AFL aka Footy aka Aussie rules football

Friends, I have a confession to make: I have never been to any sort of public sports event (kiddie soccer league games don’t count), until yesterday that is. I didn’t start my spectator sport experiences by watching ice hockey, soccer, baseball or football, but AFL: Aussie rules footy. Of course I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but luckily I had a patient friend explaining the rules to me. Apparently it’s a lot about shouting obscurities and drinking beer, and for girls rating the players.

General admission tickets, better than going to a comedy show.
General admission tickets, better than going to a comedy show.

The following is what I gathered about the rules of footy. These are by no means absolute truths, so if you know better, feel free to correct me. Like other team sports, footy game consists of two teams of several players, who run around in an oval field hitting each other, trying to get an oval shaped ball between one of 4 poles that look like they’re from Harry Potter (creating 3 goals: the middle one worth 6 points, the outer ones 1 point) by kicking or throwing it in. One is not allowed to run with the ball into the goals, and running with the ball altogether is prohibited; however it is possible to run the whole field-length if bouncing the ball on the ground every now and then – I witnessed this in the enticing melbourne vs. Essendon game. If a player catches the ball from the air, they get a free toss. If there is a big rumble where the ball gets stuck, the referees get to throw it to re-start the action. There are quite a few dudes in yellow shirts, who toss the ball back into the game, backwards, after it’s gone outside the field (perhaps to the audience). A couple of pink shirted people also run around, providing players with drinks (water?) and strategy tips from the coach. There are 4 quarters, each lasting something between 25 minutes and 32 minutes, and in-between the quarters the audience can enjoy entertainment such as little kids playing footy (and mutilating each other).

In an oval shape stadium, it is rather challenging to keep up with what's happening all the time.
In an oval shape stadium, it is rather challenging to keep up with what’s happening all the time.

For me, the best part of the whole show was hearing the cheering and other shouting from the crowd. Stuff like “C’mon melbourne, they’re not even a real team” and “Josh, take off your pants!” surely kept us entertained. At first I felt bad for the players who kept on smashing to the ground, but after a while I got used to it. Apparently neither melbourne nor Essendon are any good, but at the end the game turned out to be very interesting. It was a tie until 2 mins before the end of the game, when Essendon scored the winning goal. Suspension at its’ best!

Selfies at the games.
Selfies at the games.
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Australia brews

And by brews I mean coffee, even though there are some artisanal micro beer breweries around as well. Australia is well known for it’s high quality coffees and love for small, independent cafes and roasters. I was able to visit the Melbourne International Coffee Exhibition in Melbourne Showgrounds last Sunday, where I got properly buzzed with the different brews, beans and required paraphernalia, coffee lovers and meticulous professionals under the same roof. I also had a peek at the World Barista Championships, but didn’t stick till the end because more coffee was calling me.

Sampling Kenyan Gaikundo  from Z microloft, washed with 'clean, bright and sparkling syrup, with up front sweetness reminiscent of white grape, apple and lime supported by delicate undertones of kalamata olives and cherry tomato'.
Sampling Kenyan Gaikundo from Z microloft, washed with ‘clean, bright and sparkling syrup, with up front sweetness reminiscent of white grape, apple and lime supported by delicate undertones of kalamata olives and cherry tomato’.

Time magazine and New York Times both have touted Australia, and especially Melbourne, as the mecca of coffee. I cannot but agree to that, even though I have been exercising my mind strength and limited my cups mostly to wake-up drinks at work. Apparently there are around 300 coffee roasters in Oz, and about 40% of those consider themselves as direct traders, working hard to offer consumers high quality coffee. Sounds legit!

Cool-ass cups.
Cool-ass cups.

Why is the coffee in Oz so great? It all dates back to the Second World War, when Australia’s first green bean trader Ernest Singer found a customer base in the American soldiers stationed in Australia, who often visited Melbourne when on leave. The Italians also played a big role in the great coffee scene, since Italians started vigorously migrating to Australia in the 1920’s when Canada and the USA restricted their immigration laws. The Italians brought among them the love for espresso: while specialty cafes in Oz make more and more filter coffees, the majority is still espresso-based brews, unlike in Europe and The US where we often sip “house coffee” from the thermos, made in the morning and whenever the thermos runs empty. Australia is also acknowledged as the pioneer in the third wave of coffee or specialty coffee. Syphon, aeropress, pour over, cold brew and other methods are available in the neighborhood cafes, and it is not uncommon to order a coffee as you were ordering a particular type of fine wine; to discuss the flavor profiles and washing methods. You can have a 20-minute discussion over coffee and proper accompanying milk (organic, skinny, almond, soy; hot, flat, double) without no one blinking an eye.

Z's chillin' on the shelf.
Z’s chillin’ on the shelf.

This particular interest in origin, quality and atmosphere of the everyday joe made Starbuck close over half of its’ cafes in Australia due to “business challenges unique to the Australian market” in 2008. Ha! Unlike in Europe and the States, luckily in Oz the chain is not the king.

I drink my coffee black to get the most original natural flavors out of it, but I must admit I have spent quite some time watching latte art videos in Instagram and YouTube. Getting the perfect crema espresso and frothing the milk to form shapes is intriguing, and I haven’t had the possibility to practice in a long time now. One day I will make tulips and rosettas like tying my shoelaces. Until then, I enjoy the artwork of others and sip my cups black in small cafes where the varieties are carefully chosen and they know where their brews are from.

South Yarra life

Goddamn time goes by fast. It is now officially autumn and the much dreaded winter is just around the corner! Hello march. When I go shopping, I am on the lookout for long pants, jumpers and even jackets! Yesterday I bought a huge wool scarf which already proved itself very useful. I keep telling myself I will survive this, I come from way harsher conditions, after all!

Even the bins are classy.
Even the bins are classy.

Life in South Yarra has settled into its everyday routines, or at least something like that. I have been working in (the kitchen! of) an organic cafe/restaurant, approx. 5-6 days a week. I wake up after 6 and walk my way to work, seeing the dawn light up the sky. After work I have been going to yoga in Richmond if I have the time, and I have truly enjoyed the different classes and teachers on offer at Rise Yoga. 2 weeks unlimited yoga for 25 dollars, not bad! I’ll just go through all different yoga school trial offers, and be all set for a good while.

I am lucky to live with 4 lovely people who are fun to hang around with, and I hope that I will live here for some time and get to know people and places better. Hopefully things in the work-field will work out smooth(ie)ly and I’ll get forward with my master plans. No crazy adventures to tell you about now, I’ve only been keeping busy with coming up with a smoothie and juice menu (try blending 2 espresso shots with banana, almond milk, cashews and dates) and having a Twilight marathon. Cause sometimes life is just about going to work, to the same shops and sitting on the couch playing with your roommate’s Tinder.

Balance.
Balance.