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Day 34 “City and Dinner” (Tuesday 9th April 2013)

This morning I was woken by Avril at about 10:15am because she was going to take me in to Melbourne City. (That said both Avril and Leanne later describe Melbourne as going into town rather than the city) When I got out of bed, dressed and ate my breakfast, Avril was on her iPad and when I appeared ready said that there was a train leaving from Diamond Creek soon which was perfect timing. I quickly brushed my teeth and Avril then drove us down to the station and we parked up, walked into the unmanned station using our Miki cards (similar to oyster cards in London- Miki is a touch sensitive card that last four years before you need a new one and it must be preloaded with money) and waited for the train.

When we sat down the first thing that struck me about the train was the London underground feel to it but with even less leg room. The chairs were split into 2’s that faced each other, making four chairs a group, however the leg room of the facing chairs seemed only just enough for me. (although I am taller than the average person) For the first few stops the train was empty and as we got closer to Melbourne it did start to get busy so when someone did eventually sit opposite me I had to sit sideways on my chair. Avril said the journey was about 1 hour into town (the city) and while on route there was some nice country side or graffiti to see.

Once we arrived at Flinders Street station (This first stop in Melbourne city) at about 12pm we came out whereby Avril said she was hungry so we started to look around for something to eat, we crossed the road and walked around a bit in Federation Square but couldn’t find anything that took our fancy. I took a few photos while we were standing there and even noticed a church that Avril said was called St Paul’s Cathedral so I snapped a picture of that too. It was such a nice day, with the weather being a nice warm temperature and a sun shining… At points there weren’t any clouds in the sky which made photos look good with the blue skies however hard to take as I couldn’t see my phones screen. After this Avril was interested to find out about the free tram (yes I did mean tram, although the country is only about 200 years old they have trams as a main form of public transport and there underground only has 4 stations!) and Miki cards which would allow us to so take the tram down the road and get some food. Right next to us was a tourist information centre so we walked in and then downstairs into an underground area where there were plenty of staff on hand to answer our questions. First Avril asked about the free tram and discoverd it only did a basic loop of the City, the tour guide also talked about a free bus but as it only went one way round the city we decided not to bother with it and stick to the trams. Avril then asked about the Miki cards that she had bought for $6 (£4 ish) each this morning while I was sleeping and also put $10 (£7 ish) on each. The question was about cost because she had noticed that the journey here had used $6 so asked how far our money would get us, we then found out there was a daily cap of $12. Knowing the journey back would cost $6 again it meant we would take any bus or tram we wanted free for the day as the cap would be met, talk about liking like Kings! While in the underground tourist information centre Avril added the extra $2 to the cards meaning we could go around the whole city if we wanted.

Back up on the surface we decided to walk back towards the station and double check for any food places before heading to a tram station that were situated all round the city. During this walk we headed over a bridge and in the background I could see the MCG so took a quick photo. On the other side of the river was an art gallery with stunning architecture (speaking of which that’s one thing I’ve already noticed about Melbourne, instead of having big grey building everywhere they try and add cool designs and funky colours to buildings- this creates a divide with some liking the unique city style and others thinking it looks tacky. I personally love the architecture and think it give the city character. Another thing I’ve noticed is the amount of sculpture and fancy arty things around the place including on the freeways [motorways]) which also had odd sculptures outside of it but it was all strangely likeable. As there wasn’t anywhere to eat nearby we got on the tram using the Miki cards (the only way to get on a tram/ bus, so as a tourist you’d have to get a Miki card first- imagine that when u arrived at say 1am… You can’t pay cash or use paper tickets either!) and headed to St Kilda where Avril and peter have been a few times and she knew we’d be able to find a good place to eat.

Unfortunately there were works happening on our line so after about 4 stops we had go get off and walk a few stops down the road to pick it up again… Not so much living like Kings as back with the peasants now! Although on the walk we went past ‘The Shrine’ which is apparently something Melbourne is famous for, so Avril said we would go there on the way back. Now at the next open stop Avril asked the tram assistant which tram when to St Kilda, add this to the other person she asked at the first tram station, the fact we still hadn’t found anywhere to eat and that we had already been into a tourist information centre I really was getting the feeling that it was the blind leading the blind! When on the tram Avril kept standing up to check it was heading I’m the right direction and when it finally got to somewhere she recognised we got off for a look around. What was odd about St Kilda was the fact it was on the outskirts of a City yet it had a coast line, I mean we were only 15 minutes away from Melbourne’s heart but I could see the sea. The area looked alright and Avril took me into an infamous bar… Inside it looked just like a normal pub to me maybe a bit dingy but nothing to bad and once back outside explained that its had its fair share of gang/ drug problems problems. She also informed me that St Kilda was a red light area, but during the day I saw no sign of that, it all looked quite nice in my opinion.

After the flying visit into the pub we crossed the road and headed down to the coastline to look for a place to eat. Near to the front we found a cafe where Avril bought me lunch, a nice toasted salami and salad roll. With the sun still beating down we decided to walk along the beach on the walkway just before the sand (didn’t wanna get it in our shoes) The beach wasn’t overly crowded but it was only about 1:30pm on a Tuesday so Avril explained on weekends and holidays its usually pretty packed. Once we’d walked along the beach for a bit (burning off the calories of lunch) we headed back to a tram station and waited from it to come, during this time I took a few more pictures and this is when I realised there wasn’t a cloud in the sky). When it arrived, we jumped straight on but it soon headed down a street that we weren’t expecting so we go off and headed to the next stop hoping to catch the right tram (number 16) this time. As we walked back towards a tram station and waited to cross the road (all tram stations are situated in the middle of the road) our tram came and went so we had to while a good few minutes for another one to come (still not as bad as English buses though!) When we finally made it on to the right tram it headed back to the area that was undergoing work so we got back out and this time walked towards the shrine rather than the next open tram stop.

The shrine looked amazing even from distance and as we walked towards it, I took a photo or two of the water fountain on route. We continued up a hill and found some stairs that let up to the shrine. It was a square shaped building with a pyramid roof. The outside of it looked great and I began clicking away with photo after photo, then realised we could go in for free (donations welcome so Avril dropped in some change) The shrine has been built to remember the dead who fought for the country and its a big part of Anzac day. (similar to out remembrance Sunday) Inside the square room a guide came and told us about the natural light shining over the word ‘love’ on an inscription in the floor at 11am each day (but said its 12pm now because of daylight savings) His words were that God gave us one emotion pure love and that any other feeling is man made and can be traced back to love. (The simile he used was that if you shine light into a prism u can make one light into a rainbow so with pure love we turn it into other emotions) We were there after 12pm though so the light was simulated instead and we had to take a moment to reflect as the demonstration took place. Once the demonstration had finished and the guide left we quickly looked around the room and saw lots of books with names in, (I’m assuming of all the dead people who fought for the country) before heading upstairs to the viewing area around the top of the shrine. It was pretty high up so I kept away from the edge but the views outwards were spectacular, we could see loads of the city because of the lovely clear day. The skyline isn’t too cluttered with high rise building but there is one building quite a bit taller than all the others and I think its the state of Victoria’s highest building. (Just googled it and it is… Its called the Eureka Tower, designed for residential apartments) As we walked around the edge I constantly took photos from each angle and due to its positioning there was something to see out of each side. Avril even asked a lady to take our photo at one point so I had to get closer to the edge than I liked but hopefully the memory of the photo will last longer than the scared feeling. After completing the walk around the edge we made our way back downstairs where I took some more pictures on the way out… Then heading down the main stairs to the shrine, (a different route to how we came in) I realised it looked beautiful from the front too, so captured even more photos! Out the front there was also an eternal flame lite to remember the the dead forever, I also noticed a sign that implied there was more to the shine underneath the double staircase we had just walked down but Avril and I decided we had seen enough.

Photo

Now walking away from the front of the shrine and down a long walkway, we headed into a sort of park area where there where statues and monuments that I took some pictures of. It was a lovely walk that brought us back to a tram station somewhere near the art gallery building we’d seen earlier today. Avril and I jumped back on to the tram towards Flinders Street station but instead of getting off there we instead carried on a few extra stops. On the other side of the road was a comedy show taking place on a stage so we crossed over to check it out. As there is a comedy festive in Melbourne at the moment this was one of the free stages where a various time of the day different acts can be watched without having to pay. (we had also seen a free stage at Federation Square when we were there at the start of the day) The comedy festival was heavily advertised around especially with adverts on train platforms visible went travelling and from the city. (There isn’t one set venue for gigs but lots across the city ranging from bars to hotels, in fact even the town hall (now Australia are even calling it a town) is used for the couple of months the festive is on. Back to the free stage Avril and I were now standing watching, it appeared to be children’s comedy with what I can only describe as 2 femininely/ camply dressed men (wearing jot pants and tank tops!) doing a silly routine. People were laughing so maybe I was just too old for it but with their strong Irish accent I was worried they were giving a bad name to British comedy!

From there we crossed a different road and were pretty much outside the town hall with all the comedy festival banners up around it. Now turning to cross yet another road (I should also mention that because a lot of the roads here meet at crossroads [Intersections in Australian talk] rather than roundabouts etc, so all the roads we’ve been crossing are push button and take a while to change because of the volume of traffic) I could see straight down the street as far as the eye could go. The long road would lead us to a train station called Southern Cross where we would then start heading home. As we crossed this intersection I noticed a lady crossing from the other side who looked vaguely familier and as we got close bother Avril and I looked at her before she smiled at me and walked past. It then clicked who I thought it was, Josie Long a Kent comedian that isn’t particularly famous but has been on a few television programmes. So I mentioned this to Avril but we wanted to check if she headed into the Town Hall to confirm my suspicions , when she did I couldn’t believe it. Although not a proper celebratiy it was good enough for me and I had practically brushed shoulders with her… Just gutted I didn’t get a photo or say hello, the penny just didn’t drop quickly enough of who it was. Pretty happy with myself we headed down the long street towards the train station talking about our brush with fame. The journey down this road (we were on the footpath just to clarify and the street was really wide with cars traveling in both directions) took about 15 minutes and during this time we went past a lot of shops and arcades. (no not the rooms full of gaming machines which is what I thought when Avril said it, but in fact it meant what I’d call shopping precincts) The architecture was again really nice I thought down this long straight road, so I took a couple of photos including that of an old looking hotel. Although the road was straight there were other intersections coming into it so we had to cross a few roads to eventually make it to Southern Cross station.

At the train station we went looking for a toilet that saw us go up two escalators only to find out it was below us! Back down we went then back up to head to the right platform. On route there was a BWS (Beers, wines and spirits- an off licences) that sold frozen coke… As Paul and Mick had told me about it a few weeks back at work and I was thirsty now I decided to get one. It was really nice but ended too soon, Avril and I spoke about the volume of actually coke u probably get, which would be minimal because its packed out with finely crushed ice. (it was basically a coke slush puppy) Our train was only going to be 10 minutes so Avril bought an lemon iced tea from a vending machine and we talked for a bit before the train came to take us home. We’d done a lot of walking today and the sit down was nice but the chair uncomfortable. While on the train I googled Josie Long and discover she was in Melbourne and got up a photo to show Avril and she instantly said that was who we’d seen earlier. (To be honest the fact her full name clicked about 10 seconds after I saw her was pretty cool, usually this type of thing roles around in my head because I can’t place the person or film etc.) I now felt 99% sure it was her but there were still a few checks I wanted to make back at home.

Once back in Diamond Creek we got in car to drive about 200 metres to the shops, which we quickly picked up some shopping. Avril also let me know she would be out tomorrow night and asked what I wanted for Dinner… As she didn’t like steak but Peter and I did we ended up with that even though I said it was expensive! After paying for the few things, we headed to get some alcohol (that is kept in a separate shop yet under the supermarket roof) so I could take a bottle or two tonight. (yesterday Phillip mentioned and then rang to confirm later that day, that I should go round for dinner) Back at the car, Avril drove the near 2 minute journey home and we got in at almost bang on 5pm, with Peter coming in about 1 minute after us. I then explained to Peter about our day and that I thought we’d seen someone semi-famous in Melbourne today… This reminded me to check her twitter account, which was unverified and only had 75,000 followers but I think it was actually hers due to the self shot photos she had on there. (obviously just not enough of a celebrity to have her account verified but I don’t care its the closest I’ve ever knowingly been to some one famous[ish]) I also decided to send a tweet saying I saw her today but didn’t get a chance to get a photo in case for some random reason she invited me to her show! Another thing I did before I went to Phillip and Leanne’s at 6:30pm for dinner was that I checked Melbourne comedy festival website and found out Josie Long was on at the town hall tonight… This 100% confirmed it so I considered buying tickets but I don’t know how long I’ll be in Melbourne before I start my travels (I planned to leave this week but I still haven’t got my money through from the UK so can’t leave until that’s sorted, which will hopefully be very soon)

In the remaining time I had left before going to dinner I text a few English friends, caught up on social media, tried to but then got Avril to repair one of my bracelets, watched some of Josie Long’s stand up and then got ready. Just after 6:30 with wines in a holder and sat nav set up for a 5 minute journey, I headed to Phillip and Leanne’s place. Once I got there Ryan greeted me then I saw Phillip and Leanne and finally met Kiah again. (the first time being in England a couple of years ago but since I’ve been here [which has already been 4 and a bit weeks!] I hadn’t seen Kiah because of her work or me sleeping round Micks and missing her!) We all sat around talking waiting for dinner to cook and one of the conversations was about how hands on Ryan and Kiah were in comparison to me- Kiah had recently redecorated her room while Ryan had made some cool furniture such as table, desk and a chair while at school… The best I had made was a wooden box and Mum and Dad paid for my room to be redecorated! Dinner was then ready it was a cuscus and mixed vegetables served with strips of lamb. I was really nice but I left some part of my lamb which I found fatty only to find everyone else had eaten it all so I felt a bit bad. Kiah had made that meal and again I was shocked to find out she makes dinner about 5 times a week, (best I can do is a pot noodle and that’s when my parents go away!) Ryan then prepared the desert of watermelon. It was like no other watermelon is had before, it had some much more flavour and was bursting with water, I loved it. Ryan then sorted all the dishes, while Kiah, Phillip and Leanne went back to the sofa’s (couches to the Australians though, it really is becoming Americanised here) to chill, watch TV and talk. Saying that although the TV was on we kept making conversation over the top of it but I think they were trying to watch it. At about 9:45pm Ryan went to bed as he had an early start so when the current conversation ended I made a move too.

Back at home, Avril and Peter were on the sofas watching the big TV, they had been out for dinner while I was at Philip and Leanne’s. We chatted for a bit, but it wasn’t long before they decided to call it a night so I came to my room to write this diary and send a few messages/ reply to my English friends via whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter… But because the diary was so long and I got distracted with friends, I actually stopped writing it just after 3am. (the last part I’d written about was walking down the long street before the train station and I planned the write the rest the next day [technically the same day… Wednesday, because it was after midnight]) The bad news however was that when I went to finish it on Wednesday, I accidentally deleted the whole unsaved entry! I will explain more in the next days diary but right now its 3am of Thursday morning and after starting this whole diary again at 10pm on Wednesday I’ve finally finished it… Defo need to write less! 🙂

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