Friday, June 29, 2012

Saturday Night Scariness

Note the fireworks in the background!
On Saturday night in the Gold Coast, we decided to try out some of the nightlife. It's not usually our scene, but we figured we'd see what the hype was all about. So we got dressed up and walked around town, looking for the “happening” place.

There are a few companies that organize nightly pub crawls, so big groups of partiers go to five or so different clubs throughout the evening. We happened upon a club called Shooters where one of these groups was hanging out, so we hung out there and danced for awhile. Then we headed to another club called Sin City. While in line, one guy told us that if we said we were with him, we could get in free and get half-price drinks. I guess if you get a group of 12 people, the club gives you this deal, so we made up 2 of his 12. It was a bargain! After Sin City, we waited in line to go into a club called Vanity. Luckily, I had put my name on an online list earlier that evening while looking up places, so we didn’t have to pay the $15 cover!

After some more drinks and dancing, we were ready to head home. As we were walking past Sin City, suddenly two guys shoving a teenage kid passed right next to us. They shoved the kid up against the corner of the building, and one guy punched him in the head really hard. The kid collapsed to the cement ground; his neck was bent sideways. He was totally unconscious, and we had seen it all. It all happened so fast, and it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever witnessed. The two guys who did it each ran away in different directions. Zack ran to tell the security guard at the nearby club, and people started converging on the kid, laying him on his side and straightening out his head and stuff.

After a few minutes, the unconscious kid was being helped, and there was nothing else we could do, so we started walking back to our hotel. Zack mentioned how he remembered that one of the guys who ran away had a hat, but I had no recollection of what either guy looked like. We hadn’t gotten very far when suddenly two girls and a kid with a hat were walking toward us. Zack had a weird feeling and said, “That’s him!” and pointed. A policeman just happened to be walking right behind us on the sidewalk (there are lots of police in Surfers Paradise!), and he heard Zack. The policeman grabbed the kid, and Zack again said, “It’s him. Look at his hand.” There was blood on one part of his hand, and the rest of it was red. The kid sort of denied it, though he didn’t put up a big fight or act like he didn’t know what Zack’s accusation was about, and the girls just acted confused, almost as if they didn’t know him. The policeman lifted the kid’s black T-shirt up, and he had a white one on underneath. I guess this was what they were looking for, because the policeman promptly hauled him off!

We headed straight back to the hotel, a little afraid that the other guy might have been around and seen Zack point out his friend. When we were safely in our room, Zack called the police and gave him his information in case they needed to contact him about witnessing the incident, but we never heard from them. We’re just hoping the punched kid is okay; it was such a scary thing to see. The whole thing really shook me up; I’m just glad Zack was able to help the police catch one of the guys. Zack is a Gold Coast Hero!

That was definitely the craziest thing we saw, although there were a few other interesting incidents. On both Friday and Saturday nights, a throng of police (in uniform and undercover) walked down the streets with a Labrador retriever and a cameraman. The dog was smelling for drugs, so the policewoman would lead it up to you, it would sniff all around you, and then walk on (in our case-not everyone’s!). On Saturday, the drug-sniffing dog came by while we were in line for a club. As it was smelling everyone in line, two girls tried to cut up to the front. An undercover cop immediately grabbed them and pulled them out of line; they were trying to escape the dog (I guess they had something illegal!).

Inside one of the clubs-party time!
We saw a small shoving fight break out in one of the clubs early in the night on Saturday, and on Sunday, we saw a lifeguard in some sort of tousle with a surfer out in the water. The surfer was trying to paddle out between the flags (which is a swimming-only area), and the lifeguard ran out into the water. We’re not sure if the surfer wasn’t listening or what, but we could see the lifeguard and the surfer playing what looked like a game of tug-of-war with the surfboard until he finally got the surfer back to shore with some help from nearby beachgoers.

Tea time!

On Sunday afternoon, we had a much tamer experience by going to the Palazzo Versace for some tea. This is probably the fanciest hotel in Australia; everything is imported from Italy, and rates range from $400 to nearly $4000 per night. Lots of celebrities stay and/or dine here.

Anyway, the Gold Coast is one crazy place. I can’t imagine how insane it gets during school holidays or the summer if this was just a random winter weekend. I think I'm glad to be back in my safe little South Melbourne home, even if it is raining and cold outside!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gold Coast Getaway

View from our hotel room window.
The one good thing to come out of our Tiger Airways fiasco was $200 worth of vouchers to use on future flights. Though I was skeptical of ever flying with them again, I booked a cheap weekend getaway to the Gold Coast area in Queensland and figured if we didn’t get there for some reason, it would be okay.

The crowd at the free beach concert on Saturday night.

Amazingly, our flights went pretty smoothly, and we spent this past Friday night through Sunday night in the Surfers Paradise area of the Gold Coast. We didn’t have extremely warm weather, but getting away from the cold rain of Melbourne for a weekend was a welcome change.

We stayed in the heart of Surfers Paradise at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. It wasn’t fancy or anything, but our view was awesome, and the location couldn’t have been better. We walked around Cavill Avenue (the main strip) for food and entertainment and hung out on the beach across the street. The water was pretty warm (warmer than the air!), and the sand was perfectly clean and almost white.

Huge hotels everywhere!
It was a rather relaxing weekend spent napping on the beach, surfing, doing a little shopping, listening to the live music playing for the Surfers Paradise Festival, and trying out different restaurants. We found the Queenslanders (especially the wait staff) to be very friendly and helpful. We aren’t sure if this is because Surfers Paradise caters specifically to tourists, or if Melbournians are just a bit snootier.

The crowd that visits the Gold Coast is interesting. I’ve never seen the show, but I often felt like I was in an episode of Jersey Shore. It’s definitely got a party-like atmosphere, people dress in some interesting attire (especially at night), and the whole coastline is full of towering hotels. There are some big theme parks in the area, including a water park and Sea World. We didn’t hit up any of those, but a lot of visitors do. The nightlife is insane. My next post will talk about that and a scary fight we saw. To give you a preview, I’ve been calling Zack a “GCH” (Gold Coast Hero) lately. Check back soon to find out why!

Zack is living the life!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Birthday Boy

On June 20th, Zack turned 34 years old. We’d been so busy moving into our new place, but I still tried to make his day a special one. I attempted to recreate his favorite pizza of all time…a fig pizza we had at The Stash in Crested Butte, Colorado during our engagement weekend. I had fun gathering fresh ingredients (figs, cheese, flour for the dough, etc.) from the nearby South Melbourne Market, and for dessert I made his favorite-gooey butter cake.

We took a series of funny pics-in this one we were looking at the birthday boy!
Emily and Adam were able to join us for dinner and a game of euchre, and they brought along a delicious warm brie cheese appetizer and some Whoppers (called Maltesers here) for Zack. This was the first holiday that Zack wasn’t able to guess his present from me ahead of time, but as he was opening it, Adam randomly guessed that it was a new briefcase (which was correct!). It was a nice Wednesday night, and hopefully Zack’s 34th year is his best one yet!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Goodbye St Kilda

When one is packing to move across town and comes across strange items one possesses, such as a Tough Mudder headband and retro sunglasses, some folks pack them away or throw them away. My husband puts them on and demands that his picture be taken in front of the flag. This is the result. Sometimes I wonder about him… :)

 We will miss St Kilda. I’ll miss sunsets like this, taken on one of our last nights in our apartment…

I’ll miss living near the happy sounds of Luna Park, which I still haven’t visited!

I’ll miss living across the park from a grocery store, I’ll miss living around the corner from Acland Street, and I’ll miss crossing the street to get to the beach. But I’m already finding things to love about our new home in South Melbourne!

Goodbye St Kilda! Justin, this is the picture you requested.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Earth Moves Too

Well, we aren't the only ones moving around here. Last night, the ground did too. That's right-we experienced an earthquake! It measured 5.3, which is the strongest one in the Melbourne area in 100 years. The epicenter was Southeast of here, but we definitely felt it.

I was in the kitchen and Zack was on the couch when I heard what sounded like thunder. I didn't think much of it but Zack said, "What was that?" Then he told me to look at my flowers (which my nice husband had brought home for me) on the table, and they were shaking. It was strange, but it's a new house to us, so we didn't know what was going on for sure. We went on with our evening, and Zack at one point said, "Either that was an earthquake, thunder, or I'm not sure." It was only when we got on Facebook before bed and read everyone's comments that we realized it was indeed an earthquake! We were happy that we didn't live in our old place...the 11th floor in a window-filled apartment might have been a bit scarier!

Anyway, that's the exciting news around here. Oh yeah, and it's Zack's birthday today! Some day soon I'll do a post about that-hopefully when we have Internet, because typing on a phone takes forever!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Home Sweet (new) Home

We are in the midst of moving, and Internet isn't set up yet (I'm posting with my phone), but here is a sneak peek of our new home!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Alien Invasion and Other Stuff

I was down near Federation Square this afternoon running some errands, and apparently a spaceship has landed in Melbourne! Ha-I guess it's part of some display called "The Light in Winter" taking place there. This piece is called "Close Encounters."

Anyway, here are some other random tidbits of news from our lives lately...

1. We're moving! As of Monday, June 18, we are going to be residents of South Melbourne instead of St Kilda. More about that in a later post, with pictures of our new place!

2. Zack and I both woke up yesterday with a bad head cold. This was only a day after I was telling our friends about how I haven't really gotten sick in Australia. Then I knocked on wood. I guess it didn't work! At least we're in it together. 

3. Zack's birthday is next Wednesday, June 20th. He's been listing off hundreds of ideas for presents, just in case I hadn't thought of anything yet!

4. We've got some fun trips coming up in the next month. Next weekend, we're going to the Gold Coast for just two nights. Then for the last two weeks in July, we're going to Thailand and Bali. I can't wait! Lots more about that to come in future posts.

5. I need to go clean the apartment now, because there's an inspection happening here tomorrow afternoon, and I already have a teaching job lined up for the day.

Bye for now!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Red, Red Wine

Yesterday at an extended brunch with Adam and Emily, we made plans for a fun night of eating fajitas with a guacamole cook-off and a red wine tasting. So last night, Nigel and Kristy joined us in heading over to Adam and Emily's place in Elwood for the evening. Each person brought a different type of red wine, and each couple brought guacamole. Every wine bottle was wrapped in foil and numbered, so we didn't know which was which.

We enjoyed cheese and crackers and chips and three great guacamole recipes while trying each type of wine. We all had paper and wrote down our guesses as to which type of wine we were tasting. Our choices were Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Shiraz, and Sangiovese. Some were easy (Cabernet), but others were impossible (who knows what Sangiovese tastes like?!).

After trying all six and making our best guesses, we revealed each wine and saw if we were right. Out of the six types, Zack and I both guessed three correctly (not the same three), and that was the best score!

Then Adam and Emily introduced us to an entertaining game called "Celebrity." It's kind of a mix between Catch Phrase and Charades, with a twist. In one of the rounds, you act out the word you're trying to get your team to guess while under a sheet. It was hilarious! I think I'm acting out "leg" in the picture to the left.

Later, as we drank more wine and laughed about how many types we didn't know, we enjoyed a delicious dessert made using Emily's now famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. Yum!

It was an awesome night of good food and wine shared with friends, and a great way to kick off the Queen's Birthday holiday weekend.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hockey in Australia?

On Sunday afternoon, we went to a hockey game. Yes, there are apparently hockey players in Australia. Who knew? We're guessing that most of them are probably originally from Canada, but one of Melbourne's teams (they have two) is called the Mustangs, and this past weekend, they played against the Sydney Ice Dogs. There are nine teams throughout Australia. We went with a big group of friends and met up for lunch beforehand in the Docklands and went out for hot cocoa after the game. We had all gotten the $10 game tickets using a coupon deal; I guess they are normally $22. 
It was a small arena, and the Americans among us felt like we were watching a high school game. The benefit was that you could actually follow the puck. Sometimes at NHL games, everything is so fast, and the puck is a blur. Sydney definitely had the better team; Melbourne lost 5-1. I was impressed with the fans. The Mustangs actually have a following; there were people with jerseys (they looked like Denver Broncos jerseys!) and drums and flags and such. Though it wasn't the best hockey we've ever seen in our lives, it was fun to introduce our Australian friends to the sport and a good way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon in Melbourne.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Photography Night Walk

Last weekend, I went with a group on a Photography Night Walk around St Kilda using a voucher I had bought with my friend Orla. I wasn't extremely happy with how my shots turned out (I feel like I'm a lot better at portraits of people during the daylight!), but here are some of my better ones from that evening:

Street light shining through the autumn leaves.
Street art behind the Palais Theatre. 
Acland Street treats.
Shot of a "boat" in St Kilda's Community Garden (taken through the fence).
I was trying to be clever with this one. Do you get it?
I like the bright colors in this one-taken from outside Nando's Restaurant.
I ordered myself a tripod on Ebay the day after this walk, so I hope my shots will improve from here on out. Hope you enjoyed a little taste of St Kilda by night!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Strange Finds at the Store

Sometimes the things I find at the grocery store amuse me. Only in Australia would you find potato chips that are "pie & sauce" flavored! No, I didn't buy them, so I can't tell you if they actually taste like a meat pie with ketchup. These are a limited edition flavor, but there are always chicken flavored chips on the shelves. No, I've never tried those either. Somehow, meat-flavored chips do not appeal to me!
Dogs get some interestingly flavored food as well. Here's one choice I saw the other day. Mince is what Australians call ground up meat. Ground beef is called beef mince. There is also lamb mince, pork mince, etc. I'm not sure which kind is in this food. And marrowbone...mmmm!

Lamb is also a common ingredient. There are all sorts of lamb soups and cuts of meat and such. And pumpkin items, but none of them are sweet. You can even get cream of pumpkin soup! Anyway, it's interesting to come across these distinctly Australian items while doing the grocery shopping, so I thought you all might enjoy them too.