Wednesday, August 10, 2011


By the time we reached Melbourne, we were a bit tired from all our activity in Sydney and Canberra.  We’re not used to go-go-going all the time, so even though we only have four days here, we’ve been sleeping in a bit and don’t really get out the door until 11am-noon.  If we are tired, though, we don’t really enjoy the sights anyway.  Plus, we have to have a lot of energy for all that walking.  Because driving is a bit crazy and parking can be expensive, we have been using public transport and walking.  We seem to be averaging about 2-3 hours of walking a day, and that doesn’t include all the wandering through museums and such.  So by the end of the day we are dog tired, our feet hurt, and we’re ravenous. 

There is a free tourist shuttle bus here, which is mostly what we did the first day.  We rode it the full circuit to get the lay of the land and make mental notes about what we wanted to come back and spend more time on.  They had a stop for the Melbourne Cricket Ground.  This is the largest stadium in the southern hemisphere (100,000 seats) For Cricket.  Weird.  Here's the hallowed stadium here:

On the bus there’s a commentary that plays, too, so that was helpful.  We did get off at the visitor’s centre for some maps and to see St. Paul's Cathedral (cathedral doors pictured below) and then again at the docklands stop.

The Docklands is sort of what the name implies.  At one time it was an active dock/harbor but for some reason that is not the case anymore, so they have built a huge shopping center and a large ferris wheel called the Southern Star.  The Star doesn’t actually work at the time being.  A few years ago during a heat wave it stopped working and they had to do a 20 million dollar upgrade they haven’t quite finished yet, but I think it’s supposed to reopen in 2012.  We did not get off to go to the Star or mall, though.  We got off because they had a Costco. 

So it’s sort of a long running joke that Daniel and I end every date at Costco.  I think there might even have been a crack made about us not being able to date in Australia because they didn’t have Costco.  Well, leave it to us find the one whole Costco in all of Australia.  It’s only been open 2 years the Californian at Customer Service informed us.   We wandered around a bit comparing prices, and it was still more expensive than home, but had some US stuff we hadn’t seen yet like pickle relish and peanut butter made with all peanuts, not 85% peanuts, and Heinz ketchup, not tomato sauce.  They still had the cream puffs and most importantly the snack bar.  The hotdog/coke deal here is $2.50 instead of $1.50, but that’s still dirt cheap, and they had free refills, too.  They still had the giant pizzas and chicken bakes and even the very berry sundaes.  It was heaven.  Laugh all you want, but it made our day.

We got back to the hotel and then went out walking again for another 2.5 hours.  We explored the suburb of South Yarra, where our hotel is.  It’s supposed to be one of the ritzy suburbs of Melbourne and has two main roads, Toorak and Chapel, lined with shops and restaurants.  It’s also the home of a huge gourmet produce and food market, which I’m planning on seeing tomorrow. 

The second day we also went in a bit late and started at the Shrine of Remembrance, which is a memorial that was mostly build after WWI, but then they added after WWII, Vietnam, Iraq, etc. and is generally just a memorial to the armed forces now.  It's huge, as you can see below.

Next we went to the Australian Centre of the Moving Image.  They had an exhibit that traced the beginnings of silent films Thomas Edison made to the introduction of sound and color, then TV, global broadcasts, internet, video games, etc.  You could even play asteroids on an old Atari.  They had a special section with mementos from famous Australian movies and actors like Crocodile Dundee’s hat and knife (pictured below), the Mad Max car, Geoffrey Rush’s script from Shine, Cate Blanchett’s dress from Elizabeth, and they had a whole section dedicated to Baz Luhrman. 

After beholding the Dundee hat and knife, Daniel decided he was done for the day, and suspected he took Lunesta this morning instead of his medicine that helps keep him alert (unfortunately, both are blue pills), so he went back to nap.  I pressed on to Craft Victoria, which was a lot further away than I thought, and then turned out to be a teeny tiny one room gallery.  I didn’t stay but about 10 minutes before I headed all the way back to the main art gallery of Victoria.  It’s a very pretty building with a waterfall in the front when you come in.

It wasn’t particularly interesting, though.  Oh, it considered one of if not the finest gallery in Australia, but that means they have room after room of paintings by greats like Monet and and his ilk.  I believe I had a whole blog post in Europe about how I don’t like paintings, and this continues to be true.  I love craft-wood, glass, metal, ceramic, paper, textiles.  So places like the Mint Museum in Charlotte and the Chihuly exhibit in Boston or the Rodin sculpture museum in Paris can consume me for hours, but I can breeze through a place with Picassos, Van Goghs and Renoir in a half an hour.  I actually spend more time in the gallery in Canberra because they had some metal working and textile exhibits and aboriginal wood pieces. 

So, I began the long walk back to the hotel.  It’s been drizzly for the last two days.  It’s what my mom always called spitting. You think, I don’t need to get out my umbrella for this, but then 20 minutes later you’re soaked and shivering.  I’m sure those of you back in NC would kill to be cold right now, so I won’t complain too much.  It’s sort of like early March in NC here—50s, rainy, and the trees are starting to bud and a few are blooming. 

I woke Daniel up to let me in and then drank some coffee and crawled into bed for a short nap while he watched kid’s cartoons.  I heard a couple of them, including a very cute one about sheep that was done by the same people who do Wallace and Grommit/Chicken Run.  We then set out to walk, again, to dinner.
We hadn’t eaten at a restaurant the whole time we’ve been here because they are expensive.  We’ve done some fast food and a cafeteria type place once, but that’s it.  However, since we were able to eat so cheap yesterday at the Costco food court, we decided to splurge for a real dinner tonight.  Melbourne had a large influx of Italian immigrants at one point, so they have a lot of good Italian food.  They also have a lot of good Asian, but that seems to be the case everywhere here, so we thought we’d capitalize on the Italian.  It was wonderful.  I had homemade gnocchi with a spicy red sauce and Daniel had a calzone like thing with roasted eggplant, spinach, feta, sun-dried tomatoes (or semi-dry as they call them here), olives, artichokes, and mushrooms.    We also got some garlic bread and then couldn’t resist the sticky date pudding.  This was a moist sweet cake with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.  We’re seriously thinking about going back again tomorrow just to get more date pudding.  It was lovely and made you feel human again after been cold and wet all day.  We unfortunately had to walk back, but at least it had stopped raining.


  1. all those beautiful paintings...(i'm a painting girl). well, anyways, it sounds like you are keeping busy and having fun! hope you brought good walking shoes.

  2. But did they have the $1 churros?!?!

  3. I thought I had good walking shoes, but after the thorough hose down they got at quarantine, they shrunk a bit, and now they've been giving me blisters. Sadly, no, they did not have $1 churros. They had $2 meat pies, but that's not really a good substitute. Interestingly, they have a Spanish chain of restaurants here that sell churros and chocolate sauce like we had in Madrid, but they want like $4 a churro, so we've not had any Mexican fry bread goodness.