Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day Sixteen: Transit/Federation

On the plane to Melbourne. We had a tasty lunch and our fabulous seat-back library has been restored to us. I've been watching an Australian movie called Jucy and now I'm in deep nostalgia mode listening to the Housemartins London 0, Hull 4, the quintessential album of my year in England.

Almost missed the plane. We had to really hustle, but once we were on, everything was fine. We just took too long packing up, not realizing how much we'd let ourselves spread out over the past week.

After yesterday's gorgeous weather, it was a surprise to wake up to brisk winds and heavy rain showers, but I feel very fortunate we got three lovely days in a row.

We're going to land around 5 p.m. And this will be the first city we'll be renting a car. Hopefully we can find somewhere to park it. The car is for our trip along the Great Ocean Road in a couple of days—fingers crossed for some decent weather then.

It's the next day now, and we landed in Melbourne and got our rental car (a bright red Camry) without incident. Oh, except I left my Brookstone travel pillow on the plane, which sucked. And I forgot to mention that my Kindle 1.0 bit the dust sometime during our last night in Perth. I think I trod on it running to see why Jarrah was screaming in the wee hours (“they were everywhere...LARVAE”) and that was the end of the screen. Anyway, Melbourne! The parking garage was $25 a night, but the internet was $27; hence, I haven't been on-line for a couple of days.

Last time we were here, it was like 110 degrees and between Christmas and New Year's, so everything was hot and closed. It's very different now. Our hotel is on the fringes of the CBD (Central Business District) and would best be described as “utilitarian.” Luckily, the room is large, with a separate bedroom, kitchen and sofa bed, so we're comfortable.

We headed straight out to look for dinner and were quickly immersed in the madness that is Swanston St. on a Friday night. People were shoulder-to-shoulder and there are tons of neon-lit places to get noodles and sushi. Despite the frigid weather, groups of girls roam the streets in dresses "barely covering their bums," as my mother-in-law put it. A couple times I got someone's cigarette right up my nose. The sky was clear, but man, it's cold. See-your-frosty-breath kind of cold. Despite the craziness, I really enjoyed the walk, and all the gorgeous 19th century stone buildings like the library, St. Paul's church and the Flinders St. train station, lit up against the sleek metal and glass of the cafes and the attractions of Federation Square, where we ultimately landed. It's near the Yarra River, and home to the Australian Center for the Moving Image—more on that later. After a little exploration, we settled on a cafe called Arintji, which I was initially dubious about due to the lackluster service. (In general, the service is pretty disinterested in Oz, probably because tipping isn't customary yet.) But then we ordered the tasting menu and oh, Readers, everything was scrumptious. We had the Turkish breads with three dips (ubiquitous on our last trip, but first time this trip!) and then tiny lamb chops with tabouli, Moroccan chicken with pear and rocket salad, and pumpkin and gruyere croquettes. Fortified after our meal, we enjoyed the walk home and even picked up dessert at a stand called Pie Face, which I'm loving. Because we're a bit turned-around with the time change, it was close to 11:00 when we got back to the hotel, and Jarrah fell asleep quickly. David and I stayed up late watching TV on the Xoom, and we all felt like sleeping in the next morning.


Jen said...

Wow I love that last photo! Sounds like your trip continues to be great fun!!

Mrs. Chapman's 2nd Grade Class said...

I'm just catching up on your trip today after 2 weeks with my family in Michigan. It sounds amazing. Keep the posts coming!