14 Days Later

Sunday, May 13, 2007

My first week had been one that would be difficult to top. I got a job, caught up with Norm, cycled 30 km, saw a Thanos Petrelis concert, saw the live comedy stylings of someone obsessed with Ferris Bueller, and took a few scenic drives around the city. Surely I couldn’t keep up the pace, but we’ll see. I had the weekend off of work until she worked me onto the schedule, so that was a good start. Saturday, I drove Marietta out to the doctor’s office and then we went to the markets for some fruit, meat, and groceries. It was pretty busy though she insisted it was slow, but we definitely stocked up on some food. Then we went into the shopping mall and I bought another pair of black pants for work and was looking around at belts and shoes though to no avail. Nice shoes but I’d probably suffer some sort of catastrophic knee failure trying to wear them for a 13 hour shift. We sat down in the food court, however, and I tried my first Japanese pancake, which I have to say is delicious. The closest thing I can relate it to is a spring roll, as it’s filled with veggies and anyway, good. And then she directed me to a hill that overlooks downtown Melbourne and had a pretty nice view. I tried to squish downtown, but was unable.

We went home and were going to go to a Greek night but as I looked into it I realized that it looked pretty lame, and we put the kaibosh on that and hung around the apartment watching movies. Which may not sound like much, but I guess I was pretty tired from getting back into the swing of work. My legs were killing me. Plus, I saw Spiderman again, Last Action Hero, and some Chinese movie about a pickpocket. Not amazing or thrilling, but hey, I’m here to live an everyday life for a few months and that includes hanging out and resting too. Plus, I had a big day on Sunday. I was to meet Kirsti, another waitress from the restaurant, to go see an AFL game in Geelong. So let’s skip over Saturday and go right to Sunday, shall we?

I met up with Kirsti at the restaurant just past noon, they were running late from traffic. Since I was running early, I had an almond crescent from the café next door and some spanakopita while I waited. Then, Dave and her pulled up and we were off. Really slowly. See, we stumbled into some construction and got quite slowed up, but we did eventually hit the highway. It was a good drive to get to know Dave and also Kirsti some more, and they’re both exceptionally nice people I was pleased to spend the day with. I tried in vain to pay for gas and then for chips and drinks but I think they had a man on the inside: the clerk always took their money over mine. I vowed to get them some drinks, then, and we set off on the highway again.

Dave’s bad ankles got us a really terrific parking spot right next to the main entrance and also a VW bug covered in grass. I took a photo of it for uncle Russ, thinking he’d definitely love it. And then we went inside just as the game started. Kirsti had brought me a Geelong vest to wear, and so it was her and I cheering for the home team while Dave cheered for the hated North Melbourne. That said, he actually disappeared to the loo for a minute and came back with a scarf for me as well. I mean, what do you do in the face of such generosity? So I ran down after the first quarter and procured some beer for us, and then some more at the half. As for the game itself, well, it’s AFL, which is to say Australian Rules Football, and it’s not football in the Canadian sense nor in the soccer sense, but its own animal altogether. It is a hybrid of basketball (tips, occasional dribbling, and, in the preseason, what is effectively a three-point arc), soccer (the game is based on punt-passes), and rugby (man, it gets rough!). Very easy to catch on to and entertaining, I enjoyed the game thoroughly. Unfortunately, Geelong lost, which left Dave happy and Kirsti less so (especially since she’s now slave for a day) but we all enjoyed ourselves.

After the game, it is tradition to run out on the field and race to the centre, but because of rain it was called off. It’s also tradition to go to the park and kick the footy around, and that much we did, though I wasn’t exactly an all star, they claimed I didn’t do too poorly. After, they took me to the waterfront and we snapped some photos before going to a pub, having a few more beer and dinner. We were with, I should mention, Ash and Dani, which, through the magic of Australian terminology (Dani ~ dunny -> toilet = potty) has the nickname Potty, and also met Ash’s new boyfriend, Matt. They were all very nice and we had a great time hanging around the pub and chatting. But all good things must come to an end and so we drove back to Melbourne and called it a night – but not before making plans to see Spiderman 3 on Thursday. I’m now doubly excited about that movie.

The next day was beautiful out. I dropped my car off to get the radiator hose replaced and went into St. Kilda to look around. I should perhaps have done more research as I wasn’t sure what to look at, but I walked up and down Acland Street, around the esplanade, and beach. Then, I headed downtown and walked around some more, finally trying out my new internet café, and yes, it is very nice and fast. I even had a video chat with Larissa. So, new photos, podcasts, music, movies, and TV show episodes to combat homesickness. Perfect. And that was the last I’d written in almost two weeks.

So, recapping a bit. In the last two weeks I’ve started working in earnest. This past week, already my third in Melbourne (though it still only feels like I’ve been here a week) I worked 37 hours, although 27 of those were on Friday and Saturday which left me with days to explore. I met up with Melinda, a friend from Budapest and we had crepes in a little shop carved into an alley somewhere near Collins St. It was fun to catch up and I’m excited to find more places like that around town. I’ve taken a couple days of just strolling around downtown. I moved out from Marietta’s, and into Kirsti’s for a weekend before coming to where I am now with Nick here in Southbank on the, yup, southern bank of the Yarra river. From here it’s only a twenty minute walk to work which means that even when I’m at work I’m still getting in a good 40 minutes of exercise, not to mention the uncounted kilometers at work.

Continuing the recap, while at Marietta’s I didn’t do much else of note. While there, I would often walk Chapel Street, and I found some cool things doing so. One of which, as I believe I mentioned last time, was the Astor Theatre, which plays old classics during the week in $13 double-features and then new releases on the weekends. Another was Urban Burger, which makes the best burgers I’ve had since Fergburger. Of course there was CM’s. They also have lots of cool shops and lounges and cafes beyond description. And on High Street was a music store where I could venture in and play piano for a spell. A very nice location.

I also went to see Spiderman 3 with Dave, Kirsti, and Mariolla, after having dinner and a drink at Dave’s old work. A really nice and upscale place, especially considering it’s in a mall. The movie itself was entertaining, but they got to ambitious with it and it didn’t feel like it held together. Two villains back and forth, sometimes friends, sometimes enemies, and so on. Not to mention his struggle with his dark side. Still, it was worth admission just to see Pete do his ‘cool’ walk. Hilarity. Anyway, my time at Marietta’s was short lived after that, I thought I’d be able to get some sleep between finishing work at 7AM and moving out of there, but when I got home at 8:30, I found out that I needed to be gone by noon, so I just packed my stuff and strolled Chapel for one last time as a nearby resident. Then off to Kirsti’s where I met her mom and saw the house before basically crashing for five hours.

When I woke up, we went out with some of her friends at a nearby lounge that was pretty cool and a lot of fun. I really like her friends, very nice people. I can’t remember the place we went for the life of me, but it was a memorable night in spite of that. Another free day, I headed to the Dandenong mountains, not far from her house and on the outskirts of Melbourne. I’d meant to have a hike around and do a bit of exploring, but we went and met her family first and wound up visiting for a bit. They’re really nice people and invited me to also stay with them or at least come for dinner one night. Leaving there, I took my car and went exploring the mountains looking for a trail. But I was hungry too, and I past a bakery that had won some awards for its pies and stopped. It was delicious, though unfortunately still not the Arthur’s Pass lamb pie, and it was so delicious that I debated between seconds or dessert for quite some time before making my final decision: both. I had to be at work that night for the 7-12 shift, so time was short and I took a ride on Puffing Billy, a historic steam train out in the Dandenong mountains on the outskirts of Melbourne. My grandpa would’ve loved it. It was nice but I would’ve liked a hike, too.

I forgot my iPod in the house and she’d locked the door although there were two chances for me to go back and get it, I didn’t bother. This turned out to be one of the most fortuitous accidents I’ve had. First of all, I discovered local radio station triple-J, which plays a lot of good music. Secondly, through them I discovered something called Splendour in the Grass, coming to Byron Bay in August. Thirdly, I found out that the Kaiser Chiefs will be playing at this festival as well as Bloc Party and The Shins, to name a few. And finally, leaving my iPod behind meant it wasn’t stolen when my car was broken in to.

Yes, they broke in, somehow, without smashing a window or anything thankfully. They sat around, it seems, and had a smoke as my car was quite smelly on my return (my second clue that the car had been broken into, but the first one that hit me) and then emptied EVERYTHING out of my glove box except for an empty Mentos wrapper (too bad for them, as a smoker they probably could’ve used one) and a piece of string. Documents citing my vehicle’s registration, my insurance, my international driving permit, and most importantly my glasses were taken. Not to mention that I’d finally found a pair of sunnies that I didn’t hate that very afternoon and bought them and they were taken. Ah well, nothing irreplaceable anyway, and thankfully I had a second pair of glasses that I brought with me.

Finally, work. Work itself is pretty hectic. For example, on Friday when I showed up to work at 4:30, it was just Paris and I working until almost 7:00. Now, this is a place that’s generally lined up at almost any given hour, and so it being Friday, it was especially hellish for the two of us to be taking cash, seating, cleaning, busing tables, serving, bringing out food, drink, and so on. That day, even when we did get extra help finally at 7:00, though we were still short-handed, I didn’t even get to sit down until just after 1AM, and even then, it was only for about 15 minutes. That’s a full eight hour day running around serving tables. And even when help arrived, we were still short-handed, to the point that we couldn’t even keep enough cutlery cleaned and rolled for our tables and I had to pop in the kitchen to do dishes just so the people we had seated could actually eat. But, for the most part, I enjoy it, as long as I’m not working too many night shifts. I woke up today at 4:00. Ick. But coming up, I’m going sea kayaking with Norm, cheap Parma with Nick, and Cirque du Soleil on Thursday. And more. So stay tuned.

Melbourne Photos

No comments: