Not your traditional tour, but that is why I liked it. The tour ended in South Melbourne, which is known as the ritzy area, and this is where we had breakfast. We ate at an outdoor café (even though it was 40 degrees at the time) called Kanteen. The menu was fairly limited in its options, but everything was fantastic. A popular breakfast item in Asia and Australia is museli with yogurt and fruit. Amy has been ordering this just about every morning, but decided to go with the more American style breakfast of eggs and toast. This gave me a chance to try the museli. There were two options on the menu, regular and gluten free. I went with the regular as it was slightly cheaper and sounded better to me. Boy was I wrong. Macca always gets the gluten free and gave me a taste and I must confess that those people with celiacs really made out well on this option.
Since this was our last full day in Australia and I still needed a few items from the scavenger hunt list, we spent the rest of the morning driving around town to fulfill the remaining items. Our next stop was to the market where we politely found a fish stand and begged the owners to lend me a fish to kiss. Then we walked over to the mall to find the Australia version of Best Buy (called JB Hi-Fi) were we found a dvd collection of the Wiggles. While shopping, we stopped by a sports store so I could pick up some items for this evenings footie match. The match is between the Carlton Blues and the Melbourne Demons.
I decided to root for Carlton since their fan base consists of mostly yuppies, they are usually a good team (although haven't won the title since the mid-90s), and I like their colors. They also tried to cheat and exceeded the salary cap in the late 90s, so they remind me of the Yankees. Of course Amy sided with me, as well as Trashbin who is a fan of the Blues star player Chris Judd (not the same guy that married J-Lo, trust me, I asked). The rest of the crew were siding with Melbourne (Macca and Fi because their favorite team is the main rival of Carlton, Adam because they have Penn colors and are called the Demons which is similar to the Duke Blue Devils, and Ken because they were the home team). At the sports store I picked up a scarf to wear for the evening along with a football to take home.
I also realized at this point that I do not have a jacket, and we were about to head to New Zealand’s South Island during winter, which gets very cold. So I figured I should probably buy a coat. We went to a few stores and just when I thought I was going to be unsuccessful, we found the Macpac store which was having a huge sale. Macpac is NZ’s version of The North Face and I was able to get a jacket at 60% off. Although the exchange rate is pretty bad, I figured it was a smart choice and something I would use in the future. Amy also picked up a pair of thermals (called long underwear in the U.S.) so she's all set too.
We were finally finished shopping and finished our driving tour passing by the Australian Open Tennis Complex (to take another picture for the scavenger hunt list) before Macca and Fi dropped us off to meet Ken downtown. Ken was just finishing up lunch at this time while Adam had just picked up his laundry. So the timing worked out well. We all met up for a brief moment before Adam decided he wanted to do some more shopping on his own (mostly to get a Demons scarf for the evening). Since I got most of my shopping done already, it was now Amy’s turn. We spent the next few hours walking through the many arcades and shopping alleys that Melbourne is famous for. Amy was not too successful as she did not find anything she was looking for although we did see some great street graffiti art.
We finished shopping early and were supposed to meet the group in Chinatown for dinner at 5, so we walked to a bar next door to the restaurant and enjoyed a few beers until everyone arrived. It turns out this is a famous bar as it's completely outdoors and has lots of local grafitti to enjoy. Trashbin met us at the bar since she had gotten off work at this point. The bar was outdoors, but the weather was warming up and I had my new jacket to keep me warm (along with some beer). After being at the bar for an hour or two, the entire group was there and we proceeded to Shanghai Dumplings for dinner.
We chose this restaurant since dumplings were a huge hit in China and we wanted to have a proper reunion. That and it was cheap and byo. The seven of us feasted on numerous types of dumplings and walked away completely stuffed (for what was probably our cheapest meal in Australia to date). At this point it was getting late and we had to hustle to get to the stadium before the footie match started. We had a 20 minute walk to the stadium (which holds over 100,000 people).
We arrived just on time, but Adam and I decided to get our faces painted to support our respective teams (because why wouldn’t you get your faces painted in a foreign land at a foreign sport). By now, the game had already started and since our seats were general admission (within a certain section), we ended up in the upper deck area. This gave us pretty good sightlines for the first quarter, but in the second quarter we decided to take our chances to see if we could move down to closer seats. We were able to sit twenty rows back in the heart of the Melbourne Demons section. I was second guessing getting my face painted with the opposing teams logo, but I just had to support the Blues. I had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the game since I have watched Aussie Rules Football on one of those Fox Sports Networks late at night for the last few years. It was also on throughout our time in Asia.
But being at the game I was able to pick up on strategy which made it all the more interesting. The game was not very close as Carlton dominated almost doubling the score of Melbourne, but regardless we had an amazing time. After the game we walked over to a bar to have a few more drinks. By now my face paint had washed off, but Adam’s was still on (along with his scarf) so all of the locals were consoling him. Little did they know that he couldn’t care less about the outcome of the game. We finished those beers and said goodbye to Ken and Adam as the rest of us took the tram back to Macca’s house as it was getting late and we had a very early wake up call to get to the airport in the morning.
This morning we decided to split up for everyone to do their own thing. Adam had to do laundry since his 50 pound bag did not include enough clothing for 2 weeks and Ken decided to walk around the botanical gardens, so this left Amy and I to have a small driving tour of the city. The tour started at the local Australian Rules Football Field where we tossed around a football and I practiced kicking some goals. I started out close, but eventually moved to the 50 meter line where I was able to successfully kick a goal (perhaps I have a future in this sport). After we were finished, we tour continued. Since Macca is a policewoman, we got a tour with a twist. Rather than explaining the history of each of the neighborhoods, we got a play by play on which areas were known for drug dealers and which were known for rapists.