Saturday, June 4, 2011

Melbourne Day 1

Last week went by really fast. On Friday night I went to Chabad with some friends. It was really small, and felt like a family dinner. I’m used to the Chabad at UF which hosts hundreds of students every Shabbat, so this was pretty interesting-people from all over the world, of all ages. The rabbi’s wife was so sweet and welcoming, it was a nice experience.
On Saturday, the dad’s parents came to town, so we had a barbecue for dinner. Then the five year old slept at my house and we went to bed at 7pm. It was so nice to get a full night’s sleep. We woke up the next day and went to brekkie with the grandparents at Tarts (best soy chai lattes). The mom came home from Singapore in the afternoon, so I hung out with a friend in the CBD.
On Monday, I packed for Melbourne and babysat, and then a few friends came over to cook dinner (shakshuka) and hang out since I was leaving for 5 days. They ended up staying til the middle of the night, and since my taxi was coming at 5am, I didn’t sleep at all. I went to the airport and had a very uneventful flight to the east coast. When I was disembarking from the plane, this girl said hello to me and I realized I had met her at this party a few weeks ago. She is from Paris and is also spending a few days alone in Melbourne, so we decided we should stick together.
I went to my hostel to check in then explored the area and the Queen Victoria markets. The markets were dingy and just like every other market I have ever been to, pretty much. Then, I walked to the tram and took it all the way down to St. Kilda to meet my friend. Her hostel’s travel consultant told her that it would be cool to go see the penguins that come onto the St. Kilda pier every night at sunset, so we hurried to walk down to the beach before the sun set. On the way we passed Luna Park (who also owns Coney Island!), and we walked the long way, along the beach, to get to the pier. It was starting to get really cold, but we sat on the pier until we saw the penguins emerge from the water. They are each about one foot tall, and a bit blue-ish. They are so cute!!! And they bark at each other, which is a funny sound to hear coming from a penguin. Anyway, then we grabbed a quick dinner and coffee to warm up, and then I headed back to the tram. On the tram, the police harassed me because I didn’t know how to buy a ticket. He was threatening to fine me, and embarrassed me in front of a tram full of people. I said it was an honest mistake and immediately offered to pay the fare, but it took him almost five minutes to relent. Eventually I paid the $3.80 and made my way back to my seat. Finally I made it back to my hostel and relaxed until I went to sleep.
Today I woke up and realized I pretty much had to cram all of Melbourne into one day. I walked down into the CBD and wandered in and out of shops, then met up with my friend for more exploration. We started at Federation Square, which is this really amazing complex (architecturally), which stands opposite the largest train station (Flinders Street Station), which stands opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is such an interesting intersection. Anyway, then we decided to hop onto the free City Circle Tram, so that we could see some of the sights along the Yarra River, such as the Docklands, New Quay and Harbour Town. There were such unique buildings and sculptures everywhere (including a Cow up a Tree sculpture, which I loved). We hopped of the tram to get coffee and then decided to walk up and down the pedestrian bridges that span the Yarra River, between the north and southbank of Melbourne. We went into the aquarium so my friend could buy a ticket to walk underwater with sharks on Saturday. Then we explored a few famous laneways (Centre Way and Degraves St). After that we grabbed lunch (Indian for me) and then split ways. I walked up to Fitzroy, which has a major road, Brunswick, that is famous for vintage shops and boutiques. I wandered in and out, but the sun was starting to set (at 4pm), and I didn’t want to be lost that far out in the dark, so I tried to find my way back to the cbd. Of course, I got lost, but that I meant that I got to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Parliament House, Princess Theater, and Fitzroy Gardens. I wish I hadn’t felt rushed, but I just ran out of time. I hopped onto the tram and then walked back to my hostel. I am just relaxing tonight-I leave for my tour of the Great Ocean Road at 7am, and it will be a long two days. I am so excited for the tour. I really like Melbourne a lot, but it is basically like any other large city. The buildings are really nice to look at, the food is pretty cheap, there is a lot to see, but I’m pretty glad that I didn’t just stay in the city for my whole holiday. I mean, I definitely could spend more time exploring all of the gorgeous parks and gardens, but really I saw what I wanted to see. On Saturday morning, before my plane, I will walk to the Botanical Gardens and explore them.  Alright, more updates about the Great Ocean Road coming soon! Until then,
Dana xoxoxo

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