Like the title hints, finding internet and getting internet set up at my apartment has proven very difficult! Last Friday I finally got the ball rolling on internet at my apartment, but it will still be another 10-20 days before a technician gets out to my apartment! Hence, I concluded I’d better go ahead and write a post from my guaranteed internet at the laboratory…
As of Friday, Oct. 3rd I’d been in Australia for two weeks, but it feels like I’ve been here so much longer! Things have been moving pretty fast ever since day 1. Once I’d made my way through Brisbane customs and survived a Melbourne cab ride with a very lost driver I found myself in Fawkner, VIC (a northern suburb of Melbourne) at the doorstep of my colleague, Karen, who was kind enough to host me until I found a place of my own. It was about 10:00 am, so I had the whole day ahead of me.
The greatest shower of my life was the first thing on my to-do list (after traveling for 36 hours you get pretty…well, you know. Icky). Next I carpe’d that diem and set out on my first trip to the CBD (Central Business District) a.k.a. downtown Melbourne with the mission of activating my bank account and getting my phone up and working again.
Like I said, Fawkner is quite north of Melbourne, so I had to hop on the train to get down town. Now if you know me, you know I love a good public transportation system, and boy-o-boy does Melbourne have one. It was a lovely ride all the way down to Flinders Street Station. As I made my way toward the city I must admit that panicked thoughts of “What the hell am I doing here?” began to creep inside my head. These anxieties kept persisting as I stepped out of the station into the bustling Federation Square, which is pretty much the main social and business nexus of the CBD. Yet I soon found myself on one of the smaller side streets where countless cafes, pubs, and restaurants lined both sides of the street. At this point I suddenly found a delicious cup of coffee in my hand and thoughts of “Oh yeah, this is exactly where I need to be” took over in my head.
Happily, those positive thoughts have not yet left my skull. This may also be because I’ve been too busy to even contemplate them leaving my skull. The first week was mostly consumed by hunting for a flat. The number one thing people said to me when they heard I was going to Melbourne was “Wow, I’ve heard that’s a fantastic place to live!”. The number two thing people said to me was “Wow, I’ve heard that’s a fantastically expensive place to live!”. Both conceptions are correct. Real estate is going for top dollar around here, so I definitely had to get rid of Nashville, TN preconceptions of what an apartment should cost! Initially I struck out on Craigslist looking for an apartment, but I rapidly abandoned that when one promising lead turned out to be someone trying to catch me in a clear case of escrow fraud (remember folks, if it sounds too good to be true it generally is!). In any case, after only a few days of frustration and gnashing of teeth I found the perfect place in the lovely neighborhood of Fitzroy. I’m now the proud renter of a balcony flat inside a lovely terrace house located smack dab next to an equally lovely pub and directly across the street from a even more lovely Carlton Gardens.
The other big piece of news over the last week is that I started work! So far things are going well. I’m definitely still the new guy and probably will be for awhile, but so far everyone I’ve met is incredibly friendly! I’m sure that friendly affect was helped by the fact that I was first introduced to everyone at the institute’s Friday Beer Club! It’s a lovely international group we’ve got working here: Australian, American, Chinese, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Spanish, German, Dutch, French, and others too I’m sure.
I was lucky enough to have these new friends by September 27th for the Australian Football League Grand Final. This would be on par with the Superbowl in the US, except absolutely everyone is watching, and not for the commercials (in fact, there aren’t that many commercials at all). I was invited to a watching party at which the Hawthorn Hawks (a Melbourne team) trounced the Sydney Swans. It was my first time watching a full game of Aussie Rules Football, and it was great! It’s a really fast paced, high-scoring game. At any given time there are 36 players on the field going nuts. I’m still working out the rules, but I’m sure that will come with experience when I watch next season! And believe me, I will be watching next season- AFL is THE sport in Melbourne. Something like ten of the 18 teams in the league are based in or around Melbourne, and even then teams like the Brisbane Lions and Sydney Swans are originally from Melbourne.
This past weekend I got to sample a few pubs in Fitzroy with my new friends Carmen and Thomas. Sunday night we went to Naked for Satan, a fantastic rooftop bar right in the heart of Fitzroy. As you can see, it offered beautiful views of the city and some incredibly good house ale. Apparently I missed out by not trying any of their specialty vodka cocktails.
The story/legend is that a Russian immigrant named Satanovich used to maintain the building in the 1920s. The locals nicknamed him “Satan”. When the depression hit he made illicit vodka in the building for himself and locals. During the summer the high heat in Melbourne combined with the furnaces in the stills made it so hot that Satan would strip down to his underwear. Thus the locals started referring to getting “naked for Satan” as slang for going to buy illicit booze from this guy. Regardless of the origins, Naked for Satan’s one of the better pub names I’ve ever come across!