Woah, I feel like I've dropped off the face of the planet for the past three months. After 2 months in PNG, we were in Townsville for a week before we headed south for xmas. We stayed a night in Sydney, walked around all day to the opera house, the botanical gardens, and the Rocks. Then we caught the bus down to Eden. From 3 pm to 12:30 am, we sat on this bus--except for 1/2 hour when we stopped at McDonald's for dinner. Well, even if McDonald's did have something I could eat, there was no way I was going inside that slaughterhouse. Andy and I walked across the street in the rain to a grocery store and bought some potato chips. Not a very healthy dinner but it was something.
We then spent two weeks in Eden, which is about 30 minutes from the New South Wales border with Victoria. Despite being so far south, it is summer here, so it should have been warm. For some reason, though, they had unseasonably cold and rainy weather for the entire time we were there. We got two mildly nice days the entire time, so spent most of the trip inside or in a car. We did get to see some cool stuff, though. The Sapphire Coast, as it's known, is a gorgeous area, albeit a bit on the touristy side--scratch that, it was mega-fuckin-touristy. I've taken photos and I'll put a link to them in the next day or so.
The holidays went better than I expected. Andy's family was really nice, welcoming, and completely catered to my veganism. They checked the back of every bottle of wine to see if it was vegan or not, and made sure there was always some chilled that I could drink. Andy's mum tried a few recipes that she hadn't before, and everyone (except Andy's dad) tried the dishes that we made, including tofu. We got a cookbook from Andy's brother called "The Vegan Gourmet", and already we've tried a few of the recipes. The appetiser's are so yum that we made an entire meal out of a few different ones. I'm looking forward to trying out some more of those recipes. The other wonderful gift was a little food processor. I'm so excited that I can make my own hummus and bread crumbs now!
Before we flew out, we spent another 2 days in Sydney, this time staying with Andy's oldest brother. He and his wife have a 2 bedroom unit near where the Olympics were held. We spent one day doing the normal stuff--Darling Harbor, National Maritime Museum, an IMAX movie (Deep Sea 3D), a walk across the bridge, and a ride on the ferris wheel in Luna Park. Then we had dinner at Bodhi, a vegan restaurant that is in the middle of Cook and Phillip Park. The food was really yummy, although I almost didn't know what to do with an entire menu! I'm so used to ordering from one tiny section, or trying to figure out which dish will be the easiest for them to veganise. We got spring rolls and dumplings, soba noodles with avocado chutney, and peking 'duck'. For dessert we had a near-orgasmic coconut sorbet and a jasmine tea. It was relatively cheap, too, considering that we were in Sydney. Two enthusiastic thumbs up. The next morning Andy's brother took the day off work and we took the ferry over to Manly, on North Head. We had lunch by the water, lazed by the beach, hiked a little, and then had gourmet pizza at a restaurant near his apartment when we got back.
We flew out at 6:40 in the morning, meaning a wake-up at 4:15. That sucked, but now that we've recovered from our holiday, we're looking for a new place to live. A 2 bedroom unit or house, specifically. We should have someplace in a week or so.
Most importantly, however, I will be starting a PhD! I got the scholarship I applied for, and it came with an additional stipend than I expected. I'm so freaking excited. I'm going in tomorrow to talk with one of my advisors and get a bit of a headstart before the semester kicks off in the end of February. Eee!