World Trip, Part VIII - Victoria

Trip Start Jul 30, 2008
Trip End May 02, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Well, if you want to take your head for a spin, and don't want to try either drugs or alcohol, all you really need to do is travel around Australia during Daylight Savings Time. Moving from Perth to Darwin, you advance 30 minutes. Then, going from Darwin to Adelaide, you advance an hour (altho South Australia is almost directly below the Northern Territory). And, then going from Adelaide to Melbourne, you advance another half an hour! To add to the confusion, often no one seems to know what time it is in the other States, and sometimes not even their own! Ha! And, let's not even try to figure out what time it is in Queensland. Hardy har har!

Anyhoo....Welcome to Victoria!

The Place:

OK, so forever and ever, many Australians have been telling me that Melbourne was simply awesome, and the best city in Australia. Even on the plane to Melbourne, they were saying that, but when I asked "why?", no one could give me an answer. How's that for clarification!? Doh! Finally, I pressed some Australian lady and after shrugging her shoulders, looking at me like a deer in headlights, she finally uttered "it's a great place to live". "Alllllllrighty, then".....I said, as I rolled my eyes back in my head at this pathetic answer, and pulled out my Qantas barf bag! (BTW, when asked, no one could tell me what there was to see and do there either!) I almost should have taken a cue maybe from my parents who were there earlier this year, and when I asked them how it was, they grunted. ;-| (They are usually emphatic and melodramatic when a destination is fantastic!)

Well, the flight was spectacular, but who knew the airport is a million miles out. And, there is no public transport to the city. Yet, another Australian city that has a monopoly on expensive airport shuttles into town. Yoiks!

I finally arrived at my backpacker's, and I was pretty tired. The guy at reception was awesome, and put me in a 12-bed dorm room that was empty except for little old me. I spent the little part of the afternoon I had left to go food shopping, and take my party nap before a night on the town.

(Insert here another nite not unlike those I had in Perth. :))

Over the following couple days, I roamed around town, checked out some stores, saw some incredible buildings, including the two fantastic cathedrals - St. Patrick's and St. Paul's. I also attended Mark's dinner party in North Melbourne and had a wonderful time. The dinner and conversations with Mark and his friends would turn out to be my best time and experience in Melbourne.

Finally, the next morning, Mattieu, the French backpacker I met in Adelaide, arrived in Melbourne. I had been expecting him. It would have been nice if the backpacker place had told everyone that they were painting the entire third floor that day, and were evicting everyone from that floor including me, but noooooooo......! So, Mattieu and I got put into a smaller dorm and charged more. The nerve! I got checked in first, and went up to the room first, only to find that piggies were living there...without all the mud. Just like Darwin! Just as I was exiting the room, Mattieu was entering the hall, and I told him that he wasn't going to be pleased. And, sure enough, he wasn't! To make a very long story short, since the backpacker place refused to move us into another room, or ship-shape the piggies, we demanded and received a refund, and moved to another hostel. What a pain and a waste of time.

In an effort to get into a better mood, we decended upon the town, and saw more cool buildings, some of which I had already seen. Then, Mattieu called up his French friend, Marc, who he had met elsewhere and was living and studying with other French people in Melbourne. He met us at Flinders Street Station, and took us on a tour of the incredible Botanic Gardens, War Memorial and to other interesting sites. At the War Memorial we met another French friend. They were both really super guys. 

After a fun tour, I headed back to the new backpackers, took a nap, and Mattieu came back later to get me. We went back into Melbourne and met up with the Marc, his other friend, and a whole bunch of other French people at this clandestine bar in an alley for drinks. Marc thought that these bars were really cool because unless you live there, you don't know about them. That's probably true. Then, all 10 of us went to a famous Chinese dumpling restaurant, only to be kicked out 20 minutes after we ordered because the chefs decided they didn't want to cook anymore and closed the kitchen. Ya gotta love this place! Mattieu and I settled for Hungry Jacks with birds inside, and then headed back to the YHA. 

Just as we were arriving, we were wondering about our friend, Dan, whom we met in Adelaide, and toured Barossa with, and we were sure that he was coming to Melbourne, and were trying to figure out when exactly. We were certain that he was arriving that day, but neither of us had kept in touch. As the alien gods would have it, as we walked up the steps outside of the YHA, there he was at reception! :) How cool was that!?

The gang was back together. Mattieu and I had tried and failed to organize ourselves and possibly with others to visit the Great Ocean Road, but Dan just came from there in the few days we didn't see him, so he got to share his stories with us (and later his excellent photos). With less than a day together, we all seemed to heading to the same next destination, and were making an Adelaide-type plan of action for this adventure. Dan would leave  Melbourne first, then moi, then Mattieu. We were sure this would be a lot of fun!

The Food:

Groceries, more meat pies, chinese dumpling food that didn't happen, Hungry Jacks, great cheese thanks to Mattieu, and lots of throat lozenges!

The People:

Well, folks and friends, at this point, forget China, and forget Cameron from Perth, we have an "I suck wind" award winner! Yes, it's Josh Farrington. Dishonest and disingenuous, and more flakey than corn cereal or a snowy mountain, this turd is definitely not the cool backpacker I thought I had met in Tokyo. Lay off the drugs, Josh, your brain is already fried! (PS: "Trash" always gets a mention in my blogs!)

Notwithstanding, my award winner, the people in Melbourne were pretty good. Mark and Leith were super sweet and nice. And, the people, including Richard, whom I met at Mark's dinner party were the coolest. I love intense, passionate people with a good attitude and an opinion, who can intelligently discuss and debate topics!

The guy at reception at my first backpackers was a superstar, and really helped me with a few things that I needed to take care of. I thank(ed) him a lot for this help! I also met a few cool backpackers in Melbourne, including Matt, from England.

As some may know, Melbourne is quite the cosmopolitan city, with a nice immigrant mix. There are a lot of Asians, but also some Indians and Arabs. This definitely adds to the variety in foods to eat as well! :)

Thanks bunches to Dan and Mark for letting me use their cell phones! Much appreciated. And, Mark, dinner was awesome!

Rhetorical Questions/Comments for Australians in Victoria:

* Whoever designed your airport is definitely from the Acid Era. Please demolish this airport, rebuild it, and this time include proper signage, signs that are visible, and a simple layout that makes sense! And how about more windows?
* Skybus and Discovery Hotel, please get your crapola together!
* What's with your "Little" street names, like Lonsdale St, Little Lonsdale St., Bourke St., and Little Bourke St.? Did you run out of names? Doh!
* I am renaming "Melbourne", "Melbasia".
* OK, we could also call "Melbourne", "Melboring".
* Why can't the Asians in Melbourne learn to walk down the street in a straight line like the rest of us?
* I can't believe you have the nerve to charge for your city tours!
* If you're planning to live or study in Melbourne, I can appreciate that it might be a good city to be in, but as a tourist, I think it's worth a miss. (Altho, I might be back to visit Mark and Leith again.)

Photos: On blog.

Next Stop: The home of a little devil, and maybe Bugs Bunny is still there too! (Oops, I am long gone!)
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