A Very Merry Melbourne Christmas

Posted by Julia

We went to Melbourne last week to spend Christmas with my aunt and cousins who live there. The first few days were spent walking around the city center and enjoying some great food. Melbourne definitely has a different vibe compared to Sydney. The city seems more ethnically diverse and certainly lives up to its unofficial title as the food capitol of Australia.

Market Lane was an alleyway in the city where we found some great Asian cuisine. Shoya was a good Japanese restaurant that served an incredibly delicious wagyu udon noodle soup. A few doors down was Hu Tong Dumpling Bar - the best xiao long baos we've had outside of Shanghai (Nan Xiang). Another restaurant in the alley we checked out was The Flower Drum. It is supposedly the best Chinese cuisine in Melbourne. But upon hearing about the dress code (collared shirts and long pants), we were turned off and decided to cancel our reservation. They probably would not have welcomed a 7 month old either.

Melbourne is a very walkable city with a beautiful river terrace. Aside from the pesky flies everywhere, it was nice to stroll along the river.

We also walked to the Victoria Market, a large open air market with fresh produce, meats, seafood and goods.

We left the city on Christmas Eve and headed to the suburbs where my aunt lives. We hung out at the house, BBQ'd, hiked the Kokoda Walk and spent Christmas day singing, playing instruments and eating with my aunt's family.

Wishing you a very happy holidays!

Tiger craziness reaches every corner of the globe

10 Random Observations in Sydney, Australia

Posted by Julia
  1. Christmas appears less commercialized with fewer window decorations /trees /store promotions
  2. Home internet plans are billed on usage basis. (We maxed out during the first week and got dropped to dial up speed. Ouch!)
  3. Subway system is very expensive for the daily commuter
  4. Do not call it 'shrimp on the barbie', they are prawns
  5. You need to bathe in sunscreen before you step out the door (Australia's proximity to the ozone hole means very intense UV rays)
  6. Deodorants/antiperspirants are mostly available in the liquid roll on form only
  7. Parents rooms are available in most shopping centers (private areas to nurse, change and relax with baby)
  8. The shows Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother and Sex and the City are on back to back -- seemingly all times of the day. (Most US shows are a few episodes or seasons behind)
  9. Lots of Westfield shopping malls. (The company is based and founded in Australia. Who knew?)
  10. It's not Raisin Bran

Australia and Travel Gear

Although New York was the beginning of our trip, given that we had family and tons of friends in NY, Australia has really been the mental beginning. So far so good. The weather here has been a bit spotty, with a mixture of rain and sunshine that seems to switch at a moment's notice. That has made venturing out with Jackson a bit more difficult. It'd be very tempting to just stay inside the apartment anytime we thought it MIGHT rain, but I figure the only way we'll deal with it is by forcing ourselves a bit and dealing with the consequences later.

We are living in an area called Potts Point, which is not too far from the Central Business District. It is right next to Kings Cross, which is a seedier part of town that I remember well because all the hostels and rowdy clubs/bars are located there. The apartment we rented is in a modern high rise called the ikon. As far as we can tell, about 90% of the building is young, gay, male, and yuppy. It's quite a change from the massive Soho loft that our friend S lent us in NY, but it is comfortable. Jackson misses the swing and the view of women strolling out of the H&M across the street though ;)

A few people have asked me what kind of stuff we are carrying on the trip, so I thought I'd post about it.

The first rule of travel, as far as I am concerned, is that if you even ask yourself whether you should bring something, the answer is already No. Otherwise, all the little things add up and make your bags too heavy. Here are some of the things that DID make the cut:

This thing is awesome. It is ultra-lightweight, folds into a suitcase shaped bag that is easy to check in, and assembles/disassembles in about a minute.

This camera is also awesome. With the 20mm lens, it is small (still bigger than most point and shoots, but significantly smaller than a digital SLR), but the image quality is much better than point and shoots. It is basically a perfect compromise between size/portability and picture quality. If you've noticed an improvement in the quality of photos on our blog starting sometime mid-New York, now you know why ;)

Another popular camera on the quality:size ratio is the Leica D-Lux series, which Ev and Sara use. I think we opted for the GF-1 because it has a built in flash, but really I think you can't go wrong with either.

The other nifty thing about it is it has good depth of field, which I've never had before in a point and shoot.. so you can take nice, artistic shots where the background is blurry, like this:

This stroller is perfect for travel. Maclaren makes an even lighter one called the Maclaren Volo, the main difference being that the seat does not recline at all. It was a tossup between the two, but in the end I figured a few extra pounds was worth it if it made a difference to the likelihood of the baby crying versus comfortably falling asleep. The stroller quickly folds up and can be slung over your shoulder.

Before switching to the Ergo Baby Carrier, we used the Baby Bjorn. The Ergo is a bit harder to get the baby into, and when putting the baby in front, is more easily done with two people (because clipping the cross strap across your own back requires some serious flexibility that I lack). On the other hand, the ergo carrier is a LOT more comfortable, and you can put the baby on your back too whereas the Baby Bjorn carrier we had only allowed for putting the baby in front. The other difference is that in the baby bjorn carrier, the baby's feet dangle straight down whereas on the ergo, the knees typically bend. This makes a big difference when sitting down, because on the baby bjorn, Jackson's feet would touch my lap, which started him on some sort of instinctive kicking motion. Not pleasant for daddy. With the ergo carrier, things are much better for everyone. Plus if it's good enough for julia robert's kid, it's good enough for our's.