Another Day in Melbourne

I took a strange journey to get here, where I am now. Not in the physical sense – although it was a day’s travel, but in the mental and almost spiritual.
At my previous job I was, in my mind at least, on a path to career progression. I was given a lot of opportunities (ones I felt I earned) and it seemed that things were going well. A good job with a career path – I knew it would not be forever, in my mind I had always known that if I really wanted to reach heights in my industry I would have to at least try a different work environment and were I was that meant moving (relocating). I was surrounded by family and friends, with interests outside of work and a huge network to call on.
Then it happened.
I am not sure if I didn’t try hard enough, or if I didn’t impress the right people or even if it had nothing to do with me at all, but I missed out on a promotion.
I had been working that position in an “acting” role for nearly 12 months – getting some good results and making positive changes. Even winning an award – which I attribute to the changes I had made.
That really set me back, and with a new baby on the way I had to make a choice about my life and my family.
Now I’m not going to get into the whole debate over who should or should not provide for the family – hell if things were different and I needed to I would stay at home with the kids. However, our situation was that I need to be the one providing at this stage and my wife supports that and I support her. As far as I am concerned we are both working full time – I just get a pay cheque for mine!
So I needed to decide if I was going to stay in the position I had (my substantive role) and wait around for another opportunity with no guarantee or look for something else.
I will admit that I was pissed off – I was angry (and so was my wife) and I did really start looking for alternatives.
An opportunity came up, 800 kms away, in a different state far away from any family or friends, with no support network in a very different (although similar) work environment.
I applied for it. Thinking if nothing more this was a chance to get my resume into order and hopefully practice some interview techniques.
Not only did I get an interview (phone followed up by in person) I landed the job a few short weeks before my second child was born.
The decision to take this job came not from the anger and disappointment I had felt but from several moments of serendipity.
Call it fate or whatever but ever since saying yes and exposing myself and my family to this big upheaval the choice has been vindicated in more ways than I can recount.
Today was filled with such moments.
We had learnt about a kids event at Art Play that was on today, it’s a short train ride to the City so off we went, all four of us for a day out.
It was a little rainy as we came into Flinders Street station and we stopped for coffee and some morning tea. Then crossing the road to Federation Square we sat and drank and ate while a street performer (from Circus Oz) did a 30 minute show – brilliant, funny and I even partook with some assistant work holding his unicycle.

After the show (we deposited some $’s into his hat because he truly was worth it) we turned to head down to Art Play and walked into the Greek Festival. We also found a Fine Design Market full of wonderful hand and locally made items. Deciding that we had come to see Art Play but wanting to come back, we moved on.
At Art Play my 3 year old played on the equipment while the baby was fed. We met a Chilean family who are over here for 6 years while the husband studies his Masters and Phd (on a scholarship). That put our lives into perspective – our move while a long way was nothing compared to coming to another country with a new language with three children (one born here) and no easy way to get to family. 

After all this play and looking at wonderful things we headed off for some lunch and a rest, and it was here that I realised that all we did that morning was within a few hundred meters of Flinders Station – a mere 30 minutes from our front door.
We planned one event, a trip to Art Play and instead saw, experienced and took part in so much more.
This day is typical of any day out in Melbourne.
We took a trip to Warrandyte last week (when my parents where visiting) and found not only some great shops, a kids play ground, access to the Yarra River and walks but a community theater group with a play that started that night. With grandparental babysitting we got to go and met some theater people – we plan on joining or at least trying to attend more shows into the future.
I took a big risk, and I won’t lie there have been moments that we have regretted it, the fear, the isolation, the unknown has contributed to us doubting our choice. We put ourselves out there and asked the universe to give us a break, a break we felt we earned and one that we worked for (and still do).
A friend once told me, “put our good vibes and you shall have them come back at you” – all I can say is that whatever happens and whatever the future holds this choice this step we took has been for the better and can only get better.
Looking to the future.

Melbourne 2

Part two

I must say that even though the bunk beds we had where not the most comfortable I have slept in I still did not want to get out of bed when the alarm Daz had set went off at about 8.30am. Still we had a lot to do and even less time to do it in! I eventually struggled out of bed – Daz, Jas and I missed the “free” breakfast Dan the early riser got his in. Daz, Dan and I headed out to fed – Jas was still very much dead to the world (he works odd hours and tends to sleep during the day we thought it best not to wake him).*

Walking around the city we were looking for a café or eatery which would serve us some yummy breakfast. Passing a café hidden in a large building we walked in to check the menu. A happy smiling waiter came out to ask us if we needed any help and he indicated the breakfast special they had running today – Bacon Eggs Toast Fresh OJ and Coffee for $12… seemed like a good deal and we where too hungry to keep walking – and besides the guy came to us! I like that! So in we went.

It was a little cool so we sat inside ordered our coffee** and our preferred type of egg (scrambled for me, I think the other two went fried). Then we waited. The OJ was first then eventually the other two got their coffee – for some reason I had to wait a bit. And finally our food arrived good sized portions and nicely done (not that we where looking for gourmet with Bacon and Eggs but you know it was Bacon and Eggs done well).

It was then that the annoying-fuck-of-a-lady came to our attention. She had arrived some time after us ordered a coffee, the till/register did not want to open for the waitress who served her, (this was the first problem) so after huffing about the order taking/payment going wrong she sat down near us to wait. In the confusion of the order taking the waitress came back to the “AFOA-lady” to double check the order was for a cappuccino to which “AFOA-lady” replied in a tone which screamed I am fucking getting pissed off her ‘CAPPUCCINO’ and then a huff and ‘Gee’ kind of sound to express her displeasure even more. The waitress rolled her eyes, thankfully without “AFOF-lady” noticing and went to get her order. It was about this time our meal arrived and I really lost interest in the bitch… I think she drained her coffee and left – I hope it burned the hell out of her. But I guess I would have noticed that!

We went back after a wonder to get Jas up and out of bed so we could go to the “Game On” exhibition – the main reason for coming to Melbourne.

That’ll be the next instalment!

* Note this can be translated to SAFER not to wake him – he is not the most passive person when awoken from slumber – as we found out…
** Jas doesn’t drink coffee and has never even had one… strange man – but he did order a latte and had a few mouthfuls – we where all stretching ourselves with this weekend. Well the others not me so much I eat anything (almost)


We left at 3.00 am on Friday morning – I was pushing for an earlier start but the others were still tired from work and needed some sleep… I think I got about 2 hours… maybe. I pack the car with my bag, sleeping bag, pillow, iPod* and sweet sweet snacks then kissing my Anjel good bye I drove around to Dazza’s. We left from Dazza’s place as his was the cloest pick up point to the other 2, who live about 5 mins walk in either direction.

I was met at the door by Dazza drinking an energy drink and a coffee while handing me a tiny vial of dark coloured liquid. I read the label – it appeared to contain the essence of energy drinks. A concentrate if you will of all the goodness that is supplied in one of those cans. I tucked it away for later.

The others arrived in good order just as we where packing Dazza’s and Dans stuff in the back – Jas got his gear packed and away and we jumped in prepared to head off into the wide blue yonder (which was actually black as it was night but you get the drift)

Dazza’s Father-in-law had recently seen a Tomtom GPS navigator, his other daughters bf bought one on special, and so to cut a long story short – he got one as well. Which was great because we got to use it for the trip, the main benefit of which was that the Tomtom notified us of speed and red light cameras – not that we sped nor ran red lights! Also a great help in getting into the city NOT using pay road – which you can do in Melbourne… weird. Dazza had pre programmed the destination in so we where set to go – and offcourse straightway we went an alternative route and made the machine try to play catchup! This also occurred when we took the slightly quicker route to the Hume Highway… instead of the prescribed Moss Vale route.

The trip down was as expected long and boring with a couple of refuelling stops for both us and the car it was a nice drive straight into the City where we found the car parking station closet to the backpackers I had booked for us – 200 m or less from the car door to the front door. The backpackers was great $27 a night each and right in the heart of the city – any closer and we would have been sleeping on the streets! We also got a free breakfast each morning – Toast and Cereal! Woot a riffic!!!

So we got to Melbourne just after lunchtime and our first thoughts after getting the gear into the room and selecting beds etc was to feed our selves and have a looksee about the place. Off we heading into the streets of the City – Now for those who have never been to Melbourne there is something special about this City that I have not witnessed in other Australian (or international) Cities. Traffic and pedestrians are friendly – I can explain this – when you walk across a small side road in Sydney (or other Cities) you have to watch out for cars in Melbourne they stop to let you walk across, when crossing at lights people move aside to let you pass and vice versa they are appreciative that you do the same. The sidewalks/footpaths are really wide (made so because motor bikes and scooters can park on them – but still it makes it easier to walk along and look at shops without fear of blocking the way. Also the trams are fantastic a great mode of public transport – you can buy Day Passes which you can use for all transport (buses, train, trams) and it costs $6… The shops and cafes and restaurants are great and not too expensive – there are clearly marked areas for tourists and visitors – food district shopping etc. All in all it was a great location for four guys to wonder, and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy ourselves.

After lunch and bit of a walk around looking at shops and where we wanted to go the next day we had a little rest and a cat nap before dinner. While Jas was sleeping (he works odd hours and didn’t sleep much Friday night) the rest of us went up to the roof where there were a few banana lounges and other seating. Dazza took the opportunity to ring the wife and Dan and I sat down on banana lounges and lean back relaxing. Our eyes went to an apartment in the building opposite which was lit up – two figures where moving about. Suddenly we worked out what they where doing – they where stripping down for a shower or to get changed and we could see everything. The girl was in the bed room taking off her top and skirt while her beau was (we worked out) getting dressed in the lounge room. I looked at Dan and he at me in total disbelief – were we really seeing this? Looking back we saw the girl walk out to (what we surmise) was the bathroom as the guy pulled on his underwear. Dan and I laughed at the scene – something we had no idea we would witness and tried to signal to Dazza to come see – he was in deep conversation and I guess we really didn’t try that hard!!! So we went back to looking waiting for the girl to come back out.

But it was the guy who gave us the greatest comic relief. He was now walking around the rooms in his boxer briefs taking time to wonder into the bedroom to adjust this and that and check himself out in the full length mirror, Dan and I made up a few comets like “does my bum look big in this” as he twisted and turned to check it all out. He then went on to iron his clothes for the night – the motion of his arm movements compounded with the angle we where at made it look a lot more suspicious then ironing… With each article of clothing he put on he made sure to return to the mirror to check it all out and adjust bits as required. After a while the girl did return with bra and panties on and she too took the time to check herself out in the mirror while he dutifully went off to iron her clothes. Needless to say the pair where blonde and quite pretty look (early 20’s) but to watch the preening habits of these two made better entertainment then any nature show I have seen! Brilliant!!!

After Jas awoke and we had had our fun being peeping toms… we head off for dinner. We chose to go to Lygon Street in the Italian District we all thought we knew roughly where it was… over that way. With that as our plan off we headed… needless to say we kinda go a little offcourse (I have no idea why!!!) although we were only a street or two off. By the time we got to Lygon Street we could have eaten a horse… and might have! The first place we came to a shortish Italian man grabbed us (figuratively) and told us that this place has won awards for it Pizza and was the first Pizza Restaurant to open in Australia and had great prices and and and and… we said yes and sat down! And had a great meal! Daz ordered Pizza with the lot large – Jas a Steak, Dan Pasta and I ordered a large pizza too, with peperoni, ham, onion, capsicum and Anchovies YUM! Daz and I went glass for glass with red wine, Dan had a couple of whites and Jas being the non drinker had a coke or two! The food was fantastic, simple tasty and filling and the wine was cheap and plenty-full which is what we wanted!!

After nearly exploding with too much food we headed off back into town to look for a bar – we found the quick way back and were back in the main CBD in no time. Standing in line waiting for the lights to cross somewhere near China town I commented that we needed to find a place with good beer. A guy turned around and said “Did you say beer? You should go to Eurotrash”
“Great” I replied “where is that?”
He gestured as he explained the way. “Over the road then over there walk up that street until you come to a alley way – its small – go down that until you see the dump bins near that is the club”.
“OK” I said and as the light changed we crossed to look for the alley way. It was quite easy to find and I turned to head straight down it when Jas called out from the back “Are we really going there”.
“Yeah” Dan and I spoke in unison “It’s called Eurotrash!!!”

And what a place it was. At first glance it was a simple inner city bar with a DJ station wards one end and upstairs a band was setting up for later in the night. But when we got used to the dim lighting more was reviled to us. Near the DJ station was a retro tabletop gaming machine (which offcourse Daz headed straight to and deposited several coins and played a few games) behind that I saw a small opening covered loosely by a thin curtain. I stuck my head in and saw a bed like lounge with pillows and a soft glow from a flat panel mounted on the roof. I went in (having to get on the bed/lounge and looked up to see what was on the flat panel… it was porn. ‘Nuff said. After that, while the boys played the games, I went and looked at the rest of the place which I discovered went on further towards the back after the toilets – another flight of stairs and a cocktail bar and more nooks and crannies that seemed to come out of nowhere. This place was fantastic and well worth a drunken recommendation on a street corner. We had a few more drinks and enjoyed the atmosphere of the Bar before heading back to Backpackers as we were getting very tired from the early morning and long drive and various beverages! Besides we had more to do tomorrow!

To be continued…

* I filled my iPod with a good mix of Rock, Pop, and Comic songs from the Collection. Highlight where Flight of the Conchords which caused much laughter and enjoyment on the way down and a reprise on the way back!