Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sydney Week 1 - look right

I left Austin on Monday evening for a smooth flight to LAX, where I was in the very last row of the plane. Foolishly, I left my ipod and bluetooth headphones in the seatback pocket in front of me so I definitely appreciate some good vibes sent toward AA to resolve my missing item case.

LAX's international terminal is pretty freakin' fancy. But unfortunately I couldn't use my priority pass membership to get into the KAL lounge after 20:00 so whomp whomp, I was left to wander around the duty free shops sampling fancy perfume. I boarded that 14 hour flight smelling mighty nice.

Quantas flys a double-decker plane to Sydney and my premium economy seat was on level two so I got to go up an escalator before boarding. I thought it was pretty neat and I guess I was expecting something cooler, but being on level two didn't affect the in-flight experience at all. The premium economy seat was really nice though, I had plenty of legroom and fell asleep for almost half the flight. I kept dozing off during the movies (Lego Batman, The Circle, and Gone Girl) and would wake up during the credits, so I'd rewind the movie and try it again. The food on board was decent, but nothing special. I chose salmon for dinner with delicious Australian wine, and some tasty scrambled eggs for breakfast. Nothing fancy like flying to Asia; I definitely got spoiled on Japan Airlines.

And then, on Wednesday morning, I arrived in Sydney! Security was a piece of cake, so I gathered my bags, stopping to buy an Aussie Sim card to get back on the grid, then caught a cab to the CBD, my home for the next few weeks. My heart was set on taking a shower, but unfortunately my plan was stalled because I couldn't check into my room for another 4 hours. So, I rearranged my things and set out to explore the city and pretend I wasn't tired.
First stop, the Sydney Opera House!
Second stop, Australia style coffee at Jo's recommendation, Cabrito. Holy cow, is it ever strong. Esheldunk would love it.

Next I just wandered around, found a grocery store to knock out that errand, then stopped for lunch at Noodle Story in the MetCentre, a common food court, loads better than the American-mall style. After circling the numerous options 2-3 times I finally settled on a Chinese noodle soup with shrimp (prawns, they call it here, woman had no idea what I was saying), greens, and beef. Finally settling on a lunch option reminded me so much of traveling SE Asia. In every city I visited I'd wander for blocks trying to pick where to dine. Such a struggle that hasn't gotten any easier.

After skirting the Botanical Gardens and capturing the Opera House up close, I meandered back to my hotel for check-in time. I unpacked, showered, and napped before a brief 6pm walkabout and back to bed by 8pm.
Sydneysiders lunchtime yoga in Martin Pl
sunset from the 23rd floor of my building, night 1
The next two days were fairly normal doing the whole work thing. The Syd office view is just gorgeous and all the office peeps are friendly. We have way fancier free snacks down here too. Sweet Tooth Sanchez would be in heaven.
view from my temp desk space
Friday after work I gathered up my courage and set out for the Australian Beer Festival. The hotel hosting the fest is ridiculously close to my Sydney home, so I had little to lose by swinging by. Making conversation with locals became gradually easier because I sincerely wanted to learn which beers were not to miss.
my notes
#4 on that list, the Watermelon Pilsner was my favorite from the event. I learned that most Australian craft breweries are owned by larger conglomerates. Similar to Goose Island or Karbach.

On Saturday, I did a little Christmas shopping at the Rocks Market, played tourist as I wandered through the Discovery Museum and stopped for brekkie at Jo's recommendation, The Fine Foods Store. That afternoon I caught the ferry to Mosman, where her parents toured me around their neighborhood (precinct) ending the night with a wonderful home-cooked meal and a little surfing on the telly. I was also exposed to the utter chaos of the AFL.

Sunday I again caught the ferry, but this time out to Manly. I rented (hired) a bike for the day and explored North Head, the beaches, and almost made it to the spit before my stomach and legs told my brain they'd had enough. Google photos put together this nice little slideshow from my day. It was great.
watch the slideshow for more Manly photos

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The girl who moves again

After 2.5 years in Chicago, I am moving back to Austin. It has been a whirlwind November. And, as I enjoy my morning coffee, I will list a snapshot of all that I accomplished these past few weeks.

  • I got a job offer!
  • I told my boss. Negotiations ensued...
  • I accepted a new job as a talent acquisition partner with Harte Hanks
  • I gave my two weeks to Morningstar 
  • I got pre-qualified for a home loan. So I know about how much monthly payments would be and potentially how much I want in savings for a downpayment. $$$
  • I arranged short term Austin housing in the form of my super generous friend, Chad and his pup, Tyrion.
  • I finally found a subletter! And, made a new friend in the process. Jenna from Denver agreed to buy all my furniture  (quite a steal!) And carry out the remainder of my lease.
  • I visited Kansas City for Katie and Dave's wedding weekend. Fulfilled my role as a bridesmaid.
  • I bought a car! 2015 Honda Civic EX.
  • I drove 8 hours and roughly 500 miles from KC to Chicago.
  • I packed up all my personal affects, giving away A LOT of great stuff to my Chicago friends.
  • I said farewell to a limited number of Chicagoans. Thank you for hanging with me these past few years.
  • I celebrated my 5.5 years at Morningstar with champagne, Specialty's cookies, Latinicity, Starfruit, and lots of kind emails, hugs, and well wishes. Good luck to all.
  • I loaded up my new car, Chance, and took 7 boxes to the post office. Sure hope they make it to Chad's house next week...
  • I finalized the sublet paperwork with Jenna and other administrative moving items.
  • I packed up Chance and hit the road!
  • I drove 8 hours and another 500ish miles from Chicago to KC to celebrate Thanksgiving and my 10 year high school reunion.
  • I drove another 13.5 hours through horrific Dallas traffic and finally made it back to Austin!

Monday, August 3, 2015

My THIRD Year - Lollaz

Mighty Oaks

Kyle Thornton & the Company


Glass Animals




Bear's Den

to this day, one of my favorites

Alabama Shakes

Paul McCartney


Beat Connection



Strugill Simpson


Toro Y Moi

Walk the Moon

Tame Impala

Mt. Eden


Light em Up

Sam Smith



Night Terror of 1927

Shakey Graves
Austin native
Moon Taxi


Of Monsters and Men

Florence & the Machine

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rainbows over Wrigley

 I got to watch the Royals take on the Cubs last night. I rode my bike to the game too.

It was a great day for baseball.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thailand Part 19 - From Bangkok to Chicago

Monday, March 23rd

My flight back to Chicago was one of my most miserable experiences. My stomach was in knots the entire time. It felt like two gears were grinding against each other every time I stretched or got up to walk around. Drinking water or eating crackers caused such an intense pain that I was afraid to consume anything. Gradually, it got better, but oye, it was unpleasant. Making matters worse, when I arrived back at O'Hare and caught the Blue Line, snow was all over the ground. As I rode the train back home, I so distinctly remember thinking, "I have to get out of here."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thailand Part 18 - Puking in Railay

Sunday, March 22nd
And this is the part of the story where everything went horribly wrong. I woke up in the night to the sounds of somebody throwing up in the bathroom. My condolences to whichever one of my friends drank too much. As the night went on, I thought "wow, whoever this is must really not drink very often." That morning, I again got out of bed quickly, ready to hit the pool. As the others stirred, Jaime and Marta admitted that they'd both been throwing up all night. More specifically, "projectile vomiting." They felt terrible, and knew it wasn't just alcohol related. Then, Kimber confessed that she was afraid this might happen. She explained that because Railay is an incredibly secluded place, contained by massive limestone cliffs, the norovirus is known to live there. She said that most people get it when they first arrive there, but then your immune system builds up a tolerance. She'd been hoping that we were all fine, since we'd been there for a few days now with no symptoms. Alas, it got us at the end. Needless to say, I was livid. Besides sharing a room for the past few days, we'd also been sharing drinks and meals and I hadn't taken any precautions to help avoid getting sick. But, two of us had it and at this point in the day, I felt fine. So I got the girls some toast and watermelon from the breakfast buffet and spent my day at the pool in the fresh air.

Check-out was at noon, so as the time approached I went back to the room to check on the others. Entering the room was pretty unpleasant, the air wreaked of stale vomit and the girls did not look good. I turned the AC down, opened the windows, and tried not to breath. It was evident that they were in absolutely no position to leave Railay now. Fortunately, the front desk understood and gave us until 4pm to check-out. And, back to the pool I went.

A few hours later, I ventured back to the room to assess the situation. Jaime was doing a lot better, and had already started packing up her things. We helped get Marta together, as Kimber returned from a day of errands. And, only then, as the three of us were ready to depart, did my stomach decide it was time to start hating me. I puked in the bathroom just as we were leaving the room.

As I mentioned, Railay is only accessible by boat and is not built for car transportation. Thus, we had to schelp down from our hotel to the boat docking station and catch a taxi boat to the nearest town, and then catch a shuttle van to the Krabi airport. En route, I threw up twice on the streets of Thailand. Although I felt absolutely miserable, I was really glad to have my friends with me and really glad to be going home. Jaime, Marta, and I made it to the Krabi airport and spent a very long time sitting on the ground just outside the bathrooms whereas Kimber stayed in Railay. She had another friend from the US joining her later that day and was venturing on to Ko Phi Phi.

Fortunately, the three of us made it to Bangkok without any barfing on the plane. We parted ways with Marta, who was staying the night in downtown Bangkok so she could explore the next day, before her flight back to Barcelona. I'd booked a hotel near the airport because I had a 6:30am flight to Chicago the following day.

Thailand Part 17 - Last Full Day in Railay

Saturday, March 21st

Despite our very late night, I woke up bright and early, in typical Jane fashion, ready to start my day. Why, breakfast on the lanai surrounded by monkeys? I think I will.

monkeys (and humans) loved to climb that cliff
When the other girls woke up they wanted to hike to this hidden lagoon swimming hole. I was a little disenchanted by Kimber's guide capabilities, so opted to stick around the pool/beach while the others explored. In retrospect, I probably should have gone with them.
at the top of the view point

all of Railay

the girls swimming in the lagoon
I was chillin' while they were trekkin'.
They were very ready for a swim when they got back from their trek.
That night we went back to the three bars in Railay to hang out with our fire dancer "friends" and make the most of our last night together.
watching the Muay Tai boxers

"where is Kimber?"