Well, as most of you know I am now in Melbourne. Melbourne is… well, for lack of a better word, strange. It is a city, perhaps not as big of a city as Sydney, but it definitely looks like a city. However in feel… well, it really doesn’t feel like a city. For starters, there is NO ONE HERE! In Sydney there were TONS of people constantly rushing from one place to another. The streets were never empty. Here in Melbourne there is none of that. Sure there are some people around, but it seems completely empty compared to Sydney. Or any city! It’s so strange though because for some odd reason, when I’m walking around by myself in Melbourne, I constantly have the feeling that there is someone behind me. When I turn around there is absolutely no one there.
Despite the emptiness, if I had to choose to live in Melbourne or Sydney, I would choose Melbourne in a second. The people are much more laid back and less rushed than they are in Sydney, and they seem quite a bit friendlier and willing to talk to you. People in Melbourne also seem a bit more into their health here. I often will see people jogging down the street, and sports are a big thing here – especially Aussie Rules Football, which I will explain in a bit.
But now back to the subject of the emptiness of Melbourne… check out the photographs:
It looks like any normal city, you say? Well, look again. WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE??? The cars are coming and going as you might expect, but you can actually look down a city street and not see anyone. It’s almost like a ghost city. With cars and motorcycles. And you want to hear the kicker? This was taken at 4:00 in the afternoon on Saturday!
OK, to be honest there were sections to the city that had more people in them, but there seemed to be an awful lot of streets just like these. Melbourne is a popular city, where are all the tourists taking pictures? I mean, besides me.
All in all, Melbourne is a pretty cool place, but I don’t think I’ll stay here very long either. It’s just another city.
Now on to what I’ve done in Melbourne so far. Yesterday I walked (still afraid of city buses) a really long distance to see where the Australian open was played (just for you, dad!). And when I say long I mean a couple of miles, each way. My calves have gotten another nice work out. By the time I got there I was pretty beat, I had just come from a 12-hour overnight bus ride so it probably wasn’t the best day to pick for this hike, and I pretty much only saw it from afar. I could have walked closer, like to the parking lot or something, but it looked like another long distance and I just kept thinking that I still had to walk back. Also, I am not positive which arena was the correct one. I was seeing it from the back, and there were a bunch of other arenas.
This one (the white one in the background) is what LOOKS like the arena to me, but I don’t think it’s that one. I think that is the Vodafone arena… but you can see the practice tennis courts here which is neat.
This one was right next to it, and is the one that I think is the right stadium… I’m pretty sure (according to the map if I was reading it correctly) that this is the Rod Laver Arena.
Of course, I could be wrong and maybe what I think is the Vodafone arena is the right stadium, but I’m no tennis genius.
Anyhow, after I took a few pictures, I headed back. I was so tired that I didn’t want to sight-see anymore that day.
Now, before I did the tourist thing, I actually did get to meet mom’s friend Karen and her husband. They are really nice people, very friendly (mom has good taste in friends!) and they invited me to a barbecue tomorrow! My first real Australian barbecue! I’m very excited.
They also introduced me to a friend of theirs who has been living in Melbourne so that perhaps he could show me around the city a bit, since they actually live outside of Melbourne and aren’t as familiar with it as someone who lives there would be. I’m meeting all kinds of nice people in Melbourne, it’s fabulous! I still wouldn’t want to live in the city for too long.
Ok so today, against my best judgement (my feet were still sore), I walked over to the Melbourne museum. I really enjoyed it. It’s interesting to see museums in other countries. Some of the things are the same as what a US museum might have (dinosaurs and the like) but when you go into the natural history area and you see that the stuffed native creatures are things like kangaroos and giant crabs that are bigger than a dog, you know you are in a completely different place. Also, when you go into the rooms where people talk to you via a recording, they talk with an Australian accent. Nifty!
For all the computer geeks out there, here is a bit of Australian history trivia. Australia had built the 4th computer in the world, and named it ‘CSIRAC’. It was built in 1949 and it was used from 1949 to 1964. And now, it is the ONLY 1st generation computer that is still surviving and operational. I guess in Australia they take good care of their electronics.
Ok so before I end my post, I want to talk a bit about Australia Rules football.
I was just chilling out on the couch in my hostel, and a football game was on so I was watching it. Wow, this game is probably one of the most intriguing sports I now know of! It’s similar to American football, but it’s also very different. First of all, imagine a bunch of tanned, hunky, fit and toned Australian men. Now put them in tight shorts and tank tops, and give them a football. Got that picture? Good!
I’m not exactly sure about what the precise rules of Aussie Rules Football are, but watching it was fascinating. They did a lot of kicking and throwing of the ball like we do in (american) football, but they also bounced the ball as they ran (sometimes). And when they threw the ball, it looked like they were serving a volleyball. When they ran with the ball and got ready to kick it, they ran while holding it with two hands as far in front of them as they could, like how you would hold a dirty stinky diaper that you wanted to get it to the trash as quickly as possible, and then they would drop-kick it (the ball, not the diaper).
They did do the whole tackling thing too, but once they got the person down they would sometimes put them into a head lock until the person let go of the ball. And they had no issues with grabbing someones shirt and practically ripping it off in order to get them down to the ground so they can take the ball.
And the ball… it was SHAPED like a football, but it was yellow, and truth be told, it looked like a yellow NERF football. Watching the guys run across the field throwing the ball from one person to another in order to keep the ball out of the hands of the other team reminded me of a game of ‘Monkey in the Middle’.
The sport seemed pretty rough. There were a couple of times when a guy left the field bleeding – but he always came back. They don’t wear any padding or equipment like our pansy football players do. Who needs padding and long pants and helmets? I never before realized what wimps our American football players are! (I’m just kidding, all you American football fans!)
So, Aussie Rules is kind of like multiple different games rolled into one neat and easy to manage package. It was fiercely entertaining. And not just because it was played by a bunch of hot tanned men in shorts.
That is my post for today. One more thing – on my trip to Melbourne, I was daydreaming while looking out the window of the bus and the moon was half full so I had enough light to see the landscape, and wow was it beautiful. For the first time since the start of my trip, I felt like I was in real Australia. It reminded me of this painting of Australia at night that is pretty famous – or at least famous in the sense that I’ve seen a few times and I’m sure some people would recognize it if they saw it – I couldn’t find a picture of the painting online anywhere, but it was kind of similar to this picture below:
See, this is what I’m talking about! It looked so beautiful and was just so ‘Australia’. The cities are fun and all but they aren’t what I came to Australia to see!