Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gnomeville. Yup.

It hasn't even been 24 hours since my last post, but I just have too many exciting things to talk about. Ben is also dying to share Gnomeville with you all, but he's at work and you know...busy.
After I posted yesterday, we went out with Mark and Tyler because they needed to look at new dryers. We figured it'd be nice to go along for the ride (we're the family dogs, apparently), and it'd be good to get an idea of how much a washer and dryer would cost. That's probably something we won't buy used. Anyway, all the stores were closed because "It's the 1950's here!" (as Tyler would say) so we decided to go on a little adventure.

Mark and Tyler had all kinds of things they wanted to show us, but first was wine country. One of the wineries in Western Australia is one of the top in the whole world--but I don't remember what it's called. Anyway, wine is huge here, and there are a lot of vineyards. We drove about 20 minutes outside of Bunbury to a town called Dalyellup. The country was breath-taking. I have never seen such beautiful scenery. It reminded me of the movie "Heidi". Here's a picture, but honestly it doesn't do it justice. You just have to experience it for yourself.Mark decided he wanted to show us the Willobridge Estate, which is a vineyard that makes and bottles all their own wine. The views were so so beautiful. (We were riding in the back of his 2-door car, so it was hard to get decent pictures.) We got there around 4p and saw that a wine tasting was going on, so we jumped right in! That's the first time Ben and I have done a wine tasting, and we felt so classy. It was cool to see the huuuuuuge vats that they store the grapes in, too.

This is the most important part of our adventure yesterday. Mark and Tyler kept talking about taking us to "Gnomeville". I don't know what I was expecting, but it was probably anything other than what we saw. It's basically this little wooded area that people bring gnomes from all over the world, and write where they're from on them. I don't know why they chose gnomes, except for maybe they were going for the creepiest thing they could think of. Here is a picture, to show the extent of the Gnomes:

The gnomes just keep going along a trail. They're everywhere. Thousands and thousands!

Along the way back we got up close and personal with 3 kangaroos!! The way they jump is so cool. We were driving though so we didn't get a good picture. But I'm sure we will eventually get a good one. Oh, did you know people actually eat kangaroos here?! They have kangaroo steaks, and kangaroo sausages. They're so cute, I don't know if I could eat it...I guess as long as the meat doesn't have a face I would try.

Anyway, we had quite the adventure yesterday. Today we'll get our car. Ben got his first paycheck, too. How exciting! Here are a few random pictures that don't go anywhere in the blog, but you should see anyway. Hope the States are treating everyone well. Don't drink any oil!
Crazy bird!
Crazy yield sign!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1 Week Down

We have been here a whole week already! And what an interesting week it has been. Here are a few things we've learned about Australia so far:

+They like to put food in mini pies. Meat pies, cheese pies, egg and bacon pies. Eat it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Pies, pies, pies.
+It really does get cold here--and most houses are not insulated at all.
+The cost of living evens out in the end. Yes, some things are more expensive than in the States (like processed foods, and name brand things like Kellogg's that we see in the States) but some things are cheaper. Like meat.
+They have poisonous spiders (White Tails) that 1/50 people are allergic to. If you get bitten and you don't go to the doctor, it can spread and leave a hole in your skin. Ewwww
+In general, people are friendlier, more outgoing, and love to help you.
+Heads of lettuce are ginormous.
+People say "No worries" like we say "You're welcome" or "No problem".

I'm sure there are many things that I'm missing, but those are the things that stand out so far.

We got the car we wanted! A 2003 Mitsubishi Magna. Ben will be picking it up on Monday. The dealership is right around the corner from his work so he can walk there. It's very exciting. We also saw 4 houses on Friday, and really liked 3 of them. We applied and put our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice down. We should know this coming week if we got one of them! We'll post pictures of the car and house once we get them.

Last night we went out for Chinese food (as if we didn't get enough of it on the plane). A lot of the restaurants here let you bring in your own drinks, which I think is really strange. Wouldn't they want to profit off of your drinks? I don't get it. Anyway, the food was great. We are having a lot of fun hanging out with Mark, Nat, and Tyler. I feel like I never stop laughing with them. They all have spare mattresses that they've offered to us for when we get a house. That will be a huge help because we were planning on buying an air mattress and just using that until we could afford a bed. We're excited to start yard saling and getting things for our place!

I think that's it for now. Ben is really enjoying his job, and is already hearing about some projects that he might get put on! For now he is doing a lot of slave work---running errands for the boss and the rest of the office. He'll move up soon though, from what we're hearing. Nancy is a great boss, and we've had a lot of help. Things are good, but we do miss everyone back home. We'll update again with pictures this week!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cars, Dinner Parties, and Babies in Coolers

I don't know if I'm just not down with the sickness, or hip, or well-educated on new parenting techniques, but I've witnessed one of the craziest Australian Dinner Parties ever. Get ready....

There was a baby in a cooler.

Okay, maybe it wasn't an ACTUAL cooler, we really didn't get close enough to look. But last night we went to a dinner/birthday party for one of Ben's co-workers, Adam. We all walked in and got introduced, and everyone was just standing in little groups, chatting and having a nice time. And I saw something out of the corner of my eye, and thought there was a pet. You know, like So I turned around, and there it was. A 7 week old baby, on the floor, in one of those (what looked to be, anyway) fold out soft coolers. Maybe they make them especially for babies now or something. But it looks just like the soft cooler my parents have, only a bit more shallow.

Crazy Australians and their baby coolers! I should mention that the child wasn't on ice, though. That's probably important.

Other than the picnic baby, the dinner party was great. We had roast, beet salad (it tasted like dirt...but that was my first encounter with beets, maybe they'll grow on me), couscous, and a weird sweet potato. The cake was fancy and beautiful! We met a lot of nice people, from Australia, England, and Ireland. We had a great time, and it helped me stay awake. Ben has adjusted really well to the time change, but I've had a really hard time with it. Finally, last night I went to bed at 11:30p and didn't wake up until this morning at 7a! A normal sleep schedule at last!

Ben and I finally found THE car. Our options are limited because we don't have a car to find a car (catch-22? annoying...), but we feel great about the choice we made. The guy at the dealership was honest and genuine (but I'm sure they all seem that way) and didn't push the more expensive cars on us. We found a Mitsubishi Magna that has about 92,000 km on it (about 57,000 miles). In Western Australia, you don't need to inspect your vehicles. And when you buy from a dealership, the car is registered for 3 months. There was only one fee on top of the actual price of the car, which he told us about when we first met with him to look at cars, and our term is 3 years. We are just waiting to hear back to see if they accepted our lower deposit offer. Will keep you all updated, and hopefully there will be some pictures of the new car in the next couple of days!

Also, we went to see a few houses yesterday. One was in a complex. It was right across from the beach and had ocean views, a pool, and tennis courts! But it was kind of old, and the bedrooms were very choppy. We also saw a beautiful new house, but we aren't fond of the location. I have my heart set on a house that is very close to the Inlet, the stores, and Ben's work. It's new, but cheaper than some of the other places we've looked at, and has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. I feel like it's everything we want all in one place. We see it tomorrow. Cross your fingers for the Mitsubishi Magna and 1b Forster Street, please!

By the way, enjoy your weather. It's currently 38 degrees F and sunny here!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 3ish?

Things are starting to come together. Ben had his second day of work today, and was sent on all kinds of errands, some involving work, and some not. We now have health insurance! Ben's company bought him a phone and pays for it monthly. And his company also pays for our mailing address/post office box. Here it is, in case any of you would like it:

PO Box 2180
Bunbury, WA 6230

Also, we got some information from some banks, and tomorrow we will be going to open a checking and savings account. We'll also be finding out about loans, in case it ends up being a better deal than financing through a dealership. We found a car today at the Toyota dealership that we like (it's a 2003 Magna, and it only has 92,000km which is about 57,000 miles!), but we are going to look around a bit more tomorrow. It's hard because we are at the mercy of using Mark's spare car, so we have to go when his car is not being used (he uses his spare car when he goes to job sites, which is a few days a week). We also need to get a car kind of quickly, because Ben needs it for work, and we need it to look at apartments. We are going to two showings for houses tomorrow! Wish us luck!

Tomorrow we are going to a dinner party for Steve, one of Ben's co-workers. It's his birthday. And this weekend Ben is going to check out the squash courts at the gym (it's similar to raquetball). Depending on what time they go, I'm going to see if there is a group fitness class to try out as well.

We would also like to wish Mom Toothaker and Sarah wonderful birthdays today! We wish we could celebrate with you, but we hope you enjoy your days and you relax and make the men cook :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Beginning!

So Ben and I are going to try to keep you all up to date on our Australian adventures! I'm sure I'll be the one to write in this, because let's face it...we all know how Ben is with keeping in touch ;)
The flight was so incredibly long. 30 hours is longer than it sounds. And it sounds long. First of all, we took the Greyhound from Portsmouth to Boston. Which is hour. We had to change busses, which was a huge pain in the ass because we had so much luggage. We ended up sitting with two white gangster kids (we had to separate because there weren't any two seats together open, I swear it felt just like Jr. High when you get on the bus and everyone avoids eye contact with you and sits on the outside of their seat so you have to awkwardly ask if you can sit with someone). Both of our white gangster friends felt the need to take up their seat as well as half of ours, so we were both hanging half out into the aisle. Oh, and did I mention it was really hot? Because it was. Then when we got to the bus station to change busses, no one could tell us which gate to go to. We had people telling us that busses didn't even go to Logan Airport, when we had tickets that said they did. The customer service lady was a royal beyotch and told us 2 different gates that the bus could be coming to---she was wrong about both!
We finally got to Logan, and checked our luggage. We were sooo happy to be done with all those bags! Unfortunately, we didn't check to see where they sent them--and they only sent them to Singapore! So there's something that we'll always make sure we do: make sure they send the luggage to our FINAL destination (like the movie, except for we didn't die).
Flying to JFK was a breeze--we were only in the air for about 45 minutes. We had a layover for about 4 hours, and thank God we did. No one was around to help, and we didn't really know where to go. We finally found the desk where we needed to get our tickets for Singapore Air, and had some pizza and relaxed. We found a table under a cool vent which was AWESOME because we were soooooo hot and sweaty. Ewwww.

JFK to Frankfurt was long, but alright. The airplane food was pretty good---although it was weird to be eating General Tso's Chicken at like 3:30am. Flying is such a time warp because you're constantly changing time zones, so time actually just becomes irrelevant, and a concept instead of a reality. Yeah, it's 3:30am SOMEWHERE, but not for long if we keep moving at this pace!On Singapore Air, we each had our own tvs with movies, games, and music. Ben and I decided to try to stay awake, which wasn't hard. It was sooo hot and when you ask for a drink, you get like 3 ounces. We were really dehydrated and felt so gross. When we arrived in Frankfurt, we only had 40 minutes to get through security (apparently you have to go through security every time you have a layover when you're flying internationally) and find our next terminal. Of course, I made the buzzer go off, which I don't know why, I think they just randomly choose people to make it go off on. So I got frisked (exciting!) and they also went through my purse. They looked at my hand lotion for about 5 minutes. Like I'm going to make a bomb out of it or something!
Frankfurt to Singapore was just like the first leg, except for we dozed in and out of sleep for about 4 hours. It's hard to sleep on an airplane though. Ben had people in front of him that would put their chairs all the way back, which got to be amusing the more tired we got. I won't explain airplane toilets, or go into too much detail. All I'll say is....they're really really cramped, and once everyone is served food, about an hour later there's a mile long line waiting for the bathroom.

Because our luggage was tagged incorrectly, we had to go through Customs in Singapore. Which was annoying, because we had to fill out this little paper and then stand in a line, get our baggage, re-check our baggage and get our new ticket from Singapore to Perth. Luckily, the people at the Singapore airport were very helpful and friendly, and the airport was beautiful! And at least we knew that our luggage had made it that far. We had to use the elevators to get to the 2nd floor though, and we had all of our luggage on these sweet rolling carts. I swear, it was like a movie. We kept pushing the up button for the elevator, and someone would get in front of us and press down. And then the light for up would go off and the elevator would be going down! And when we finally almost got into an elevator going up, the people didn't hold the door and we had to start all over!! We were cracking up because of how ridiculous it was.

Finally, not much to say about the flight to Perth. It was nice. :)
When we arrived in Perth we had to go through Customs and get our luggage. And a dog sniffed our bags! Kind of exciting! Mark and his girlfriend Nat were waiting to pick us up. They are both super nice. Then we had to try to fit our bags into Mark's little 2 door convertible. We ended up throwing out a suitcase (which was totally beat up and nasty anyway) and sitting with a 50 lb. suitcase on our laps! It was amusing. We saw TONS of kangaroos on our way to Mark's from the airport, but they were kind of far away in fields, so I didn't get a good picture. Don't worry, I'll make sure to get plenty! (Fun fact: Mark recently hit a kangaroo and literally decapitated it. Ewwww)
Mark's house is really nice. It's walking distance to the beach, and we have our own little guest bedroom, which is really nice since we have all this luggage. Little things are just so different here. Example: Australia has crows just like the States, but here they sound like dying cats. No better way to describe the sound. I guess that's their accent? Also, they have birds here called Magpies that WILL attack you. Nat's sister used to ride her bike to work and would regularly get attacked on her helmet by a Magpie so she had to stop going that way! The same sort of situation happened to Mark. Scary! Here's an ocean view from Mark's house (which is on a hill)

So basically, Saturday night was the best shower of my life. We crashed at 7:30pm and slept til 9am. When we woke up we got ready and took a walk down to the beach. Here are a few pictures from the beach and of a squatty seagull (unfortunately I felt like too much of a creeper to get a picture of the guy JOGGING in a speedo. Not just, hey I'm jogging to my car. No. Jogging as in EXERCISING in a speedo. Ben is going to love it here...)We also drove in to town that day. Driving on the other side of the car, on the other side of the road is a total trip, by the way. Yes, we did end up on the wrong side of the road a few times. Hahahaha. Oh, and Australia LOVES rotaries (roundabouts, they call them). They are seriously every 5 feet! In such unnecessary places! Anyway, Ben and I drove into town and did a little exploring. We got lunch at Subway (Yay! They have Subway!) and the girl making the sandwiches looked at Ben like he had 5 heads when he asked for Pepperjack cheese. So funny. We got some groceries too, which was soooo different. Their grocery stores have weird stuff in them. Like...bikes. And lots and lots of Asian food. And just weird, random things that you expect to see anywhere but a grocery store. Here's one of my faves:So now we are on the search for a car and a house/apartment. We are probably going to have to go up to Perth for a car (which is only 1.5 hours away instead of 3! They just built a new highway that cuts the time from Bunbury in half, sooo awesome!). But we have found a few already, and found a few houses that we'll be looking at this week. Can't wait to get settled into our own place here!

We'll continue to keep you all updated and we'll post pictures of our new car/house when know....get them. :)