Reunion in Melbourne
Australia has been awesome so far. We’ve done so much. We started the fun immediately after my arrival. The flight was pretty decent. Getting on the plane was interesting as apparently I needed a visa after all – though my Aussie friends assure me I didn’t need a visa for such a short stay, they wouldn’t let me check in without one. Luckily I was able to rush over to a nearby internet station get an internet card (I didn’t have time to see if my laptop worked with their wireless!) and bought myself an electronic visa. I made it back to check in within 20 minutes and was able to make it to Australia. Moral: technology is not always evil.
The flight was a bit late but the ride was relatively smooth. I slept a bit and watched the free TV shows, one on dinosaurs and an episode of the Simpson’s. It was interesting being with all these people speaking English after so long of not understanding what anyone is saying around me. The flight was cold and blankets were $9 sol I just curled up a bit. Food was even more expensive but I ate some cheap fried chicken at the Bangkok airport during my 4-hour layover (it was disgusting but filling). I also conversed in bad French with some other tourists during the layover, reminding me that my French grammar has become atrocious.
Day 1: After a quick shower at Lisa’s we head to a park where there are all these beautiful wild birds. They land on you and eat out of your hands. There are Cockatoos and these red and pink and green birds everywhere (Rosellas and Galahs, I’m told). The cockatoos left big gouges from their claws on our forearms but it was worth it. Lisa got really nailed when two huge Cockatoos landed on the same arm and is still sporting a pretty impressive bruise. I really enjoyed the experience – jet lagged as I might have been.
That night we went to Wendy and Henk’s house (Lisa’s parents) for a big lamb roast dinner. It was delicious with roasted pumpkin and sweet potato and a fabulous chocolate pudding for dessert (think molten chocolate cake, Americans). With bellies full we head on to pass out at Lisa’s.
Day 2: The following day was Sunday and we stopped at Chinese New Year festivals across the city – by the Yarra River and in China Town. I had a delicious skinny hot cocoa - despite the heat - and shared the foam with Sal’s kids. We walked the river and took pictures by an iconic Melbourne bridge and then walked the city for 7 hours (also took a ride on the old trolly which was crowded and sticky full of schoolkids, pictured)! It was great fun and there’s a store I loved out here called Dangerfield’s with overpriced punky clothes (kind of Urban Outfitteresque but MUCH cooler since it’s in Australia of course). We went down a very hip alley with coffee shops spilling into the walking parts and people of all shapes, sizes, and Mohawk color.
For dinner, exhausted, Sal her kids (James and Adelaide) and I ate at Lisa’s. Then after putting the kids to bed we inhaled a huge block of Cadbury chocolate and promptly stayed up past midnight looking at picture on our computers and talking about mutual friends.
Day3: The following day was Sunday. The original plan was to ride the great ocean road however due to the heat we went to Woodend instead. After saying goodbye to Sal we hit the road for the country. Woodend is the small town where Ali grew up. We got to visit his old school, a Victorian building at top of a hill among gum and eucalyptus trees. Ali told stories of bush fires for as fire as the eye could see and how one time his school was evacuated down the hill during a fire and how the asphalt was melting into their shoes on the way we saw a few landmarks of the area. A giant cross memorial on the top of a hill and an old volcano called Hanging Rock that inspired a story, Picnic at Hanging Rock, that was ultimately made into a movie of the same name.
Then Dinner (on the barbie) at Ali’s parents house, Roger and Heather’s, to celebrate the Chinese New Year. We had a HUGE spread of yummy food and gorged ourselves again nearly to bursting. Then we had ice cream and cake for the New Year and Ali’s birthday. I would love to wax poetic about Woodend, and probably could, but am so far behind in blogging I’ll probably let the pictures tell the story. I do have to say, though, that the stories of all the deadly snakes and close encounters and such spooked me. It’s true that Australia has like 8/10 of the world’s deadliest snakes (and something similar for spiders).
Day 4: Monday we went about the town – I saw some of the districts including Fitzroy, which is very funky and fun and original. Also very gay-friendly and diverse all around. We wrapped the evening watching Pan’s Labyrinth, which I wanted to see so badly, but had limited release in the States and never was shown in Michigan.
This is just a bit of what I’ve done. It’s really been rather busy and lots of fun. Today we’ve also been around to beaches and piers and back to another part of Fitzroy, which was equally as funky and fun. Every day we’ve hit up a different coffee shop. Some famous for good Italian espresso, some remarkable for their unique décor, and some not very impressive visually but absolutely delicious.
This weekend we plan to drive the Great Ocean Road – the 101 of Australia. I’m looking forward to it and will remember to wear my swimsuit (aka bathers or togs) so I can go and fight off the Sharks.
If I get time I’ll most more on Day 5: the 20th, Ali’s fabulous birthday extravaganza! And the Great Ocean Road as well of course….