Getting to Know the Neighborhood

Lots of cool stuff to tell about this fabulous city but one thing we noticed were fireworks every Friday and Saturday night. We don’t always see them but we hear them often, sometimes even on weeknights. They usually have them in Darling Harbor but sometimes you can see them from Lavender Bay. And more recently someone told us that the cruise ships will light off fireworks too when they come into dock for the night so that makes sense as to why we hear them so often. Pretty exciting!

It was so nice to be in our own place now but after the moving day from hell, poor, exhausted Jim had to leave the next morning for Tokyo! :-( So here I am in this cavernous apartment w/ minimal living essentials and worst of all, NO internet. I walked up to the corner convenience store to use their computer to set up DSLR2+ broadband internet service but it will take as long as 10-20 business days. From there I stopped by Lavender bay cafe for a cappuccino. A lovely view of Clark park, Wendy’s secret garden and the serene waters of the bay.

Clark park and Wendy’s garden below, are wildly popular locations for weddings. Since March is late summer/early fall, it’s wedding season weather. Beautiful location and we feel so lucky to live right across the street from all of it. This is the view from our apartment. The mature trees are nice but seriously block the view. I imagine come summer we’ll be happy for the cooling shade they’ll provide!

Back to reality and the flat to clean and unpack, till next time!

Moving Day

How many of us love to move? Not me, and our move turned into quite an unwanted adventure! We did not stop all day, from 7AM until 11PM, finally collapsing onto our mattress, on the floor.

We started out taking the train south to Tempe, rented a van (ute), which they almost did not turn over to us because we had no proof of residency on us. We had to call the landlord to ask him to fax the lease to the dopes but he wasn’t in the office. Finally, dope #1 called the head office and they gave the okay. Learned the hard way to always bring the lease for any kind of transaction like this, just wished they had mentioned it in advance! We then drive across the street to Ikea, bought the bed frame, mattress, chairs and pillows. Loaded up the van w/ the goods and voila, it would not start or even turn over. A van filled with boxes and over-sized merchandise, after struggling to fit the mattress in – barely! We called the dopes across the street to drive over and give us a jump. Well, turns out, even though they are a gas/service station, they don’t own the van and gave us a phone # to call for help. Grrrr…

We called the company who actually owns the van and then they called a tow service to come out to help us. Just prayed we only needed a jump. Talk about red tape. We waited 30 min when they called to find our location finally arriving in 40 min., could have been worse. At least the guy was pleasant w/ a pretty good sense-of-humor, of eastern Indian descent. When he arrived he asked if we wanted to buy a car battery…. J

Something we had never seen before, but the engine was under the passenger seat, check it out.

We lucked out after the jump seemed to do the trick. Ute was up and running. Service guy then told us it will cost us $40… ;-) bah, ha, ha JJ

Finally on our way, next stop, Pyrmont to pick up all our stuff there. The van was so jam packed that we had to leave a small desk behind and hope to be able to go back for it another time. We were so afraid to shut the van off that we just kept it idling all day, even while loading and unloading. Made it to Lavender Bay, yay! Check out the beautiful view on the left of the pic below. Clark park and Wendy’s secret garden just beyond the fence.

Still not done. Unloaded here then onto Neutral Bay to Kerry & Justin’s to pick up all the kitchen appliances and heaters for a great deal! Drove back to Pyrmont to load up again but no one was there. :-( From there we drove to a mall in Glebe where they have a K-Mart and Coles grocery store to stock up while we had a vehicle. We took a chance and shut the van off while we shopped, fingers crossed. So relieved that it did start up, so Jim dropped me off at the apt so I could assemble the bed frame while he brought the van back to Tempe, then took the train back to Lavender Bay. Making progress w/ the bed frame until the last section. For some reason, the last two screws were too short and the openings were too wide! Always a risk when you buy Ikea, it should not have been any surprise. We did not mind sleeping on the floor as it did not take long to get to sleep that night… Beyond exhausted, even though it was Friday night and the building was really noisy… we just kept hearing Carole King and Aretha Franklin playing repeatedly, at least they had good taste in music. Ha, ha

Lavender Bay - Almost there!

I lazed around most of yesterday until around 3:30 then got ready for the day to meet Jim @ 4PM at the foot of the Pyrmont (Darling Harbor) bridge. We took the train up to North Sydney (Lavender Bay) to meet with Lakis, the agent brokering the apartment. Signed the lease and now have the keys, woo, hoo!

Next mission was to find a bed so next stop, Ikea in Tempe, ate dinner there too. While it’s good to have found a bed, we are essentially starting from square one and need to buy everything to furnish a two bedroom apartment. Typically, ex-pats will buy and barter second-hand stuff w/ other ex-pats and locals via Gumtree, MeetUps and Facebook groups. Gumtree is like our Craig’s list where you can pretty much find anything!

I found and met a really nice couple, Justin & Kerry, on “Yanks Down Under” and took the train up to Neutral Bay to meet them and see what they were selling. So embarrassed, got lost from the train station to their apt so Justin found me and picked me up in his car! :-/ Nice area, noticeably quiet and off the beaten path of the city bustle but super steep hills up there too. They were working and living in Singapore last year for a year and another year in Sydney. Now that her contract was up, they were getting ready to head back home to Ohio. They had a nice variety of kitchen appliances to choose from. Bought two of these space heaters as well as the microwave and toaster, pretty awesome!

Had a very interesting and enlightening conversation w/ them, as it turns out, we are not alone when it comes to receiving the cold shoulder from Australians. Rather unfortunately they also confirmed that the Australians they met during their residency here, were not very friendly and even aggressive people. :-(  Kerry, who works in HR, experienced the unfriendly, almost hostile work environment, was not on-boarded or introduced to co-workers. They mainly befriended other American expats. To be fair about it though, it makes you realize that (with the exception of maybe the mid-west and south U.S.A.) Americans can also be a little stand-offish and sometimes not the most out-going/welcoming of foreigners either. It’s just surprising that it would not be a little different in the workplace at least. Could be a generational thing too.

Justin was so nice he even drove me back down to the train station. Pointed out the Sharp building, 55 Lavender St. where Nichole Kidman and Keith Urban own a penthouse suite, nice. The back of the brick building, btw, is our building. That is our backyard. The Sharp building is diagonally across the street from us. We have not seen Nicole yet and rumor has it is that she has sold her apartment there recently, bummer.

So, a van has now been reserved for tomorrow, moving day and now we can finally get out of this moth-infested apartment and into our new flat! Got back to the apartment and found the apartment-owner vacuuming, wow, lol…

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