I’m loving these many miles of walking early each morning. The neighborhood we live in, in Hawaii isn’t a great walking neighborhood. It’s surrounded by freeways and military bases as well as military housing so there isn’t anything in the way of interesting people watching, architecture, or even natural beauty around us.
Melbourne, on the other hand, this city is made for walking. I walked along the river and through the narrow alleyways and shop corridors of Little Collins – I found a closet that had been turned into a cafe and an alley that was turned into a micro-gallery.
I walked through Chinatown and through several shopping malls that ran between streets. I walked through the gardens, around the Melbourne Museum and along the streets with great delight. Melbourne has a busy cafe culture and I’m amazed that every other city doesn’t. Why is this so hard? In America we are forced to drink burnt Starbucks in paper cups and no one has a chance to sit down – but the same space we use for two parking stalls in the USA is used for two cafes and seating for fifty.
I went into the beautiful Victoria Library and saw the bullet ridden armor of Ned Kelly.
Ned Kelly (December 1854 – 11 November 1880) was an Australian bushranger, outlaw, gang leader and convicted police murderer. One of the last bushrangers, and by far the most famous, he is best known for wearing a suit of bulletproof armour during his final shootout with the police.
I was led to it by a beautiful Sri Lankan librarian who greeted me when I walked in, asked what I was there for, and then offered to walk me to it. Australia is far more multi-cultural than the USA, both Melbourne and Sydney are even more multi-cultural than Hawaii or San Francisco. I know there are problems here, just as there are in every country – but I freely admit that Australians do life better than Americans do. If we lived in a world where you could simply pack up and go where you want regardless of visas, working permits, or nationality – I feel fairly certain that I would pack my family up and bring us here. Alas, nation states don’t allow humans to move so freely, it’s a wonder they don’t make birds get passports.
I took the free trolley tour around the city – it was crowded with tourists, most of whom seemed to have come off of cruise ships – in any event, they were remarkably like the tourists we have in Hawaii who come off of cruise ships. Several of them complained about the crowd on the bus – I reminded them it was free with a laugh and said “You really do get what you pay for”. One older woman turned to me and said “Have you been to the jail here?” I was a bit taken aback – she saw the surprise on my face and clarified ‘The Old Melbourne Gaol’ – I laughed and admitted that I had not been there. I knew I looked a bit rough in my black t-shirt and two days of beard growth, but I hadn’t expected that.
My friend Gaye let me know that she was driving out towards Avalon Airport (which is about an hour outside of Melbourne) and offered me a ride with she and her friend Pete. This was a way better option than catching the Skybus again and having to ride it for an hour and a half. I’m one of those people who likes to be three hours early though.
I took the free tram down to South Melbourne where Gaye suggested I grab some quick Turkish food from the market there. Again, Australians do things better than we do in the states. The market wasn’t dirty old food trucks, it was great fresh food. Gaye suggested we grab a pint at the pub before we left. I liked the idea, but it made me nervous because I’m one of those people that likes to be very early for flights.
When Pete mentioned there was some traffic – I suggested we skip getting the beer Gaye had suggested – which, in hindsight was a mistake – but to be fair, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it because I would have been sitting there thinking that I was going to be late – so skipping it was the right move after all.
The traffic was light and so I find myself here at Avalon with nearly three hours before my flight. The check in took about a minute and though there is an earlier flight, the agent told me it would be $50 to change my fare to the earlier flight – frankly I can use the time here to use the internet and catch up on my planning…
Also, my bag was definitely weighed this time so I’m glad I kept it under 7 kilos. The first internal flight where they didn’t weigh the bag may have just been an anomoly.