Monday, December 14, 2009

Back to life...back to reality

Sadly, I've had the En Vogue song in my head all morning. I'm sitting at my desk, in Saatchi NY, waiting for my Lotus Notes to replicate...and pinching myself to be sure the last 6 weeks weren't just a dream. I was greeted back to NYC by 30 degrees F (-1 degrees Celsius for all you Aussies) I've traded in my thongs for Ugg boots, my singlets for multiple layers of sweaters and a North Face down jacket, and lastly - the real shocker - I've traded my Fine Foods large skinny cap for a take away Dunkin Donuts coffee to help me fend off my jet lag. I'm 16,231 miles or 26,122 kms away from amazing coffee and my morning ritual with AJ. :(

I spent the last week on a solo-road trip around the South island of New Zealand, which could be an entire blog in itself, so instead, just ask me if you'd like to hear my NZ stories and see my pictures - I'd love to catch up with you all now that I'm back in the states, and in a more manageable time zone for phone calls.

I had such an incredible time in Australia - and I'm so thankful for the life long friends I made, as they truly made Sydney feel like home. I can't begin to express how lucky I feel to have had a chance to participate in the Saatchi Switch program. It was truly life-changing, and has helped to put so many things into perspective for me. Thank you for following my adventures via my blog - this will be my last entry to close the trip out, but I'm sure it won't be my last trip to Oz.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What up Fleetwood Mac?

Last night, Molly and I went out to dinner in Kings Cross / Potts Point - we went to an awesome Thai restaurant - Jimmy Liks - and I haven't experienced flavors like that since I was in Thailand - amazing food!! After Jimmy Liks, we went over to Bootleg bar across the way....highlight of Bootleg - Fleetwood Mac was sitting down enjoying dinner....yup, the whole lot of them. Stevie was laughing at Lindsay's was good to see. ;) Although, Molly summed it up best, 'Even though you're a rockstar, skullits are never a good look'.

Molly, thanks for taking me under your wing in Sydney town - it was so great catching up with you while I was in town, and I look forward to seeing you either in NY or Sydney next time. xx.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back in Business

TA DA- my new, acquired with a staff discount, Sony Cybershot camera, also equipped with an 8GB memory card that I bought today - and was able to barter with the guy at the electronics store. Didn't know you could actually barter in stores, but they were all out of the 4GB cards, so thought I'd try my luck.

Also went with the sassy red camera, since everytime I call the Brisbane airport, they seem to have found heaps of new silver cameras, just not my silver Canon. :( Still holding onto the hope that some stand up citizen will ship at least my memory card to the Saatchi office...they can keep the camera, but I'd like my pictures back, please. Otherwise....hope Karma doesn't hold back.

Last night I had a fantastic girls night with Anna, Lisa, Baronia & Jacq - we went out to dinner at Omerta in Darlinghurst. Jacq had her camera, so pictures may be forthcoming. :) Omerta was a very cute Italian restaurant with amazing food. We split some delicious dishes, had wonderful conversation and some delectable desserts.

Throughout the course of the night I also learned some more Aussie phrases, such as 'Bless her cotton socks' AKA 'bless her heart', 'like chalk and cheese' AKA 'like oil and water', 'Don't look a gift horse in the mouth' AKA don't be ungrateful. 'I was running around like a pork chop!' AKA 'Running around like a chicken with it's head cut off'. Australians are super into rhyming slang, which shortens what they're trying to say. ie 'Let's go have a look' becomes 'Captain cook', or 'chicken with it's head cut off' becomes 'pork chop'. Also, another word for Americans is 'Sepos', try to stay with me on this one...Yank -> Tank -> Septic Tank -> Sepos.

Also - thank you -> Ta. just ta. People actually even sign off emails with 'Ta, so and so.' So strange.

I've got dinner with Molly tonight at Jimmy Liks in Potts Point...then packing my bags, last day in the office tomorrow :( But now that I've got a new camera in my hands, there will be plenty of pics from my last day.
Updated with pics from Jacq - our lovely desserts at Omerta

Lisa, Anna & I

All the girls - Lisa, Anna, Baronia, Jacq & I - thank you for such a fun night!!! xx

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Look-a-Like & Quote wall

No camera yet, but I do have my blackberry - so was able to get some quick snaps of the now pretty sorry looking look-a-like wall. There are 2 look-a-like walls at Saatchi on level 4 & level 5 - but most of the pictures and quotes have been taken down already to get go into the end of the year video. The whole board was covered last week, and wish I would have grabbed a couple of quick pics then. People grab clippings from newspapers or print out different celebs and pin them up on the wall as 'look-a-likes' - for example Steve Back is the creative director here at Saatchi Sydney, and someone printed out the singer of Smash Mouth as his celeb twin below. It's definitely a funny wall to check out, but another difference between the Sydney vs NY offices, is this would never fly at the NY office - and someone would probably get sued for some of the not so PG-13 photos that are up. ;)

The majority of the quotes from the quote wall have been taken down for the video too - but you all would be proud that even though I was only in the Sydney office for a few short weeks, I managed to make it up on the quote wall. My quote: "Nachos are really American." I thought that I'd tell you the quote first, then the story to try and explain myself, but bare in mind, there is no such thing as 'context' when it comes to the quote wall.
A few weeks back, I brought in left overs from Americana night for AJ & Rob to enjoy some mac & chz and chili dogs for lunch. The boys & I were heating up lunch in the kitchen, and Rosie was making herself nachos - we somehow got to talking about how we were having an 'American lunch', and the boys mentioned something along the lines of how she wasn't included. I, not wanting her to feel left out, and also genuinely feeling that this is some-what true...told her she could join us, and not to worry, 'Nachos are really American too....' I know, stupid comment, but we do LOVE our Mexican food back in the states. And many of you suggested food with Mexican flare when I asked for American I don't know that it was truly quote-wall worthy. ;)

Monday, November 30, 2009

A blog without pictures... like a night without stars. And since I'm now sans camera, I was so happy to get some pics over email from Dane & Vanessa (new friends we met on our snorkeling / sailing day - up at Magnetic Island) to share with you.

Dane & Vanessa had an underwater camera (something I may look into now that I'm in the market again). I played photographer for them, and Dane snapped a few pictures of me in all my gear/glory. We all wore stinger suits, since it's jellyfish season - they provide you protection against venomous stings, harmful UV rays...and also leave very little to the imagination. Skin-tight, and definitely a super hot look. ;)
Coming up for some air...
Scuba Steve-ing it up

The Providence sail boat

Last night I had dinner with Melissa, Nat's younger sister. Melissa and I met early for a drink, and headed over to Maggie's in Potts Points - it's an Austrian / German restaurant with the best schnitzel in town.

Melissa's friends, Daisy and James, joined us as we were sitting down, and just as we were about to order, Nat & Melissa's mum, Dot, walked in with flowers and a cupcake from the Chan girls' favorite bakery. I was so glad I got a chance to meet Nat's mum and sister, who were sweet as can be. We had such a fun dinner, and I heard some stories about Nat when she was little, that were too cute. Later that night Dot was introducing me as her 'switch daughter' and Melissa was referring to me as her 'faux sister', so I decided that if the Chan family was up for it, and they wanted to adopt an American daughter who's 26 yrs old, and would need very little supervision...I'd totally throw my hat into the ring. Which would make getting an Australian work visa so much easier, as I'd just become a citizen through my new parents. bish bash bosh.

Thank you to Melissa & Dot for such a nice night out on the city!! I only wish my folks were closer to NYC, so they could have met Nat...and don't worry mom & dad, I'm not filing for emancipation just yet (as I still need to hear back from the Chans if they're interested in a 3rd daughter), but either way, I promise we'll stay in touch. ;)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Race Results & Weekend Update

So Dan didn't win the race - but he did c0me out with some war wounds. He was in the lead for about 70m until he tripped (we're not sure if he was tripped, or fell on his own accord), but he got some scrapes on the pavement, and Neal went on to win the race. There will be a re-match mid February, and I hope someone from the office provides me with the video from race 2, as Dan was robbed. This was a picture from AJ's I somehow managed to lose my camera this wknd.

I spent the wknd up in Noosa / Boreen Point with Matt, and had a fantastic weekend. I took heaps of pictures that I wish I could share with you. I somehow managed to lose my camera from the time I got out of Matt's car at the airport, passed through security, sat down at a coffee shop, and went to take my camera out to look through pics from the weekend. It was nowhere to be found...I think the Brisbane airport is tired from hearing from me checking on lost & found every 30 or so minutes. My only hope is someone who's a sleuth finds it, sees pictures of Saatchi Sydney's name plate with the address outside the office and decides to send it to me here. Fingers crossed. ;) Ugh...I'm so mad at myself I am sick to my stomach, but at least I didn't lose my blackberry, passport or wallet - those would all be worse than my camera.

Good news is - working on Sony, I get a discount, so think I'll buy a Cybershot for my last couple of weeks here - and then replace my Canon when I get back home.

Anyway, my weekend up in Noosa was wonderful - again, wish I could share pics :( But Matt and I got up to his folk's vacation home on Friday night - just chilled out, and got up early Saturday morning and headed to the Eumundi Markets...which is a big flea market with Australian products, musicians and tons of good food. We walked around the markets for awhile, and then drove back into Noosa and headed to Noosa National Park for a hike. It was absolutely gorgeous - and we did the Coastal walk that went along the Coast line, but also through some of the forrest - I was on the look out for Koalas in the wild, didn't see any, but we did see a Kangaroo on the side of the road when we drove back to Boreen Point. Matt thought it was fun to see how many people I could say 'G'day' to during the course of our hike. I started out a little 'A's are too long (thank you state of MN), so I sounded kind of like a jerk...but I think I made some people's mornings with my authentic Aussie greeting. :) Anyway, since I don't have my pics, do a quick google image search for Noosa National Park - and just picture me in the photos that come up.

After our hike we headed to lunch at Bistro C along the boardwalk - spent some time on Noosa Beach and then headed back to Boreen Point. We went over to the Apollonian Hotel for dinner and a few too many drinks...but had a great time hanging out at this ranch like bar- it felt like an establishment you'd roll up to in TX off of some obscure highway, only difference to remind me I wasn't in the Lone Star State was that there were palm trees.

On Sunday we woke up and I drove us back to Noosa Beach. Matt is a very brave man, letting me behind the wheel of his company car...there was a lot more traffic in Noosa than out on Maggie Island...and I went through what felt like 50+ roundabouts to get us to the beach, yielding to cars, and gunning it to avoid being ran into. I think I did 'okay', but didn't feel great about driving close to the center line, so drove a bit too close to the shoulder for Matt's liking. He was a very calm riding shotgun though, and I appreciated the practice before my solo roadtrip across NZ. At the beach we met up with Matt's friends, Matt & Christy, who were in Noosa for the weekend doing some wedding planning. They're getting married next October on the beach in Noosa - they were a lovely couple and I got to meet their parents too (both moms were worried about me getting too much sun on the beach and offered me their hats a number of times). :) After the morning on the beach, we headed back to the Apollonian for their whole pig roast lunch (again, could have fooled me that I wasn't in TX with Jess), and then spent the rest of the day relaxing at the house before driving back to the airport. It was a great weekend, and I really wish I had my camera to share photos with you all. I am so sick to my stomach about it, and trying to figure out the best way to obtain a camera for my last 2 weeks here. I think I'll buy a Sony one at a discount, but replace my Canon when I get back to the states when it's not as expensive. (Dear Santa / Mom - I'd like a Canon camera for Christmas. Love, Amy).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The race that stops an agency...

Today is my boss, Dan 'Bish Bash Bosh' Smith's last day in the office. He and his girlfriend, Zooey, are taking 6 months off to travel before heading back to the UK for awhile. Dan's been an awesome guy to work for, and I'll definitely miss his UK-isms during my last week next week.

Awhile back, he and Neal, a planner here at the agency, got to talking (after a few drinks) who they thought would beat each other in a foot race. It went from speculation at a bar to actually coming to fruition, and people now taking bets on who's faster. The foot race is today after our all agency meeting. We'll walk out in front of George St, have people prepared to close down the road, and the guys, Dan, Neal and Steve Back the Creative Director are racing up the hill in a 92m dash - the prize: pride & bragging rights.

AJ sent out this email the other day to get the agency excited about the race: The sporting world has seen a number of rivals throughout history. Joe Frazier & Mohammad Ali, Larry Bird & Magic Johnson, Federer & Nadal and Jen Hawkins & Mirander Kerr. All top match ups people would give their right nut to witness.

Fear not sports lovers, for this coming Friday will see some real heavyweights do battle in a fight for supremacy right outside your office window. To mark the end of Dan Smith's days at Saatchi & Saatchi, a race has been organised to put to rest months of debate over who the fastest runner in the agency is. Three athletes have been chosen with Dan himself taking on Neal Fairfield and Steve Back in a race that will stop the nation.

The race will be held on George Street starting from the Hickson Road pedestrian crossing, with the finish line outside of the Merc. Athletes will hit the blocks straight after Friday's all staff meeting at around 5pm. There will be a commentary team (your Melbourne Cup MCs), a bookie (Ben Charlton) and an official race starter (KCT has a shot gun). It will be all happening!

It's extremely difficult to split the athletes at this stage. Past and present athletes throughout the world have described the match up as a most intriguing contest. Australian champion Cathy Freeman predicts a "tight tussle", Diego Maradona can "sniff an upset" and 100m World Record holder Usain Bolt thinks the race will be "good".

Full player profiles to follow tomorrow.
The gloves are off so let's get this place... ah.... running???

AJ has had his megaphone out all day today - and is ready to call the race. I'll be one of the photographers, and we've got 2 videocameramen ready to go to capture this historic sporting event. I'll have the results for you after the weekend...stay tuned next week.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my kiddos back in the US. Although I'm not officially celebrating Turkey Day over here, I am very thankful for the most amazing friends and family a girl could ask for. Enjoy the turkey, post-meal naps and football. Go Broncos!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ANZ Stadium

Today AJ and I took a little field trip out to ANZ stadium to the hang some new art work at the Sony corporate box for the clients. Proving that even 1/2 way across the world, there is no such thing as a 'typical day' in advertising.

ANZ is similar to the Meadowlands back home - huge complex - they host all sorts of teams - Rugby League & Union, AFL, cricket, etc plus concerts and other events...Hulkamania is here this weekend if you believe it. ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gazebo Wine Gardens

I met up with Molly again last night for another great dinner, and some yummy Tasmania wine. Jansz is one of the wineries that Molly visited on her latest trip to Tasmania. We went to Gazebo Wine Gardens, near her place in Potts Point.

The restaurant was very eclectic, with cool furniture, decorations and plants everywhere - it felt like stepping into a green house inside of your great aunt's attic.

It's so fun catching up with Molly, because she lived in NY for 10 years before coming on an assignment over here - we spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting the 2 cities, and then the majority of our time thinking back on funny 'remember whens' from my IBM account days at Ogilvy.

However, the highlight of my night may have been being proposed to by a very good looking Australian bloke. I was sitting at the bar waiting for Molly to arrive (I got there a little early - thanks to my very nice trip on the subway). Anyway, I ordered a glass of wine from the bartender, and when he heard my accent he asked where I was from? I said New York - easier than explaining, CO, well, MN...actually I live in NYC now...etc. When I said New York - his facial expression changed automatically. He said, that's my favorite city in the world, I casually said 'I'll trade you', and next thing I knew he was down on his knee behind the bar, removing a ring from his finger and offering it to me. Apparently he's looking for a US-citizen for a wife. I totally blew my chances by asking for his name first, rather than just blurting out 'yes'...but he later topped my wine off for me, 'on the house', so he may still be interested. ;)

Signs in the park on the way to the restaurant. long ways from home.

Dandelion fountain in the park near Gazebo Wine Gardens.

Dedicated to J Schwartz...

A good friend of mine, Jess Schwartz, has started up a blog dedicated to her morning commute on the Houston bus lines. Jess and I used to be roommates on the UES, and she was a pro with maneuvering the subway and bus routes of NYC. Sadly, when she moved back to Houston last year, she found herself to be one of the very few that utilizes public transportation in TX. Her blog is quite humorous, and can be found here:

Jess has been an avid reader of my switch blog, and leaves funny comments that I very much appreciate, so when I took the Sydney subway last night for the very 1st time, I thought of her, and ignored the funny looks when I took out my camera and started snapping pics. The subway system is pretty straightforward, similar to DC that you need your ticket both entering and exiting at the stops (I always seem to put my ticket in the perfect place, hidden somewhere in my wallet, that it's never a quick thing getting out at my destination). However, unlike the subway trains in the states - Sydney's trains are double deckers. You walk through the yellow doors, can stand on that level or walk up or down a few steps to find seats. With taking the ferry to work every day, riding the subway last night to the Cross, hoping in the occasional very high-priced taxi...all I need to do is find a bus to make my tour de transportation complete. Jess - so far I'd give Sydney a 8.5 out of 10. The score would be upped if they offered more ferries in the am.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Maggie Island

This past weekend I met Matt up in Magnetic Island off the coast of QLD. I was a little nervous going into the weekend, because it could have gone 1 of 2 ways - ranging anywhere from the best weekend possible during my trip to Oz to the world's longest and most awkward blind-date-style-of-a-weekend. I had never met Matt before, but he studied abroad in Copenhagen with one of my best friends, Brandon Potter. When I told Potter I was headed out to Australia for work, he introduced me to a couple of his boys down under via email, and Matt was nice enough to help me book some weekends up to Queensland, so I could see some more places other than just Sydney. Matt turned out to be awesome, and the weekend could only have been better had Potter been able to join us. We stayed at Matt's family friends, Rick & Candy's home in Picnic Bay, and enjoyed an amazing BBQ at their place Saturday night. I think they got a kick out of the fact that I could turn on a Midwest accent and have relatives who live in Fargo, as they had seen the Coen Brother's movie. Luckily, I ended up with a lot of pictures from the weekend, since other people from our sailing cruise sent some along, and we were able to borrow Candy's camera (as I forgot my camera battery charger, and think I took about a total of 10 pictures on my actual camera). Anyway, this post may be a little picture heavy, but it was so gorgeous up there, what better way to show you?
Rocks near Arcadia.

Arcadia Bay.
Horseshoe Bay - early Saturday am, we went back there Sunday afternoon, and it was buzzing with people - but it was very serene with no one on the beach.
Our sail boat, the Providence, that we jumped on at Nelly Bay. I assumed it was only going to be a 1/2 day tour for some reason, but we were out in the sun the full day...(only a mild sunburn once we made it back on land), We met a lot of very nice people though, Dane & Vanessa from the Gold Coast and Amy & Naomi from inland Queensland.
Matt helping to pull one of the main sails up...
Me, getting in on hoisting one of the smaller sails...I think I was probably singing Andy Sandberg and T-Pain's song, 'I'm On a Boat', as I had that song in my head all day long.
Matt and I - with our XXXX Gold beers on the beach, and the Providence in the background. (Goldies are a QLD beer - and I also got to try Bundaberg, a QLD rum while on the island). We stopped for lunch at Radical Bay after snorkeling in Arthur Bay. If I get some snorkel pictures from Dane & Vanessa, I'll be sure to post those too.

When we got back from sailing, we relaxed at Rick & Candy's house, and tried to learn a few tips from the grill master.

Had to show you our lemon chicken and grilled vegetables, as much like with Nat's blog, this has turned into somewhat of a food blog as well. :)
On Sunday morning, Matt and I cruised around in the purple mini moke he hired for the weekend. In the map above, you can see the island has one main road that you can drive on, and the rest of the island is made up of national park land.

View from the window of the moke. Me with the moke near Arcadia Bay...this was before I took my turn driving it, but Matt was brave enough to let me behind the wheel. You sit in driver's seat on the right side, but drive on the left side of the road, and making things even more difficult, you shift with your left hand, and 1st gear is then further away from you, rather than closest to you, and the gas, brake and clutch are all switched around too...needless to say, I'll be renting an automatic when I do my road trip in NZ.
Candy gave us some Wallabee food for when we were out on Sunday - we found a little guy who was hungry - not going to lie, was a little worried about him eating directly out of my hand, as this was in the wild, not at a petting zoo, and it brought back flash backs of the monkey attack in Cambodia last year (I think most of you know that story - haha), but things turned out just fine this time around.

Matt and I at Arcadia Bay - thanks for being my tour guide and planning such a fantastic weekend - looking forward to Noosa & Boreen Point next weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday Lunch @ Harbour View

Today we went to lunch at the Harbour View Hotel - which is a restaurant situated pretty much directly beneath the Harbour Bridge overlooking the water - this was the view from our table. I was happy to see fish & chips on the menu, because I still hadn't tried this Sydney staple, and I needed a bit of a greasy lunch after my big night out on the town with Anna, Nat's bestie, last night (thanks again Anna for the fantastic thai dinner, and finding Pocket Bar - great night, and per your request, no photos will be featured on the world wide web). But if you find yourself in Sydney, definitely stop by Pocket Bar in East Sydney - great hole in the wall spot!

Here are some of the people on the Bridge climb - every 15 minutes another group of 10 or so people would walk by on the Bridge (matching outfits, gear and carabiners). I was interested in doing the walk, but when I found out it was $200 - decided those 2 greenies could be better spent elsewhere.
Fish & Chips...
While we were at lunch, Nat text AJ saying she was at dinner with Jake & Loren (who just arrived in NYC today - already miss you guys here). Anyway, she let us know she was at dinner with Jake & Loz, and they were sitting next to Matt Dillon! AJ wrote back and said he was at lunch with Dan, Neal & I - and we were sitting next to Rob Hunwick! Touche.
I hope my team in NY is taking Nat out to some fantastic lunches in the West Village...I feel extremely lucky to be working with the guys on the Sony team - thanks again for lunch today!! I'm off to Magnetic Island this wknd, so plenty of pictures when I'm back on Monday - have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Have you got any lobsters floating around in there?

Like I said, looks like monopoly money, right?! With all of the different colors, there are different names that go along with some of the bills - $20 = lobsters, $50 = pineapples, $100 = greenies (sorry to not be able to show you a picture of a hundo - but probably comforting to know that I'm just as broke in Sydney as I am in NYC) :)

The good thing about Aussie money is it was the 1st country to introduce polypropylene polymer notes - so it's more plastic-y vs paper-y, and can actually go through the wash.

I decided to look up who's on each bill too - to give you a little history lesson (you know, in the spirit of learning something new everyday): $5 feature Queen Elizabeth II & the Parliament House on the back. $10 feature Banjo Patterson (famous Australian bush poet, journalist & author) and Dame Mary Gilmore (another famous author). $20 has Mary Reibey (Englishwoman who was transported to Sydney as a convict, but went on to become a successful business woman) and Rev. John Flynn (Presbyterian minister and aviator who founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service, or the world's first air ambulance). $50 features David Unaipon (Australian Aboriginal preacher, inventor & writer) and Edith Cowan (the 1st woman elected as a representative in an Australian parliament). As for the $100 - Nellie Melba (Int'l Opera singer sensation) and Sir John Monash (Australian military commander in WWI).

I appreciate the equal showing of both sexes on the bills vs our dead presidents.

Here are some of the coins - they have .05, .10, .20, .50 coins (all silver) and $1 & $2 coins (goldies).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Morning Ritual

Every morning Dan, AJ and I head over to Fine Foods, one of the best cafes on the Rocks. If you're ever in Sydney in the Rocks area - head to Kendall Lane and stop in for a coffee. The staff is awesome, and I love that after only 2 weeks I've pretty much become a regular. :) They get to work on my coffee order (lg skinny cap), while I still struggle to find the right amount of coins to pay for it. I'll have to take some photos of the currency here - all kinds of colors, shapes & sizes - feels like you're playing monopoly with the pink, blue and yellow bills, but then with so many different types of coins it's like you've also put the thimble, the scottie dog and the iron in your coin purse as well.

There is another coffee shop that opened up a few blocks closer to work, AJ tried it awhile back, and I asked him how the coffee tasted? His answer: a little like guilt. The Sony team members are regulars at Fine Foods - and I'm happy to get in on the tradition (sorry Nat - I'm thinking this post will make you miss good coffee...with the closest coffee shop to the NY office being Dunkin' Donuts).
Inside of Fine Foods.

My morning cappuccino - made with love! xx

Quality coffee is definitely something I'll miss when I head back to NYC.