Archive for January, 2011

“Such is life”

What would your last words be? It’s an interesting thought as I am sure most people don’t have any very well thought out last words unless they are being hung, such as Ned Kelly (who’s last words were, incidentally, “Such is life”).

You guessed it, my last day in Melbourne before heading back to the (semi) real world. I had a nice sleep until about 10 am and have decided that I never want to work 9-5. I’d happily do 11-7, or even 12-8. I am not a morning person and definitely do not want to do 9-5 though. So we were supposed to go back to Misty’s Diner for breakfast as I really, REALLY wanted french toast. Unfortunately, I was still full from the night before and Ivo refused to pay for breakfast since they had toast for free. Instead we decided to head to USA foods. A warehouse in Melbourne that stocks…you guessed it… AMERICAN FOOD!!! Now, normally I wouldn’t advocate an “average” American diet, if only for the fact that the “average” American is actually obese (levels are at 60% of the population and that doesn’t include people who are simply classified as ‘overweight) and my generation is actually the first generation in ages that is most likely not going to live as long as their parents, with a life expectancy of 3-5 years less then their parents.

While we are here I’m going to lecture on the importance of a balanced diet. Now, I’m a big fan of sugary cereals. Ivo can bear witness to me jumping up and down and screaming like a kid at Christmas when I spotted a box of Cinammon Toast Crunch. Australia has made a point of not having a vast aray of diabetes causing cereals. The only really American cereal that is sugary that I can get here is froot loops and I’m not really a fan of those. So instead, I have to get the food where I can (and my body is much happier for it I’m sure). These types of foods I definitely consider a snack food now and not an actual meal. Kids… stick to eating wheat toast and fruit and healthy cereals for breakfast (eggs is also a good option), healthy food for lunch and dinner and limit your intake of ice cream (but don’t limit the intake of Hershey’s on the ice cream) for your dessert.

Okay, back to USA foods. I walked into the store in a complete state of euphoric bliss. Jolly ranchers by the bagful, boxes and boxes of Cap’n Crunch Berries, Peanut butter crunch, Lucky Charms, Cinammon toast crunch…I was in heaven. I might also add at this point that I also bought Graham Crackers and Hershey bars (for s’mores), Jambalaya mix, Jambalaya seasoning, Sloppy Joe seasoning, California olives (I don’t like the olives in Australia for whatever reason), Enchilada seasoning, a giant back of Hershey’s kisses (which I left in the car when I got home and melted and had to wait another 3 days before they were solid enough to eat again) and I would have bought Snapples, but they didn’t have any Pink Lemonade. Aryn was a sad panda. I actually bought so much food I couldn’t fit it in my carry-on home so Ivo had to bring some back with him when he came back to Sydney. Oh yes, I also bought myself Sunflower seeds. If anyone ever has any desire to send me gifts (hint cough cough) I will happily take Fischer’s or David regular salted in the shell sunflower seeds. They will make it through customs.

After this we decided to stop at the old Melbourne gaol (jail for American’s). This historic jail (I’m going to use the American spelling as that is what I feel more comfortable with) housed some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, including the infamous Ned Kelly. Ned Kelly was an anarchist and in today’s terms would probably be called a terrorist. Fair enough. Now I’m sure no one is disputing his criminal record and the fact that he definitely deserved to be hung by those days standards, however the dispute in his hanging was actually because of a lack of due process, mis-trial, etc.

When you go into this jail (note, if you are obese you probably can’t get in as the jail was built when 5’6″ was still tall for a man) many of the cells are open with information about the people who stayed in them. You can see their death masks (the molds of their head taken by the coroner), newspaper clippings about them and letters that were written while they were in jail. It also gives a bit of history about the person. Australia is extremely multi-cultural so it would say which country they came from and when, what their crime was, and a little bit about their lives. It was all extremely fascinating and we ended up spending about 3 hours in the jail all up. We also were able to see where Ned Kelly was kept, a timelined history of the jail and where they hung the prisoners. Apparently, prisoner’s were given 5 pounds (back when they used British currency) for doing the honours of hanging someone else. Not an insignificant sum back then.

There was also a bit of history about the women in the jail. It’s fascinating to see what people used to go to jail for. Women would be hauled off for anything from vagrancy (being homeless), indecency (cursing or drinking in the streets), stealing, murder, etc., baby farming (taking in children for a fee when mother’s couldn’t afford their children), prostitution and back alley abortions. You could also see information of all the women who had been housed in the jail and what for and you could also see some of their death masks.

An interesting thing about these death masks is they were used in phrenology. Phrenology is a psuedo-science that states that one can determine someone’s personality and whether or not they will be a criminal based on lumps and bumps on their skull. This made it a bit difficult to determine if women had been destined to be criminals as it was determined improper to shave the hair off the dead women so they had their death masks done with hair still on their head. What’s the point really?

During this self-guided tour of the jail they also had 2 other activity options. One was a re-enactment of the Ned Kelly (mis)trial and the other was the experience of being arrested. As I’ve already ended up in the back of a cop car once in my life (totally legit, I swear) and that was uncomfortable enough I really didn’t fancy being handcuffed and thrown in a cell. We chose the Ned Kelly re-enactment. It was interesting, needless to say, but probably not something I would see again unless taking someone who had never been.

All in all, the Melbourne Gaol was definitely worth a peek, and very reasonably priced at about $30 for non-students and $18 for students I think.

After that I was officially hungry so we headed back to Misty’s. I was able to order my French toast with bacon on the side and Ivo ordered more ribs. The bacon was AMAZING. No offence, Australia, but your bacon is crap. It tastes like ham and I don’t like ham. Misty actually smokes her own bacon. It’s amazing. I recommend getting it. She even came over to have a chat with us and we had a wonderful chat about the amazingness of smoked bacon dipped in maple syrup while Ivo looked on in disgust. My french toast was drowning in fruit syrup and maple syrup and whipped cream and butter and it was in a massive American portion. Deliciousness was enjoyed by all.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), I had to catch a flight (which ended up being a rather interesting flight if nothing else) back home to Sydney and so we left without dessert (though the french toast could possibly count as dinner and dessert). While it was nice to have a rest I did have Health law and bioethics the next morning at 9am and thus was back to my usual stressful schedule.

Pictures can now be seen here


Sorry, we’re still on Saturday here.

So after the Melbourne Aquarium we wandered around Melbourne and pretty much just browsed through bookstores. I love bookstores. I’m looking for a book with a particular theme that I have in my head at the moment but can’t seem to find what I’m looking for considering I have no titles in mind and I’m not sure whether I should be looking in fiction or travel narratives. Talk about vague.

At some point we decided to hop back on the tram to go to the Botanical Gardens and rather then ending up at the botanical gardens ended up at the Anzac Memorial. Not that I’m complaining, but I’d been wearing massive wedges that were pinching my toes all day and at this point I just wanted to go barefoot, but that would have been EXTREMELY disrespectful wandering into the memorial.

For those of you Americans reading this, ANZAC stands for “Australia and New Zealand Army Corp”. Basically, those brave men who fought during WWI and WWII. The most common theme on memorials and when honoring their memory is to say “Lest We Forget”. You can see where it comes from at the end of this post.

So we took a few pictures on our way up to the memorial. We passed pillars and the eternal flame and I reluctantly put my shoes back on before walking into the main entrance of the memorial. The walls of the main hall are beautifully ornate. Smack dab in the middle of the room is a plaque which, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month a beam of light from the sun shines through a hole in the ceiling to put a spotlight onto this plaque. There is one in Sydney as well at Hyde Park.

Walking through the outer hall of the upstairs memorial along the walls there are books with the names of the Anzac’s who died along with giant flags from all the different Corps hanging along the walls. Needless to say it has a very sobering effect.

So wandering around these halls we see a set of stairs. They lead to the Crypt and the giftshop. Bit of an odd combination if you ask me, but that’s alright. So we head down these old sandstone steps into the eerily shadowy and echo-y crypt which has more Corps memorabilia from different branches of the navy. Can I also take this opportunity to state that the entire foundation of the building is essentially being held up by a mixture of pillars in this crypt and the hill that the memorial is built on. I felt like the thing would collapse at any moment.

Anyway, as I’m looking at a flag from the navy I can hear Ivo moving around like a headless chook. At one point I look over to see what the heck he is doing and he’s hiding behind a pillar, peering around it at me. Upon asking him what he was doing he was extremely disappointed to be caught out as apparently he was trying to creep me out or scare me or something. He failed to notice that every step he took echoed… Good job, honey.

So upon rolling my eyes at him I walked towards the gift area into this hallway that had a bajillion medals on display. The first thought that came to mind was “oooooh shiny” and the second was “where are my sunnies?” as the sun shining through the downstairs doors was making them reflect spectacularly into my eyes. Onwards into the gift shop!

This room was an obviously modern room, not unlike most gift shops you see. It was a strange juxtaposition between the crypt and the gift shop. Sort of like stepping through time. Anyway, the gift shop/visitor centre had a big screen and a bunch of stories on the wall of how people ended up fighting during WWII. It was interesting reading them to see different people’s motivations to join in the war efforts. They also played a short video about the memorial, which was nice. It’s amazing how Australian’s come together whenever there is a major event affecting their country. Between the Victorian fires, the Queensland floods, WWII. About the only people that took the path of Westboro Baptist and the Tea Party were some Über-conservatives who said that the Victorian fires were brought on by God because of the abortion laws. Needless to say they were a significant minority.

Anyway, they unfortunately closed the crypt before I could head back in as I wanted to get a photo of the “Father and Son” statue. So we head outside, back into the bright sunshine to the courtyard with “Lest We Forgot” engraved on the giant wall. I’d post the pictures now, but I’m typing on my work computer so they will have to wait until tonight.

After leaving we made our way to the Botanical Gardens which were just across the street. Perhaps it’s my Sydney pride and snobbery, but our Botanical Gardens totally kick Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens’ bum any day of the week. It was nice walking through, but Sydney’s are so much better. We ended up only spending an hour-ish going through because frankly they just didn’t measure up. Though I do have to say this for Melbourne. They have AMAZING grass for walking barefoot in.

So heading back to the tram stop we were walking through this park and I had a monster case of deja vu. I would have sworn I had been there before. I would have sworn I’d taken the 8 tram and gotten off at one of these stops before with my soccer coach, to walk to the game during uni games via the backway. I’m pretty sure at this point Ivo was questioning my sanity, and his reasons for being with me by association. Anyway, we get to the tram to get back to our hotel and sure enough, we pass a hospital I hadn’t noticed before and there across the street is the park that we had our soccer matches at during Unigames in Melbourne a few years ago!!! See, I swear I’m not crazy.

I spent the next 20 minutes (a bit excessive perhaps) marveling at the fact that our hotel was literally a 2 minute walk from the soccer fields I had played at just a couple years prior. Ah, the memories. Me attempting to wear Suzie’s pants (they were trackies and I still couldn’t get them all the way over my hips), One girl coming with the names of the 15 guys she’d kissed the night before on her arm, me telling the cheerleaders that they are a complete embarrassment to both our team and mankind in general. Great memories.

Anyway, got back to the hotel and took a nap and then decided to go to Misty’s dinner, which happened to be just around the corner. It’s a 50’s/60’s style American diner and the owner is actually American. I. Was. In. Heaven. I had a rootbeer float (rootbeer is difficult to come by in this country) and pulled pork on a giant roll (no one in this country even knows what pulled pork is). Ivo ordered ribs (proper ribs) and buffalo wings with “death sauce”. Thankfully my camera has a video record option and I will most definitely be posting Ivo’s reaction to the sauce. I think he was able to eat 3 buffalo wings in total. We had to teach him about dipping them in ranch dressing.  Misty herself would come around to all the tables and talk to people and we had a wonderful chat about American food and “death sauce” and the proper way to eat ribs and buffalo wings (with your fingers of course).

I noticed they had french toast on the menu (but stopped serving it at 6pm) so we told her we’d be back in the morning. They don’t do french toast in this country either and my french toast is lacking in the quality department. Needless to say we left extremely satisfied and headed back to the hotel to sit in our food-coma until we fell asleep.

“Ode of Remembrance”

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

So I’m stuck in class all day long today and all we are doing is listening to group presentations which are half boring/half interesting as a) group presentations are dull, however they are b) about interesting topics such as genetic screening for babies, human cloning, plastic surgery for “young people”, and whatnot. So this seems to give me the perfect opportunity to continue writing about my trip to Melbourne.

So Saturday morning I had every intention of sleeping in. I’m on holiday and I want to bloody sleep in! Ivo, being the morning person that he is thinks it’s a good idea to attempt to wake me up at 8.30 in the morning!!! Needless to say this attempt was followed by a significant amount of loud expletives. So Ivo, being the wonderful (and smart) boyfriend that he is chose to leave me alone and go eat breakfast. Smart man. So I (sort of) got my sleep in as I didn’t get up until 10 (by force I might add). We decided we wanted to go see the sharks at the aquarium and then “get lost in Melbourne” (pretty sure there is a commercial about that in Sydney).

The big question of the day is… “to tram or not to tram?”. For those of you who don’t know much about Melbourne they’ve got a tram system (along with buses and trains) that goes around the CBD and surrounding suburbs. Considering there was a tram stop just outside the hotel we stayed at we decided to tram it as I was not really wanting to try and find a parking space in the CBD on a Saturday. Though it is Melbourne so it may not be an issue. Anyway, we got on the tram and I bought my ticket from the little ticket machine and apparently broke the machine so Ivo could buy a ticket (he wasn’t terribly distressed about this).

So we get to the city and hop off at Federation Square, which in my opinion, is the most attractive part of Melbourne. From there we started walking to the Aquarium, which is only about 1 km away at the very most and sits along the river. We actually walked through this really awesome area which would make for a bloody awesome grunge photo shoot. Check out the photos posted. For some reason unapparent to me Ivo decided to run ahead and do a star jump for the camera. The first one he did was an epic failure and as he went to go do the second one some random (slightly demented) man ran up behind him and said something about Jet Star (cheap airline). Talk about creepy. Anyway, we finally got his star jump on film and continued on our way to the Aquarium.

Needless to say the aquarium was pretty awesome. We watched a penguin feeding and I now want a pet penguin. I’ll cut a penguin door in the fridge, Ace Ventura style. From there we moved on to just generally awesome fish and water creatures. I was able to cross 2 things off of my bucket list! The first one was the oh-so-awesome lionfish. As a child I read about lionfish in the child encyclopedias (Child Craft) that my parents had bought for us. I always wanted to see one and we didn’t see any when we went diving up at the Great Barrier Reef so I was extremely excited to see these and took about a million photos. The second water creature that I saw that was on the bucket list was the mudskipper. I also originally read about these in the Child Craft books and always wanted to see one. No one ever believed me when I told them about a fish that can live out of water and needless to say that greatly ticked me off as a child. When I saw these I was even more excited then I had been about the lionfish. I’m pretty sure Ivo is concerned that he may be dating a crazy person.

While not on the bucket list I did get to see swordfish and heaps of sharks which I thought was pretty cool. We saw turtles (I want one), Giant spider crabs (I hope to never see one again), octupi (I’ve always wanted a flatmate who has one), Nemo and Dory, giant clams, creepy look eels, seahorses, sea dragons (yes, sea dragons) which can be seen here and here. The thing that really drew us to the aquarium was the promise of baby hammerheads (oh so adorable). The final main display was a giant aquarium with numerous fish, sharks, and sting rays. It was amazing. There were heaps of sharks of different types (and yes, we did see the baby hammerheads) and the sting rays were ENORMOUS. One that we saw was about 5 ft (possibly larger) in diameter. Needless to say it was a $30 well spent.

Unfortunately, we were not there at the right time to see the shark feeding (I’m pretty sure I saw Ivo shed a couple of tears), however Ivo was assuaged by the fact that on the way out they had a few small aquariums with baby fish that have to be raised in a separate tank before being transferred to other tanks and he was able to cross something off of his bucket list. THE PUFFER FISH! From the moment we entered the aquarium he kept saying “I want to see a pufferfish” and as we left the giant tank at the end of the aquarium visit he predicatably had to pee. No, he did not see a pufferfish in the urinal. That would be disturbing. I continued onwards and found this ‘baby fish tank’ which contained 1 pufferfish. He caught up to me and subsequently spent the next 10 minutes taking photos of the pufferfish.

Aquarium trip completed successfully!

I was going to make this a post of our day, however I’ll leave it to the aquarium as it is quite long and the majority of the day involved just wandering around anyway. Will post more on the Botanical Gardens, the ANZAC memorial and dinner in another post.

♥ always