Down South...........................

Trip Start May 16, 2006
Trip End Aug 15, 2006

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Sunday, August 6, 2006

I arrived in Melbourne this morning after being bumped off one flight. Thankfully the wait was very short. I was at the hostel and on the streets about 1pm.

I headed to St Kildas on the coast for the Sunday street market. More artists and their wares. St Kildas is a nice little seaside town. Lots of shopping and restaurants. I had my first "real burger"(not mcdonalds) today. Nice and big with bacon and cheese and fries, yummm. I cant be making that a habit as the "vacation' diet has been doing me wonders.

After St Kildas I headed back into Melbourne(MEL). MEL is approximately 1/2 the size of SYD. It has a different feel about it. Instead of a harbor there is a river. There are many more older building here than in SYD. Many buildings and houses are from the 19th century. Again I walked and walked. There is a big casino by the river I walked through there and watched all the fools throw their money away. I watched one guy loose $500. I thought to myself, why dont you just give it to me, it will go to a much better use. From the casino I did a walking tour of the city and back to "The Nunnery" where I am staying for the next three nights. It is an old Convent, Victorian with stained glass an mosaic floors. Fairly close to downtown with a tram stop right out the door.

Going to run as I am out of coins for the internet vending machine and my time is about up so, talk to ya later!



07 AUG 06

The weather the past two days have been awesome. Monday was a cloudless Carolina blue sky day. Today was nice too, a few high clouds and a little warmer than Monday. Monday was spent hiking around the city and seeing the sights. I went up to the observation deck in the 2nd tallest building in Melbourne(MEL). Wonderful views of the city and environs. In the afternoon I rented a bike and toured the perimeter of the Botanical Gardens then I headed out towards MEL University and the Zoo area. MEL has bike trails all around the city as well as bike lanes within the city. MEL is pretty flat and what hills there are are not too bad. I attempted to follow the Cityline Bike Trail. I do not know what it is about me and bikes but I became turned around and went the opposite direction of the city. I was in a bit of a valley and could not see any landmarks. I peddaled uphill for a couple of miles. Finally i stopped someone and asked them to show me on the map where I was. She asked where do you want to go? I said the city by the river, she said ooooh the city is the other way. Jeez, its like 430 and the bike shop closes at 5pm so I am pedalling like a maniac to get back. I got there just in the nick of time he was about to lock up. So its 5pm and ive had two pieces of toast for breakfast so im famished, looking, walking, and searching for a cheap place to eat. Finally i find a spot that has a special. Dinner and a beer for $10. I tell the waiter I will have a beer before dinner then have "the special". So i have my pre dinner beer and order dinner and he brings me my dinner special beer. About half way thru the 2nd beer he tells me they are out of the dinner special. He offered no substitue to the special so i pass. The beers here are like 5.0% alcohol, so empty stomach and 2 beers im about pissed(buzzed in Ozzie). So i "had" to go eat Thai food. Poor me! I came back home to the Nunnery and watched "South Park" with my housemates.

Today (tuesday) I met up with a couple of guys whom I met in Mykonos, Greece in 1992. Peter and Smitty. They were gracious tour guides and took the day to show me around MEL. Per my request we walked around the "Royal Botanical Gardens". The gardens are beautiful. I would love to see them in the spring and summer in their full bloom. It is quite the place. Lots of mature plants and trees. It was started in the late 1800's. I was surprised by all the familiar plants we saw, azaleas, rhododendron, viburnum, sedums, and others. It is the end of winter here and almost spring time. There are few early bloomers blooming all around the city. After the gardens we walked around the city thru the arcades and alleyways of MEL. Peter and Smitty were funny, they kept asking each other where we should go next. They were at a loss as to where to take me. I told them any 'ol thing is fine as I am low maintenance. At this point i have been in enough museums, temples and churches to do me for a long while. We ended up at a Turkish restaurant and the lady there knew Peter as he lives in the neighborhood. The food was excellent and bountiful. There was enough left on the plate for a full meal for someone. From there we took Smitty home and sat around for a bit and had a beer. It was fun to see them, it seems like only yesterday we were in Mykonos. I hope i am able to return the hospitality someday.

So now im back at the Nunnery and am leaving tomorrow for Cairns(pronounced Cans) and The Great Barrier Reef. I am looking forward to getting back to nature as the past 12 days or so have been city oriented. I was able to get some great "see and do" suggestions from Smitty as he used to live in Cairns. So next time you here from me I will be in the great "warm" north. Australia is different than the states as northern Australia is closest to the equator so its warmer in the north than the south.
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