Week 495 – Settling In

After a full week back in the USA visiting my parents in Branson and having our going away/Sharon retirement outing in the neighborhood, I flew back to Melbourne. A common theme was “isn’t this your 3rd or 4th going away – you keep coming back”. And I will again. Sharon comes over next week – she has a prolonged transition.

One of my first settling in tasks is figuring out the bike situation – do I ship one or buy one and try to sell it later? The shipping to Australia is a pain and at least $400 round-trip – so that is the breakeven point.

I was searching online for a used bike and found a relatively new hybrid for Aus$549 ($370 US) so seemed like a deal. The store was on the outskirts of Melbourne so it was a train ride then a bus ride to get to this little town called “Black Rock” – right on the bay about 10 miles south of St. Kilda. I get there and he said that bike was gone – but he had another one in red instead of black – so it wasn’t a used bike just an old model that had never been sold. So I asked the price of the red bike, he said Aus$549 – why would the price be different? I explained in the US many times the product you show up to buy isn’t there and somehow almost the exact same product costs a lot more. I couldn’t tell if he was horrified or thought that was a good idea. Similar to driving, biking is on the left and I am fine with that – what I struggle with is that the rear brake is on the left side – in the US the brake set-up is “right-rear”. The consequence is that in a panic if lock down on the right brake – it is the front brake and over the handbar and that is the biggest transition. The ride back was along the bay for about 15 miles back to the CBD and through St. Kilda – the areas south of St. Kilda are nicer – but they are a longer commute to work. In any event, they are not far from our AirBNB in Oct-Dec timeframe. The sun made a rare appearance so I kept riding up river from the CBD – actually nicer than the ocean/bay ride.

My AirBNB is in the central business district (CBD) and right in the middle of the restaurants and coffee shops – yes coffee shops are bigger than bars here. Melbourne has a huge coffee culture – If you were to bring a Starbucks in – you would lose all credibility. In my 10 minute walk to work, I pass over 20 coffee shops. I am not that into coffee so I still am seeking the largest cup possible for the money (the grams caffeine/Aus$ metric). A large is usually 8 oz. So I found a place that serves a bacon bap and a 24 oz coffee – “Kenny’s Bakery Café”. But when I sat down at the morning meeting – I was advised that bakeries don’t serve real coffee and real coffee shops don’t serve good baked goods – I need to go to both. A MCD drive though with a diet coke and McGriddle is much more efficient. Melbourne is supposedly a foodie paradise, but I haven’t been to many nice places yet as I usually grab something quick. Early observations:

• I’m 1 for 3 on Thai food – shocking that I have had 2 bad Thai meals

• Subway has seafood sensations – I forgot how good that was.

• KFC still has the Zinger – and the Spicy Zinger

• Doughnuts – they have all these “American” doughnut shops which are actually local with 1950’s themed décor. But the real Krispy Kreme is here.

• Had a green ant martini – which has green ants. Tastes like chicken.

• More to come.

One surprise was K-Mart – I was looking for a Chromecast and other items, so I went over on a Saturday night – there was a line to get in. Once in – it was packed – no chromecast so I bailed. I went back a couple of days later and got 6 pair of socks, 2 liter of diet coke, and a bike helmet for $20. It is a short-term helmet until my stuff arrives.


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