Travel Journal

A weekend in Marvellous Melbourne

(Monday 26 October 2009) by Al/Alvin "Poison" Challis
16th October: Today was the day that i got the train from Adelaide to Melbourne and after another mammoth journey of 10 and a half hours and some 400km on one of the slowest trains that i have ever taken in my life and i was there.

Australia and its interstate transport system is not built for speed and long distances and the infrastructure is just simply not there at the moment for the train to be a viable form of transport to travel from one state to another. It is no wonder that people either drive or fly. It is so much quicker. The one plus point of taking the train on trips like this is that you do get to see a great diversity of scenery and you generally get to meet some pretty random but reasonably sound people. Today was no different. The scenery between Adelaide and Melbourne was great and the person i sat next to for the journey was Paul, who had lived in Adelaide all his life and was on his way to Phillip Island (just east of Melbourne) to the Australian round of the MOTO GP race. He said he would have been riding his motorbike down had he not lost his licence 6 days previously after being caught for drink driving. Whn he told me, i could not help but laugh and said that that was unfortunate at the same time. All i thought at the time was what an absolute prune that this guy was. Still he was a nice guy and was pretty knowledgeable with the questions that i had regarding Australia. We talked for a fair while and it was cool.

I got into Melbourne at around 7pm and had to get the tram to St. Kilda so that i could meet up with my hosts for Melbourne, Martin and Melissa.

I was immediately struck as to how good Melbourne's transport system was in comparison to the other transport systems that i had seen so far in Perth and Adelaide. It was prompt, the trams were big, and transport was pretty reasonable. I got into St. Kilda and met Martin. I had not seen him for 4 years so it was great to see him. The last time i saw him was at university. I was pretty grateful that he was able to put me up in Melbourne for a week or so. Both he and Melissa are true heroes.

This was the first time i had met Melissa and just as i thought she was lovely and great fun to be around. They had a great place too right down near the beach which was less than 100m away. What a result i thought for a place to stay. We sat and had couple of Pure Blonde beers and caught up on old times and had burgers on Martin's monster of a BBQ. Having had an absolute killer of a day from the train that was enough for me.

17th October: Me and Martin headed into the city to see the sights of Melbourne and got the tram and headed straightaway to the "G", or the Melbourne Cricket Ground for those who would like its full title; the home of Cricket and Aussie rules football for the Southern Hemisphere. I had been waiting for this for a long time and it did not disappoint; it was a colloseum of a stadium. A stadium where those playing are made to feel like absolute gods, due to the best part of 100,000 Melbournians cheering them on at their every move. It was an incredible arena and i have to rate it as one of the top 3 stadiums in the World after Wembley and Huish Park! (Come on you Glovers!)

Our tour guide too was a hero. A burly MCC member of a ripe old age who had immense pride in the club and a copious knowledge of the "G". He could have even been father time himself. It was a very enjoyable tour and a great way to kick off my stay in Melbourne.

We then headed to Federation Square for a coffee and a sit down after walking for a fair way down the Yarra river and taking in the Melbourne skyline. Fed Square is a funny old place and Martin thought the jury was still out as to its appeal and i had to agree with him on the first impressions that i had of the place. It looked as though the designers were trying to be just a little too clever.

Next we took a walk through the Melbourne CBD and passed many of its famous landmarks. Melbourne has some amazing architecture and photos were being taken thick and fast. I also got accosted by a woman who asked how she could grow a beard like mine. I stated that she could either wait until she was at retirement age and let nature take its course or if she was in a hurry she could invest in some steroids and wait a few weeks for the hormones to produce abnormal results. I have been asked some pretty random questions in my time but that has to be one of the weirdest i have heard for a long time.

Martin and I made our way up to Brunswick Street which is in the suburb of Fitzroy and the street in his words was "Funky Fresh". It reminded me a little alot of what Camden is like in London. It has that tyoe of feel and vibe, alongside the bohemians who live there. I imagine that i will be taking a trip there again before the week is out.

We took the tram back to St. Kilda and had a couple of sneaky pints in the Esplanade Hotel and a place right on the beach which i can't remembers the name of. The "Espy" as it is known, is a legendary place in its own right and there are always heaps of bands playing there all the time. A gig there i imagine is an awesome experience. We headed back to the house in preparation for Melissa's birthday with her friends where we were due to head to a Moroccan joint in St. Kilda. The food was good, the beer was cold and a great time was had by all and almost all of us were "ballsed" by the end of the night.

Afterwards we headed to aplce called the Vineyard which was absolutely rammed with people enjoying and living up their saturday night. It was hip and happenign place even though i felt like abit of a pleb in my bright blue rainjacket. Our evening ended up at the Doulton hotel where we watched some of the Champions League 20/20 cricket that was going on in India. We also managed to dissuade some unfriendly people from nicking our jackets for valuables and promptly had them thrown out. Dickheads. Battered and worse for wear we headed to our respective homes and guesthouses happy with our drinking achievements for the evening.

18th October: Nothing really happened; a day of rest for the party animals ensued where the only movement on my part incurred a trip to the supermarkets to buy copious amounts of iced coffee and Burger Rings (An amazing Aussie crisps which tastes of Burgers). Enough said really. B-)


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