Observation #3: I have no idea what the dietary information means. What's a KJ? Apparently three Oreos have 598 KJ which is referred to as "energy" instead of what I assume is calories. 

So, since I don't know how to convert KJ to anything useful, I'm just going to go with my own conversion: 598 KJ=1 calorie. Ya, that sounds about right! 

In summary, Oreos are a health food in every country. 
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Exterminator Round 2

The exterminator comes again today! We're giving them one more chance to get rid of those stupid little (and sometimes not so little) roaches before we take drastic measure (i.e. move out). We both are really hoping that the second time is a charm since we love our apartment and anywhere else we moved would undoubtedly be a location-and probably square footage-downgrade. But, we're pretty sick and tired of chasing around cockroaches with a can of Mortein every night. I have to admit, it's kind of entertaining and gratifying to watch the stupid things die a slow painful death. But it's also gratifying to be able to bring food into your kitchen without bugs attacking it. So there's that. We'll know in about a week whether we have to bail or not. Say a prayer. 

Anyway, as most of you know, our bug issue has prevented us from really furnishing our apartment. We don't want to buy a bunch of furniture and then have to move it if worse comes to worse. This would be slightly difficult without a car and would make an already unfortunate situation that much more annoying. 

One of us is going insane without furniture. The other one is turning lemons into lemonade, as they say. 

Welcome to our driving range/putting green. Lord help us. 
Monday, August 18, 2014

Melbourne Zoo

On Sunday we took the train up to the Melbourne Zoo. I had read it was the most "conventional" of the three zoos in our area, and I thought that might translate into underwhelming. False. The Melbourne Zoo is probably the best zoo I have ever been to, not counting of course the Wild Animal Safari in Springfield. That's just on another level entirely. But the Melbourne Zoo comes close. For one thing, the animals seemed much happier and more active than at any of the zoos I have been to. Most of the time, at least in my experience, you walk up to the glass and struggle to find whatever animal is in the cage, finally spotting some fluffy ball in the very top corner sleeping behind a rock. Entirely underwhelming in my opinion. That's why this zoo was so great. The animals were often sitting right next to the glass, like these monkeys:
The black one was especially entertaining, swinging around by his tail:

Here are some more random animal pictures:
Giraffe selfie! 

The elephants were my favourite. They're just so adorable. If you don't like elephant pictures/video scroll down. I may have gone a bit overboard...
If this isn't the happiest elephant on Earth...
At one point, these two started fighting, I think? I got a video of it, which is mainly interesting because of the noise the smaller elephant makes. It sounds like a tiger! People started running to see what the commotion was all about. For a second I thought we might see a legit elephant brawl, whatever that looks like, but the little one ended up walking away. How mature. 
This baby elephant was the CUTEST
I think the poor thing was struggling to get down. 

While I was snapping all these pictures of the adorable baby elephant, a menacing baby human threw her sippy cup over the railing into the grassy area of the exhibit. Shucks. Any normal person would just cut their loses, right? Wrong. The dad of this child jumped the fence and retrieved the sippy cup. WHO DOES THAT? In America, I'm pretty sure you'd get arrested for such a thing. Here's a picture of the guy in the act:
Insanity. Without a doubt the least intelligent species spotted all day. 

Moving on to the Australia wildlife!! 
Apparently koalas sleep for 20 hours a day (uh, yes please) so we were lucky to see one up and walking around! 
He did a lap and then was probably tired, so he hopped back in the tree. 
Rough life. 

And of course kangaroos! 
Feeding time! 
This guy is my idol.

One of these days I'll get a picture of a wild kangaroo, but until then, these will have to do!! Peter and I both concluded that the zoo was well worth the $30/person entrance fee! 


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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