Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Nomads Hostel – Melbourne Australia review (after reminiscing about the wedding down under)

It occurred to me to today that it is just about 2 years since my trip to Australia for Dr. DF’s and M’s wedding. I spent the first half of the trip with the whole wedding gang — staying in a beach-front house in Adelaide, exploring on a private tour around Kangaroo island and wine tasting wherever they would serve us 😉

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

The actual wedding and post-wedding dinner celebration were beautiful, on February 29th and at a fantastic country vineyard/winery just outside of Adelaide. After the family festivities came to a close, the cool kids changed into party clothes and hit up the best that Adelaide had to offer into the wee hours of the morning.

The day after the wedding (this particular logistical detail is not one that I would necessarily advise) I took the overnight bus from Adelaide to Melbourne for a few days of solo exploration before I needed to return to the reality of graduate school in MN…in the winter. Now the overnight bus is a great way to save both time and money, but DAMN. I am rapidly approaching being too old for that shit!!

Once in Melbourne, I made my way to my home base, The Nomads Hostel of Melbourne.

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So, for the next time that you’re in Melbourne Australia, here is what you need to know–

Accommodations

Traveling on the cheap, I reserved a bed in a mixed dorm of 11 people. (This was the cheapest option available.) Of course, shacking up with 12 total strangers isn’t usually going to be one’s first choice for a good night’s sleep (or hell, maybe it is…no judgement here…) but I shared my room with 11 interesting and courteous travelers and had no regrets about my choice.

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There were enough clean gender-separated dorm-style showers and bathrooms on each floor whenever I needed a shower or otherwise 😉

The common areas on the first level were fantastic. If you are interested in a longer stay this would be a particularly great location. There was a kitchen for preparing meals and storing personal food, an indoor lounge that was great for taking a load off and indoor and outdoor dining rooms for scarfing down whatever creations emerged from the aforementioned community kitchen.

outside

outdoor dining room

There was also a bar that was very popular each night of my stay (but not irritatingly so…)

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da bar

Like with my roommates, I met loads of interesting and courteous travelers here — traveling alone, in pairs and in small groups. Regardless of your travel group size, I felt like the Nomad would be a great fit for most backpackers.

The one complaint that I would have (I can’t be too positive now can I?) is in regards to the internet access. Internet was not included in the price of the room, it was limited to one device per pass code upon purchase and was a ticking clock from initial log-in through expiration. Now if I remember correctly, the internet vouchers were rather expensive, access was fair to poor and only in the indoor common areas on the first floor. While I’m not a proponent of my electronic devices consuming my vacation, posting a smug photo or ten two or sending everyone you know email updates to the family shouldn’t be too much to ask these days.

Management and staff

These guys/girls…well, 20-30-somethings, were quite helpful. I can’t say that I had so many interactions with them, but most everything with the Nomad ran smoothly, they were able to answer any questions that I had and succeeded in making my stay a very positive experience. There were staff members from all over the world, who spoke a variety of languages and had a whole collection of different background stories.

the front desk action

In combination they were able to adequately serve every guest, from your solo American girl to your family of 4 from the Philippines.

Location

The Nomads is located just off the beaten path on the north end of town, very near the Queen Victoria Market.

Market

Queen Victoria Market

This was super nice because it was a doable walk to anywhere you’d want to go in Melbourne (or trolley ride if you want to get to the far end of town and don’t feel like hoofing it for an hour) but not smack in the center of the action when you want a bit of space between you and the city madness.

Emperial Gardens, also a bit off the beaten path...

The Emperial Gardens (also a bit off the beaten path)

Overall The Nomads was a great experience. Both the people and the place made my stay fantastic and if I ever find myself back in Melbourne (god help me if I do to a certain extent, but that’s for another day I suppose) without a bag of cash to spend on a real hotel, I’d have no second thoughts about having a second stint.

nomads

P.S. Happy Anniversary Dr. DF and M!! 😀

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Nothing!

I am very excited to report no raging complaints breaking news from the week.

For once, in what seems like a great while, I was able to work a series of normal-person work days and sleep normal person nights. Yay for both of those!

I had the energy to dress like an adult in the mornings…

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Adult Dr. Trot

…and log some nice, warmer miles in the afternoon.

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Dr. T finally showing some skin!

Yay for both of those as well.

Our department had its first recruiting weekend of the year over the last two days. Now to be perfectly honest it was nothing compared to the insanity excitement of a MN recruiting weekend, a good time was had by all. Three nights of wining and dining doesn’t need a side of missbehavior excitement to be a good time.

What is also going to be a good time is my run this morning (another one in shorts and a tank top in case you were wondering 🙂 and then pottery studio for the afternoon with my buddy K.

Happy lazy relaxing Sunday!

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Lazy Bums

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Happy Birthday Dr. Samia photo travesty!

I’m not sure how I allowed this to happen, but there is only one single photo to share from all of the events of the weekend!

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This little gem was taken during the later part of Dr. Samia’s birthday party at an awesome little divey beer pub in Hoboken. Dr. Trot Someone got too excited when she thought there was a “schlafey coffee” beer on the menu only to be corrected that in fact it was a “schlafly coffee” beer (whatever the hell that is). Oops!

A second oops was that they were OUT of this shlafly coffee! 😮 Total crisis was averted and the day was thankfully saved by one shake chocolate porter instead. 🙂

The long story short is that Dr. Annebelle and I had a fantastic weekend of eating (at Cafe44 and PJ’s Pancake House which both warrant a restaurant review…sometime soon…maybe), shopping (Greene Street Consignment is the best and colorful wedding shoes are way fun to troll the depths of the internet for) and trail-blazing running around P-ton.

The other long story (not short) is that one of my favorite partners in crime behaving well is one year older and over the last 6.5 years I’ve somehow amassed quite the lovely collection of photos illustrating the aforementioned good behaviors.

Happy Birthday Dr. Samia!

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This is what you get for ruining the photo Dimitris.

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T-minus a few hrs until finishing a marathon on a broken leg.

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Dr. Marmia!!

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Naked Dr. Samia!

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Still naked...

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You're never too old for carbon nano-tubes.

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You are ALWAYS too old for whatever the hell these are.

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Yay for broke-leg-free half marathons!


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Happy Birthday from the past!! 🙂

Happy Birthday Babe!

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Happy Birthday Dr. Samia! Who’s excited to celebrate?!?!

DR. TROT IS EXCITED!

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(And also just a wee bit crazed after her short fast run this morning…)

A proper birthday photo post will be assembled over the weekend for my parter in bad decision making.

Dr. Trot is also excited about the arrival of her twin Dr. AnneBelle and for the weekend of working out, shopping, eating and partying that will ensue.

In the mean time, hope everyone had a delicious chocolate eating day yesterday! XOXO

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An update on the Princess Pheona

So it’s been almost a month since I first ratted out Princess Pheona’s bad behavior. All had been going well — bed covered, ground void of all soft items, litter box scooped 4839 times a day and completely cleaned out every week. All had been going well until last Monday when the Princess was busted marking the wall in the hallway!! x-( Now this was previously the location of one of our three litter boxes, but why in the hell did she have to reaffirm that this was one of the places that she deems as hers to pee?! There are no windows in the hall through which she could have been showing a neighbour cat that this wall is hers, her box was totally clean not more than 20 feet away, and there hadn’t even been any fights yet that morning to stress her out (thank you Penny and Sophie for waiting until after 6 am to have the first big blow out of the day). With all of these non-issues considered, why the hell Pheona?! 

That was the last straw! I had enough! I grabbed Princess stupid Pheona by scruff of the neck, opened the door and tossed her furry ass outside to pee wherever the hell she wants!

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Just kidding!! 😀

Come on! Even I’m not that much of an ass hole. Close, but not quite.

I did however decide that it is finally/definitely time to go to the vet. Like now. Like today.

We made an appointment and went (that Monday night) at a kitty clinic that is awesome because it’s a) less than 2 miles away, b) opens at 6 am and stays open until 11 pm on some nights of the week, and c) is run by an adorable woman that is 3-4 inches shorter (never mind that she also looks about 5 years younger) than me. We went over our list of life transitions that we’ve made over the last 7 months, the very bad behaviors that have developed since making said transitions and what we’ve tried to do stop said bad behaviors. Overall Dr. Adorable said it sounded like the problems was stress related (although Princess did make a blood donation to check for a previously-undetected medical issue  — which has since come back normal — and she still needs to make a urine donation — ironic that her blader was too empty to do this on Monday night, eh? — to totally rule out any medical cause of the problem) and that I was doing the right things to try to alleviate the situation. Great, thank you. But, she did recommend a few things that I hadn’t thought of/didn’t know about before to add to our arsenal over the next few weeks–

  1. Add more shelves/perches where she can sit up high and safely keep watch over her surroundings
  2. Add more boxes/nooks/crannies where she can burrow in to safely watch over her surroundings

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    Pheona the Princess bush-dweller

  3. Burn citrus candles or spray citrus in areas/rooms that she has been peeing because they do not like citrus (I had no idea!!) and wipe down places where she has peed with citrus instead of vinegar — unless I have developed a fondness for the scent of vinegar of course…
  4. Feliway. Apparently mama cats secrete a “comfort” pheromone after having kittens that comforts and calms the kittens. This pheromone is also secreted when a cat happily rubs against, furniture, legs, etc… Thanks to the wonderful fields of biological and chemical engineering, for $25 (+ shipping and handling for 2-day delivery) we can purchase the plug-in version of this happy pheromone. The plug-in is designed to controlled-release the pheromone to diffuse throughout the apartment and sooth the Prima donas Princess felines  that live there. Said soothed kitty-cats are then less inclined to pee in stupid/irritating places. Supposedly. Our Feliway arrived yesterday and was out of the box and plugged in ~0.0234 seconds of arrival.
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What? All of your pet products aren’t French? Weirdo.

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Ready…set…

...go time!

…go time!

Our fingers are crossed (but our bed is still covered) that over the next 1-2 months (Really? Really?  It really takes that long? what size apartments/houses do these people think we all live in? Never mind the grades on my transcript, but if I remember anything that Cussler tought me the Princess and I would literally have to be living in a castle for it to take that long. I think I smell a money racket — since it can’t be pheromone yet of course…) and we’ll keep you posted on how things go.

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It’s a (good) Small World after all!

There is something about the $2 mark for a small cup of regular dark roast that is prohibitive for me to splurge on coffee-house coffee. $1.9x isn’t great but I’ll do it and $1.8x seems like the norm. Of course, $2 is (at most) only %10 higher than both of these, but there’s something about that evil #2 out in front that sends me over the edge.

To make matters even worse for the egocentric Dr. Trot, Princeton is one of the most $#@&ing expensive places in the US, and this statistic most definitely includes the price of coffee. Princeton is also one of the smallest $#@&king places in the US, and as a consequence there are only two coffee-house options within walking distance of jail work.

#1. Starbucks. Honestly, I debated whether or not to even include these guys at all. Starbucks food/beverages are unhealthy and over packaged as well as over priced. Never mind the low wages they pay their employees and the amount of food they waste. So, no. No thank you big evil corporation.

#2. Small World Coffee. Now, these guys are a bit more my style. They’re a small business with two coffee shops, one on either end of town. They sell locally made pastries that you can carry out in paper bags, good coffee and apparently (keep reading) are cash only to keep overhead low and prices as low as possible.

Small

 

They also however charge $2 for a small, 8 oz (I think) cup of dark roast coffee. 😦

Small World coffee only hit this nasty $2 mark over the last few months as it was not this way when I moved here in June. Upon  jacking up increasing their price last fall they did explain that it was in response to rising coffee bean prices. With the current state of the market and Small World’s desire to maintain the wages of their workers (rather than saddling the lower end of the payroll with absorbing the increased price of beans) up went the price of coffee for those of us who have no problem paying $1.8x/cup. Thanks a lot Small World. This is all well and good, but it has also sent you into the “too $#@&ing expensive to justify on the post-doc salary” category. Until today.

Long story short is that my horse $hit work schedule required the day to begin at 3 am today — brain on and fine motor functions working at 3 am — and last until ~7 pm tonight. Lovely. Happy Friday all. As a direct consequence of this I had no second thoughts about splurging for a $2 cup of joe once I finally had time to come up for a breath of air (and gulp of caffeine) at 6 am. I bundled up, grabbed my credit card and headed back out into the dark. (Let me tell you, after being at work for 3 hrs already that’s just cruel!)

Have you spotted my mistake already? While the motor functions were still working, the brain function was not. I grabbed my credit card! My credit card! For the coffee-house that’s CASH ONLY!! I (of course) didn’t have the slightest clue of my error until I was standing at the counter with my card in my hand and struggling to comprehend that “no, I’m sorry, we only take cash.”

UGH! DUH! MY GOD! x-( What an idiot am I?!?!?!

After the patient barista patiently explained to me exactly what the hell was going on and we established that I had absolutely no cash on me, much to my surprise/delight she responded with “ah, no big deal, it’d cold out there today, this one can be on us!”

WHAT?!?! REALLY?!?! WHAT?!?!

She must have seen my jaw drop because she giggled, kept filling my coffee and repeated that it really is “no big deal. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do. Have a great day!”

With that, I bumbled through thanking her profusely, folded up my gaping jaw and staggered to the door with my steaming cup of highly caffeinated SW joe.

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And also with that, I have to take back my animosity towards Small World’s $2 cup of coffee. They have a choice to make. Many choices to make in fact. They could buy different (read: worse) beans, they could pay their employees less and they could reduce their payroll and work their remaining employees more. They could do all of these and kept the price of coffee at $1.9x.

They also could accept credit cards and charge even more than $2/cup.

Finally, they certainly could send me (and every other idiot that doesn’t have $2 cash on them) packing for Starbucks w/o said cash.

But, they don’t and they didn’t (5x).

They also didn’t choose my job for me – the job that over-works and under-pays me – the kind of job that they are trying to avoid for their employees.

You have been taken down off of the cross Small World and I’m sorry I had you up there in the first place. Thank you for the cup of coffee and for understanding that while I can’t afford to support you very often, I’ll sink my $2 into your good coffee and great cause when I do treat myself to such luxuries. 🙂

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A special thanks to Bruno and my sweet animals (and states)

I usually really really like the Super Bowl. I like the intensity of the game, the ingenious commercials and the over-the-top halftime show. Unfortunately, we only went a miserable 1/3 this year…too bad this was a football game and not baseball, eh?…and while I do appreciate that my close, personal friend Bruno had the performance of the night, I doubt it would have killed anyone if a just a few other people showed up to the game.

Fortunately, Queen Penny and I had the pleasure of attending a pre-Superbowl bake-a-thon that essentially made up for the lack of actual Superbowl.

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Thanks to Dr. Allison for the genius cookie cutters (genius = squirrel, flamingo and cowboy boot … What do you mean that is strange? Pffff!! What’s wrong with you?!), to Dr. Samia for the cookie-cutting/baking/frosting-help and to Dr. Alex for being the very best taste-tester of overly salty chocolate chip cookie dough ! (It isn’t every day…hmmm…or ever…until now…that I give someone a handful of chocolate chip cookie dough to eat and within 5 seconds find them spitting it all directly into the trash can, complete with sound effects and horrified facial expressions!)

Note 1: Rock salt does not go in cookie dough.

The good news is that these efforts were well worth it as illustrated by an abundance of pink flamingoes, blue squirrels, red cowboy boots and North Carolina and Minnesotans sporting a variety of political and social interests themes.

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Caution! See above and note #2 below for details.

 

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These boots are made for eating!

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My favorite 🙂

Note 2: Overly salty cookie dough –> overly salty cookies. At least it doesn’t make them any less pretty. Right? :-/

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