Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Exploring Melbourne for the Day

Since I now have an end-date for my time in Australia, I've been trying to take advantage of seeing as much as I can before I leave.  I've been to Melbourne a few times with other people, but I wanted to go go on my own for a day to explore the area.  There is a certain freedom afforded when you're sightseeing on your own.  I'm free to stop into any shop I like, change plans immediately, and linger longer anywhere.  I picked a few areas in Melbourne that I'd like to visit and then headed off with my city maps on the train early Saturday morning for a big day out.

Southern Cross

After arriving at Southern Cross, I easily found the tram to take me to Queen Victoria Market.  The market is a combination of open-air stalls and buildings that is a Melbourne landmark.  There are certain areas dedicated to fancy foods - including fancy cheeses, deli meats, gourmet breads and pastries, exotic olives and all sorts of fun (and expensive) foods.  There is also an area completely dedicated to fresh fruits, veggies, jams, nuts, wines, jams and honey.

All the fruit and veggies looked really fresh

Of course, there was also a tourist section as well.  There were plenty of stalls with stuffed koalas/kangaroos/echidnas, crocodile dundee hats, didgeridoos, boomerangs, and tons of other things with "Australia" written on them.  I enjoyed looking through all the stuff they had, most of it silly but still fun for me.  Plus I wanted to get a few souvenir-type things for when I go home.

Kangaroos and Koalas galore!

Because everyone needs a boomerang and a didgeridoo from their travels...

A mozzie hat - corks hanging from the hat serve to "whack" mosquitoes out of the way

The market was quite entertaining both in merchandise sold and people to watch.  Always plenty of entertainment to be seen in public places.

I thought it was a cute sign

Please buy my knockoffs from Asia?
On the way to my lunchdate, I stopped at an aquarium shop recommended by a friend.  They had a beautiful display of aquariums throughout the store.  Plenty of exotic Australian fish to check out!  Next door to the aquarium shop was a pet store - they had adorable little puppies for sale.  Sadly, they're all likely from puppy mills and riddled with medical issues (both inherited and acquired), but they were fun to look at.  I feel bad for the people paying for these dogs - $1800 for a small designer dog with issues?  No thanks!

Bring me and parvo home with you!

Happy fishies

For the afternoon, I planned to meet Jacqui and her boyfriend for a sushi lunch and then keep looking at all the Melbourne sights.    We had an awesome sushi lunch, but the day definitely turned out different than I imagined.  The weather was beautiful, so we decided to go to a rooftop bar for a pot of beer.  Lovely sun and beer was enjoyed by all!

You like sun?

I like sun!
Sun for everyone!

Onwards we ventured to Ponyfish Island, a quaint bar at the base of a bridge, literally in the middle of the Yarra.

You like Ponyfish?

I like Ponyfish!

Ponyfish for everyone!

Across the river was The Belgian Beer cafe.  I was told by Jacqui and Ryan that they served "only the finest fancy beers"  And lo and behold - Blue Moon was on tap!  Glorious liquid gold!!!  I was excessively delighted and happy to pay an Australian price for an American beer.  I was all smiles by this point - homebrew!  A round for everyone!

You like American brews?

I like American brews!

American brews for everyone!

After the few beers, we decided it was time for a coffee stop, so we landed at a cute cafe for Affogato.  I was under the impression that Affogato was a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a shot of espression... but we got a scoop of vanilla with a shot of espresso and a shot of Frangelico.  Quite unexpected but very delightful!

You like Affogato?  OMG, I like Affogato too!

Affogato for everyone!!  (Esp when it comes with a shot)

By this point we were all having a good time - onwards to the next bar.  On the way I got a bit snap-happy.

Some colorful street art - I really liked the tree

Pigeons are a nuisance you say?  Let's build a house to attract them to the city!

They thought that building a "pigeon house" would attract birds OUT of the CBD...
This is real, people - not making it up

Define hand-picked:  ...perhaps, picked...by hand?

I love the "old meets new" architecture seen all over the CBD

After a stroll we soon arrived at the next bar: Chuckle Park.  It was a bar in an alleyway, and drinks were served in the back out of an old RV with fairy lights overhead.  The bar also used "Smokey the Bear" as a face for "Chuckle"

                             Fairy lights and Dr. Tim's - just what the doctor ordered.

You like Chuckes? I like Chuckles!  Chuckles for everyone!
And kids, don't start forest fires...
Next bar was The Cabinet - a trendy bar that I would kill to have in Manhattan.  It was very comfortable and made you feel at home, yet everyone present was so stylish.  We had to leave early because they were putting on a "function".  La de dah.

The Cabinet?  The Cabinet!  Beers for everyone at The Cabinet!
Last bar of the day was Madame Brussels.  This bar was pretty hilarious, but let's be honest, pretty much everything was hilarious at this point.  The bar was on the fourth floor of a shop, and everything was French-themed.  The tables and chairs were made of that horrible white lace-looking wrought-iron like a French cafe.  The waiters were all male, wearing polos and short white shorts - dressed like tennis guys.  Definitely very oo-la-la, and these guys weren't showing off for the ladies...  They had lovely parasols that you could borrow if the sun was on your back.  We weren't sitting in a sun spot, but I couldn't help but enjoy one of the parasols.

We are fancy people... la la la

You love being ridiculous?
Well all ordered drinks and ice cream.  Jackie and Ryan shared a pitcher of the "Love Juice.  The description read:

Recumbent upon the sweet grassy bank, you reach across and kiss your lover, then
sigh as never before...  What comes next?  Strawberries!  Green apples!  French
fraises!  Martini Rosato!  this must be the very quintessence of a romantic
endless autumn. Ok, so your skirt is rumpled and your knickers have gone
who-knows-where, but at least you can take on the world with a certain
brazen confidence.  Splendid!

Such hilarity!  We loved it.  I splurged and ordered a glass of Absinthe.  It wasn't as bad as I remember from tasting it during the second year of undergrad.  And we all got a "Gay Time" which is evidently an ice cream bar.  I had a blast.  And it was delicious.

I love being ridiculous!!
(I'm not sure if we ordered this because it was tasty or if it was just because
we wanted to shout "what a gay time!"  Which we did.  Repeatedly.)

E'rrybody be ridiculous!

Ridiculousness was delicious!

The afternoon was a blast, and quite unexpected!  That was probably half of what made it so much fun, that and great tour guides, wonderful sights (and tastes) plus gorgeous weather.  Fun day in Melbourne, for sure!

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