Goodbye Melbourne, Hello Again… London

These Two Eyes are on the move again, just a few weeks shy of leaving behind Australia to relocate back to my favourite city in the world, London!

But now this part feels too short; the waiting part. All of the songs I hear sound like home, like Melbourne. The familiarity of my apartment, my commute on my cherry-apple bike, the banter between me and my roommate, the smells and tastes of my favourite restaurants on Bridge Road – they are all reaching out to me saying, don’t go! The red wine and fun times keep flowing though, we stumble a bit but just go with it. Then I smile and remember that this is just another step on an amazing journey.

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Australia is a special place I know I’d like to come back to, even long term again one day. I recognize now the things I’ve taken for granted; the best beaches on the planet, world class food and wine, proximity to remote islands, a refreshing outlook on life, and lifelong friendships.

I’ve learned so much in my close to 4.5 years here and want to always keep these lessons front of mind:

  • Slow down, have fun and stop worrying about getting to the top.
  • The world is both small and accessible, keep traveling, always.
  • Do what you love and don’t settle for anything, or anyone, less. Life is what you make of it and there is no formula to follow.

Making a move is never easy but the outcome is also never regretted. I think it’s because there is so much you can’t anticipate.  When I’m content I associate it with the place I love at the moment, the fun factor. But then the next minute I have a conversation about a 15-year old dying of cancer, and it hits me that life is so short. Do what you want and be happy, yet that is also difficult when family and friends are so far away and traveling to you for a visit isn’t an option. So is happiness Europe on a whim or a swim in Bondi over the weekend? They both win for different reasons.

I’ve always been one to follow through when I say I’m going to accomplish something and this is no different. Australia has given me the opportunity to pursue my dreams time-and-time again and now is just another chance to stay true to what I’ve always said; I want to live in London again one day.

In fact, when I first moved over to Australia I created a bucket list of sorts – check it out, and stay tuned because I will also do the same for this move too. I’m proud to say I’ve ticked off each one and so much more. I’ve snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef 3 times. I’ve visited nearly every major wine region across Australia and New Zealand. I’ve seen and tasted wallaby, kangaroo, crocodile, and a few other interesting creatures. I’ve visited every state in Australia and lived in 2. I’ve watched and learned to play AFL, NRL, croquet and lawn bowls. Visited the outback and red center, various coasts and hinterlands and conquered crazy fears like skydiving and shark diving. And I’m lucky to be a permanent resident and not just a backpacker restricted by timeframes; I got to do it all!

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Australia has also turned me into a food snob. I have a lot of very expensive average dinners. Or maybe that’s just how pretentious my palette has become. I’ve had to learn to fight the urge to eat before I fly, whilst in the lounge, on the plane and after to maintain a tinge of self-control (and moderate weight). And that’s partly because I fly so regularly my obsession and loyalty to the national airline Qantas is not sane.  I’m like that movie Up in the Air – always reaching out for that higher frequent flyer status.

And sometimes I sit on the tram and look at Flinders Station and think how beautiful it is. Melbourne is beautiful, especially at night. I watch the meter tick by as it gets more and more expensive, but it’s not London. It’s not supposed to be. There are trams instead of tubes, different arts, music and entertainment, secret bars and graffiti-clad laneways and then there’s the food and wine, of course. There’s nothing like it.

Flinders station

Flinders Station and passing tram

After seeing old friends in Brisbane this past weekend, I questioned to myself – why am I leaving all the people and things I love? My response was to also be with those I’ve loved first.

I popped back in London in July just to double check. At times it seemed a bit primal. A true melting pot changing neighbourhood by neighbourhood offering something to meet everyone’s wants. I went to sleep that last night thankful for Tommy and Paul and Jake and Dave and the people already in my life. I’m also thankful to show up in a city and call it my own. I have too many of these situations in too many cities: Brisbane, Philadelphia, Melbourne, New York, London. I love getting off the plane in each of these cities knowing I’ve already mastered the place. I know where to go for a beer, a bite and to kill time shopping or exploring.

Last year after returning from London I was nervous of the influence Australia was having on me. It’s almost as if life is too good. It’s a bit of a utopia of sorts. I realized as I tried to explain my dilemma how disillusioned it sounds. In comparison to the US my income is high, it’s safe, there’s minimal crime, you get free stuff on planes and people accept regular travel as a normal part of life. Oh, and they shorten everything they say which fits in perfect with the vocabulary I acquired as a teenager. So, what’s the prob? Right, I actually feel like I’m losing my street smarts. I’ll become unnecessarily cautious in some situations and too aloof or trustworthy in others that require alertness. I assume affluence is standard and have overlooked aspects of my fortune. This has caused me to recognize how removed from the society I grew up with I actually am.

So do I really just love London because it was my first? It was my first time abroad, my first time living overseas, and my first time traveling alone to new countries. But that’s what happens when you fall in love with a city at 13 years-old.  It will always be ‘my’ city. People respond in shock when I tell them it’s my favourite city in the world. I’ve lived there at 19 and 22. What will it be like 10 years later? American accents are everywhere – I won’t be unique anymore. I won’t have people asking every day where I’m from or how long I’m staying. That is my life on repeat, always asking ‘what’s next’ and despite a bitter sweet goodbye to Australia, I’m more excited than ever to begin life again in London.

I can’t wait to visit old haunts and make new ones. To sit in a dodgy pub with friends I’ve yet to meet and those I know will help me transition. To travel like a big kid all of Europe on weekends and evolve my palette even further on French and Italian wines. To fall in love with boys with funny accents, achieve success in my new international job and to live somewhere where friends and family can and will come visit. There is still so much unknown to get excited about.

Recently, standing in an old warehouse converted into a music venue in a trendy Melbourne neighbourhood watching the Brisbane band The Jungle Giants, I drunkenly smiled a bit and said, “I want the whole time to be awesome, not just the last 20 years.” And so here I go, it continues…

Lisa Vecchio, Tower Bridge, London

Lisa Vecchio, Tower Bridge, London

Brisbane’s become cooler than me

Everyone always digs on Brisbane. Even when I first moved to Australia it was all “it’s too small; everything closes early; there’s nowhere good to eat.” Compare it to likes of Sydney or Melbourne, and yeah, I get it. But guess what haters, at some point since moving away a year and a half ago, Brisbane’s upped its ante.

I always said if I could have the culture of Melbourne coupled with the weather of Brisbane I would be set for life. Now, I’m not going to go as far and say it’s been accomplished but seriously Brisbane, you’re picking up your weight.

On my most recent visit I was blown away at the duck liver parfait served at James Street’s trendy Gerard’s Bar. In fact, I added it on my “best thing ever” list and that was even after devouring truffle salami and mackerel tartare. Could the Brisbane dining scene be creeping in Melbourne’s wake?

And as for Fortitude Valley, the once seedy and still may be but only if you don’t know where to go now that Brisbane is cool, nightlife neighborhood, I didn’t go out ‘in’ the Valley but rather ‘under’ the Valley. Greaser, an American themed bar is housed in the cellar of a 130-year-old heritage building offering craft beers, American imports and a stellar whiskey list on the side of classic hot dogs.

Sure, I was still living in town when the hippest thing was old Queensland cottages being converted into uber-chic bars like Alfred & Constance, Kettle & Tin and Sixes & Sevens – as they all have uber-cool names too, but I hear even ‘hippie-haven’ West End has transformed itself upmarket with some new additions in its pocket.

I think it goes without saying another area where Brisbane hasn’t failed us is the craft beer front. From my old hang The Scratch to Tenerife’s Tippler’s Tap and their recent Southbank prodigy Tomohawk Bar and let’s not forget the micro-brewers Green Beacon and classic Bacchus Brewing, Brisbane is where its at.

What’s still not cool is having to leave an establishment to go find a bathroom somewhere down the street rather then in the bar/restaurant/café, but over time you may just get that right too, Brisbane.

In the meantime, I recognize there’s all the extra stuff that even made Brisbane cool back when I was living there. An awesome music scene, a laid back life style and pristine beaches in an arm’s reach, so yeah Brisbane, maybe you were cool all along.

Read more about my adventures in Brisbane here.

Goodbye Brisbane

Southbank skyline

Australians say Brisbane is a big country town. Despite being the 3rd largest city in the country, its small town feel is what makes it fit perfectly in Queensland culture. It’s the sort of city where your bound to know someone who knows someone – where its easy to get wrapped up in the social scene – be invited to opening launches of new restaurants, follow a local band from their early days to making it national, and enjoy the sunshine and moderate weather year round. It’s as far removed from New York as one could imagine and after I swore up and down I’d never love again – both London and New York are unbeatable to me – I find myself with a tear and sorrow saying goodbye to my home in Brisbane.

I’ve fallen in love with New Farm – a neighborhood of trendy, delicious cafes, a luscious park with river views, and thriving nightlife at my doorstep. It’s the type of neighborhood that I like to say that if I didn’t live in New Farm, I’d desperately be envious of those who live in New Farm.

New Farm

Sure, the CBD (Central Business District) is minimal, and I can walk from one end of the city to the other in an hour – but on these Sunday afternoon ventures I would come across giant lizards called Goannas blocking my path, weekend markets selling trinkets and fresh produce, and healthy people just enjoying the outdoors. So what if I was the only one in the park tanning in my bathing suit – only NYC dwellers know that when there is no beach or pool – a park makes the perfect spot to show some skin.

I’ve left my heart in my local The Scratch – although its not local to my apartment, it is to my work and the boys work hard to make sure that my pallet is tempted by craft beers from all across Australia. I’ve left my head at nearly every bar in the Valley – from the backyard of Rics to the mismatched couches of Kerbside. I’ve left my stomach to the avocado smash and roasted tomatoes of Ponycat – and to the pork belly fries of their sister Kettle & Tin.

The place I called home for the last two years is no longer. My bright blue kitchen, convenient en suite and balcony overflowing with plants now are someone else’s. My Brisbane family, Sam and Jake and Quentin will always be special to me, and although I can no longer call them my flat mates, I know that we will be lifelong friends – along with all the other beautiful people who have entered my life these last two years.

It’s time for me to say goodbye Brisbane, hello Melbourne.



A Virtual Reality

Virtually speaking, I thought it would be a good idea to video my life here in Brisbane for a 7 day period. Wouldn’t my friends, family, and those people I don’t know but secretly adore who follow my whereabouts be interested to see where I live, work, and socialize? In theory, great idea. In practice. Not so great. But I did it anyway.

Below is a 4 segment series of ‘A Video Diary’ which took place in Brisbane from October 1 -11, 2011 (note, a bit longer then the 7 days I anticipated. It’s quite easy to fall in love with the camera). Don’t worry, I cut out all the inappropriate stuff!

Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Segment 4

Now that you’re done watching my affairs I thought I’d share with you a few more things. Firstly, Oktoberfest in Brisbane. You saw it with your own eyes and could you have expected it to be as such? I was surprised by much of the authenticity and flair to the event. As soon as I heard the word Prost shouted at the top of every one’s voices my mind and body rushed back to Munich 2006. Oh the memories flooded in.

Now I would say it was a blessing in disguise that my costume never arrived in time. I would have been one blending in with the crowd. How appealing it was too see how many people took this grand event so seriously. So there you have it. $10 beer steins and schnitzel. I can’t wait until next year!

On a different note you may not know that at the young age of around 12 or 13 my bestie Nat and I thought we had discovered a phenomenon: the shortening of words. Yes, it was magical! In the summer you wore your bader (bathing suit), you hung out with your G’s (girlfriends), as you discussed the sitch (situation; made popular prior to The Situation debuting on Jersey Shore).

So there you have it. It stuck and it spread. From Nat to Ab to Kris to Ker to just…G. At the time however, it was appalling. How will you get a job if you speak like that?! No one will understand what you’re saying! I’ll tell you now dear friends and family, I’ll tell you who knows what the heck I’m saying – Australians! If there is a rule book to shortening words and making up new ones the Aussies have it down pat!

You know what else that have down? Doing away with cheques. When I set up my  new bank account months ago it would actually cost me money to get cheques. People just transfer money from one account to another, for everything! To get paid, to pay the cleaner, to buy concert tix off a friend. Everything. I think the US should move toward this model.

Did you notice how in the US area codes just keep changing? As the population grows, that oh so sacred three numbers that used to be associated with your home phone is no longer the association to your state etc. Well, as discussed last time, because the population is so small, each state has its own prefix, as in one, and all mobiles start with 04. Every single mobile in the country. Impossible I say!

I’ll leave you on a final note as it is Friday evening and beers are being had in the kitchen, at my work, directly above from where I’m typing. I finally found an Australian hobby. I’m learning it at the moment. Not this very moment, but this moment meaning last week and the weeks to come. Are you curious yet?

It’s A Small World After All

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the population clock for the entire country reads 22,726,327 at this very moment.  The New York Metropolitan area, defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget as the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, New York-New Jersey Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), had a population of 18,897,109 as of the 2010 census (roughly 1 in 16 Americans). Put that into perspective. The entire population of Australia is just slightly larger than the entire Metro New York area. So that explains things.

I won a contest the other day. After discovering my odds of winning something are somewhat in my favor in comparison to the competitiveness that I’m used to (roughly 1 in 16 Americans) I gave it a go. Australia did something awesome. It just unveiled a new radio station called Triple J Unearthed. Basically, this station is dedicated purely to playing music from unsigned Australian artists. Awesome. So when I stumbled across a contest to win tickets to the launch party and a free tee and cd of course I thought what the heck. And I won! Here’s what I had to do: just email ABC2, the television station, explaining what my favorite show was and why! Well that’s a no brainer, TwentySomething! Here’s what I wrote:

“Hey ABC2!

My favorite ABC2 show is TwentySomething! What’s not to love! As a TwentySomething new to Brisbane, I find myself in constant misadventures all around this city almost as if I’m reliving my glory days when in fact I work full time and am on the later age of the TwentySomething spectrum. My friends think I’m crazy for living this double-life, but isn’t that what living abroad is all about! My flat mate Sam and I are in a constant battle of who is Jess and who is Josh in the relationship; it’s a hard toss up, especially when I asked in a joking manner when I can start exposing him like Josh during the erotic cleaning episode, and he responded “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me that all day!” I
turn to Jess and Josh each week for new ideas, and can’t wait to see what’s up
their sleeve next!

Lisa Vecchio (NYC transplant)”

Thought that was cheesy enough to catch their interest, and apparently it was. I also like it when I go somewhere and someone comments on how darn crowded it is. I do at times mutter to myself, “walk into a bar in the middle of Manhattan on a Saturday and perhaps your perception of ‘crowded’ will change”. However, it’s all relative I guess.

Brisbane TwentySomethings

Halloween is approaching. Well, first Oktoberfest is approaching and I’ve got myself lined up for an all day stein sculling event tomorrow however my costume never made it across the seas. Boo. Alas, should be a fun day and makes me think back on Oktoberfest in Munich in 2006, oh the days. So yea, this would be the 6th year of Lisa and Emily’s Halloween Extravaganza in NYC but I’m in Brissy and Emily is in Buffalo and there is no extravaganza. There is no big Halloween, no trick or treaters, no pumpkin patches to pick pumpkins from, no carving of silhouettes and worst of all, no CANDY CORN! Ahhh. Well, at least I can repurpose the Oktoberfest costume I never got to wear so it won’t be a complete waste.

I rarely watch TV, and when I do its two shows, TwentySomething and Miranda (UK) and they are hilarious. Well, I also secretly download the Vampire Diaries but shhhh. Regardless of what my television amusement preferences may be, I did want to touch upon that at times I notice an exact script of a television commercial shown in the US, to the tee, only with Australian actors. Now, I’m fully aware of need to adapt marketing and advertising materials to a local culture, it’s just very fascinating when you get to witness it firsthand. I’m sure many of you, regardless of your national orientation, may have seen the yogurt commercial where the wife talks about all of the yummy things she ate that day like key lime pie and chocolate mousse etc and the husband is searching through the fridge trying to find all the of the “real” desserts when in actuality she is referring to yogurt. Oh boy, it’s a global phenomenon only with local desserts referenced!

No blog goes complete without a reference to the astronomical cost of living. For example, after a late night bender instead of stopping off at my usual Pie Face for a delicious meat pie that without a doubt regardless of my intentions ends up on my outfit, I chose to venture with my accomplice to New York Slice. Holy Mother, Oh My Gosh. $7. Yes, $7 for a slice of pizza! Now, granted it was 3 am, I still think that it may, and I need to do better research, be $7 around the clock. Yum, but no thanks. Secondly, after accidently going on a spree at Target yesterday, when asked if I would like the items I purchased in a bag I was kindly told that will cost me 10 cents. Now, I understand everyone is trying to encourage the population to be environmentally friendly, which I 100% agree with, I was just a little surprised when Target is the type of bulk buy place that it is. Let me just clarify, Target here is of the standards of a US Kmart, nothing to get excited about and in no way a Tar-jay (spoken in the condescending French way that I don’t know how to use special characters to spell out).

As an east coaster growing up going to “the shore”, and yes it happens to be in New Jersey however please let’s not go there, I kind of like that the same affinity here is referring to the beach as “the coast”. The only difference is clarifying if you mean the Sunny Coast (Sunshine Coast) or Gold Coast. I’m sure there is secret lingo to specify without actually specifying which I’ve yet to discover.

Two other points of observation. If I’m excited, and can’t wait until the time that I’m waiting for to come, or maybe even in other references too, I would refer to the nights until the encounter is to take place in terms of “sleeps”. “Only one more sleep until Oktoberfest!” Additionally, if I were to go somewhere where the weather is cold and snow appropriate I would describe that as “I’m going to the snow” or while in mountains “I’m in the snow.” And people just know, that means your skiing or something. I guess because snow is such a big deal and all.

So yea, in times of needing alertness or motivation to get pumped I turn to my flatmate Sam, and he plays for me the S Club 7 theme song. And everything is alright, S….Club!!

Currently Accepting Applications

I would just like to clarify one thing; I’m not on vacation. I’m unsure who I’m clarifying this for exactly, but I feel obliged to do so. Here’s the root of the problem, I want to be on vacation so badly, and I’m not, and therefore need to specify that to my readership. I guess you could say I’m now accepting applications if your interested in taking one.

One may think, but you live in Australia, it must be paradise! Is this not a semi-permanent vacation for you? And this is what I’ll tell you dear reader…I do live in Australia AND there are many a paradises. However, I personally would not classify Brisbane as a paradise. I’ll let you in a secret though; paradise is less than an hour’s drive in the directions of North and South. Hehehe (insert evil laugh to make you a tad bit jealous). Did it work?

So let’s get back to the problem, despite quote paradise unquote being a mere skip away there are still a few issues. Firstly, the heat has just sort of arrived so the weather is not quite perfectly ripe. I can’t complain about it just yet. Not till the sweat starts dripping down my face while I step on the bus, fresh from my recent shower, and step off the bus wishing the person in front of me had showered. What I’m trying to get at is that summer isn’t quite here yet.  It’s still technically spring. When it is summer I will damn sure know its summer because the heat will be unbearable and I’ll think, ahhh summer! Let your rays shine on me! I think that is also when I’ll start “feeling” like I live in Australia as opposed to just randomly really really far away from everyone and everything I know. Maybe that’s also when I stop taking notice of the differences.

Queensland is known for its sunshine and beautiful weather. The fact that winter was 60/70s, maybe 50s at night, means that I cannot even predict what true heat will feel like. I guess they compare the climate to southern Florida.

Okay, secondly I don’t have a car or drive for that matter. I know, right! Like after 5 years of not driving you’d want me to attempt to gracefully manage the other side of the road without endangering people. So this puts me in a position of relying on other people going to paradise in order for me to go there.  And add the fact that they have to actually want my company and invite me along.

Near Beautiful Snapper Rock in Coolangatta

Luckily last weekend my friend Louise was kind enough to take me to a paradise otherwise known as Coolangatta Beach. Just an hour and half south of Brisbane on the Gold Coast, we hit the open road, skipped all the touristy spots and for my first time since moving to Queensland was exposed to crystal clear blue waters to explore the surfers, the bogans (remember them?) and the seafood. I lightly dipped my ankles in the chilly saltwater, tempting those sharks I know lurk in the murky depths, and then continued on with the strenuous task of acquiring a base tan. After a full day we came back to Brissy to mingle with another class all together – the Irish for the Rugby World Cup. I was just happy to jam out to a cover band, belting the Killers at the top of my lungs and pretending it was Mr. Greengenes!

City Riots at Big Sound

Since returning from Melbourne I’ve spent the last few weekends immersed in the Brisbane music terrain. Big Sound was on a few weeks back. More or less a big industry event where music publishers, promoters, label execs etc all meet in the Valley while local and national up and coming acts play at pop up venues tucked in alleyways or at local dive bars. Pretty fun couple of nights in a music frenzy.


I came across Spike again the other day. Spike’s the name given to the damn iguana that lives on the water next to the botanical gardens in the city. Typically this is what happens…I run along, struggle for breath here and there, and contemplate when to take my next break while trying to self-motivate then boom, ahhhh! Damn Spike is just chilling blocking my running path. And I go, “ahhhh, Spike!” He gets me every time. I then just stare at him for a while. I’m secretly a little nervous he’ll bite me or hop on and not let go.  Some people say there are really big ones that just hang out in trees, like dinosaurs.

River Fire

Brisbane Festival is happening at the moment. It’s like 3 weeks or something of art, music, theatre, culture, blah blah blah. They kick it off each year with River Fire – basically a combination of fireworks and laser shows over the river throughout the whole city. We booked a table on the water at the Bavarian Bier Café on Eagle Street Pier and watched the fireworks light up the Story Bridge. It was pretty neat, and apparently the view from Southbank is even better because you see the whole city light up. I was a bit indifferent however, perhaps due to seeing the 4th of July light up the sky every year on the beach. Tough life.

Yes, the beach, back to vacation. So I’ve got my heart set on Bali or Vanuatu but it’s not looking so good. My options of travel partners are slim. Then I was going to pop over to Thailand to visit a friend from college and do some Koh hopping but flights are outrageous. I may just have to head back over to New Zealand for a long weekend or something while I wait for the beaches to warm up on the coast. I’ve got Byron Bay and a trip back to Coolangatta up my sleeve at least!

Note to readers: This is no way was intentioned to sound like a selfish complaint. I hear fall is pretty chilly up on the Northeast coast of the USA however I did have to witness your summer from a far and it was torture. The accounts mentioned above were just literally the most interesting things that happened to me since I last wrote, a terrible internal turmoil of wanting desperately to travel and not doing much about it. Well, darn it, fine I’ll book something ASAP so I have something more inspiring to share!

The great Pinot Grigio debacle of 2003

I had thought the great Pinot Grigio debacle of 2003 had left me scarred of white wine for life. Thank goodness that phase has worn itself out. You see, as a 19 year-old college student living abroad for the first time, the sweet fruity yum yum in my tum tum of Pinot Grigio at a point in my life where my buds haven’t quite developed the appreciation for a dark roasted stout left me jumping into the wine world head first. There was so much Pinot Grigio consumed during that four month stint in London, late night benders of cheap two pound bottle after bottle, and long-afternoon sleep-ins that my body reached a point of saying, “white wine! Yuck!” But like I said, I’m so glad all of that is over.

Luckily for me, the proximity and availability of deliciousness gracing itself in my presence in the form of Sauvignon Blanc’s and Semillon’s and combo situations from South Australia and New South Wales and New Zealand keep surprising me quite regularly. Pinot Noir’s & Malbec’s – you’ll never out wear your welcome but while the sun is shining (although not as warmly as Id like, still!), you’ll have to move over and share my buds with your lighter variety friend.

My weekend evenings are spent drinking schooners (the larger size option, but not even a US pint size really) of craft beer in places with live music in West End and vintage-torn nooks and crannies of the Valley.  A young guy who reminded me a bit of Jesse Eisenberg asked me about Brisbane’s style – am I noticing any trends – I replied that in the types of places I’ve spent time the past few weekends – it looks like the same bunch of hipsters you’d find in the east village or Brooklyn. He thought that was cool apparently.

If someone were to ask you to drink your drink very fast, in comparison to a “chug”, that would be called “sculling.” For example, “hurry up; scull your beer so we can go.” Another point of observation, if you were the bar staff and it was your job to go around and pick up everyone’s empty glasses you’d perform the job of “glassying”, and be labelled a “glassy” to guests and other members of the staff.

I don’t drink tea, because I don’t drink caffeine really, at least on purpose, but tea is a form of life here as it is in the UK. Tea means tea, like what you would drink, but tea also means food. I have two tea breaks a day at work, morning tea and afternoon tea, and that usually consists of me eating the free cookies. So far, the cookies are winning the tug-of-war over my will power. These tea breaks are also conveniently, or perhaps inconveniently, timed in accordance to my old smoke breaks so conceivably the cookies have become a substitution. Let’s hope I’m not fat next time we meet. If I am, you’ll know why.

Monday evenings I play Bingo at the boutique beer cafe Archive in West End. I’ve gone twice and have not won yet. I also found out that the really really really really cute bartender is married so now I want to try something different. Bingo just became so lame. Thursday I go (well, I went once but plan to make it a regular thing) to a boot camp type workout class organized by Wiley that takes place out on the lawn next to the building. It’s fun, because it reminds me of my old boot camp type workout class on the lawn next to the  building in Hoboken. Only different.

I was tasked with obtaining an Australian hobby as a means to meet people but I don’t think I’ve accomplished that yet. Prior to my arrival we’ve determined the following limitations: no surfing because I’m scared of being eaten by a shark, no rugby because rugby players aren’t datable – and I’m a wuss, no scuba diving because I’m afraid of being eaten by a shark. I guess I’m left with learning how to play the didgeridoo. I’m still open to suggestions at this point.

Lollies are candy. And candy is chocolate. Make sense? Basically, lollies are hard candy and gummies. And they all are a bit not as awesome. I went to go see Harry Potter in 3D the other night, obviously, and was a bit perplexed by my candy options. Where are all the Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, and Hot Tamales damn it!  It was a literally a tossup between Fairy Floss and popcorn. BTW – do you know I was asked, “Is it true in America you can put melted butter on your popcorn?” Sure is! What the heck do you call that unsalted, unflavoured bag of corn seeds? It’s also worth mentioning that for this particular movie theatre, when we purchased our tickets online, we also selected our seats in advance as you would on an airplane. Not too shabby for $21 thank you very much Australia.

My roomie Kate refers to herself as a Cadbury. There is a glass and half of milk that goes into a Cadbury bar of chocolate apparently. And therefore, she is a light drinker. The French Festival was on last weekend in Southbank. I’d never been to Southbank properly yet. Now I know where those weekend markets are, and where the lagoon is so I can tan hopefully very very soon (still unlikely). When we drove back in toward the city she said, “ahh, I love the Brisbane skyline, it feels like home.” Mind you, we were still in Brisbane, just crossing the river, but when she asked what in the States reminds me of home I could think of three distinct things, the Ben Franklin Bridge, the feeling you get when you first arrive down the shore, and the view of Manhattan from Hoboken.

I’ve been eating out a lot recently. I love to eat out. I think I’ve finally adjusted to the inflation on food. I don’t flinch as hard when my main costs anywhere from $20-35 and it’s just an easy night out. An entree is an appetizer and main is an entree. Make sense? I really craved a Mamouns falafel the other day, straight from the west village. I also eat a log of sushi. Often, you just get handed the whole roll over the counter, not cut up or anything, and just take a big bite from it like that, maybe dribble a little soy, but it’s kind of an on the go situation, unless you’re at a sushi train or something.

And I think that’s all I wanted to share with you for now.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

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My legs are pretty tired…I could have taken the bus or the train but instead I walked the 2K into the city center to explore Queen Street Mall. I mean, it’s 70 and sunny so I packed my backpack and started my journey north. But before I get caught up telling about that, let me start where I left off.

I was still seeking out the perfect apartment. It was strictly about location, location, location, that, and of course, a new friend or two. Paddington was out, despite the fact it has a cool vibe and is beaming with young professionals, a block or too off the main strip and I felt I was stepping off my front porch in Medford into the black abyss.

West End was exactly I was hoping for and more with a funky, bohemian vibe, small storefronts and boutiques and chilled out bars that seemed like great gems. The place was cute and the girl super nice – it was the Melrose place I’d been dreaming of – pool in the complex, gym, city views, weekend markets but it was still a stumble in the dark to get home and I felt as if my potential roomie would be perfect for just that, a great roomie, but not necessarily the circle of friends I needed off the bat.

So that left me back to the 6 person share house in Milton. The house was recently renovated and the bedrooms split between two floors so it didn’t really have the overcrowded feel. The bonus was that it was literally a spit from work – prob less than a 5 minute walk, score, but despite the awesome proximity I was nervous that working and living in the suburb of Milton – with its few restaurants, all at premium prices, along with just a spattering of shops and take away joints where I’d regularly frequent during lunch may get old, fast and limit me from exploring other areas of the city. There was the appealing aspect of living with a bunch of late 20 year-old something’s which would guarantee a social network off the bat – so I decided to meet them again and see if this could potentially turn into another Kilburn Rd reinvention.

When they suggested a meet up at the Bavarian Beer Café on Eagle Street Pier on a Thursday evening I immediately thought – two checks in the right direction. I not only get to experience a new area of the city, but delicious imported awesomeness, well done. So just to start putting things into perspective, let’s dive into how much all of this is starting to cost me. I had great conversations with each of the flat mates over an $11 500 mL stein of Haufbrau Dunkel. Yup, and if I wanted the big guy, it would have cost me a pretty $23 Aus. So I decided after a handful of brews, yup, these people are great, mature, and guaranteed me that yes, they do venture out of Milton a plenty and I won’t feel trapped in this single suburb. Great, so the decision was made, I had one more flat to venture out to before I made my final decision.

Did I mention there is an unlimited supply of free cookies in the Wiley office? One week on the job and I’ve already given in. Oh, and also Friday night drinks in the tea room. So despite me making an appointment on a Friday evening to scope out one more place assuming I had no plans, I got sucked into meeting a few more co’s I had yet to meet and guzzle down some free booze. Tough life.

So, I hoped on the train to the Valley, walked the ten minutes through the Valley mall which is the epicenter of nightlife and down the main drag of Brunswick Street which is lined with restaurants and pubs. People were out, and I definitely liked what I saw. I thought this is what I’ve been waiting for; this is where the action is. So, after arriving an hour late to my appointment I considered picking up a bottle of wine as a peace offering, but then thought I’d better just get on my way. And it was great! I arrived just as the two flat mates were beginning to entertain. The apt is right off Brunswick Street in New Farm and perfect distance to all it has to offer – the shops, restaurants and pubs in one direction, the ferry and a leafy park with free entertainment nightly in the other. Although it was at the top of my budget and I’ll be commuting to work which will interfere with my previous 8 am wake up call, these guys, along with the location is just what I needed. Plus, the bed came along with it! So that’s that – next Sunday I’ll be moving in. It’s no Melrose Place, but it at least does have a balcony and I can get to the city, West End, the lagoon in South Bank for tanning, the park and more relatively effortlessly.

Lucky for me my new work friend Louise was heading into the Valley for a night out shortly after so I decided to tag along. While waiting for her and her friend to arrive, I stopped in Ric’s to check out some live music and have a few $7 not even full pint-size drafts. The band was great, and entry was free! I may hang out here a bit more often. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I ended up chatting a cute bloke in the meantime.

We had a pit stop for some “pies” before venturing to some other spots. And let me tell you, I CANNOT STOP eating these damn meat pies and triangles. Curry meat and potato, curry chicken, spinach and feta and a whole lot more options. Actually, I just had one before sitting down to fill you in. When you come over to play I’ll be sure to take you to a pie shop. Actually, I visited the famous Yatala Pie shop on my way back from the Gold Coast just this past Wed. The sign says as you pass on the highway, “look for the pie in the sky.”

Back to the Valley, we headed over to pretentious Cloud Lounge where the interior is lined with ivy and on a nice night the entire roof opens to reveal the sky. Pretty cool. Then, my new shoes got ruined while dancing to cheesy 80’s jams at Kalibur before heading to not-so American Mustang bar. Got a little sentimental when they played the “New York’ Jay-Z jam.  Before I knew it, it was late, and I was in a cab – which FYI starts at $6.90 before even going anywhere – back to my lovely Cosmo Apartment on Park Rd.

Each year there is a Greek Festival down over in South Bank so Louise swung by to scoop me and we paid the $8 admission under cloudy skies to devour mousaka and Mythos! We took some photos and wandered around the park grounds as I took in interesting differences to things such as Fairly Floss being Cotton Candy, Show Bags for kiddies that are basically back packs of cartoons filled with crap, and Dodge Em’s as Bumper Cars. I got nauseous watching some of the crazier carnival rides after eating heaps of fried honey puffs so we escaped with a quick walk through West End before escaping the rain. And that was that, I was tired, still nursing the previous evening’s hang over and had pleasant early night at the Cosmo finishing the latest Sookie Stackhouse book and eating a $25 Chinese takeaway.

Today the weather was gorgy and I woke pretty darn early in order to give myself some exercise before getting extra-large on all the wine I’ve been drinking, walked up and into the city – which I’ve yet to explore to see what all the shopping on Queens Street was like. I spent nearly $600 on a bed cover, one set of sheets, two pillow cases, one decorative pillow, and two towels. Yikes. The colorful kimono had to be put back and the new blow dryer and such will have to wait until later this week as my hands were stuffed and so was my backpack.

My view from hotel faces the Brisbane River and Auchenflower and Toowong to the south. Sitting on my veranda listening to fave jams, sipping wine and typing away. A new work week is ahead and I can’t wait to start diving into some projects. I’m sure I’ll regret saying that later on, but in the meantime let’s get this show started.

Worlds Aways

An east village pub crawl filled with delicious beers, goat cheese and bacon stuffed dates, good jams blurred in the background evolved into my sobbing face on a friend’s shoulder in the far corner of Drop Off Service a month ago.

My favorite dive filled with the people I love, a late night bender rocking out to reminiscent 90s music, and a Sunday brunch with the work “fam” of Thai feast in a Brooklyn brownstone 3 weeks ago.

Day tripping far east on Long Island to sip enchanting brews in the sun at the Blue Point brewery, followed by a surprise guest appearance of Spontaneous Sally led us over the Brooklyn Bridge and into the quiet streets of Brooklyn Heights. Then hauling it all out, everything of meaningless value that I acquired in the past four years and beyond  and sold it, along with a bike with no seat
and flat tires, on my front stoop surrounded by laughs, sunshine, and hats hats hats, two weeks ago.

Tears of sadness, tears of excitement, tears of longing and of triumph – at a surprise party at my old stomping grounds on a painfully rainy afternoon. I stomped that ground every week that first year I arrived in Hoboken. Then it came time to say goodbye – and damnit it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Just one week ago.

My bags fought a good fight. Jo Mama and I lugged them up the escalator, demanded attention from far from par customer service at check in. We stuffed Luvy into a suitcase and zipped him up tight. I’m too old to be seen with him around, but he made it. We cried and cried. Some last minute calls were made, and then I boarded a plan to LA five days ago.

Red Vines were my savor, red vines and sleep. I slept long enough to not realize what the heck I’m doing and befriended a few people along the way. It was the easiest long haul flight I’ve had to date. Then I arrived on Park Road in Brisbane three days ago.

Meandering, roaming, walking, not really thinking, stumbling to Paddington to consider a potential option for living. A work friend kindly met for my first drink, invited me over for risotto and banana bread to experience the awesomeness of Eurovision on a quiet, leafy street. A bit too quiet, too leafy…too dangerous killer bug-y?

Sunshine sunshine sunshine! Winter? Please! A ferry throughout the entire city, taking it all in, getting a glimpse of its character, its size. Its leafy suburbs in quant Queenslander cottages, and sky scraping wonders, and “the eye” like ferris wheel, yet rock climbing cliffs and sprawling green parks. Vaster then I imagined. Yet at night dark and calm. Another potential living area – Tenerife with its converted warehouse lofts sounding cool and sophisticated but with no local in sight it’s too far gone. Then a meander up to the Valley to see what it’s really all about. Only two days ago.

42 McDougal Street, a new home from 830 to 5. That half hour may just kill me. Welcoming greetings and faces made me feel at ease. A shiny new keyboard, a lighter laptop, and charming accents – these things will quickly do the trick. It’s a world of differences here yet it all is the same. Then a quick gander down the street, another leafy, silenced street to explore a 6 person share house – could be fun, could be baaddd news. There’s plenty of tanning space in the backyard, and apparently, just a plenty of spiders. Followed by another walk to Paddington to discover some not so potential flat mates, one day ago.

A trip to my first Queensland University, a successful presentation, a lot of Googling later on. No sadness, no over excitement, just trucking by trying to figure it all out. It’s dark and quiet here, it’s sprawling, it’s different – just different. People wear bike lights and helmets, ride skateboards, jog – its hilly like San Fran, its expensive like the places in New York I never frequented, people are friendly.

Another neighborhood checked off – West End. It’s all I hoped for and more. Cafes, chill bars, heaps of restaurants. It’s exactly what I want. But when you’re not in it all, again it’s dark and still. I’m starting to figure it all out. I’m trying at least. I’m still excited. I’m still looking forward to meeting friends, finding cool pubs, traveling all of this damn continent/country and beyond. Maybe that’s just how it goes around here – dark, and quiet. Drinkinglocal wine on my temporary housing couch. Today.

Heading off to explore more, tomorrow.