Back to Reality

The rest of my time in Melbourne post Great Ocean Road was very satisfying. On the first day of October I hung out with Jess–and old friend from when I was at high school in Cairns. We walked around Melbourne, but before I met up with Jess I met up with one of Tosh’s friends, Chip, for coffee. Chip and I were going to walk around the famous Victoria Markets, but they were closed on Wednesdays, so instead Chip showed me around the city. This way I knew my way around the city more when I went to meet Jess at Southern Cross Station.

Jess and I checked out the DFO which is a giant complex of clothing outlets by the train station. It was okay, but did not live up to the hype everyone puts on them. I like the outlets in New Jersey better. We had sushi for lunch and went to the State Library to see the exhibit of Ned Kelly’s original armor. For those of you who do not know who Ned Kelly is–he is pretty much like Billy the Kid, but Australian. If that doesn’t satisfy your curiosity, check out this website for more information. Anyway Ned Kelly is an Australian icon and his armor, made out of plough pieces, is the signature mark of Kelly and his gang. People have Ned Kelly all suited up on their jeep tire covers just like some Americans have Yosemite Sam. Anyway, the exhibit in the library was free and well done. The rest of the armor of Ned Kelly’s gang was on display in the Melbourne Gaol (jail for us Americans) but there was an entrance fee so Jess and I didn’t go in. It’s always nice to catch up with old friends and hanging with Jess was a good way to enjoy that day.

The next day was Thursday and I had already been away for a week! It’s crazy how time flies. I spent most of Thursday in the State Library having acquired a card that enabled me to use the wireless internet there I wrote a large portion of the assignment that was due today. It was hanging over my head and the State Library of Victoria is just so cool. I went back there several times, but I did meet Chip for lunch. Chip was determined that I eat at ever cheap and delicious place he could take me to, so we had dumplings at this great little chinese restaurant in the city. It was a quicklunch and I ended up going down to South Bank to see Federation Square and the famouse touristy sights there. I didn’t stay long because I was in paper-writing mode. I tried to go see the Victoria Markets again before they closed but I got there too late, so I went back to the state library and got the majority of my paper-writing done.

I touched base with Tosh who had to work after we got back from our road trip–he’s a teacher at a local high school–so I was largely on my own for the remainder of the time. Thursday night his housemates had arranged to go out and Tosh went with them. I was still out when they decided to leave so Tosh informed me how to get to the shopping area so I could fend for myself for dinner. It was latenight shopping at the shopping complex by Tosh’s house, which is actually a mall, which actually turned out to be the biggest mall in Australia. High Point Mall gives New Jersey malls a run for their money. It is HUGE. I managed to locate the food court and get a sandwich. I didn’t stick around that madhouse too long though. I took my sandwich and went back to the house where I watched Back to the Future II and went to bed. It was a relaxing and productive day and I felt good about leaving my studies after that to really enjoy Melbourne.

On Friday I left the house early again. Tosh hadn’t come back until 2:30am that morning so he wasn’t getting up. It dawned a beautiful morning so I went for a long walk along the Yarra River which ran right by Toshi’s house. Then I got going, having planned to walk around Southbank a little more and go to some of the museums. I went to the Victoria Markets for real this time and walked around. There was a bagel vendor and a pet stall and many many stalls of immitation Ugg boots etc. I didn’t stay too long. When I got to Southbank, however, the weather decided to change in true Melbourne fashion. They say sometimes in Melbourne you get all four season in one day. This was one of those days. Rain clouds rolled in over the river and lingered there looking ominous. I took the hint and ducked inside ACMI: The Australia Centre for the Moving Image. They had some interesting exhibits there but I didn’t stay too long. I don’t like museums, I prefer being outside. It was starting to spit as I came out of ACMI, so I got on a tram that would take me down to St Kilda where Toshi had taken me on the first day. Chip told me where the Jewish area of Melbourne actually was, so I followed my trusty map to that neighborhood and got off right in the heart of Melbournes Jewish life. It was Friday afternoon so everyone was preparing for the Sabbath. There were bread shops and gift shops and kosher butchers and everything all right on this one little block. If you went one block in either direction the whole feel of the place changed. On one side were only residences and on the other side was a bustling center of multicultural cafes and shops. This one section of street in the suburb called Balaklava seemed to be the epicenter of all things Jewish. I wasn’t that hungry even though I was very tempted by the gefilte fish in the shops, so I didn’t get any Jewish food. It was raining a little harder when I got off the tram so I went inside a gift shop and ended up talking with the cashier there. We had a nice chat and asked each other questions about the Jewish communities in our respective countries. She was nice and I’m glad I got to talk to her because it kept me out of the rain.

It was getting on to late afternoon though and I knew the shop was going to close eventually, so I went back out and got on the tram to go back into the city. The transit authority was out in numbers that day. My ticket got checked twice and both times I was told by the officers that in Victoria, student IDs are not enough to get a concession fare. You have to apply for a special concession card that allows you to pay less on public transportation. But since I had an ID from Queensland they both gave me the benefit of the doubt and told methat from now on I needed to buy full priced fares or my train ride would cost me $180 in penalty fines. With only one day left in Melbourne, I was not going to get too worked up about having to pay full price. Playing the clueless out-of-stater worked on Friday, so it would work on Saturday too. Victoria is the only state in Australia that has this ridiculous system. In my opinion, if you’re a student in one state, you’re a student in all states. It doesn’t change your financial status if you cross a state line.

Anyway, I went back to the city center and decided to walk around in the shopping complex which was under cover until 5pm which was when I wanted to go to the State Library to check the exam schedule that was being posted for November. I have to plan my New Zealand trip in November around my exams. After that I called Toshi to find out if he wanted to have dinner together that night. He was still working and didn’t want to come into the city, but said that I should go to this curry place that wasn’t far from the city center. I walked over there as it had stopped raining and found the place, but I wasn’t hungry when I got there. I had a late lunch after leaving Balaklava, so I decided to walk up Lygon Street, which is where the curry place was. Lygon Street is in a really cool part of Melbourne where literally every store front is a restaurant, bottle shop or convenience store. It is the land of food and eating. It was cool to walk around and people watch. I liked looking at all the different placed to eat and I suddently felt like seeing a movie. I had just texted Chip and Toshi asking where there might be a movie theater when I practically walked right into one. Luckily there was a showing of Wall-E in 15 minutes, so I went on in. Wall-E is a good movie and it was nice to just sit and relax watching a movie like that. When I got out I walked back to the curry place, got take away and headed home where I consumed my curry and went to bed.

Saturday was a little hectic. I went on a walk again and then Tosh took me to his school so I could try to print out my boarding pass for my flight the next day. School was locked so we went to Chip’s house to use his internet connection for a while. We didn’t even go in, we just parked next to it and used the signal from Toshi’s car. So I got the PDF with my boarding pass but then Tosh couldn’t find his printer cable to print it out. I had a few things I wanted to do at High Point anyway, so I went back to that giant of a mall and tried to use the internet/printing stations there. The printers wouldn’t work and I was forced to spend time on the phone with customer service and then when they couldn’t fix it for me I ran around everywhere to try to find a printer. I did some shopping too both for myself and to pick up a bottle of wine to leave for Tosh the next day as a thank you for inviting me present. I finally found an Officeworks, which is like Staples, and they printed off my boarding pass in three seconds. It turns out that while I was doing that Tosh found his cable and printed it off for me, so all my hectic running around was basically for nothing. Oh well.

That night Toshi and I met up with Chip and a bunch of Chip’s friends for dinner. Chip is one of those guys who just brings people together by being so friendly and inviting everyone to just come along. It was great. I met Russell from Townsville and a few other people. We went to this AMAZING Thai restaurant around the bar where we met up with everyone. It was a little expensive but the food was delicious and completely worth what it cost. It was a glorious meal. We retired to Chip’s place where Chip and Russell introduced me to The Mighty Boosh and Black Adder–two hilarious British TV comedies. It was great.

Tosh and I returned late. Chip had volunteered to take me to the airport the next day because Tosh didn’t really fancy getting up early, but it’s a good thing Chip did take me to theairport because I didn’t realize that Daylight Saving Time had happened overnight. Sunday morning dawned an hour earlier than I thought it would after Victoria sprang ahead an hour, and had Chip’s clock not changed automatically, I would have missed my plane. The only major mishap that transpired before the plane took me back to Brisbane was that the strap on the tote bag containing my laptop broke and my computer hit the ground with an alarming noise. I frantically took it out to see the damage and miraculously, nothing was wrong. There is now a small crack in the casing, but it works perfectly fine. How lucky am I? 

It’s good to be home, I must say. I have been working on my assignment for the rest of the time that I have been back minus a run and a walk. The paper was due today at 5pm and after that I celebrated by having dinner at my friend Kevin’s house which had the perk of also catching up with Sean. I hadn’t seen Sean for four years, so it was nice to see him and we all had a great time eating Kevin’s delicious chicken, rice and veggies. It was HOT in Brisbane today. And muggy. I really like it. It reminds me that summer is coming! That the second spring into summer in a row for me and when I get back to the US I get to do it again!

Now I must go to sleep as I have a long day of classes tomorrow. I will continue loading Melbourne pictures as time permits. As always, thanks for reading.

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