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Catching up on '23 (and kicking off '24)

So clearly the transition from Greg being the blog writer to Al being the blog writer has not gone well.. but, we're back by popular (ok, 2 people noticed) demand! Thanks, friends, for keeping me honest!

Our beautiful new home city, "Melbin"

Last you heard from Greg, he had found a job at Qantas Airlines in Melbourne while Al was finishing up her international assignment with Unilever in Sydney. Once Al completed her last day in the end of July, she moved down to Melbourne to join Greg in their largely unfurnished 2 bedroom (hint: room for visitors!) apartment in the city. I think we had a

How it started

mattress on the floor, an air mattress being used as a couch, a few miscellaneous kitchen wares, and a tv. Needless to say, the first few months of Al's time in Melbourne and, to be fair, a good chunk of Greg's non-work time, was spent furnishing the place. While we got a taste of some of the challenges in procuring household goods in Sydney, we really came to understand some of the differences between Australia and the US in these first few months in Melbourne.

For starters, there is a lot less variety down here than in the States. Need a coffee table? Here's options A, B, and C. Don't like those? Too bad! Unfortunately for us we found all the options for almost everything to be kinda meh. We didn't consider ourselves overly picky until it took us almost 2 months of active looking and discussion to pick out bowls. Bowls! Also, there will be a 6-12 week shipment window and at week 14 you find out they're out of stock and not going to deliver. In full disclosure, I'm exaggerating a bit and this didn't happen for most items, but it surprisingly happened on more than we expected - which, as Americans, we expected it to never happen. So that's on us. But, we did it! Our apartment is now in a much better state.

How it's going

Ok, enough about furnishing. We've also done some fun stuff! Back in August we got tickets to watch team USA in the FIFA World Cup, conveniently about 20 min away. Regrettably, we watched them lose to Sweden, but it was very cool to see them play nonetheless. About a month later we saw Weezer, one of Al's favorite bands, perform which was amazing! Those guys still got it. The opening act was Regurgitator, an Aussie band

Only in dreams..

from the late 90's/early 2000's, who were also pretty awesome and Al has since become a fan. In October, we wandered over to Marvel Stadium, about a 10 min walk from home, where we could hear Paul McCartney live. Even though we didn't have tickets, it was incredible to sit outside the stadium looking out at the sunset over the water and listening to a living legend perform. We're now keeping an eye out for other concerts we can overhear ;)

We've met a few people at an American expat event, via Al's ex-colleague back in Sydney who had a good friend down here, and online at a hiking group Al joined. Greg even found out a former Bristol Eastern High Schooler lives down here - what a small world! While it's always a bit tough to form new friendships, it's been helpful in getting us to feel more connected to and settled in our new home city. Speaking of which, we now both have Aussie driver licenses so we're feeling pretty official! Driving on the left is now second nature for both of us.

In December, we were excited to host our first guests, Greg's friends from Bristol, Evan and Julie. They spent a few weeks in Australia and roughly 8 or so days with us down in

Windy ride on the ferry to Mona

Melbourne. We spent a weekend down in Tassie (Tasmania) exploring Hobart, searching for (and sadly not finding) internet sensation Neil the Seal, enjoying the amazing scenery up in Freycinet National Park, being wowed by the unusual Mona Museum - and the "experience enhancing" ferry trip there (inside joke), and taking in the stunning vista from Mt. Wellington. We also saw numerous wallaby's and even an echidna in the wild. And a Tasmanian Devil, of course! Although that was at a nature center and not in

Bristol at the Twelve Apostles

the wild. Back in Victoria, we drove down the Great Ocean road where we got to see a koala lazing about in a tree, walk in a rainforest with massive trees, and saw the famous Twelve Apostles rock formations, among others. Lucky for us, Evan and Julie were here for Christmas Eve so we got to enjoy a homemade meal and throw some 'shrimp on the barbie' (which no one here actually says - it's prawns, not shrimp) for the full Aussie "Chrissy" experience.

NYE was pretty mellow as ringing in 2024 consisted of us visiting a few of the Melbourne City "celebration zones," eating our way through food trucks before somehow missing the 9:30pm fireworks. So, that was a bit anticlimactic - isn't NYE always? - and we headed home to bed before midnight. We're so exciting. In January we returned to the Australian Open tennis for the second time and got the chance to see Sloane Stephens play up close which was a fun experience. We missed having Al's mom and dad there to watch with us this year (maybe 2025..??).

Waiting to watch Sloane play

Let's see, what else? Maybe some general life stuff.

Greg has been settling in at work, although finding it to still be a bit on the boring side. (I suppose documentation management and audits aren't as fun as they sound?) The people at work are friendly enough, but besides Andre-the-intern he hasn't really clicked with anyone, although he does excel at the lunchtime trivia game so at least there's that!

So nervous before the first match!

Greg signed up for a basketball league back in October that apparently didn't start until February - oops - but alas, come February and they claim there's no room for him on the team despite him paying months ago. What is this, furniture orders? So he's trying to figure that out. In bigger news, last weekend Greg joined his first Pokémon Go tournament right here in Melbourne. Expecting to crash and burn, Greg was visibly shaken when he won his first match - against the 4th ranked player from the recent Brisbane tournament no less! He ended up making it to the 4th round where sadly his journey ended, but don't feel too bad for him. Greg made a bunch of friends, got to geek out on Pokémon, and even met - and, dare I say, became kinda friends with - internet legend ZoeTwoDots. Look her up! She's a big deal in this world, and I do mean WORLD. Like, Greg knew about her before moving down here.

I'll end by sharing what the heck Al does all day now that she's not working (a frequent question). Besides keeping busy slacking on blog duties, she's doing all the stuff she wished she had more time, and energy!, to do while working: exercise, eat better, learn new

Why not French Toast and the Emperor's New Groove on a random weekday?

recipes, be in nature, read, volunteer, meditate, see friends, visit museums, go for long walks, etc. And yes, lounge around and watch tv/movies when feeling otherwise unmotivated. But, Al has decided she no longer has an excuse not to exercise, even when feeling lazy, so has picked up a Mon-Fri morning routine which, much to her surprise, she has kept up with these past 6 months! She no longer goes "oof" when bending down to get heavy pots, which she considers a sign of success. Getting out to travel more is the last big to-do item on her list, although it has been tricky narrowing down all the options and finding destinations Greg wouldn't mind missing. While she's loving Melbourne and exploring the local area, she's excited to start taking more advantage of Greg's amazing employee flight deals. So many things to do and places to go! Suffice to say, she does not miss work.

That's all for now. I'll try not to wait 6 months before the next one!

[Now for the photo deluge...]

Yay! It's official!
FIFA World Cup let's goooo

Lurking outside Paul McCartney

So much amazing street art in this city

Greg making his first ever turkey for Thanksgiving

Forgot to mention Greg got to fly in the cockpit!!

Very cool

They mean well

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Greg and Evan strutting their stuff on the ferry

Trippy mirror ceiling at the Mona

On top of Mount Wellington

Quick, friendly reminder we have a second bedroom!

Unique rock formations on the Great Ocean Road

How freakin cute is this wild koala??

Stunning scenery on the Great Ocean Road

Like, so stunning

Firing up the grill

First BBQ we've hosted on the patio

Still so impressed by Julie's napkin trees!

Mid-first match at the Pokemon Tournament. Yeah, he's got this.

Pic with my friend Kat to prove I know people other than Greg here

I just thought this was cute and wanted to add it!

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