Saturday we spent walking around the city, trying to avoid the Pope-crazed youth. I begin to understand why other religions view Catholics as some kind of cult. What we really wanted to do was to find a grocery store so we could stop eating out for every meal. We looked EVERYWHERE. The fact is that they are HIDDEN. It's true, the Aussies are trying to horde all of the food for themselves. We finally found one in a construction zone and another tucked in the corner of a shopping mall. For about $60 we were able to procure enough college-student fare (think rice-a-roni, PB&J, and granola) to subsist for the next week.
Then yesterday, Sunday, was REALLY rough -- it didn't help that it was the only overcast day since we've been in Sydney. First, we found out that we weren't eligible for cell phone plans because we don't have proof of a residential address. They were willing to trust us with a pre-pay phone, though. You begin to feel a bit marginalized when you're told you can't have a phone, and only maybe will they grant you a credit card. Still waiting to hear if we're approved on that one...
Next, we went cruising around some neighborhoods, walking our daily average of about 8 miles. Around lunch we found a large mall with a KMart and a Target and took a breather. We split lunch in the food court, which still ran to about $15. Then we decided to treat ourselves to a movie and see The Dark Knight. It cost $32!!! I think both Eric and I spent the entire movie freaking out over whether we were going to be able to afford to live in Sydney. We looked around at the mall at all of these people consuming and wondered how they do it. I guess this is just how much goods and services have to cost for people to make a living wage, which makes me feel a little better. It doesn't help that we're in the 21st most expensive city in the world...NYC is 16th.
Today has been a bit better. We were fairly panicked about finding a place to live. None of the real estate agents we'd talked to in the past couple of days were at all interested in helping us. One agent we asked for help actually gave us the wonderful advice, "You might try looking on the internet." No kidding. Given that only one of us is currently employed, we don't have in-country references, and we have two cats, we didn't really like our odds in a competition, which is what most rental situations come down to here. There's generally a 15-minute open house at which a number of people complete applications, and the agency chooses their favorite. Oh, and these quick open houses occur on Saturdays within a narrow time band of a few hours, so we'd only be able to hit a couple a week. We were looking at WEEKS to find a place to live. Fortunately (?) we found a place for which there was no competition. It's a bit of a pit, but hopefully IKEA can help us make it liveable for a year. At that point, we'll be more competitive and be able to find a better place. Oh, and we're payin $1,800/4 weeks to live in this place, which is the least nice place either of us has ever lived. I can't imagine what it's like to migrate if you DON'T have some funds.