Sunday, January 30, 2011
Australia! Australia! Australia! We love you!!! Part I: Melbourne
In Nov 2009 I was sent by my company to Australia to oversee a few store openings. My travels over the 2 week period took me from Melbourne to Sydney and I made sure I gave myself several days for sightseeing in between. The next 4 posts cover the stories and exploits experienced by yours truly during those 2 weeks down under.
My first stop was Melbourne. The city was founded by a man by the name of, no joke, Batman and the settlement's original name was Batmania! Can you imagine??? However after a short time the British, in typical colonial fashion, barged into town, took over the government and renamed it Melbourne. Batman died of syphilis a few years later at 38 years of age. The city is divided in two by the Yarra River, north and south, and there is quite a rivalry between them. Or so it was described to me by a local during a late night conversation over a few beers. The south is clean and stuck-up while the north is gritty and creative (his words, not mine).
Be careful when you're walking around Australia! The hole in the ozone hovers over the entire continent and as a result the UV radiation levels are dangerously high! I discovered this the hard way on my first day there, walking all over Melbourne with nary a drop of sunscreen or a hat atop my head. My day ended with me sunburned and exhausted, crashing into my hotel bed for hours, passed out into the night.
People hang their shoes from lamposts in Australia too!
This is a statue of the smartest man in Melbourne.
People in Melbourne love their Tapas. Most of the restaurants, from luxurious to economical, serve Tapas, which for me is a bit annoying. It means you have to pick out all these little dishes and they add up monetarily, I'm telling you. But I did love the pub atmosphere of their bars, and the bartenders were always friendly. The people in Melbourne like to socialize and drink almost as much as New Yorkers do...I found that quite endearing. I became a regular at a bar in Fitzroy called the Builders Arms, and formed an amicable bond with Sam the bartender. I don't think the bar was that popular but the crowd was always intriguing and Sam would often throw in a free drink or two.
Sam, the bartender.
These objects were decorating someone's window quite randomly.
I found that many of the cab drivers in Melbourne don't know their way around the city so I soon starting taking the trams. Melbourne is a great biking city, but alas I did not rent a bicycle...that would've been the best way. I really loved the Fitzroy neighborhood. Located in the north of town, the Fitzroy is the bohemian section, filled with great places to eat and drink, bookstores and other odds and ends. People walk around barefoot and the building's painted surfaces are peeling off from the burning sun. Gritty and lively, it serves as a good place for a boy from New York to explore. One woman stopped me on the street and said she loved my 'sunners' (sunglasses)! I settled into a great restaurant called Little Creatures and hung out for hours nursing my beer and eating Barramundi. Suddenly the lights went out and a girl hopped up on a table and entertained us with a spirited fire dance.
These sculptures were stuffed into someone's parking lot behind their house.
Melbourne was great and I hope to go back some day. I'll ride my bike around from pub to pub with loads of sunblock applied to my face, smiling.
I discovered these objects on the sidewalk in front of my hotel