Saturday, December 17, 2011

What I'm Looking Forward To

...likewise not necessarily in that order.

1. Christmas lights and in fact all things to do with Christmas
There are some pretty nice Christmas decorations in Sydney, too, but to this Northern Hemisphere person it just doesn't look christmassy when there's summer outside and the trees are plastic as opposed to real. Plus we don't get gifts by Santa, but Christkind...I'm looking forward to the smell of real fir trees, ginger bread cookies and above all the beautiful chandeliers on Graben and the "fairylights rain" on Kohlmarkt. That's assuming they haven't changed the decorations this year.

2. A washing machine that doesn't turn my whites yellow
The Mermaid came up with the theory that the water is softer here than ours back home (this could explain why my hair always looked shit too with the only exception of the 4 days post visit to the hairdresser). Despite several washing powders and liquids and stain removers I tried all my white tops came out of the machine with yellow stains under the armpits and round the collar. A change of deodorant didn't help and it wasn't just my "aggressive" sweat either - the same occurred to the Mermaid's shirts when she washed them in my machine. Not an attractive look and not an issue I've ever had at home.

3. Friends and the social life associated with it
My colleagues here have been incredibly nice to me and I was always included in group activities, but ultimately everyone leads their own lives. It always takes some weeks to make friends, but then it's time to leave again. I vividly remember the annoyance at my old boss who always insisted at least someone in the team entertained visitors. You're not always in the mood to change your plans to play tourist guide or go out with random strangers so I didn't have any expectations and actually quite liked all the me-time. In all fairness, I didn't take the initiative and organise anything either, but when I didn't have any visitors here I sometimes wished I had company to hang out with, explore nice places with together. Not that I'm a wild party animal at home, but it still makes a difference when your friends live in the same city, or even in the same time-zone.

4. Swimming in lakes
I loved the fact that Sydney is surrounded by the sea and always envy people who live in countries that are not landlocked like Austria. When it comes to swimming, though, which you know I love, Bondi or Manly are not the place to go to. They're great for surfing and other adrenaline-fuelled water sports, but not so much for actual swimming. Nothing beats good old Wörther See!

5. Reasonable prices...for everything
It didn't take me long to get over the shock that everything is so incredibly expensive here. I still remember landing at SYD airport and going into the WHSmith branch in the arrivals hall to buy a bottle of water. Briefly taking in the prices of bottled drinks, crisps, chocolate bars and the like I thought these must be inflated tourist prices because it was the airport. When I went grocery shopping the same night I realised that this was in fact the regular price level. Ouch! As we all know it's only "monopoly money" when you're abroad anyway so I just whipped out my credit card and forgot about it.

It did act as a good deterrent for impulse purchases. E.g. I would have loved to buy a COACH handbag, but was simply not willing to pay twice as much as in the U.S. To give you another handbag example - the large Longchamp Le Pliage bag (quite popular here, I noticed) is about € 80 back home, but a whopping AU$ 205 here.

Prices for meals are most shocking of all even if food is excellent quality in most places. You could take out a whole family in Vienna on what you pay for one person in Sydney in restaurants of comparable level.

It's fine when you live in an expensive city as a spoilt expat like me, but not so much fun when you are a resident.

6. TV programmes that inform me of REAL news
I won't make the generalization that all Australian TV is crap, but the channels I had in the subscription in my apartment certainly were. I now know more about Kim Kardashian and her extended family than I ever wanted to, but very little of what went on in Australian or World politics. Even if I don't watch much TV at home I'm looking forward to the ZIB.

7. Not having to worry about baggage limits when buying stuff
Again, it was quite a good "contraceptive" at times to look at something really tempting (such as that cool so-called "occasional table" in orange metal at Freedom, sigh!) and realise you won't be able to pack it for size or weight reasons. Still, I'm an instant gratification type of person and am looking forward to just having to worry about carrying it home from the shop.

8. Having all my clothes and accessories at my disposal
Not least because of the weather that was considerably wetter than I had bargained for and the fact that it was always freezing cold in the office I ended up wearing either a) rather casual stuff and b) had to constantly pair it with a hoody to ward off the cold. I am looking forward to being dressed fashionably rather than functionally again and to having all my beloved bags at my disposal.

9. Being the norm, rather than a freak because I don't go to the gym
Shortly before coming to Sydney, I read an article in the UK Marie Claire on why a growing number of Brits chose to return home after years in Sydney. One interviewee that said her decisive moment was when at a party everyone just talked about how one guest had just broken the record in stairs-climbing or some such and it made her realise how much she missed "profound" conversations. Now I'm not saying that people are more shallow here in any way, nor that I indulge in oh-so deep & meaningful conversations all the time (unless bitching and talking about shopping sprees counts), but I did wish I had a coin for every time the words "gym", "personal trainer" or "workout" were mentioned at breakfast or lunch at work. Once I had overcome the shock of people outside of L.A. actually having a personal trainer, the novelty soon wore off. I can't help it but and for a sports-phobe like me it just holds the same fascination (not) as toddler-related subjects, such as the choice of kindergarten, the pros and cons of certain vaccinations, etc.

10. Vienna tap water
I don't know any local or visitor who doesn't consider our water the best to be had. It comes out of the tap ice-cold and in unrivalled quality. Sydney tap water isn't that great, even though a filter helped a lot. It's not bad in any way, but I'm looking forward to the Viennese one.


Blogger Unknown said...

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12/21/2011 05:43:00 PM  

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