I'm a bit behind, I know, but I have been enjoying myself.
The first day was a bit of a blur, I arrived at the hotel, checked in had a very long shower, unpacked and went to the 7-11 on the corner to get the usual vital supplies for the room. Apart from a short nap mid-afternoon and a trip out to Two Fat Indians which is very, very close to the hotel for a light dinner, I did my usual zombie act. Two Fat Indians is pretty good, although there's an element of gorification in the spicing.
This obviously worked quite well, so apart from waking up hideously early (something I haven't quite managed to shake this trip, I'm usually up by 5:30am, it's a good job I'm not a night owl these days), I was fairly bright and chipper for the next morning.
I started off with coffee and brekky with a friend in Fed Square, I went for a long black and Vegemite toast. After that we wandered around for a bit admiring parts of Melbourne's architecture, he had to head back to Sydney.
It's nice to see bike sharing schemes on the increase and the Melbourne one looked very good, I was almost tempted myself. After my friend had departed, I wandered off towards the Queen Victoria Markets, managing to get a little lost on the way there. Once there I wandered around the stalls for about an hour, stopping only for a fresh watermelon juice before purchasing Turkish Bread, Cheese, Ham and ripe Tomatoes. I then wandered back in the direction of one of my favourite parks, Fitzroy Gardens and had a small impromptu picnic until it started raining. Luckily Fitzroy Gardens is close to the hotel, so I swiftly nipped back there.
It rained for the rest of the day, so I had a nap, played some computer games, finished off the Sambrook and popped out to get a takeaway pizza. I was in bed quite early.
The next day was also grey and cloudy, my first task was to go and play hunt a light raincoat. This took a couple of hours, but eventually I tracked down a blue showerproof coat. As it was drizzling, I decided that indoor activities were the order of the day and I went to the aquarium. I thought it was was quite expensive (but the decline of the pound has lead to considerable sticker shock in Australia) and rather mixed, there were some very good bits and some very meh bits.
I followed this up by a trip down to Docklands. Melburnians aren't going to like this, but I sense Docklands is failing, the shopping areas weren't busy, there's lots of closing down sales. The dining areas were fairly quiet (and the prices through the roof), it just has that feeling of not having moved on from two years ago. It's still nice though, even on a gray day.
By that time, it was time for a late lunch of Calimari and Salad and a small glass of beer and then back to the hotel for what I hope is the last nap of the trip before NYE. I then headed down to Fitzroy to meet a friend of a friend who runs a bookshop - nice guy, nice bookshop, excellent long black and a chat. I purchased the new Marina Lewycka as I had lost patience with Skippy Dies. I then went to Mao for a meal, it was busy, but the service was good if a bit pushy on the upsell. I found the potato prawns to be very good and the chili beef to be not so good. Nice place, but whilst it would have been reasonable in 2008, it was expensive in 2010.
The next day was dangerously deceptive, it started off very nice and I planned a nice little walking route, no sooner had I got to the Botanical gardens when the rain started. Feh. So it was back into the CBD and an impromptu trip to the Immigration Museum which is a little joy, excellent exhibits, good interactivity with some displays and a lot of history in a small space. I then wandered back through various delightful arcades of the CBD
I picked up a pie from PieFace for lunch, I was tempted by a café in the Block, but remembered I was eating out that night. I then got lost in Dymock's bookshop for a couple of hours, anyone who knows me will know I'm very good at being lost in bookshops. Eventually, I headed back to the hotel, lost myself for a couple of hours in Antony Bourdain's latest and then scrubbed up for dinner.
Dinner was out with friends, we went to Vegie Bar which is young, hip and happening, full of the gills of hipsters and trendsetters. I'm usually slightly wary of such places, but in this case, it's full because the food is cheap, good and the portions are huge. It's all a bit cramped and dark, but the service is friendly and willing even if our waiter was a bit dizzy (a tall hawt stoner/surfer boy in cutoffs, tanktop and tan). As it was all a bit cramped, you could see what others were having, unfortunately the waiter wasn't on the menu, but we ended up with some good nachos and excellent stuffed mushrooms as starters. We did consider getting some Arancini as well, but were warned off on portion size - they were right. My main was an excellent pizza with wild mushrooms, base a bit crispy, but fresh crushed tomatoes, good cheese and lovely mushrooms. My friends were faced with a huge wrap and an ginormous felafel salad respectively, they struggled to finish. Dinner for 3 was the same price as dinner for 1 at Mao, large tip left.
So it was then back to pack and get ready for the journey to Sydney. By this time I was well rested and feeling nicely relaxed which was probably a good thing considering the next day.