Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's Been a Looong Week

To friends, family, and whomever else reads this, I am sorry it has been so long since I last posted something. When I got to Kangaroo Island, there was no connectivity. It was like living in a ghost town. And then once we got to Sydney, each day was as busy as the first, and once I got back to the apartment, I was to exhausted to do anything but sleep to recuperate for another crazy day.

Before I backtrack, I want to talk about today, February 13th; the day before Valentines day at the last destination: Melbourne. The other cities I have written notes about my impressions and adventures to help me recall it later, but today I didn't do that. First a recap of all the cities I have visited: Brisbane is like Florida, Adelaide is like a coastal town in California, KI (Kangaroo Island) is like a foreign planet (in a good way), Sydney is like New York, and Melbourne is like San Francisco. That's the quickest recap I can make. Now, I am not saying they are perfect comparisons, and Australia is not like America in many ways; these are just the best comparisons I can make for my own understanding and knowledge of the country I hail from.

My first impression of Melbourne was, where's the city? The airport is in the middle of rural no where's land full of trees and yellow grass covered fields. As the express bus took us into closer, we finally met with city heights. Many buildings are covered in bits and pieces of colors. For example there was a building with huge letters that said "Custom"; it was painted like one of those black and white stripped illusions that have the strips not aligning evenly in each row  (up and down) and some parts of the rows (right to left) are thinner or thicker than the rest. On the very same building there were hollow aqua circles on top of the strips that stuck out of the building, and the bottom part of the building--where the doors were--was orange. There was also a building that's revolving door was inside a sphere ball much like the Science Museum in downtown Raleigh but smaller, and multicolored.

Melbourne is definitely less organized (in being initially clear) than Sydney. It's sort of a looser version of the uptight, power hungry feel I got from workers who passed by me in Sydney. This doesn't mean the people of Melbourne don't have that same drive; it just means that they like to bend the rules and let their freak flag fly higher and more visible.

The place we ate at was on trip adviser called "The Long Room." It's name like everything else in Australia is a pretty straight forward description of the location or other marker that would just be an obvious off hand comment to describe the street, shop, bridge etc. If a church is by the bay, it's Bay Church; if the street goes from east to west, it's East West Street,...etc. Therefore you can assume this restaurant was a long room. You'd be right. You could almost miss this restaurant, and I think we were the only tourists in there. It was set in the basement level of what looked like a mall. The lighting was dim, and the seating felt like the VIP room in a club. The bar stretched the full length of the room on the right and a DJ stood behind that. The seats varied from long tables and couches surrounded by a shared coffee table for big groups to shared tables with cold, steel bar stools for couples (two people sat on one end, a  black, Greek column surged through the middle, obscuring the other two people on the other side). It was cold like a cellar, but the music the DJ was playing could be found on my remix playlist on my ipod. There was a section with fire coming from the floor in front of a huge, random moose head. And the area we sat at, which was the odd shared tables with columns through the middle was divided from the couches by oriental  flourished and flowered almost gate-like metal barrier. The served all-you-can-eat tapas for a little less than $30, so it wasn't on a college budget. I will probably never go there again. I loved it, but it's a little pricey. And because it is so popular with the local working class, it took sometimes over 20 minutes for each grouping of 4 tapas choices to come out of the kitchen. It was my first taste of the Melbourne atmosphere in a nutshell.

Before we left for Melbourne, we had some time to chill in Sydney. I had been using public transportation a lot while in Sydney, especially the ferry system. On this day we had officially used every single ferry route possible in the Sydney harbor. It was quite fun to use the waterways as a means of travel, although the wind could get extremely cold in comparison to the actual temperature.

We took the ferry to Cremorne Point. Whenever you walk on the coastline of any of the separate harbors that make up Sydney harbor, all you see are expensive homes that look like beach mansions and castles. It is prime real estate on the beach, so I can only imagine the costs of those places. We took a leisurely stroll on one of the public sidewalks alongside these homes built on their cliff sides out looking the water. There was a distant view of the bridge and the opera house. And the cove had many sail boats docked, like most  of harbor. We people watched and admired the rain forest like foliage. There was an interesting marker on the walk that pointed out an ancient rock overhang where aboriginals used to burn their fire and stay protected from the rain and wind. You could still see the charcoal blackening on the rocks.

We also, enjoyed our very first hearing of the kookaburra call in its natural habitat.

On our way back from Cremorne Point, we had to switch ferry's at Circular Quay, where the Oprah House and tourist boulevard lay. We were taking our time (for once) this morning, and took a detour.We people watched while drinking coffee for the last time before getting back to the apartment to make our final departure out to the airport. It became a game called spot the local. The rules were to search for a local in the crowd of tourists, and they couldn't be a jogger or someone in a work suit. It was an entertaining 45 minutes.

Getting to the airport after saying goodbye to our hosts was probably the worst part of the day, since we had to carry our luggage to the train station up stairs, down stairs, and onto two separate trains because we had to switch. But we made it! I am finally at my final destination.

I promise to reminisce about past events as soon as possible. I definitely have a lot to say, and I want to get it down before I forget the funny, emotional, frustrating, or exciting details.

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