I didn’t realize until about a week before Easter that both Good Friday and Easter Monday are considered national Australian holidays and that school would be closed on those days. Pretty Boy has two jobs lined up already, both of which he found within two weeks of being here. Pretty amazing. His first job is contract welding cages for flat bed trailers for a small business that sells and customizes trailers and trailer hitches. His second job is in my department with my research group at school. The workshop will be refurbishing a large experimental prototype set up, and they needed some part time labor to help with the refurbishment. I’m excited that he will be on campus, but relieved the workshop is on the other side of campus from my office (I might have a hard time remaining focused and professional if he was around too much). Between the two jobs, Pretty Boy will be working pretty much full time.
He won’t start at the University for another week or two, so right now he’s just welding and the trailer place closed from Good Friday all the way through ANZAC day. That’s more than a whole week off for him! And lucky for us too, because… we moved on Wednesday into a permanent place! I will post more about the move and our new place once its all over with. For now, let me rehash what we did with our first long, unexpected holiday weekend.
Friday was reserved for sleeping in. Pretty Boy has quite the commute to the trailer shop involving either walking or skateboarding 10 km a day (2.5 km from home to bus stop and another 2.5 km from bus stop to shop and back), so he wanted to take it easy. After an easy morning we ran out for microwave popcorn, chocolate, and cooking oil (thank goodness the Asian grocery stores are ALWAYS open) in an otherwise ghost town and watched Inception on the iPad in the evening.
Saturday we visited the National Botanical Gardens and hiked up the neighboring Black Mountain. At the top of Black Mountain is a tower with a viewing platform. The gardens were beautiful and contained plants from all over Australia. So many plants we’d never seen and so strange! It is so interesting to see how being genetically isolated from the rest of the world really changed the characteristics of the flora and fauna here. We took tons of pictures at the garden. Pretty Boy’s favorite area was the rainforest gully; my favorite was the tropical greenhouse. The walking paths in the garden lead right to the hiking path up to the Black Mountain summit (elevation 812 meters though we started walking from around an elevation of 560 meters). The view of Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin was nice, but the winds were high and chilly. After all day outside at the garden and hiking up and down Black Mountain, my face got a little sunburn even with sunscreen.
Sunday we were supposed to take it easy after hiking Saturday, but things didn’t go as planned when we decided to visit the Old Bus Depot Market and instead of take a bus, we walked 6 km there and another longer loop coming back. Most of the walk was around Lake Burley Griffin which was actually really nice. There were a lot of people out biking, picnicing, and rowing on the lake. The Old Bus Depot Market was interesting though it was more like a flea market with a food court than a farmers market. The vendors were mostly selling plants, antiques, housewares, and more processed foods (like bread, tea blends, flavored oils and dressings). We ate Ethiopian food (yellow lentil stew and spicy kidney bean curry over rice) from the food court and purchased half a delicious melon from the only produce seller. On the way home, we walked a different route though still mostly along Lake Burley Griffin which took us past the National Carillon, a playable bell tower on a small island on the lake that just happened to be having a recital at the time we walked by. We also stopped at the grocery store to look for gluten free bread mix, which we successfully found. My face was really feeling another long day out in the sun and wind off the lake.
A combination of the dropping overnight temperatures, sitting at a desk again all day, and bad pillows has been giving me a lot of neck pain lately, so on Monday we decided to attempt to do Bikram yoga. There are two Bikram yoga studios in Canberra and both offered a single 8 am class on Easter Monday. Unfortunately, the holiday public buses didn’t start running until 8 am, so we got up extra early to make the walk to the studio only to arrive right as they locked the door and turned us away. Fail. We were so disappointed and will have to try again soon. So instead of yoga, we again walked around more of Lake Burley Griffin and saw the national rose garden. For the rest of the day, I baked some really nice bread from the gluten free mix we got and we packed and cleaned getting ready for our move.
We had a really nice holiday weekend. Nothing terrible exciting, but some nice Canberra staple. Tuesday, returning to work after that much holiday and walking was a little difficult (my calves are sore), but I was mostly distracted working things out for our move. I will post more about our move and lots and lots of pictures from the botanical gardens soon, but first, we’re off to Sydney for the weekend!
Update 02 May 2014: I posted pictures from our trip to the Australian National Botanical Gardens here.