Monday, February 21, 2011

The energy of Melbourne

I find Melbourne to be much like San Francisco, only without the hills. It certainly has diverse sections of the city, from the busines/financial district, to China Town, shopping/fashion centers and even a special place or two for its finest restaurants. The Yara River runs through the city, and the local say it runs upside down because of the brown color of the water (fine silt causes that color).

A 3 hour bus tour took me through just about every part of the city, from the Victorian homes near Port Melbourne, to shops along St Kilda street. We swung by some beautiful gardens that lay claim to being Captain Cook's (one of the pioneering discoverers of this part of Australia) to the Shrine of  Remembrance of World War 1 veterans who gave their lives.

This shrine, in fact, has an hourly memorial ceremony in which a small ray of light from the sun momentarily passes through an inner chamber that has a memorial plaque with the words "he hath no greater love." It was quite moving...a tribute to Australia's fallen soliders.

After returning to the hotel and quick workout, it was off to explore the neaby retail district. With trams running constantly (thus the San Francisco connection again), aboriginese and other music performances, and the hustle bustle of  millions of Melbourne residents, I daresay this is one vibrant city.

I have a dinner on board a moving trolley this evening, but I thought I'd close this with a few random observations about all things Australian I've seen in the last week:

  • Just about every toilet in every place I've been to has a full and half flush option -- quite the sustainable water practice, don't you think? And if you get it wrong, you can still flush again.
  • Pedestrian traffic passing -- just as cars do it on the left side, pedestrians are supposed to pass on the left, which is really hard if you're used to doing on the right your entire life, and can't move your 6-3 frame fast enough once you do remember -- (or are reminded by the grimaces on the faces of aussies you pass, who are quite irritated)
  • Rockets -- a common bitter lettuce type vegetable, often served in salads with something sweet, like pears
  • Prawns -- served not only with the legs on, but whole heads and beady eyes that say "eat me" -- really
  • On/off switches -- every hotel room as on off switches for each electric outlet. I suppose it's a sustainable enrgy practice, but speaking of irritating.
  • Take-away vs eat in -- nothing major here but when you order, you're asked if you want take-away (vs carry out). Also Yield signs in the US are "Give Way" signs here. "Way" better. So shoot me.
  • Lemonade -- ice tea here is a rarity, so lemonade is what I've asked for. In every case, it's served carbonated.
My last full day in Oz is tomorrow, so I'll make it one to remember. The good news is that I'm feeding off all this Melbourne energy!

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