Sunday, March 9, 2014

Live Like a Local

Because Australia is so isolated from the rest of the world, a lot of quintessential Aussie things aren't known to the outside world.  After 2 years here it's hard to differentiate what's funny/different/crazy and what's just normal daily life.

But there's one thing I can never wrap my head around, even after all this time.  I gawk, cringe and publically shun whenever I see it: It is socially acceptable to go shoeless, absolutely anywhere (shirtless, too).  Even grocery stores!

Martin's flip flop broke so he went into the store barefoot, which is no big whoop.  I have always been a bit scandalized/horrified by this cultural norm.  That is...until I tried it myself.

OMG going shoeless in public is amazing!  It's so freeing!  And the crazy thing is, nobody even notices it!  We both went into a mall - a mall - barefoot!  I should note malls aren't carpeted here, and gliding over the cool marble is like a holiday for your toes.  Here we are at a butchers shop!

You can buy meat in bare feet!  I love it!  And plan to continue going barefoot in public places for as long as I'm here.  Because heaven knows you can't do it anywhere else on this planet.

Also curious, but not nearly as enjoyable, of a phenomenon is lack of pay-at-the-pump gas stations.  In fact, gas pumps here are seriously like 80's gas pumps in the US.

You have to go inside to pay for your gas!  And you do so in a 30 year time warp.

I'm a fat ass, so my favorite part of living in/traveling to new places is the food.  When living in the UK, for some reason I - foolishly I might add - avoided eating a tasty Commonwealth treat: meat pies!

Flaking pastry filled with meat and other tasty fillings = brilliant!  The one on the right is also topped with potatoes, gravy and mushy peas, so it's a proper meal!  These are sold on every street corner, and are eaten in place of fast food.  As much as I love Macca's (the Australian term for McDonald's) I'd pick this every time.

Curiously, they don't eat pie as I know it (cherry pie, banana cream pie, etc.).  I think we should combine forces to create a three course pie-filled meal: quiche pie for starter, meat pie for a main and sweet pie for a dessert.  Diabeetus genius!

Every September here in fabulous Brisbane, to finish off the Brisbane Festival they hold an event called Riverfire.  As far as I can tell it's called this because they just blow shit up.

Back a few years ago, they would dump gas out of a fighter jet and light it on fire, creating a flying fire ball behind the plane.  It's a real shame they don't do that anymore, but they did keep the fighter jet fly over:

The jet flies over a few times throughout the day, and thanks to Martin's obsession with aviation we didn't miss a single one!

They also have a fireworks display over the city, and I've got to say it's the best fireworks I have seen anywhere!

We had an amazing vantage point at a friends apartment, which aided in my enjoyment of the event.  Tons of people flock to the areas where the fireworks are set off, which is actually several points along the river.  My idea of hell is being crowded by thousands of people with no seat, toilets or booze.  *shudder*

Another awesome community event is Brisbane Open House, which opens tons of public buildings to schmucks like me for free.  I really wanted to see the Parliament House, which houses the working parliament of Queensland.

It was completed in 1889, 25 years after they started building it.  Fun fact: that is the year that North Dakota became a state.  Did anybody else in the US have to take a semester (or was it a quarter?) of state history in 8th grade?  Or was that just us?  At one point I could name all 53 counties in North Dakota.  This knowledge, though quickly forgotten, has gotten me exactly nowhere in life.

Here are some pictures of the pretty, ornate state house of government:

Events like these make Brisbane a great place to live.  There's always stuff going on, and free stuff to do.  The Brisbane City Council does a damn good job at what they do, and I hope they know that.

One can't live in Australia without running into a few creepy crawlies.  Even though we live in a totally urban setting, we have had a run-in or two to make us realize that nature really is all around us.

This little feller was under my friend Laura's house, in a cupboard by her washing machine.  It's a possum!

Possums are a pest here, and everybody hates them, yet for some reason they're protected.  You can't kill them, but you can evict them if they're illegally squatting under your house.  I think they're adorable!  This one had a baby that was even cuter than its adorable mama.  They are very different from the super fug American possums.

My favorite animal here, without a doubt, is our "pet" Lizzy:

Lizzy Lizardo is a water dragon that lives in the courtyard of our apartment complex.  Every time I walk outside and see her sitting there she scares the living daylights out of me, but then like a crazy person I just say out loud "Oh, Lizzy, it's just you. You scared me!"  She's about 3 feet long, and seeing a mini dinosaur in your peripheral vision has a primal way of freaking you out.

When I don't see her for a long time I get worried.  One time there was a crazy guy pitching a fit in the courtyard and my first thought was "OMG, I hope Lizzy is safe!".  I don't know where she lives (there is a lot of foliage around) or what she eats (heaven knows there are enough bugs). We don't even know if it's a she, and she's certainly not ours, but I like her a lot.

It's going to be a sad, sad day when we have to leave Lizzy and the incredible lifestyle we've been enjoying these past two years.  But that day will come, so I need to mentally start preparing for it now.

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