Sunday, July 31, 2011

Winter Festival

It's winter here in Australia, though you wouldn't know it from the sunny 70 degree weather we've been getting in Sydney.  On Saturday night, we headed out to the Winter Festival.  It was held in front of St. Mary's Cathedral, as you can see in the picture.  This is in downtown Sydney, between Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.  I think it was the third year they've had this event, and they have similar ones all around Australia.  I think there might even be one in Melbourne in August.

The whole area was set up with German/Austrian food booths, little Christmas trees, a blow-up snowman, and color-changing plastic ice cubes you could use as tables or chairs.  The yellow things on this tree are advertisements for Lipton chai latte instant packets.  They were giving out free cups of this deliciousness.  I had seen a commercial for this stuff a few weeks ago and bought some at the store.  It is so good; all you have to do is add hot water!  Do they have this in the States too?  It sure beats paying $3.50 for chai latte at a coffee shop (I don't like coffee).  Yum.
After getting our fill of free chai latte, we watched the ice skating demonstration.  The skaters were pretty darn good, considering the fact that Australians probably aren't really known for their ice skating skills.  This was kind of evident when it was our turn to skate.  Everyone got on the ice SO slowly and tentatively.  It was funny.  After a bit, everyone pretty much got the hang of it though.  It was an 80s theme night, so there were fun Michael Jackson and Madonna songs playing.  We had a good time speeding around the rink in the funky orange rental skates.

Not our feet!
After skating, we got some Gluhwein in our souvenir mugs that came as part of our skating package.  This is a spiced wine that Zack said tasted like cough syrup.  We couldn't remember what it was called or how to say it, so we called it Google-wine.  I also enjoyed a brat for dinner, which was delicious.  Maybe two winters in a row isn't so bad after all!

P.S.  Hooray for Zack writing a blog entry!  He did it while I was asleep, because he knows I'm a control freak and would correct his grammar and punctuation with every sentence.  After our awesome day in the Blue Mountains (blog entry to come), he's up late working tonight-poor guy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Zack's Life

Hi, haven't written in a while so thought I'd check in and tell you what's going on with me. I am dipping banana chips in peanut butter. Then I am going to sip some blue Gatorade. That is all.

Just kidding :) We went out to the clubs in downtown Sydney last night, so it's a lazy day today. Heading out to Bondi Beach when Aubree wakes up, and we have a full weekend plan that we'll blog about later. At some point in the weekend, I will probably eat Hungry Jack fries and a chocolate milkshake as has become my custom in Sydney as of late.

I've started a new project where I'll be working in Sydney for the first part then Melbourne with some travel to Sydney here and there later on. I have to wear a tie to work, and often a suit. If you know me well, you'll know how this must make me feel (i.e. stupid, oppressed, etc.), but at least I was able to find some swanky ties that look kind of cool. I require top secret clearance for this government project, so they are probably spying on you now if I've listed you as a reference.  They may have even hacked into my account and are writing this blog to cover up the fact that I am now locked away in my cube.

I've been putting in long hours during the early part of the project, hoping it pays off and will make the rest of the project easier. In the meantime, Aubree is a saint for putting up with me during this transition period.

When I'm not working, I've been doing a lot of cycling. Did you notice that an Australian won the Tour de France this year for the first time ever? No, it was not me. But I am training for a 210km bike race called "Around the Bay in a Day" in Melbourne. I don't know the exact mileage equivalent, but the distance is insane and will take 8-10 hours. Not to worry, I have my psuedo-coach Heath and his wife to help make sure I cross the finish line one way or another.

The ocean's gotten a bit too cold, so I haven't been surfing much in Melbourne, though I get to go today in Sydney where the water temp is warmer. Hopefully, I won't guest star on Bondi Rescue.

We've met lots of good friends here, mostly thanks to Aubree as people like her better, but they've helped us to have a full social life when we're not busy with other things. And thanks to Aubree for helping to keep up the blog. Its counter says we've had over 4,600 visitors on the page so far, and I've enjoyed reading every post.

Now I need both hands back so I can finish my banana chips and Gatorade, then head to the beach for a surf. Cheers!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Watson's Bay

So we're in Sydney this week until next Wednesday.  Zack is busy working out here, so I try to have a few adventures on my own during the day.  On Tuesday, I took a ferry over to Watson's Bay.  This is a suburb of Sydney set right on the Pacific Ocean (the Tasman Sea).  I did the cliffside walk and took lots of pictures.  It reminded me a bit of the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii, but this was more rocky instead of green.  There were strange things I didn't expect like cactuses and daisies with blue centers.  The water went on forever, and it was quite blue.  On the way back to the ferry, I walked through some neighborhood streets, and the houses were amazing.  Very California-ish.
The most well-known area is called The Gap. In 1857, a ship called Dunbar crashed here, thinking it had reached the Sydney Harbour. All but one person died, and the anchor of this famous ship is on display in this area. Now The Gap is famous for being a suicide spot. Apparently about fifty suicides a year take place here. There are fences that are supposedly hard to get over and Lifeline signs telling you to "hold onto hope" and emergency phones and all sorts of preventative measures. Rather morbid.

On the ferry ride back, I got a few cool pictures of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. So I'll leave you with those and go figure out today's afternoon adventure!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Missing America

The Fourth of July went by without much fanfare over here in Australia.  We did go to an expat potluck BBQ thing, where we met a fun couple from Chicago.  We wore some red, white, and blue and ate hot dogs and apple pie.  Lately, Zack's been missing America.  We had heard that the first few months would be easy, like a "honeymoon period."  Then there is often a period of homesickness for a few months before you get settled and are happy again.  It's probably because work is super stressful, he doesn't get much sleep, and he travels between Sydney and Melbourne so much.  The homesickness hasn't really hit me yet.  Oh sure, I miss Molly and teaching and little things about the United States, but I'm still enjoying myself here.  That's probably because I don't have to work!    
The thing I always really liked about Independence Day is the fireworks.  The Docklands area of Melbourne put on short fireworks shows every Friday night during July.  I guess they wanted to attract people to the area during the winter months or something.  For a few Fridays, I could see the fireworks from our balcony in St. Kilda.  So we finally went there last Friday, and it was actually a pretty good show for only being ten minutes long.  It was set to music and all.  Then we went out for Indian food.  Go figure!

We've been getting our "American" fix by having dinner with various couples from the United States over the past few weeks.  Emily and Adam had us over to their place for dinner earlier this month,  we went to an American-style diner with Alena and Todd (the couple from Chicago), and we met up for some Italian food with Laura and Ryan (a couple from Iowa we met through our blog).  And our Australian friends Heath and Isabelle introduced us to some good pizza at a place called Mr. Wolf (though it was of course expensive!).  We hear we also need to try I Carusi (thanks Megan)!

Yet another balcony shot of the beautiful sunset!
So as the sun sets on another night in Australia, we may be missing America a little bit, but we are excited about the adventures we're yet to have in this country.  We're actually both in Sydney right now, so tomorrow's entry will be about some of the fun I've been having here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rats at Brighton

On Saturday afternoon, the sun seemed to be shining, and we wanted to get out and enjoy it.  The water had been freezing last time we went surfing, so instead we decided to go for a bike ride to Brighton Beach.  We brought along some wine and cheese and crackers and sat down in front of a colorful bathing box to enjoy the afternoon.  Of course, the sun went away when we got there, and it was pretty chilly, but it was still fun.  If you've been following along, you'll know we've been there before.  But this time was a little different.
First of all, there were surf rescue boats practicing out in the bay.  It was neat to watch them race around the buoys.  There were also a bunch of strange looking birds out on the rocks.  Among the rocks, I found some starfish, little black shells, algae of some sort, etc.  The bay was full of sailboats and stand-up paddle boarders.

But the most interesting thing that we discovered is that there are rats at Brighton Beach!  I noticed one scamper under a bathing box, and we soon found two of them running around.  They aren't as ugly as New York City rats, and they actually look like cute little mice (but they're bigger).  So of course we put out some pieces of our cheese so I could get some pictures of them.  People like us who feed them are probably the reason these rats hang around!

The seagulls picked up on the fact that we were handing out food and tried to come over and snatch the cheese, but we chased them away.  I wonder if the millionaires who live on this street know that their beach is infested with rats?  Ha!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekend Review From Up Here (Down Under)

On one of our balconies-I love the sunsets!
Hello blog readers!  We recently acquired a desk off of Gumtree, and we put it against the windows in the family room.  As I sit here at my laptop overlooking yet another fabulous sunset from the 11th floor, I figured I would update the blog with what we did over the weekend.

On Friday night, we went to the taping of The 7PM Project show.  It was "live," so it went quickly and was entertaining.  We found it interesting that all of the jokes among the hosts were preplanned, because on the show it comes across as spur-of-the-moment banter.  I guess they had us fooled.  I was bummed that the guy from Glee was actually interviewed via camera from Sydney.  I thought he'd be in the studio.  Anyway, after the show, we used one of our Scoopon deals to get some pizza on Fitzroy Street.  No surprise-it wasn't that good.  Will we ever find decent pizza in this town?

French toast with strawberries-yum!
Zack was up early on Saturday, and he actually worked from home nonstop until 5pm.  Busy boy!  I slept in and then made us a yummy breakfast.  Notice the lovely MasterChef-ish presentation.  Ignore the ugly plate; our kitchen collection (and everything in our apartment for that matter) is a mixture of cheap things we've gathered from various sources.  On Saturday night, we headed over to Emily and Adam's place in Elwood (a suburb next to St. Kilda) for dinner.  They have a beautiful place, and we enjoyed a delicious meal.

Illegal phone picture!
Zack returned the favor and brought me breakfast in bed on Sunday morning before he headed out on a bike ride.  Sunday afternoon was spent at the taping for Australia's Got Talent.  It was the second episode of the Semifinals, so Jack Vidgen came out on stage at the beginning to hear that he's going through to the Finals, but we didn't get to hear him sing.  We saw some good and not-so-good performances; our favorite was a young jazz singer named Liam.  It was a long afternoon waiting to get into the show.  We were at the end of the line and only got in because I nicely asked if there were any single seats left.  So by splitting up for the first bit, we made it in after they had turned several others away.  I know it seems like we are TV show crazy lately (have I mentioned that I'm trying out for Deal or No Deal next Thursday?!), but really this is just a phase where they've been sending me lots of tickets lately, and it's something fun to do in Melbourne when the weather is lousy outside.

We love Luna Park!
Zack left for Sydney this morning and will be there until Wednesday, so I'm on my own again.  Today was spent taking care of random stuff on the computer (bills, banking, insurance, etc.), so it wasn't too exciting.  It rained on and off during the day, so I just stayed in my pajamas, drank some tea, read a book, and got some stuff done!  Schools are back in session, so it's been quiet today.  They've been on holiday the last two weeks, so Luna Park (the amusement park right below us) had been open, and all day long we could hear screams from the people on the rides.  Some people might find that annoying, but we like it.  As Zack says, "it reminds you to be happy," because all day long you get to hear the sounds of unrestrained joy from the people below.  It's dark down there now; I guess it'll be open again once it warms up around here.  Anyway, we had a pretty good weekend, and we hope you did too!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Show Me the Money!

I know-it's been awhile.  This week has been busy trying to get things for our apartment and going to some training for a volunteer program.  In other words, not much exciting has been happening.  But I thought you might find it interesting to see the currency here.  When I get a range of the paper bills, I'll do an entry about that, but today you get to hear about the coins.  I know my photograph isn't the greatest.  But they all have pictures of Queen Elizabeth II on one side.  On the other side, depending on which coin it is, there are pictures of kangaroos, a platypus, an echidna, a lyrebird, an Aboriginal tribal leader, or the coat of arms.

The top two are gold-colored, and they are the $2 coin and the $1 coin.  I find it strange that the $2 coin is so small.  I think it's smaller than a nickel, yet it's worth $2!  It's hard to keep track of them.  The big one with jagged edges is worth 50 cents.  That coin is huge!  The 20 cent piece is about the size of our quarter, and then they have a 10 cent and 5 cent piece.  There is no penny.  There is even talk of getting rid of the 5 cent piece.  They just round things up at the store.  You always end up with lots of change in your wallet, because the smallest paper money amount is the $5 bill.  The Australian and US dollar are somewhat close right now ($1 Aus=$1.07 US today), but this means if you came to visit us from the States, you would lose money.  We lost a few hundred dollars when we first moved here and had to convert some US currency to get us by until Zack's first Australian paycheck.  We could now transfer some of our Australian savings over to our US account and earn some money, but there are accounts here where we get 6% interest!  Anyway, that's your coin lesson for the day.

In other unrelated news, we got $50 back from the mattress girl.  I also found a store called Big W that is kind of like Walmart and another store called Spotlight that is kind of like a mix between Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Michael's or JoAnn's Fabrics.  Woohoo!  Tonight, we are going to a taping of The 7PM Project, which is a live news/entertainment show on every night here in Australia.  According to last night's commercial, a guy from Glee is going to be on tonight.  He's the kid in the wheelchair who likes the ditzy blonde girl; I don't watch the show enough to know anyone's name.  So it should be cool to see him.  And randomly, last night, we purchased one way plane tickets to Beijing for next March.  Jetstar Airlines was having a killer sale that ended at midnight, and we jumped on it.  We don't know when/how we'll be getting back to Melbourne yet, but we'll figure that out eventually.  The return tickets weren't very cheap (yet), and we figured we might want to stop in other cities/countries on the trip.  So, um yeah, I guess we're going to China next year!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Us!

Last night, Zack took me to dinner at The Press Club in downtown Melbourne.  This was a delayed celebration of our third anniversary (July 5), because I wasn't able to join him in Sydney earlier this week.  This restaurant is owned by George Calombaris, one of our favorite judges on MasterChef Australia.  No, George wasn't there (bummer!), but we had an awesome time at this fancy place.  It is described as combining "modern Greek cuisine with contemporary dining."  Our reservations were at 9 pm, and we were there until after midnight!
We ordered the symposium degustation, which means we each got eight courses of smaller sized portions of various things from the menu.  We started with rolls, olives, and olive oil with black salt.  We moved onto sweetbreads, a mushroom dish, a crab dish, salmon, duck, venison, some sorbet (to refresh the palate), and then dessert.  By the end, we were definitely full!  I'll go into more detail on the pictures I'll post on Shutterfly, but I've put a few of my favorites here.  This was the venison.  It had a raspberry sauce, and it was awesome!

This was the dessert.  On the left is chocolate mousse, and it was so thick and velvety.  On the right is creme fraiche, which is a French version of sour cream (it tastes like yogurt).  There are some salted caramel dollops (so good), chocolate crumbs, a cube of tea-flavored jelly stuff, and some sort of fruit in the middle of the plate.  The green things are tubes of apple-ginger flavored something or other.  All I know is that the whole thing tasted great!

It was really fun to try so many different dishes.  We were always excited for the next course to come out, and I could definitely see George's influence on MasterChef with some of the techniques and ingredients used.  We also had fun using our favorite MasterChef phrases ("This dish is a cracker!") and pretending like we were judging each plate.  The kitchen area was open and facing the restaurant, so it was also interesting to watch the chefs cook and plate up the fancy creations.  They were so calm and precise.  I guess they can't really yell at each other or look stressed out if everyone's watching!

Our first anniversary was spent on the beaches in Puerto Vallarta, our second was spent summiting four 14,000+ foot Colorado mountains in one day, and our third was spent (pun intended) at dinner at a fancy restaurant in the middle of Melbourne, Australia!  What on earth are we going to do next year?

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Complaining Post

Happy to be here!
Sometimes I feel like our blog is very positive and happy and such...and that's not a bad thing.  But I don't want people to get the impression that everything is easy and perfect over here or that our lives are without problems of any sort.  In fact, there are definitely some struggles.  Since I don't want to whine about little things in lots of posts, I'm just going to do one big 'complaining about Australia' post and be done with it (at least until version two comes out!).  Don't go mistaking this as ungratefulness or wishing we weren't here or anything like that.  Sometimes we just need to vent.  Anyway, in no particular order, here are the things that have been bothering us lately:

1.  Our third anniversary was on Tuesday.  Zack had to work in Sydney from Monday through Wednesday this week, and I had gotten a cheap flight to go along with him.  We were going to celebrate out there, but then stupid Tiger Airways got grounded for safety issues.  I'll get a refund (eventually), and we're going out to dinner tomorrow night to celebrate, but I'm still annoyed that my flight was cancelled.

2.  The landlord at our old furnished apartment is trying to charge us for all sorts of things, some of which we don't think we did.  He's keeping our security deposit and wanting more on top of that.  For example, there is apparently a small chip in the stone countertop.  Now we're going to get charged for it.  We've got e-mails going and back and forth with him, and it's not fun.

3.  I bought a mattress off of Gumtree last week (the Australian equivalent of Craigslist).  The girl listed it as queen-sized, and when I got there, I even asked her if it was a queen, because it looked a bit small to me.  She said it was, I believed her, and then of course I got it home and found it wouldn't fit in our bed frame.  It's a double size.  I've e-mailed her, she won't give me a refund or take it back, and she's moved. Ugh.  I could take the case to VCAT (a tribunal thing they have here for issues like this), but that would cost me $37 and take six to eight months.  Probably not worth it.  Also, the fridge I got from her was really dirty and took me over an hour to clean.  Nasty.

4.  It's cold and gray and rainy here, and everyone is posting pictures on Facebook of themselves in tank tops and complaining about the heat back in the United States.  I know this will be switched around come November or so, so I guess I'll be quiet about that one.

5.  The internet service (at home and on phones) is RIDICULOUSLY slow.  Think of your worst dial-up service you had about ten years ago.  That's kind of how it is here at times.  Sooooooooooo frustrating.  Zack says it's even slow at work; it's a country-wide problem.  

6.  Streets are not always labeled.  We go the wrong way more than half the time when we're trying to get somewhere.  Of course, we did that in Denver too, so maybe that's just our problem.

7.  Stuff is expensive.  We're slowly getting used to that, but it just has to be said.  For instance, a Groupon-type deal might offer dinner for two for $39 at a restaurant, and that is a GOOD deal!

8.  Lots more people smoke here than in the United States.  It's gross.  At near $20 a pack, it seems like an expensively stupid habit.

9.  Stores you can count on in the States to have exactly what you need don't exist here.  Oh how I would love a Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Or a Home Depot.  Or a good ol' Walmart!

10.  It's so much more difficult to find the information you want out here.  In the States, you can Google something and pretty much find the answer, know where to go or what to do, call somebody and quickly get something sorted out, etc.  Here you may search and search, call a bunch of places, go and ask various people in person, and you still might not get your answer.  For example, we still don't know what all the keys we were given for our new apartment do (and nobody seems to be able to tell us).

11.  Mail to and from the United States takes a really long time and is super expensive.

12.  Sometimes we can't understand people, especially when their accents are really thick and they talk quickly.  And sometimes people can't understand us.  For whatever reason, people really can't seem to understand Zack when we're at stores or restaurants.  Everyone thinks we're from Canada.  There are a lot more Canadians than Americans over here.

13.  We can't figure out how to get our gas stove to work.  We can't find the pilot light.  We've been lighting the burners by hand.  We're probably going to blow up our unit (or ourselves)!

14.  The footy field behind our place is kind of used as a dog park.  It makes us miss our dog Molly.  A lot.  We find ourselves watching the videos of her that Cindy and Justin post (thanks guys!) over and over.

15.  We can't find good pizza.  And we are pizza people!  We usually get it every Friday.  So far, the pizza we've had here has been pretty disappointing.  Bland, soggy, overpriced, etc.  It stinks.  We also haven't really found good Mexican food.

16.  Apartments or units don't come with dishwashers.  Sometimes, I'll admit, it's kind of relaxing to just wash dishes and look out at our nice view.  But other times, it's just annoying and I'd like to throw everything in the dishwasher and be done with it!

Okay, I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, but that's all I've got for now.  Of course, we're in Australia, and overall, life's pretty good, so I really shouldn't complain.  I know-boo hoo-poor us in Australia, right?  But I thought it might be interesting to note some of the differences and struggles we've had to deal with in this country instead of yet another post about the cool things we get to see and do while we're over here.  Hopefully you found it at least somewhat entertaining.  And hey, feel free to leave comments, ask questions, suggest future blog topics, etc.  It would make me feel like someone (besides my mother!) is reading this thing.  Hi Mom!  :)  

Life's not too shabby!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blog About Birds

This blog entry is about the birds I have seen so far in Australia.  Some of them are quite unique.  The two colorful ones above are variations of the crimson rosella.  I thought the one on the right might be a green rosella, but it's got a lot of red on its front.  Anyway, they are members of the parrot family, and they are very bright and pretty.  I saw these two at one of the train stops while riding Puffing Billy.

This guy is a magpie.  You see these black and white birds all over the place, so I'm not even sure where I took this picture.  Yes, I am Googling to find out the names of all of these.  Don't go thinking I'm a bird expert or something!
This little guy on the left is a dusky moorhen.  I found him walking around the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.  He's kind of funny looking, but I like him.  The one on the right is an Australian white ibis.  Check out the beak on that thing!  He was also in Sydney, but near the Archibald Fountain.

Now on the left we have a white-faced heron.  On the right is a darter.  Its head is the only thing that sticks out of the water, and it looks like a snake.  Both of these were in Sydney in or near the water.

I saved the best for last...the sulphur crested cockatoo!  There were a ton of these in the Gardens in Sydney.  I saw one guy feeding them, and a cockatoo even landed on his shoulder.  Then the ranger came by and scolded him for feeding the birds.  These things are huge and loud (in an obnoxious way!).  There are several that hang out in the footy field behind our new place in Melbourne.  I might get sick of them eventually, but for now, I think it's neat to see such big, white birds flying around.  It feels kind of tropical, especially when they're in the palm trees! 

I know there are lots more to discover, but these are the interesting ones I've come across so far.  I don't consider the ducks or seagulls to be interesting!  Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your Australian bird lesson for the day.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Room with a View-Sunrise, Sunset

The real estate market in Australia is, um, interesting.  Buying a house anywhere near the city nowadays is pretty much impossible; costs are at least double what they are in the United States.  And you purchase them by going to an auction.  To look at potential houses or apartments, you go to an "inspection."  This is a set amount of time on a certain day where anybody who's interested in the place comes.  It's a fifteen minute window (thirty minutes for houses I think), and the property owner's real estate agent is there.  For places with high demand, there can be lines to get in or seventy people all looking at the same place.  Then you submit an application, and the owners get to choose who gets their place based on your application.  It's not uncommon to get turned down several times before finding a place.

Sunrise over the city-Zack was up to go biking!
So a few weeks ago, I went to several inspections.  With my flexible schedule, I was able to make it to the ones of interest, even if they were on a Wednesday afternoon from 4:00-4:15pm.  How do working people do this?  We knew we liked the St. Kilda area, so I limited my search to those near the bay or in the Fitzroy/Acland Streets area.  Fifteen minutes is not a lot of time to make a pretty important decision, especially with the owner's agent staring at you.  The most people I ever saw at one of my inspections was six, and a lot of the places were pretty rundown and old.  But then I came upon Unit 11F at 12 Marine Parade.  I took one look at the view, and I was sold.  It's only a one bedroom place, but the living room space is pretty big, the kitchen is decent-sized, it's got new paint and carpet, and we're within easy walking distance of several tram stops and all of the places we frequent.

Sunset over Port Phillip Bay
I submitted our application the day after the inspection, along with a cover letter explaining our home owning and renting history and why we would love to be tenants in this property.  Apparently this kind of thing can help improve your chances.  We've also heard that owners frequently dismiss you if you have kids or pets, so this is one instance where we're happy we have neither right now.  Zack was trusting enough to believe me when I said that this place was a keeper, because he hadn't even seen it or gone to any inspections.  And I guess our application was good enough, because it worked, and we moved in here on Friday!

Sunrise over footy field-cars along edge setting up for the market.
The view is by far the best part.  We have two off the kitchen and one outside our bedroom. The living room has huge windows.  And we overlook the bay and the city!  We get to see the gorgeous sunsets over the water to the left and the lights of Melbourne straight out.  We're right above Luna Park, an iconic St. Kilda amusement park.  To the right is a footy field where markets take place on the weekends, and you can see the sunrise if you're up early enough.  On Friday night, I could even see a fireworks show that was taking place at the Docklands in the distance.  Basically, the view is awesome.  We will never live in a place overlooking so many cool things again in our lives.  We have a one year lease, and we're going to enjoy it!  Once we're a bit more set up, I'll post pictures of the inside.  For now, enjoy the pictures of our view (all taken from our balconies), and come visit if you want to see it for yourself!  

Sunset over St. Kilda's Luna Park