Trip Start Jul 16, 2009
Trip End Oct 08, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Australian Capital Territory,
Monday, July 20, 2009

I woke up around 9am to make my way to the gym. However, the guy at the lobby tells me that the gym has been shut down, and that the closest gym is about a 30 minute walk away and costs about $75 a month (I guess that explains why Australian was named the #1 country for obesity in 2008!). Also, I found out at the same time that internet access would cost me $30 a week, which as it turns out is the norm around here. After hearing these two things I was a little bummed out, but things quickly changed around!

I decided to go explore what Canberra has to offer. I picked up a local map, and off I went! For those that know me, this is a scary concept (I fully realize this!), but I ended up really impressing myself as I never once got lost! I walked around from about 11am until 5pm: Canberra is a beautiful city. Although I just called it a city, it definitely looks and feels a lot more like a little town! The amount of trees and parks is astonishing and everyone is extremely friendly. The first big place I hit is the Old Bus Depot, which is basically a huge market on Sundays. There was a lot of arts and crafts, but also tons of food (and free samples, yay!) which was amazing! A lot of things were similar to what we have back home, except they also had tons of roasted nuts of every kind with different spices and coating which were very tasty.

Afterwards, I headed down to Kingston area which has a lot of restaurants and shops. I grabbed some lunch at a café and had one of the greatest smoothies I've ever had with a BLT. Although prices at the supermarket are very similar to Ottawa, restaurant prices definitely are not! A normal meal (pizza, club sandwich, etc) at a café or restaurant was between $18-22 based on what I could see. However, everything is inclusive of tax (what you see on the menu is what you pay) and tipping is very optional (only when you get amazing service). I spent the afternoon looking for an internet café but had no luck. From what I could find, there is only one around here and it is closed on Sundays and closes at 5pm on week nights. After walking around that area, I headed off to Parliament House which is about a 15 minute walk from my hotel. Parliament House is MUCH different from ours!! The walk there is made up of parks and walking/running trails and is gorgeous! There are actually tons of walking and biking trails around, which I will be relying on to get my workouts since gyms are not very available. I went into parliament house and walked around. Contrary to us, there is very little security, and pretty much all of it is available to visit. I went up to the roof and had amazing views of the city and the Old Parliament House. After I reached my history quota, I got out of there and walked through some gardens and around the lake. I got back to the hotel around 5:30pm and, as it’s Winter here, the sun had gone down already.

The biggest difference I have noticed is the driving on the "wrong" side of the road! There are tons of multiple lane round-abouts, and I quickly learned that even if you see a little “bonhomme” at a crossroad, you can’t cross if it is red as that means it’s not your turn to walk (I learned that very quickly.). Sonia has taught me well: “before crossing, look to your right first, then look left, and then look right again just to make sure!!”. Dad, you’d really like her! J 

I am surprisingly enough not feeling jet lagged at all, although I will definitely be going to bed early tonight after all the walking around I did today! The weather has been very nice: it went up to about 15 degrees this afternoon and it was very sunny (felt very much like a day in September for us). However, it gets pretty cold as soon as the sun goes down (around 0 degrees). I will be heading off to work tomorrow morning and will hopefully go for a jog before then. After work, Sonia has invited me to go over to a friends’ place so I will get to meet more people. Sonia and Chris have both been great and it’s great to have them around! After spending the afternoon on my own however, I have no doubt that I’ll be just fine doing my weekend trips on my own which is reassuring! Although I won’t have internet access from the hotel, I will have access from our work building so will be going there to check my emails every couple of days.

I hope all is well with everyone!

Manon : J’espère que tout va bien chez nous et que Aiko ne te donne pas trop de trouble! :)

Dad/Diane : Je me suis promenée avec Mr. Pug dans mon sac depuis mon départ d’Ottawa, merci encore!!!

Michelle: J’espère que tu passes un beau voyage!!

Fay : Happy belated birthday hun! Hope you had a great one!! Xox
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