Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 4

I’m terrified of heights – always have been. So when we made plans to see Tokyo from the top of Tokyo Tower and from the Tokyo City View sky deck in one day, I prepared myself for a day of anxiety attacks and probably shitting myself. Continue reading “Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 4”

Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 3

Ohhh northern hemisphere. It’s been two years since I’ve endured your summer August, and spending a week in humid, muggy, so hot it won’t rain but it really wants to rain Tokyo was a good enough reminder to cherish my (now) winter birthday in Australia. Continue reading “Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 3”

Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 2

I know I went on about how I don’t plan things when I’m on vacation, and how I’m all fly by the seat of my pants and “planning things isn’t fun”, but I didn’t realise how gigantic Tokyo is. And how much there is to see. And just how quickly 9 days can fly by – especially when 2 of those days are eaten by travel.  Continue reading “Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 2”

Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 1

You guys.

Our trip to Tokyo was amazing, as predicted. For 8 days, we took in the sights (and heights), the sounds (when it wasn’t eerily quiet), the tastes (holy crap, food city), and in all realness, only made it through 1/2 of what Tokyo had to offer.

Continue reading “Big Audrey in Little Tokyo – part 1”

50 Shades of Sydney (or, hey it was foggy this morning)

It was a damp, grey, murky morning when we woke up.

Such fog
Such fog

And since we were up and dressed extra early to hit the grocery store for breakfast (guess who went to the store three times this week and forgot eggs, bread, and milk each time? I need to start making a list), we decided to take a short walk down to the park to get pictures of the fog.

Fog Quest 2014!

Apparently, this is Mel Gibson's favorite bar when he's in Sydney. The actual Mel Gibson. I'm going to stop in there one day to check out all the shrines dedicated to Braveheart. And maybe hear a psychotic rant or two.
Apparently, this is Mel Gibson’s favorite bar when he’s in Sydney. The actual Mel Gibson. I’m going to stop in there one day to check out all the shrines dedicated to Braveheart. And maybe hear a psychotic rant or two (whatever happened to Mel Gibson, anyway?).

We decided to go past the park, and headed down to Mort Bay. I love Mort Bay. It’s not very exciting compared to other water areas of Sydney, but it holds some good memories for me. When I first came to Sydney in 2012 to visit my friend, Odie, he and Joel took me to Mort Bay with a couple of $5 bottles of wine and we just carried on. Nothing terribly crazy happened, but it was the night that I first got to know Joel, and I got a chance to re-bond with one of my best friends.  Just one of those nights where everyone drinks a bit too much and everyone dies from laughing. It’s one of my most treasured memories.

Two of my favorite filthy animals.
2012: Two of my favorite filthy animals.

It was nice to walk down there again and feel the good feelings. Even if the weather was getting super humid. (i.e. I was slowly becoming a ball of sweat)

The only other people out were excited dog walkers.
The grounds of Mort Bay. The only other people out were excited dog walkers.
Magpie! These birds will attack you if they think you're threatening their nest. I give everyone I see a wide berth.
Magpie! These birds will attack you if they think you’re threatening their nest. I give everyone I see a wide berth.
We watched a ferry come in
We watched a ferry come in. We were tempted to hop on the ferry because seriously–how cool would riding a ferry be in the fog? But, lack of foresight (buying tickets) stopped us. Next time, foggy day.
This scene is just begging for brisk, cold weather and for me to be wearing a Shetland sweater as my exposed fingers numbed around the camera. Alas, it was very humid and the camera was slipping out of my sweaty paws.
This scene is just begging for brisk, cold weather and for me to be wearing a Shetland sweater as my exposed fingers numb around the camera. Alas, it was very humid and the camera was slipping out of my sweaty paws.
Some fancy pants live here.
Some fancy pants live here.
Hello Ferry! *toot toot*
Hello Ferry! *toot toot*
so still. and a little spooky.
It was so still and quiet. So perfect.
walking down to the Colgate Building
We continued walking, down to the Colgate Building
Ahh!
Ahh!
ahhhhhh!!
Ahhhhhh!!
I want to live near a flower wall.
I want to live near a flower wall.
This building was converted from a historic factory into Far Too Expensive Apartments. sigh.
This building was converted from a historic factory into Far Too Expensive Apartments. sigh.

I dressed for a short walk, which meant flip flops. And now the bottoms of my feet are blistered. Awesome. But, the blisters were worth it. By 10 AM this morning, Joel and I had a) gone on an adventure, b) finished the grocery shopping, c) did our exercise, d) made and eaten a pancake breakfast, and e) gathered a blog post for me. Since then, we did dishes and made left over tacos and did dishes again. And now I’m blogging. And I might get up to make brownies. PRODUCTIVITY. FAT AND PRODUCTIVITY.

Oh, speaking of fat and productivity–I know where I’ll be on Friday night.

I feel like I'd be betraying my Kentucky/Ohio ancestry by not going to a meat raffle.
I feel like I’d be betraying my Kentucky/Ohio ancestry by not going to a meat raffle.

On that note, time for brownies.

Storm days!

This past week, Sydney had some ridiculous thunderstorms.

Source

Thanks to a perfect storm (heh) of weather conditions, our region went through a cavalcade of weather fun–gale force winds, hail, floods, and even snow in parts of the Blue Mountains. It was intense. They Sydney Morning Herald called it a once in a century event, and the news coverage reminded me of the 2012 Derecho that hit parts of the states. Like the Derecho, the super storm caused massive power outages, property damages and flooded subway trains.

Source

Fortunately for us, though, Balmain wasn’t hit too hard. In fact, we watched the storm roll in on Monday night (amidst my own anxiety attack storm), and we had a good time. When I was younger, thunderstorms would turn me into a frightened puppy. I assumed every storm would turn into a tornado and kill me–the natural assumption for someone who has never been in a tornado. But I was raised by parents who grew up in Tornado Alley. And I did watch Twister a million times when I was 12. At some point though, I fell in love with thunderstorms. I get excited when the wind picks up, when I see thunder heads and when the temperature drops. That smell of impending rain, right? So good.

The storm rolls in...
The storm rolls in…

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The clouds get darker...
The clouds get darker…

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The winds picked up and the rain started, so I retreated inside.
The winds picked up and the rain started, so I retreated inside.
First rain drops!
First rain drops!
Joel catches lightening
Joel catches lightening
He caught it!
He caught it!
poor balcony furniture..
poor balcony furniture.. at this point, we were pressed up against the glass like little kids.
So dark
So dark.
And suddenly, it cleared up. And the clouds gave way to a lovely colored sky. I couldn't do the sky justice with my camera. It was entirely bright orange, and beautiful.
And suddenly, it cleared up. And the clouds gave way to a lovely colored sky. I couldn’t do the sky justice with my camera. It was entirely bright orange, and beautiful.

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Ahhhh :)
Ahhhh 🙂

Such good storm.

Added bonus: the storms gave us super cool temps, and I got to pretend like it was October in Virginia for a bit. Thanks, storm!

Sydney!

Hello, Sydney!

It’s been an ordeal of packing, good byes, visiting, more packing and more good byes, but I’ve finally made it to my new home. And so far, it’s wonderful.

hey hey!
hey hey!

After a week in Los Angeles, I checked my bags with Virgin Australia and boarded my flight.

It’s a 16 hour flight from Sydney to Los Angles. The last time I visited Sydney, my flight back was perfect. I had the entire row to myself, a good dinner, and I stretched out and slept for 12 hours with a pile of pillows and blankets. But my flight back was atrocious. I was in the middle seat in the very last row of a completely sold out flight, and I only had one Xanax. Xanax? Yes. I used to be a nervous flyer–one of those people who would sit absolutely still lest I knock the plane out of balance–but now I’m asleep before the plane takes off. I’m fine with planes. What I’m not fine with is being bored and awake on a flight. It seems that long flights bring out the ADD in me, and no amount of movies, books, over priced mini-bottles, or tabloid crash can keep me occupied for more than a couple of hours. And while I have no problem falling asleep before take off, I always wake up when the attendants come by. Or when there’s slight turbulence. Or when the person beside me is snoring. So I take Xanax before flights to sleep through the entire experience and just be done with it.

Anyway… after I evaluated the conditions of the flight (delayed, cramped, stuffy, smelly seat mates), I decided to take my one and only Xanax immediately. I put my head phones in, pulled my hoodie down over my eyes, put my pillow up to my chin and made the “I’m sleeping, please don’t bother me” pose. But, the flight attendants woke me up for everything. Drink? Snack? Post-drink snack? Dinner? Drink? Are you sleeping? It was awful. And for 14 of the 16 hour flight, I was like a caged cat stuck between two sleeping giants.

So I wasn’t really looking forward to this flight. I pulled a packing ninja move, and crammed 3 large carry-on’s into 2 (packing my life for the win), with one bag dedicated to in-flight entertainment (including a stack of gossip trash–my last taste of America), pajamas, and a refill of Xanax. I was in luck, though, as I once again had the entire row to myself, a semi-good dinner, and a good round of sleep. I watched a beautiful sunrise around 5 AM, and sat glued to the window as we made our descent. I filled out my customs card, and felt a little spark as I got to the duration of visit section and checked the “12 months or more” box. 🙂

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Sunrise over the Pacific
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MORE SUNRISE
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Descent!

After waiting in the customs line for about 40 minutes, I grabbed my suitcases from the carousel. I juggled the two suitcases and my two giant carry-ons as awkwardly as possible, as everyone else stacked their luggage on smart carts. Being American, I had the “I’m not paying $7.50 for a damn luggage cart when my suitcases have wheels.” and it wasn’t until I was waiting in line for the second round of customs and my suitcases flipped or my carry-ons fell off that I realized the luggage carts were free. I felt like an idiot abroad until a Japanese woman trying to wrangle 4 rolling suitcases and a handful of stuffed animals got in line behind me. /solidarity

I got through the dog sniffing line (the dog got really excited when he smelled my suitcases, and the security guard asked me if I had cats at home. ha), and was finally released into the airport. I don’t know what possessed my luggage, but I couldn’t keep them rolling straight behind me. Since I couldn’t get wifi in the customs area, I had no way of contacting Joel to find out where he was. I was wide eyed and bushy haired and struggling with my luggage when the crowds literally parted and I saw him standing there, with the biggest grin on his face. My heart about burst out of my chest. We ran to each other, my bags flying everywhere. He grabbed me in a bear hug and I started crying. I swear, I’ve never felt so lit in my life.

We waited in line for a taxi, and we were finally on our way home. Joel handed me my keys, and when I opened the door, he had Welcome Home! streamers hung over the door ways. As soon as I dropped my bags, the place felt like home. Like there was no place else I’d rather be. It was good to be home.

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After I settled in for a bit, Joel gave me my birthday presents: a Fuji X-M1 camera with a 16 – 50 mm zoom lens, an Italian leather journal with my name hand embossed on the cover, a real fountain pen, and some damn awesome socks. I can’t tell which gift I’m more excited over. I love stationary. And I love fun socks. And I really love using a real camera. So, basically, I’m really looking forward to adding quality pictures here. While I wear my pizza socks. And doodle animal creatures and scribble my name 800x with my fancy pen in my fancy journal. So good!

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hand marbling!
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stationary 4 lyfe
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It has the feel of one of those ‘Nam-era photo journalist cameras, even if it’s digital. I have dubbed him T.Rexington
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SOCKS!

Joel’s mom sent over a welcome gift of wine, chocolate frogs, and notebooks, and a sweet card. It was such good welcome to my new home. Our new home 🙂

We went out for breakfast and coffee, and sight seeing.

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photo
Important parts of this picture: Hooker bank, Monkey bar, chili con carne croissant, Derp Face.

Our suburb, Balmain, is about 15 minutes from downtown Sydney, and is filled with shops and restaurants. And if you walk in any direction, you hit water. It’s so nice.

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It was so blustery that day, that we were almost blown off the cliff.
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Joel checking on things

Even when it’s freezing. Because spring just happened here, but the winter temps haven’t left. And I knew the temps leading up to my arrival had been between 50-60*, so I wasn’t too worried. I just didn’t take into account how close we are to the water. And how breezy it is here. A normal 57* here feels like 40* back home. For the last 6 days, I’ve regretted leaving my jackets and scarves at home to be shipped here later. And being in fall like temperatures without boots and a coat makes me feel naked and vulnerable in the most yuppy-can’t-even-deal way.

We ordered fancy pizzas for dinner, and had a Nicholas Cage movie marathon until I fell asleep at like, 9 PM.

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such yum

The next day, we went to see an exhibition of Tabaimo’s illustrations at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which were surreal and a bit unsettling, and I made the agonizing decision to get an iPhone.

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We got a really good deal on adding an extra line to Joel’s existing contract, and I got the 5s phone for a really good price (and an even better price since the USD is currently stronger than the AUD). I’ve been Team Droid since they came out, but I have to admit, life with a new phone is a hell of a lot easier. I mean, beside the 4+ hours it took to set everything up because I couldn’t remember my iTunes password and I kept having issues with my Gmail security. But now, I can make calls, and my apps load within mili-seconds, and my phone doesn’t turn off randomly or give me massive delays when typing. And it has a fancy gold case. Like a mix between RuPaul and C3-PO. I’m pretty happy. Even if my bank account is a little lighter.

We had lunch at the top of the Museum, and we watched a storm roll in over the harbor, and I had a Waygu beef sandwich that was life changing.

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Seagull pal!
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Joel’s chicken salad, which was equally amazing
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Joel!
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Waygu beef!

We got home and had taco night and I watched my first rugby game. Sports bore the shit out of me, but I kinda admit here, that rugby is pretty sweet.

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Rugby!
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Tacos!

The next day, we had an adventure to Ikea that started off amazing and ended almost terribly. But that’s another post unto itself.

My first few days in Sydney have been a blast. I’m slowly getting unpacked, our apartment is coming together, and Joel and I have awesomely over-indulged in sweat pants hang times. I’ve been able to chat with friends from home a few times, and I’ve even worked in a Skype with my family. I’ve had a few Idiot Abroad moments, and I’m learning the in’s and out’s of public transportation and Australian pronunciation (the names here are drowning in vowels). I miss everyone back home, but I’m really happy to be there. After all the waiting, all the time apart, and all the planning, I’m finally here. And it’s like I’ve never left.

Til next time!

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