Tuesday, October 27, 2015


27 October, 2015
Kristen says...

Funnily enough, it's spring here in Canberra.

Unfortunately, the old adage "April showers bring May flowers" doesn't really work here...in reality, the flowers come in October!

Canberra has an annual spring flower show called "Floriade" which runs for almost a month and features a wide and ever-changing array of flowers. Chris and I visited one warm afternoon:

One of the many flower  beds
Pretty, no?
Some of the flower beds had very interesting descriptions. It's hard to tell in this photo, but this one one of the most-like the descriptions.
Chris taking it all in
The flowers weren't all in flower beds--you could also buy a poppy to add to the reflection wall
Floraide is only open at night for a few days of the festival, but I imagine this is even more beautiful to walk though when it's all lit up!
Not only are there flowers, but there also flower-related vendors!
There was a playhouse building contest--this was my choice for the win
You could even get churros... (pronounced choo-ross here). These are amazingly popular in Australia.
This was pretty trippy. It was a picture of a house and then a mirror, and if you laid on the picture it looked like you were climbing up the side of the house in the mirror.
The ground wasn't the only place to find beauty in early October...I'm not sure anywhere in the world has as beautiful sunsets as Australia!!

What a lucky country!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Go Wallabies!

6 October 2015
Kristen says...

A few weeks ago we were given the opportunity to buy tickets for a Wallabies/All Blacks (Australian national team vs New Zealand national team) rugby game. So of course we did.

I really enjoyed our week in Sydney back when we arrived in February, and this was our first trip back...and it was just as enjoyable as the first one, I assure you! :)

We took the Murray's bus up Friday night after school, crashed pretty much when we arrived, then were up bright and early the next day--game day!

The next morning we got up bright and early to meet up with some friends, have some breakfast, and then stroll down to Sydney CBD. Naturally we wore all of our Wallabies gear!

Later that day we headed out on the train to the game, which was held at the ANZ Olympic Stadium!

Unlike major sporting events in the States, the Aussies don't really go for the tailgating thing...but because this was a special event, they had some fun activities for us to take part in, like breaking a Guinness Record for the World's Largest Scrum!

We actually got to go on the field for the scrum!

Yeah World Record!!

After breaking the world record we were pretty hungry, so we had some authentic Turkish amazingness.

Finally, after all that, it was time for the game!

We had some great seats as part of the "Goldmine" or something like that. It was supposed to be all Wallabies supporters, but we were almost fully surrounded by New Zealand fans. It was pretty tough when they were ahead, but we won in the end! :)
We got some free Wallabies swag
Three Americans who got denied for a photo by the Wallaby mascot...
Our clappers--sort of the vuvuzela of the Rugby world...
It's winter here, so the heat from the flame cannons going off was an extra reason to celebrate!
Wallabies watching the Haka
The Haka (on the big screen)
A try is something like a touchdown in American Football.

After the game we caught the train back to town...it was a little smelly, as someone had lost their lunch on the seat behind us. Poor Chris.

The next day we did a little shopping, and spent quite a while coloring at one of my favorite Sydney bookstores. (It's cool for adults to color now, don't you know)

The weekend definitely wasn't long enough, but boy did we have a great time! :)


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Winter in Canberra

4 October 2015
Kristen says...

It never ceases to amaze me how the weather can differ in different parts of the world.

In Honduras, it was hot almost all of the year, getting down into the 50s in winter (which felt pretty cold when you were used to 80s most of the time, but was clearly NOTHING compared to Russia.) In Russia we had maybe a month of the 80s, then long stretches of comfortable 60s-70s, and 6, long, hard, FREEZING months of winter.

And then there's Australia, where everything is on it's ear and winter at home is summer here...so while I was talking to my family in their tank tops and shorts, we were "braving" the chilly (we're talking 20-40 degrees F here) Canberra winter throughout June, July and August.

But never fear, we kept busy with some winter activities.

First of all, we painted. These type of painting parties seem to be popular everywhere (according to Facebook) but I'm pretty sure they're not painting many kangaroos in Iowa!

Artists we are not... :)

Speaking of Kangaroos, we continue to see them, which is pretty awesome.
We went to a cultural/tourism event one night and had all kinds of fun with this one. :)

We also brought home a Koala.

And saw some sheep...which reminds me of a story I'll tell you very soon:

I also had my FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! Yes, I'm back to teaching, which is REALLY awesome and I love it! Of course, even the school year is sideways here--I started work in July which was actually the middle of the school year. We're on our term break right now (2 weeks off!) then back for 9 more weeks before the 6-week summer holidays start in December. Weird.

And, to prove it really was winter here, we even got a bit of snow in the capital:
I was at school when it snowed, and we actually let the kids out to run around for a few minutes--yes, snow is so rare here that school disbands for a bit so everyone can get out and enjoy it.
I was told it usually only snows for about 5 minutes, but this kept up for at least 20. It didn't stick, but it definitely happened!

We also participated in a fun winter-time event here: truffle hunting (the mushroom, not chocolate)!
The pigs are the traditional truffle hunters, but since they love truffles so much that they don't stop to let the people get the truffle once they've found it...a problem for people who are trying to sell the truffles.

So now they've trained truffle sniffing dogs!

We were out on the last day of the truffle season, but we still managed to find quite a few, including one that Chris dug out of the ground worth about $50:

Mine which was worth maybe $75-100

And this massive one worth at least $300!
By the way, did I mention we paid for the privilege to tag along and watch the dog find truffles for someone else to sell and make money on. These Aussies, they know what they're doing! :)
At any rate, we had a lot of fun and learned more than I think either of us wanted to know about truffles.

More on that sheep story soon...