Sunday, July 31, 2011

Iowans in Australia

As usual, it has taken lots of people asking when I am going to write my next blog before I actually find the motivation to sit down and provide you all with what you want - a play by play of my Oz adventures :)  This blog is all about my parents and Tink and Cindy's recent visit to Australia.  I'm not sure if I can fit everything into one blog this may turn into a trilogy instead of a single entry.  In case you haven't figured it out yet, I don't really plan out my blogs before I write them.  I just start writing and posting pictures until I get bored and then I hit "publish post."  So I apologise for all the grammatical errors and incomplete thoughts! Alright, let's get started!

Mom, Dad, Tink, and Cindy arrived in Melbourne on June 30.  For those of you who don't know, neither one of my parents were very excited for the 13 hour plane ride, but the fact that they both got on the plane (and didn't kill each other or someone else on board) proves how much they really love me!  Luckily both of them had medication to calm their nerves, and from what I have heard the plane ride really wasn't that bad.  I'm still glad I didn't have to be there to witness it though!

Their flight was due to arrive at 5:15 a.m. on the 30th and being the good daughter that I am, I rented a car the day before so I could pick them up at the airport (which meant I had to wake up at 4 a.m.)  I have driven a few times now on the other side of the road but it is still always a little stressful.  Its just not as natural as driving on the right side of the road - plus I was driving a mini-van so that we could fit everyone and the luggage.  Before leaving for the airport I looked at the flight status which said the plane was going to be about 10 minutes late.  I timed it so that I got to the airport right as the plane was going to land.  I knew they would have still have to go through customs but I wanted to make sure I secured a spot by the doors to welcome them.  As soon as I walked in the estimated arrival time changed to 5:55 a.m.....this was the start to a very stressful morning.  I got a coffee and sat down to read a book while I waited until the arrivals board said their plane had actually landed around 6:15. I then made my way to the arrival area and tried to stand between the two doors that people were coming through so I would be able to spot them right away when they came out.  And I waited.  and waited. and waited.  By now the arrivals hall was getting very busy because 4 international flights landed at once and I was having a hard time watching both doors so I was getting worried that I had missed them.  All the people around me kept spotting their visitors and were replaced by new people waiting to greet their guests.  But I was still waiting.  I was beginning to think they had already come out and I had just missed them but I didn't really want to start walking around because I figured if we were all walking around looking for each other we might just keep missing each other.  So I just kept waiting.  Finally at a little after 8:00 (2 hours of just standing watching people walk out of the customs area), I spotted them!!  I was beginning to think that one of them had refused to get on the plane in LA and they were still sitting in the US!  Turns out customs was really busy and Cindy's bag didn't arrive from LA so they had to wait to file a claim for that.
It had been 8 months since I saw my parents but it didn't seem like it had been that long at all - thank god for Skpe :)

Because it took a lot longer for us to get home from the airport than I thought, I had to run off to work pretty much right after I dropped them off at my apartment.  They spent the day just lounging around the apartment and walking down to the beach (one of mom's favorite things).  By the time I got home from work around 6:00 they all looked like they were minutes from falling asleep (well Cindy already was asleep).  We headed over to the serviced apartment they were staying in and had a very fancy meal of lunchmeat sandwiches, chips, and pasta salad before they turned in early for the night.

The next day I worked half a day so the 4 of them had to get on the tram and get into the city by themselves.  Before I met up with them, they walked around Federation Square, Southbank, and went to St. Paul's cathedral.  We then headed to the Carlton brewery for a brewery tour.  I'd never been before but I found a Scoopon for it so of course I had to check it out!  I didn't learn too much on the tour that I hadn't already heard on other brewery tours before but it was still fun.  We weren't allowed to take pictures during the tour but during the beer tasting (everyone's favourite part of the tour), the guide brought out costumes from previous Carlton commercials that people could try on and take pictures with.

My dad says I never mention him in his blog so.....I've decided to put in this picture.  He better appreciate this  :)
Dad and Tink at the Carlton Brewhouse
After the brewery tour we headed back to the city and Queen Victoria Market.  The market has areas for all types of goods from cheap t-shirts to shoes to luggage to tacky souvenirs.  But the best part about the market is the food.  You can find about anything you want here - pickled octupus, chilli stuffed olives, and even bologna if you really want to (they call it something different though and I can't remember what it is now....I should have written it down!)

I love all the dips at the market!
After the market I gave the group a very brief tour of some of the laneways and shopping arcades around the city. This is the point in the trip where they realized that my sense of how far away things are might be slightly skewed.  My idea of a 5 minute walk did not match theirs (I guess I walk a little faster now that I'm used to walking around everywhere).  They also called me out frequently for saying "oh that's only 2 blocks away....when it MAY have been 4-5 blocks).  I think they were expecting Monroe-size blocks instead of normal city blocks. 

This is a picture of a sign that Mom thought was funny in Hardware Lane.  Its winter and the rooftop area is still open - they just give you blankets to keep warm!

The colorful tram to St. Kilda
We finished the night with dinner at the Nixon Hotel in Docklands.  The restaurant really did have a huge picture of Richard Nixon but we never did figure out why a restaurant in Australia is named after Richard Nixon.  Who knows.

Saturday we did a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula.  On the way there we stopped in Brighton to see the famous bathing boxes that line the beach.  People pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for these small boxes on the beach.  The are al uniquely painted and they are so cute - but I still can't understand why people would spend that much money to buy one - there are lots pretty beaches around!

Mom was in heaven at Brighton beach - it was FULL of shells.  She even found a starfish (which later lost a leg) that she brought home.

Mom got a picture while all the legs were still intact

Next up:  Cape Schnack Lighthouse. I had heard that this lighthouse was pretty cool so we decided to check it out. was a pretty cool lighthouse but the lighthouse isn't what makes this place great  its the amazing scenery!
The lighthouse as we started our walk at Cape Schnack
Group picture - we still haven't even gotten to the best part yet
sooo pretty
After seeing this boardwalk Dad said he was absolutely not walkin the whole way (it goes clear to the end of the rock).  He kept saying this as he was walking until he made it all the way down to the beach.  What a trooper!  I think this was our highest step count day on the pedometer

After the lighthouse we headed up to Arthur's Seat for lunch at Arthur's Hotel.  My friend Emma had recommended this place for the great views but I didn't realize just how much you could see from up here.  It was a great spot to have lunch!

Hanging out at Arthur's Seat
The view (picture does not do it justice)
I was pretty sick of driving by the end of the day so we headed back to the serviced apartment for some tacos (I never get sick of tacos!)  We walked down to Acland Street to get some of the ingredients and I had to show them all the cake shops on Acland Street.  We bought a variety of sweets for dessert.  I think the Vanilla Slice was the best!

 One of the cake shop windows on Acland Street in St. Kilda
Well - its taken me an hour and a half and I've only gotten through 3 days of the trip!!  I think I deserve a little TV break now so you will have to wait patiently for another blog about Great Ocean Road and Sydney.  It was really hard deciding what pictures to put in here - we have so many good ones.

A few other important facts to share before the next blog:
1.  I've booked a plane ticket home for Christmas!!!  I will be home from Dec. 8-Jan. 5 so there will be plenty of time to catch up with everyone and to eat everything I want to.  So far on the list: Chipotle, Casey's Pizza, Legends Wings, sushi in Uptown, and a few Bloody Mary's.  I'm sure there are lots of other things as well.  I am still deciding when I will be in Minneapolis and when I will be in Des Moines but I'll keep everyone posted!
2.  I've been promoted to manager!!  Actually all of us from the newbie group who were going for manager were promoted (Graham, Emma, and Charlotte).  And Kelly was promoted too!!!  I can't believe I am actually going to be a manager of a big 4 accounting firm.  If I had stayed in the US I would have been promoted to manager as well, but getting promoted in Australia feels like a much bigger accomplishment.  Although the work is the same, I am working with all new people and had only about 6 months to prove that I had the capabilities to be promoted to manager.  And I did it.  I am in Australia AND I've been promoted to manager.  Life is VERY good! :)

Will try to post about the rest of the parents trip soon!

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