deird1: Faith and Wesley, with text "rogue demon hunters" (Faith Wesley rogue demon hunters)
[personal profile] deird1
To make any of this make sense, we're going to need a map.

This is Melbourne:




More Mappish Info

That whole pinkish bit is officially Melbourne. The star in the middle is known as the "CBD" (central business district). It contains a whole lot of office buildings, some fancy historic stuff, and the Yarra River.

Geelong, on the left, is the second largest town in Victoria. It's nice, and has some lovely beachfronts - and, for the moment, that's all you really need to know about it.

Western Port Bay, on the right, has Philip Island and French Island. These are places that people will go for weekend getaways. They have beaches and animal sanctuaries, and are rather fun.


You'll also notice a place on the map called "Dandenong". It is not to be confused with "the Dandenongs", which are a whole different place. Dandenong is a run-of-the-mill suburb; the Dandenongs are gorgeous hills full of rainforest and lots of teashops.



Freeways and Tollways

There are two main freeways on your side of the city: the Monash, and the Eastern. (These are both on the map above - the Monash is labelled "M1", and the Eastern "M3".) The Monash goes to the south side of the CBD, and the Eastern goes to the north side. They also both go a long way out of the city, as shown on the map.

What isn't shown on the map is the fact that both freeways, at some point, become tollways.

If you're on the Monash (freeway), as you reach the CBD, it'll turn into Citylink (tollway), before turning back into the Monash (freeway) on the other side.
Likewise, as you take the Eastern (freeway) out of the city, it turns into Eastlink (tollway) on its way to Frankston.

Both tollways use the same electronic toll system, hooked into the car. If your car is registered for either tollway, both tollways will deduct payments automatically from your account. If your car isn't registered, you need to buy a daypass - this is one of the ways the Post Office comes in handy. (You can also buy daypasses over the phone, but I've tried this and would run screaming before I tried it again.)



Speed Limits

Speed limits are provided in handy signs on the roads, but in general...

100 - freeway speed
80 - major road speed
60 - minor road speed

The one that's going to catch you out is the back streets. In Victoria, all minor roads without any posted speed limit have a speed limit of 50 km/h. This is not said anywhere! For some nutty reason, the government decided it would be a fun game to have secret speed limits to catch visitors out. But now you know...



Buying Petrol

Petrol stations are self-service. You pay for petrol after putting it in your car.

Lots of petrol stations also come complete with car wash services. Some are the funky automatic kind, but some are self-service (and incredibly fun to use).



Hook Turns

If you're planning to drive through the tram-infested areas of town, make sure you go at least once with an experienced Melbourne driver who can demonstrate hook turns for you. Otherwise you'll end up stuck terrified in the middle of an intersection, gripping your steering wheel and screaming "But when it says 'turn right from left', what does it MEAN???"



Buses, Trams, and Trains

Our public transport system is completely integrated: a ticket from one will work on all three. Which is one of the few nice things about the World's Worst Ticketing System.

(Okay - it's not that bad. But you'd never know that from the way we talk about it.)

The tickets are "Myki" tickets, which are electronic. You need to buy one at a train station, and "top up" with money to use it. Hold onto it, because your life will forevermore be tied to your Myki card.


Trains radiate out from the CBD. They're useful if you want to go to the city, or to the other side of town.

Trams are only in the inner suburbs. They're awesome, but not helpful if you're more concerned with the outer parts of town.

Buses are everywhere - but unreliable. Eventually they'll show up, but "eventually" might not have that much to do with the posted schedule. Unless you're trying to catch them before they leave, in which case they'll leave precisely on time while you're still sprinting across the carpark.



Taxis

Taxis are yellow. They can be paid in cash, or with credit cards.

As a rule, Aussies will sit in the front of the taxi, next to the driver. Sitting in the back can be considered rude.



Bikes

Helmets are compulsory when riding a bike (as are seatbelts in cars). Make sure you wear one.



Funky Coloured Money

Our money looks like this:


And this:


It comes in 1s, 2s, and 5s. Like so:
1 cent (defunct)
2 cents (ditto)
5 cents
10 cents
20 cents
50 cents
1 dollar
2 dollars
5 dollars
...and so forth.

It's also plastic, and will survive almost anything you can throw at it.



Tipping

We are not a nation of tippers.

The only time tipping will even be a possibility is in restaurants. Most eating establishments have a tip jar at the front, to be shared between all the staff. If you really like the place, give them some spare change. Otherwise, just smile and thank them for the meal.



Credit Cards

Most places will accept credit cards or Eftpos. Very few will accept American Express. (Visa and Mastercard are the main ones you want.)



Fast Food

We have several fast food joints you'll recognise. Two small language issues:
- "Burger King" here is known as "Hungry Jacks".
- If you go into Maccas and ask for a "Fillay O Fish", you'll get blank stares. It's "Fillet O Fish", with an audible T.



Slower Food

We have lots of cafes and restaurants for you to explore. Some more small language issues:
- "Entrees" are the smaller things you start the meal with. The larger dishes are "mains".
- Coffee comes in "long black", "short black", and "flat white" - as well as other more exotic choices. There are many websites that can help you with this one. (for instance)
- If you're not a coffee drinker, like me, then you might want to get a "chai latte" - which is chai tea brewed in latte form.
- One drink that you should totally try is a lemon lime and bitters. They're awesome, and apparently only found in Australia.

Some restaurants will serve you kangaroo. Try not to cry as you're eating our cute, fluffy, and delicious national icon.

Most places will give you complimentary water, straight from the tap. Try not to react with unconcealed disgust; Melbourne's water is actually quite nice, and well worth drinking.



Supermarkets

We have two main ones - Coles and Woolworths - and two smaller ones - IGA and Aldi. If anyone mentions "Safeway" to you, they mean Woolworths.

You can buy most groceries at your local supermarket - but not, as [personal profile] lizbee pointed out, pharmeceuticals. For most of those you'll need a chemist.

Be aware, an awful lot of food has different names here. I've seen Americans confused by capsicum, brown onions, pasta sauce, tomato sauce, eggplant, and cordial.



Speaking of cordial...

Some Aussie Foods

Cordial is a sugary drink, that is sold in highly concentrated form. Do not drink it straight! (Once saw a yank take a swig of full-strength cordial, before gagging in horror. I can't imagine...)

Sausage sizzles are fundraising events where people sell sausages. If you find yourself attending one, grab a slice of bread, fold it in half, and put the sausage in the middle, like so:


Meat pies are an awesome food that must be eaten at the footy. Before you buy one, get an Aussie friend to show you how to hold it. If you try holding it like a hamburger - like most Americans first try - the whole thing will collapse and drop hot meat in your lap.



This concludes our lesson for today. Questions? Comments?
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