Monday, October 31, 2011

How to Get a Free (Turkish) Coffee in Sydney

On Sunday night, Mum and I had dinner at the foodcourt of Sydney's fancy Star. After checking out the different cuisines on offer, we settled for Mediterranean and my guess that the propriertor and his staff were Turkish was right when I overheard them talk in Turkish to each other. While I was waiting for my char-grilled lamb to be done (side note: Australians seem to eat a lot of lamb and I can understand why: it's delicous in all types of dishes I've tried it in so far) I got offered a tasty looking piece of gözleme and after I had eaten it, said that it was very good in Turkish. The man was quite surprised and asked me where I was from and where I had learnt. After a bit of small-talk (my rudimentary Turkish doesn't stretch any further) I sat down to tuck in. When we were almost finished, the proprietor turned up with two Turkish coffees on a tray. We were very moved and joked that we should hang around longer to get a free dessert as well. And it was good coffee, too: 
This is what I had - yum, yum. 
When we were leaving, I thanked him again and, scratching up my vocabulary,  promised we'd be back.

I suppose with Europe being so far away, people from the Old World get nostalgic when someone speaks two words their native language.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Are they doing it on purpose? BuyVIP (one of the many pseudo-exclusive "gated" shopping communities I am a member of) are currently selling BREE bags, a brand I really like. I had a browse yesterday and what do I see? A line called "Sydney". I'm not tempted by the shapes and so will be good. In real life, I've had my eyes on COACH and MIMCO...we'll see.

click to enlarge!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Going Bananas

If this were a joke, it would start with "What do Australia and the former GDR have in common?" The answer is: bananas are just as precious and expensive a treat. First I noticed that the office canteen is well-stocked with all sorts of fruits every day, including 3 different types of melon, fresh pineapple and passion fruit, but never banana.

Then I was at a supermarket, about to break off some bananas from a bigger stalk, when I noticed the price. 13 AU$ (10 € ) for a kilo? WTF?!? Had I misread that? It turned out I hadn't and thanks to the Australian filling me in I now know that most fruits and vegetables are grown locally in Australia and most banana plantations are located in Queensland and therefore destroyed by severe floods this January. Therefore bananas had become scarce and expensive. Prices have stabilized a bit now, and you can get them for under AUD 10 again, but still...
I found it very funny when a colleague told me that at a business trip to New Zealand, which is not affected by the "banana crisis", she took a banana from the breakfast buffet and when checking out reminded the receptionist that she also had to pay for a banana. He gave her a puzzled look as the fruit was free of course, but she was so used to bananas being an "extra" you had to pay for that she assumed she would be charged for it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

B(l)ondi Beach

On Sunday, I finally made it to the famous Bonid Beach. To be honest - Nice and the Cote d'Azur are much more impressive, but then the beaches there are not sand, but pebbles and Sydney's beaches do have fine sand. I was really surprised that the water was so cold, but I actually liked that. What was strange was that nobody seemed to actually swim - people were either just jumping around in the waves, or surfing. For swimming, people clearly go elsewhere. Another thing that struck me was that it was nowhere near as crowded as beaches on the Adriatic, but then it IS only Spring.
bronzed, the safe way

Life-saver with floating tyre? Hmmmm.

We (=the Australian and I) were among few non-tatooed people

Monday, October 24, 2011

If the Shoe Fits...

So you didn't believe me when I said that Sydney girls wore VERY high heels? This photo was taken on Saturday night and is very representative both as regards heel-height and dress/skirt-lenght:
The "walking-home" picture is equally representative:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Furry and Scaly

I know you're expecting some Aussie wildlife, admit it. Well, happy to oblige. Let me introduce the following to you. Meet Mr. Wombat:
..."Thumbsucker" Kangaroo
Highly interactive (not) koalas:
...and those mini-dinosaurs you have to take care not to step on:
This specimen was walking around the outside area of the Queensland Gallery of Art, together with many of his relatives.

Creative Messaging

Dispenser in ladies' toilet at Sydney airport. I found the message at the bottom somewhat...unusual!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Aiming Higher

Australian women wear high-heeled shoes to work and VERY high-heeled shoes for going out. I was beginning to feel somewhat inadequate in my superflat ballerinas, trainers and sandals and so decided to see if I could find a pair of shoes with a moderate heel. After browsing around stores on Thursday night (when shops are open longest) and buying two cheap mugs ($2 each), I popped into my favourite shoe-store here, Wittner, one of the few shops selling good-quality shoes of European standards and style and discovered this fire-engine-red patent leather pair. The shoes are a bit "auntie-ish", but in a 1940s way and I can definitely walk 100 metres in them without getting a back ache:
What was even better was the price: 
My bargain-radar obviously is cross-border compatible...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Brisbane Haul

I just thought I'd share some recent purchases (all of the flat, lightweight and easy-to-pack variety). The Australian took me to really nice places such as this one, but I kept thinking of my baggage allowance...Both on the way to and from Brisbane I bought a magazine with freebie. The make-up palette, though good and surprisingly not rash-inducing, might join the heap of things to leave here before I return home. We'll see. The tote bag is from Australian brand Mimco , which has some very tempting bags indeed:
I also bought a cool red bracelet:
Not to forget the new dress which might get its airing at a theatre performance this Saturday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Way to Go!

My postcard collection is growing steadily: 
Thanks, everyone!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Colour Explosion

I spent a truly wonderful weekend in Brisbane, visiting the Australian. She took me to all the must-see places and some more and I have about 300 photos of koalas and kangaroos from the Long Pine Koala Sanctuary. Maybe I'll share these with you some other time, but what really impressed me were some amazing colours I had not seen in "real life" before. Such as free-flying lorikeets that looked like testimonials for colour-prints:
The sky was also picture-perfect blue on Sunday, but it's not like I haven't seen blue skies before. Still:
My new love, botanically speaking, are jacaranda trees. I had never seen them before and could not take my eyes off that incredible colour. It does not really come out that well in the photo below and I don't have Photoshop or comparable editing software on my work computer, so you'll just have to trust me:

Friday, October 14, 2011


I know you've been having sleepless nights, tossing and turning, thinking about what I eat here. Not. Still, I thought I'd share some pictures of the fuel I've been ingesting here. Last night I went to the Night Noodle Market in Hyde Park (not the only place name in Sydney that makes you think you are in London) with my team mates. It's an annual event that is a highlight of the Sydney Food Festival. Half of Sydney seemed to be there as well and the queues were crazy. Two guys volunteered to stand in line for food and did not return until a good 45 mins later, with the food being completely cold. My noodles didn't look too exciting, but the pork buns they got for everyone as well were gigantic:
I have not actually cooked anything at home so far, only made salad twice. My kitchen is not well-stocked with crockery at all and as I've declared the big plastic bowl my fruit basket, I have to use my pyrex bowl instead:
My first week at work there was a sports event with a barbecue: yum, yum! Even though food in the canteen really is delicious and offers a balanced diet, I hate eating off paper plates...
Unless you go to an expensive restaurant of the wait-to-be-seated variety, chances are high you're going to end up having to fight your way through steaks (it was a bad idea to order "medium"...) with flimsy plastic knives:
On Fridays, there's a night market in China town. I checked it out last week and tried the "tofu balls" (well, cubes, more like) with satay sauce. I should have got a second skewer as these were really moreish:
I'm particularly amazed by the great variety of authentic Japanese (and other Asian) restaurants. Last Saturday, exhausted after walking around all day, I treated myself to a "Wagyu beef bento". The meat was incredibly tender and the takeaway version of the bento looked pretty as a picture:
I'm off to Brisbane this weekend - have a good one, yourselves!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Seriously, ORF?

Occasionally, I need a break from staring at Excel sheets all day (don't get me started, I have a certified Excel-allergy...) and am looking for diversions. Every few days I take a look at, the homepage of Austria's national broadcaster to find out what's happening back home. What do I see there this afternoon (Sydney time)? A headline saying "Many don't change socks daily". The article is about how one in five Austrians does not put on a fresh pair of socks every day. Ooooh, breaking news! I expect to see more hair-rheadlines in the vein of "Secret Revealed: Tuesday Follows after Monday" or "Study Proves it: Year Has 365 Days!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


As everyone knows, the seasons are "upside down" in Australia and it is currently spring here. Shops are full of bikinis, sleeveless tops and hotpants and what's left of wintery stuff is being sold at a discount. There was one burning question I had which elaborate Google searches could not solve in theory, but had to be ascertained in "fieldwork". The question was this: with the Australian summer (and the other 3 seasons) happening 2 months after Europe, the US, etc. does this country actually get our "old" stuff with a delay or are they the pioneers and their current summer trends won't hit our shops until 2012?

Well, at first it was difficult to find out as many shops here sell brands that are not available back home. Then I visited the chic new Westfield shopping mall which houses a branch of Zara (the only one in Sydney apparently) and Ted Baker each and can tell you that the Australians are indeed getting Europe's old collection. Ted Baker's SS collection is very recognisable with bold flowery prints and they currently stock a miniskirt which the Empress had just bought when I visited her in Paris in May. At Zara, I saw a t-shirt I own...

Also, "Midnight in Paris", which I saw weeks ago won't be in cinemas until the end of October here. I love the Australian advertising poster, though, which is so much nicer with the European version with its Van Gogh "Starry Night" motif.

More on the rather unique Australian fashion another time.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Retail Therapy

What with the weather having been very much of the "British" variety ever since my arrival (with the exception of today, actually), I felt the need to buy something warm. I also felt the need for some instant gratification of the retail therapy variety. Thankfully, most of the winter stuff is on sale here now, such as this woollen dress by Autralian brand Country Road: 
It wasn't actually that cold here that you'd want to put on something made out of wool, but I can definitely wear it at home when I get back to winter temperatures. What I really felt like wearing to protect my sinuses from the wind, was a hoodie. It's not as if I didn't own any, but all three of them are in my wardrobe at home. After much research I ended up buying this hoodie by Ben Sherman: 
The alternative would have been getting either something with big letters shouting "Australia", "Bondi Beach" or some other Sydney suburb or something ridiculously overpriced. This hoodie was on sale and so I did not mind having to take off all 18 buttons. I though the "Napoleon look" was a bit too much and I much prefer it in its buttonless reincarnation.

Today, I walked past a shop with merchandise in bright colours and a big fat "Sale" sign. Needless to say, I had to check it out. It was a two-storied shop selling prints, clothes and accessories by Australian artist Ken Done (of whom I hadn't heard). His art seems heavily influenced by Matisse and partly by Keith Haring, but it certainly looks decorative. I bought this bag - discounted to $ 19 and a set of textile coasters with a brush-stroke pattern:
What I really like about Sydney is the fact that thanks to its large Asian popolation and relative vicinity to China and Japan, there is a big variety of Asian shops and restaurant. Some booty from the Asian supermarket in the Market City mall in Chinatown:
I haven't lost my interest in glossy mags, either. Although the AU version of Marie Claire is nowhere near as good as the UK one. Magazines are rather expensive here, but they sometimes come with freebies, such as this sample bag exclusive to Woolworth:
We all know about my obsession with all things Japanese. Yesterday I visited the big Kinokunya branch on George Street and marvelled at its books, magazines and stationery items. I could have spent all day there. Drinks-wise, I've found a new love, Chatime, where I can satisfy my matcha cravings. I've tried their hot matcha latte and cold matcha milk-tea with red beans (pictured below). I prefer the hot one as the iced tea with beans was way too filling, almost like a dessert. Some Starbucks branches also seem to sell matcha lattes here and I'll have to check out if they are as good as I remember them from Japan. The sushi-rolls in the picture are stocked in the micro-kitchens in our office:
Today I seized the sunshine for a ferry-ride to Manly. What do I see when disembarking from the ferry? An Aldi branch (and a Bavarian beergarden). I didn't actually need anything, but on my way back I went in to have a look anyway and picked up a few things, including a leaflet, just for the novelty of it.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Liquid Sunshine

My friends are probably sick already of my moaning about the "April weather" Sydney has been enjoying ever since I arrived. Don't blame me, though - until yesterday Austria had a rare heatwave with summer temperatures in October, so it wasn't me who imported the cold and rain. I'm soaking up the rare rays of sunshine greedily (protected with sunblock, of course) on the weekend, slowly defrosting from the arctic temperatures in the office that are like poison for my sinuses. 

This afternoon, there was sunshine and rain at the same time: that's what I call value for money!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

More Interesting Discoveries in the Ladies', Both Yellow.

Have you ever see a "syringe unit" in a public toilet? I hadn't, until I saw the one pictured below in the Ladies' at the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Whether the target group is diabetics or drug addicts, or both, I'm not sure: 

Last week, i.e. my first week in the office here, I was rather disturbed by the distinctively yellow water in the toilets. And no, this was not due to the previous user not having flushed. When you flushed, more yellow actually liquid filled up. This week, the yellow tint has gone and so I assume it was some kind of detergent or air freshener. Bad choice of colour, if you ask me! 

Update (Oct. 10): ever since last week, the water has actually been blue: much better!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


I have to say I'm enjoying the "student lifestyle" I'm leading here: minimal kitchen utensils (3 teaspoons!), a minimal percentage of the clothes I have at my disposal at home (and let's be honest, I always end up wearing the same 20% anyway) and the need to improvise. What I don't like so much even tough it is authentically student-ey is the fitted beige carpet with numerous traces of previous tenants. Yuck. That in combination with a cleaner who undoubtably has many wonderful qualities none of which, alas, are a fetish for thorough hoovering, makes me seriously contemplate the purchase of a vacuum cleaner. I couldn't resist stocking up on some things, such as towels (the apartment-issued set that is replaced once a week by the cleaner is quite threadbare and doesn't smell particularly nice) and some additional cups, bowls and glasses (I only had 1 water glass versus 4 wine and champagne glasses each) and a water filter to make the tap water bearable.
As I don't like dryers for various reasons (first and foremost their evil carbon footprint), I knew I needed to find an old-skool clothes drier and I had a hunch I would find it in Chinatown. Bingo! After an adventurous journey home through busy streets, I have already put it to good use. Before that I tried improvising with a clothing line purchased in the supermarket. As there are no hooks or nails whatsoever, I ended up wrapping it around a leg each of my desk and dining table. Not exactly decorative, but it wasn't as if "Elle Decoration" or "Architectural Digest" had booked a photoshoot in my apartment...

Another sentimenal nod to my student days: Blue Tack! I've started sticking postcards to the diving wall between my "bedroom" and "living room". There's space for many more...hint, hint. 

On the wall behind my sofa I actually found a random screw and developed a "hanging system" for the pretty Louis Vuitton Sydney notebook watercolour postcards using foldback clips and a rubber band. Hey, I should think about having this patented!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Meanwhile, in Vienna...

Apart from the glorious sunshine and summery temperatures that we've so NOT been enjoying in Sydney lately, I'm obviously missing out on some great daily deals back home. "Beginner's course in Pole-Dancing" - wo-hey! That and those botox treatments seem to have the same target group in mind, I reckon... 

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Back home, this blog has been my main "literary" outlet for years. Now that I have decided to update my friends in a daily (let's see how long I manage to keep it up at this rate) newsletter in order to share the trivia of my daily life here with as many people as possible and am sharing my photos with them online, posting here does feel a bit like repeating myself. Nevertheless, I'm definitely not letting the blog dry up and while I'm not going to inundate you with photos of sights (you know what the Sydney Opera and Harbour Bridge look like anyway, right?), I'd like to share some of my observations and show photos I don't include in my Picasa albums. 

Here's a selection of things I saw yesterday, such as Australian's answer to Häagen Dasz, with an even less unlikely pseudo-Scandinavic name:

I was quite surprised to see Batman had moved from Gotham City to Sydney in his retirement: 
click to enlarge

Living on the edge: enjoying French food can be dangerous:

Aaah, here he is, the gentle dentist. Last time I took the wrong door and landed at the brutal one: 

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