Published: February 22nd 2007November 17th 2006
This is the PT Cruiser we bought - great car!
Well we arrived at LA airport early in the morning and had a short stop over. As American Airlines is affiliated with QANTAS thought the Captain's Lounge would be a great place to fill in our time using Fiona's QANTAS Club membership. Well. Americans don't do lounges like we do - basically you have to pay for everything except entry. I found this out after ordering two drinks and then because I had no US currency having to leave the bartender with the drinks. After our connection we arrived and Jacksonville Airport and was met by Ben (Fiona's predecessor). They had arranged very comfortable temporary accomodation in a very nice place not to far from Fi's work. We dropped off our cases and headed out for our first taste of American culture - dinner at Applebees.
We spent the next few days driving around trying to orientate ourselves to our new home. Jacksonville is the 2nd largest city in the US and with only 1 million people it is quite spread out. We had an interesting time noting all the drive-thrus that were available (banks, pharmacys), but no bottleshops!! This was compensated for by the fact that you can buy
This is the view from our Balcony
beer from pretty much every service station and supermarket which is great.
After some significant searching we found our car - a 2004 PT Cruiser which is really great. It fits my new racing bike in the back just by folding the seats down and is really comfortable. We got it for $7999 - Bargain. So now we took to the streets looking for somewhere to live. Unfortunately the Americans don't explore their beach front so the beaches didn't really take our fancy to begin with, but after looking around, everything took our fancy even less so we headed back to the beaches. Eventually we narrowed it down to three places - one was quickly eliminated when we ran the taps and the water smelt so bad you couldn't be in the bathroom with it let alone wash yourself under it (a lot of sulphur in the ground water over here). The second place was $500 over our budget so we didn't think it would be approved by the embassy but we tried anyway. Whilst waiting for the embassy to process our request we resigned ourselves to living in the third place which was really really nice. Hardwood floors,
Here's our Lounge Room
fireplace, double garage and about 400m from the beach. We took our new American friend (who happens to be a real estate agent) to look at it and Fiona managed to slam my finger in the car door. We recieved the good news that the embassy was going to approve the apartment we wanted, so after some lengthy and intersting negotiations with the furniture company we moved into the new apartment. 3 Bedrooms/3 Bathrooms, never been lived in and right on the beach - in a word, AWESOME!
Fiona started work and slowly familiarised herself with the American way of doing business. Lots of new ranks to learn, new acronyms and ship types. Lucklily it was pretty slow paced with due to Christmas, so she was able to take her time. That just about wraps it up for the settling in period in the States - it was hectic, stressful, very interesting and a lot of fun.
There are more photos below