29 June 2008

This Side Up

Ok, we're in Australia now. Sorry it's taken so long for us to write; we only just found free internet last night. We got to Sydney on Friday morning (thursday evening for you) and now it's Saturday afternoon (Friday late night), so it's been three days, and we're already over the jetlag! Right, and we live in the future. Zang.

Update: we're staying at a hotel/hostel right now; it's nice and clean. We have a private bath, and there's a shared kitchen, and they serve breakfast every morning, but we haven't eaten it yet. Mostly because they expect us to drink Nescafe, when every single tiny cafe in town serves great espresso. Ridiculous. But we can't stay there long because it's still too expensive. We've seen one apartment so far, but it's a definite no. Gross bathroom.

The restaurants we've found are pretty good. Huge portions, though. Next time you hear someone go off about how huge American restaurant portions are, and how they're disgustingly big, and how it's completely distorted the American diet, just tell them this: I ordered a $9 dish of 5 falafel, and they were so big, I could only eat one with some pita bread. For my entire dinner. They eat big here. Texas big.

We spent most of the last two days walking for miles and miles to different parts of the city, trying to find a neighborhood we might like to live in, without much luck. Craig's university is in a really expensive and sleepy part of town, very family-oriented, and we're looking for something a little more lively. We might be on the right track with a neighborhood called Newtown--we found an anarchist collective and the socialist paper sellers. There were a bunch of young people with safety pins making and giving away art for donations on the street. Smells like home...

However, most of the last two days has been pretty depressing. Just walking around a huge city that you know basically nothing about means you inevitably end up in miles of residential wilderness and factory-outlet-warehouse-ville.

So, by last night we were tired, sore, and slowly losing hope; then we looked up and saw it. The soaring breathless Opera House, like pieces of sky fallen to earth. The Harbor Bridge, dignified and glorious. The water, the heartbreaking water. After so many years of landlocked, drought-ridden, screaming, thirsty land, it's amazing to see so much water.

And the hardest part is knowing that it's not something we can share with all of you-- you are our support, our amazing community, without all of you, we never would have made it here.

The title for this blog is temporary; we really want y'all to name it. Please send us your suggestions for a title for this blog and also for our impending podcast. Either send me an email or leave it as a comment on the blog.

We love you. Pictures up soon.


  1. Dear Nija and Craig,

    Sorry to hear things are possibly not what you expected. I have heard numerous people who have been to Sydney describe it as beautiful with an exceptionally nice population. But then again, none of them had the objective of living there. Guess there are different priorities for the visitor/tourist than for the intentional resident. I know, understatement!!

    Interesting tidbit -- Separated from his wife by the time daughter Peta was born, and divorced later that year, Andy Gibb reportedly only met his daughter once in 1981. Peta grew up as Peta J. Reeder-Gibb and breeds Staffordshire Bull Terriers and judges dog shows in New South Wales, Australia.

    So, Peta might be able to assist in the location of Barry! But then again she may be on the outs with all the Gibbs. Damn that Saturday Night Fever!!

    Well, the good thing about walking around miles and miles of the city is you get to know the city. You will find the areas where you would rather hang and those to avoid. Remember when we went to London? I thought our legs were going to fall off on some of those days with all the walking we did. Then we went on two walking tours!! Of course, one was a pub crawl!! Oh, the fun we had, eh? Another good thing is you can go to a restaurant and eat for days on the leftovers!

    The following is a link to the live camera overlooking Sydney Harbour. The daytime shots are much better than the night. There seems to be some reflection distorting the view at night.


    I found the following little blurb on the net when I looked up Newton, Sydney, Australia. It sounds a little like a Five-Points-ish/East Atlanta mix. Interesting!

    Newtown, across Sydney University from Glebe, and easily reached by train to Newtown Station, is another up-and-coming inner-city neighbourhood. What was once a working-class district - a hotchpotch of derelict factories, junkyards and cheap accommodation - has been transformed into a trendy but still offbeat and alternative area with a sense of urban grittiness. Body piercing, shaved heads and weird fashions rule. Newtown is characterized by its large gay and lesbian population, its rich cultural mix, from Africans to Fijians, and a healthy dose of students and lecturers from nearby Sydney University.

    The main drag, King Street, is filled with unusual secondhand and speciality shops, funky fashion and home stores and book and record outlets; during the month-long Newtown Festival from early October, various shop windows are taken over by young, irreverent and in-your-face art. The street has an enviable number of great cafés - even the newsagents' has an espresso bar attached - and diverse restaurants. A prestige cinema complex, the Dendy, with an attached bookshop, excellent record store, and streetfront café, is also open daily and into the night.

    King Street becomes quieter on the St Peters side of Newtown Station, but it's well worth strolling down to look at the furniture shops catering to all budgets and the more unusual speciality shops. You'll also find a couple of theatres and a High School for the Performing Arts, reputed to be one of the top five performing arts schools in the world - Sydney's version of the kids from Fame.

    So far, Enmore, which begins along Enmore Road, stretching west from King Street, opposite Newtown Station, has escaped gentrification, with the result that the migrant population - shops and businesses include Turkish, Chinese, Fijian, Thai, Greek and Italian-run places - hasn't been squeezed out by higher rents and more expensive leases. It's generally much quieter than Newtown, except when a big band is playing at the Enmore Theatre.

    Erskineville Road, stretching from the eastern side of King Street marks the beginning of the adjoining suburb of Erskineville, something of a gay enclave, with its own train station.

    OK, so just remember...although far away, we are here for you. We want this to be an experience of a lifetime that you will look back on and say how glad you are to have done it. We will support you in anyway possible. Homesick you will become, but you will find your niche where you can go for times of comfort. And you always will have each other.

    Love, Lynn

  2. I personally think "Living in the Future" is pretty badass. Then you could write about flying cars and stuff like that and we'd totally believe you. 'Cause you're in the future. It's madness!

  3. Mom,
    Thanks for the input and advice, especially about the Gibbs. We are keeping at the house hunt, and we might wind up looking for a room in a shared accommodation, at least temporarily. Sydney really is beautiful and the people have been extremely nice and solicitous. The stress of finding a place is a bit worrisome, though. We'll have a look at that webcam when we're at a computer that's capable of using it.


  4. Glad to hear you guy made it there safe and sound. I just realized you guys are moving to another Olympic city, I guess Beijing is next? Can't wait to see the pics.

  5. One of the tough things about being in a wonderful place like Sydney, is that your expectations can be so high.

    As lynn correctly pointed out, being there as a tourist is a totally different ball game, so to speak.

    We went to live in Canberra in 2000, for 4 months, and each member of our family had very different experiences.

    As you know, Emma has been back already, and is champing at the bit to come see you. Michael & Peter liked it fine. I had more trouble, mostly due to isolation. It was pretty hard to meet up with people, or get involved, since we were there for a short time.

    Also, I was not aware of Meetup yet, and flickr didn't exist!

    When we lived in Vancouver, I started a flickr group, and that provided most of my social life while we were there.

    Here in Argentina (we're here for 2 months), I've already hooked up with flickr people, and it's been wonderful.

    So, I hope you'll have a chance to find flickr groups in Sydney, and that it will work well for you.

    Looking forward to seeing your photos on flickr, by the way.

    If you are interested, here's my internet stuff:


    (new photo of Emma & Peter)


    Cheers, mates!