Sunday, July 26, 2015

Weekend Recap

We are just wrapping up a quiet but fun weekend. On Thursday night I met Peter in South Yarra (on his train line home from work) for some pizza at one of our favorite spots, Pinocchio. We discovered this pizza place the day we moved to Melbourne, as our temporary accommodation was just down the road. We also went quite a few times when my mom and grandparents were visiting since it was within walking distance of their hotel.

Our favorite pizza on the menu is the tivoli, which consists of tomatoes, mozzarella, salami and a swirl of pesto sauce on top. It's amazing. Excuse the blurry photo. 

I went for brunch Friday morning at Two Birds One Stone (also in South Yarra) but failed to get a picture of my avo toast because we were sitting high up on stools and my phone was in my purse on the floor. So basically, I am lazy. You'll just have to believe me when I say it's one of my favorite avo toasts in the city!

We ate at home Friday night and didn't do anything particularly noteworthy until Saturday evening, when we went for dinner at Shanghai Street Dumplings with our friends Lauren and Matt. The food was amazing and so cheap! We ordered a variety of dishes and all shared. 
The dumplings on the right were vegetarian, which we hoped would resemble a spring roll but were actually just filled with spinach. They weren't awful, but we all enjoyed the meat ones a lot more. 

Today was mainly a lazy day; we slept in and then played virtual golf in our apartment building. I had never used the golf room before, and Peter had only been once, so we decided we should get some use out of it! Our building has a ton of amenities but we kind of forget about them on a day-to-day basis. I have yet to use the pool or hot tub, and it's been an embarrassing number of weeks since I last hit the gym. 
Perfect form, I know. The moccasins really helped my swing. 
I double par-ed all three holes so I've got some work to do. Peter didn't end up scoring that well either because we couldn't figure out exactly how the putting worked. And when I say "we" I mean Peter, because I never did make it onto the green. 

We had a pretty lazy afternoon and then went down to Lauren and Matt's apartment just before dinner for a game of Clue, or as they call it, Cluedo. Apparently that's the British/Australian name for it. I hadn't played in forever and I would compare my Clue skills to my golf skills...not good! I think everyone won a game except me. Lauren made her signature English Breakfast Tea, which helped ease the burn of my epic loss :).

Overall, a successful weekend! I'm off to bake some brownies to kick off Peter's birthday week!
Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Drawing Class

The other day, Sylvie suggested that we try a drawing class. She found a place in the city that was just $13 so we figured it was worth a shot. Turns out, it wasn't so much a class as it was two hours of "life drawing." If you don't know what that means, neither did I. Shortly before the class, I checked the Facebook page for the address and realized that "life drawing" meant that the class consisted of drawing a nude model in various poses. 

I'm a somewhat awkward person in that I  am unable to control my laughter in situations in which it is wildly inappropriate to laugh. I was semi-afraid this would be one of those situations and I would get kicked out of the class for not being a serious enough artist, but luckily that didn't happen! I'm happy to say I maintained a straight face the entire time. 

It was actually a really fun experience. I'm not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but it was cool to try something new and I figured out that I am in fact capable of drawing something more complex than a stick figure. And yes, I was the least hipster person there by a wide margin. 
I obviously didn't take photos during the actual modeling, but the woman posed on that crate in the middle of the room and everyone drew in a circle. All the materials were provided thankfully. 
We sat near this uber-hipster with the white frosted tips (hello 1998) who made it clear he was a REAL serious artist. Katie asked him if he drew often and he looked at her like she was the least intelligent being on the planet and gave a deadpan "yes, I draw" response. Alright then. 

The class started with the woman doing a series of short 30 second poses. That was super hard, so I was happy when we moved on to five and ten minute poses. 

Here's what I drew:
I thought staring at/drawing a naked woman might be weird but it really wasn't as uncomfortable as I expected. I found that once I focused on drawing there wasn't any time to think about the fact that the woman was naked. 
Next time I'll probably wear something less basic than a pink button up, but maybe the serious artists just thought I was super ironic.

Officially adding "artist" to my resume! 
Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tram Life

Approximately 90% of the time, riding public transport is pretty dull. However, every once in awhile I encounter a fellow passenger who is hilariously entertaining and/or completely strange. Earlier this week, I was riding home from meeting friends for dinner and sat near a guy who was blasting ABBA's 'Mama Mia' from his phone and jumping up and down in his seat dancing. Epic song choice.

Yesterday, Peter and I were on the tram on our way home from the market and sat across from this guy, who was casually reading and chugging red wine out of the bottle at 2pm. Bold. 
I miss having a car from time to time, but entertaining passengers make public transport bearable at worst and enjoyable at best. 

Before hitting up the market, Peter and I had lunch at his favorite CBD restaurant, Trunk Diner. Trunk is next door to one of the first buildings we toured when we were looking for apartments exactly a year ago, and we took some time to reminisce during lunch. Those first few weeks when we were trying to secure housing were super stressful given that we didn't really know what we were looking for. At first, we searched for furnished apartments, which we quickly figured out were few and far between. Furthermore, the furnished apartments in our price range generally featured old, beat up furniture that looked uncomfortable and like it might break down at any moment. The room we toured next door to Trunk had a 70's cabin vibe and was pretty much hideous. In fact, I think it was the last furnished apartment we toured before completely giving up and deciding to focus on unfurnished apartments instead, which turned out to be a better deal in the end anyway. 

We decided at lunch that when we move again in the future, we should secure some sort of short-term accommodation before signing a lease, because two weeks in the hotel was definitely not enough time to find a place and know exactly what we wanted in a completely new city we had never been to before. It would have been beneficial to spend a month or so in an Airbnb or serviced apartment while we familiarized ourselves with the area. So, there's my tip for people moving to a new city! 
Peter ordered a burger and I got a chicken quesadilla, which were both really good!

We stopped by Target to look for some artwork for the walls, which are still completely bare a year later. Embarrassing, I know. We didn't find anything to hang on the walls, but I did score this epic deal on a phone case:
Had to stop for a Boost! I am obsessed with the strawberry smoothies at this place. 

P.S. yesterday was the coldest morning in Melbourne in 18 years. I think it got down to 32F/0C! We are definitely ready to head up to Brisbane in a couple weeks and escape this whole winter thing.
Saturday, July 11, 2015

Canberra Road Trip Part 3

So I may have lied about yesterday's post concluding day two of the road trip. There was one more event that took place after we got settled into our Canberra accommodation and set out to get some dinner and drinks at a nearby brewery. We were trying to put the address into the GPS and Katie was trying to navigate an especially confusing intersection when we saw the blue lights of a cop car flash behind us. If you follow me on Snapchat (laurahinderaker) you probably saw this as it was happening but unfortunately I didn't save the photo. 

Katie pulled right over and two police officers approached our car. They could obviously tell from Katie's accent that we weren't locals, and she explained that we had just gotten into town and were somewhat lost. The cop clearly didn't believe her though and issued Katie a breath test. Despite the fact that none of us had consumed any alcohol that day, Katie somehow failed the test. There was a moment of panic but thankfully she passed a second one and we were free to go. Of course the cop asked where we were headed and sort of chuckled when she found out we were on our way to the brewery (this would have been a good moment for a white lie but none of us knew the name of any other restaurants in the city to give her). And that was the official end of day two. 

We woke up early Monday morning to head to the Belgian Embassy, which happened to be next to the U.S. Embassy. Katie and I wandered over to check it out while Sylvie did her paperwork. The U.S. embassy was the biggest one there, with multiple buildings and security at every entrance. 
Shout-out to the homeland! 
Patriotic selfie (it was the 4th of July weekend after all). The security guards were amused by our struggle to position the selfie stick at the correct angle. No shame. 

I asked the security guards how we could get through the gates and they told me we had to have an appointment. Since we didn't, I decided it would be slightly less illegal for my GoPro to break in than for us to try to jump the fence. 
I stuck the selfie stick through the gate and got this unobstructed picture of one of the buildings. And yet another use for a selfie stick: circumventing fences. If you don't have one yet you need to drop everything and go get one now. 
The embassy of India, across from the U.S. Embassy. I wish we would have had more time to check them all out as there were some amazing buildings. 

We headed back to the Belgian Embassy and met up with Sylvie as she was finishing up. Turns out the office people weren't the easiest to deal with, but she got her passport renewed and we were on our way! 
Sylvie in front of the Belgian and European Union flags. 
The ambassador's house, or "my tax dollars" as Sylvie called it. 

Katie had heard about a large America-inspired eagle monument not far from the embassies so we obviously couldn't leave before checking that out!

A nice note at the base of the statue. 

Overall, Canberra was a lot like we expected. It's a government city that feels a bit bland. There aren't tons of bars or restaurants but there were some nice park areas and a lake that made the city a bit more picturesque than expected. I also noticed some monuments and museums that would have been insteresting to see as well. We probably could have spent another day looking around before really feeling like we had seen everything. It really wasn't a bad city at all, it's just that all the other major Australian cities are so amazing that the standards are really high!
Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Canberra Road Trip Part 2

Today I'm continuing with day two of my weekend roadtrip to Canberra. If you missed day one, here it is! 

On Saturday we had made it into New South Wales and again arrived at our Airbnb in the dark and had no idea what it looked like aside from the fact that it was next to a dairy farm. My secret dream in life is to live on a farm and own a small zoo of animals, so I was pretty pumped about that. Our accommodation was a cute cabin type house and despite my fears, the only spider I saw that night was a small daddy long leg variety. It's funny how I barely even consider that a legitimate spider anymore. Turns out Australia will do that to you, even if you're a certified arachnophobe. Anyway, the house had a really nice fire and we got take out Thai food, drank some wine and watched The Voice Australia until it was time for bed. 

When we woke up Sunday morning we finally saw the house in daylight:
The property featured a huge garden that the owner generously let us raid.
View looking toward the dairy farm. 
The only downside was that the farm had some extremely noisy roosters that made their presence known at the crack of dawn. 
Sylvie and Katie picking a few pumpkins. 

We got back on the road pretty early again, as we had a lot to see along the coast. 
Our first beach stop.
One of the quintessentially Australian things that none of us had seen yet was kangaroos on the beach, so we were excited to come across these guys grazing. 
Kangaroo selfie!
Sylvie took this amazing picture of them jumping away. 
We walked to the point and watched some huge waves crash against these rocks for awhile. 
I tried to take a normal selfie of us as the waves were crashing and was only mildly successful. It turns out "normal selfie" is an oxymoron.  
We continued our drive and pulled off at this pretty beach.

One of the must-see destinations we had come across in our road trip research was a cheese factory in a small town called Tilba. It turned out to be the cutest little town ever with a bunch of cottages converted into stores and restaurants, so we spent a half hour or so looking around.
This place sold soap "cupcakes" and I wanted to buy them all.
Another cool rock formation at another beach stop. 
Next we stopped in a little town that was home to this cool rock and a pier. Yes, cool rocks were a theme of this trip. 
This is a somewhat pointless photo since you can't really see them but those dark things in the water are seals! We watched them play for awhile before getting back on the road.
Last stop before arriving in Canberra!

As we were approaching Canberra, we had a somewhat scary experience as the sun was setting. We were driving on a two lane highway and there were about 10 minutes where the sun was hitting us straight on and so bright that we couldn't see a single thing. There was actually a huge line of cars backed up on the road, some even pulled over, because I'm assuming other people were having the same problem and had to slow way down. I've driven against a setting sun in the past and it's quite annoying, but I've never experienced anything like this. I guess it's true that the sun is more intense here because you really couldn't see a single thing. Sylvie took this picture while we were trying (without any luck) to block the sun:
Katie did a fabulous job driving and not having a panic attack during this whole thing! 

After a few minutes the sun moved to a more comfortable angle and then eventually we got to see a really pretty sunset: 
And that's about it for day two! I'll continue with our day in Canberra tomorrow.


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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