9.15.2016

Getting Used to Life Down Under: Shopping barefoot and more

I'm approaching three years of living Down Under (Australia and New Zealand). Time sure does have wings... There aren't too many things to complain about living on this end of the globe but there are definitely a number of things that I'm still getting used to.  

Cars vs Pedestrians
 
Pedestrians have to yield to cars at all times - in parking lots, crossing laneways, you name it... It becomes quite clear super quickly that drivers don't have much regard for pedestrians. Street lights tend to work a bit differently as a result. For example, right hand turns in Canada are generally permitted once you've given way to pedestrians. Down Under, pedestrians have to wait out lights for  left hand turns before they're permitted to cross. I've found this difference to be very hard to get used to and not one I particularly like.

They need these signs in more places

Shopping 

In North America, you can visit most shops, and definitely all shopping malls, until 9pm on  a weekday. In Australia and New Zealand, you have until 5pm unless it's a late trading day (usually Thursday or Friday) when opening hours are extended to 9pm. I don't agree with the North American set-up but I find the Down Under hours too restrictive. Maybe one day we'll meet at a happy medium and stay open until 7pm on weekdays?

Finding that all-around cheap department-like store that has what you want for a good price is still a work in progress. A reasonably priced toothbrush or pillow cover of decent quality should not be hard to find. K-mart or the Warehouse are your options and unfortunately, they are sub-par.

One valuable piece of advice when traveling around Australia: CARRY CASH with you! Although debit/eftpos/interac machines are everywhere, they will 9.9 out of 10 times charge you a fee if you're not spending a minimum amount (this usually starts at $5). Perhaps I'm missing something about the fees incurred by the merchants when taking a debit payment? Or are we just stuck in the 90's here?

This next one is a biggie. I often find myself shopping in a large supermarket in a busy city alongside barefoot shoppers. Sometimes they're children but more commonly, grown adults, males and females. To be clear, these are not homeless people, just people who choose to go about their city errands barefoot. Still trying to catch this on video. Stay-tuned.
 

Sports 

 With television programs that are not any better than what's typical in North America, it would be nice to have the option of watching a local sports team play during the week. Unfortunately, most professional sports teams only play on weekends.

Weekend rugby action

Indoor Heating

OK, so winter is nowhere near as cold here as back home but not having central heating when the outdoor temperature is sitting in the single digits feels a little too close to the misery of a truly cold winter. I don't enjoy having to wearing a scarf and a beanie indoors. On the bright side, at least I know a good use for those lovely sheepskin boots that are so popular here. 

Cafe Central 

I absolutely love the cafe culture in Australia (read more about it here). The countless trendy and delicious options can't be found in North America. My one issue is...the cost of a cup of tea. As much as I love tea, I'm finding it more and more difficult to shell out $4 for one. How is it that a tea bag (not even loose leaf!), hot water and a dash of milk costs the same as an espresso-made coffee? Maybe it's time to make the leap into the single origin bean world.   

Check back soon for Aussie Fun Facts.

~S~

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