Melbourne, Australia: The Wrap-Up

I’m sprinting towards the finish here. Not much else happened during my last few days in Melbourne, so if I miss anything, don’t worry. The point is, you’re all pretty far back in the past right now and you need to catch up. Ready? OK, here we go.

The morning after Ray, Kieran and Owen’s (who, by the way, may or may not spell his name “Eoghan”) last night I caught Kieran in the kitchen packing up his food. They were planning on driving the Great Ocean Road for a day and flying out that night, so there was a lot he didn’t need. He bequeathed me a package of spaghetti, a bottle of oil and some pasta sauce. For any backpacker on a tight budget, this was gold.

Steffen, Sophie and I wandered around Elizabeth Street and looked at cameras. I was looking to replace my screen-damaged Casio and Steffen wanted to get an old-school 35mm SLR. Both Steffen and I were impressed by watching Ben take pictures on his SLR, but mostly because there were large additional lenses and tripods involved, and he looked a lot cooler than us with our small aluminum encased point-and-shoots.

Since it was Tuesday, the three of us went to Traffik for $2 pints. The atmosphere was considerably more muted than the previous week and we didn’t stay very long.

The next day, Wednesday, I was sitting in the dining room reading after finishing lunch when Jillian came in and began writing in her diary. She kept glancing up at me and then writing again. After a while I asked her what she was doing, and she scrunched her face and said, “It’s kind of a portrait.” When I finally got a look, it was a sketch of me looking rather Fu-Man-Chu-ish with bulging muscles. Next to the picture she wrote “BJ The Space Cadet, N.A.S.A.”. The portrait was holding a cube — Jillian admitted she screwed up on drawing the book and turned it into a cube. I thanked her for the muscles.

That night Sophie, Steffen, Ben, Rich and I went to the Queen Victoria Night Market. Unlike the market during the day, the night market features live music, arts and crafts stalls, and a wide range of ethnic foods. We walked down the row of stalls, trying to decide what to get. Ben had told me about a stall that served ‘roo, croc, emu and camel kebabs, and I was intrigued. However, we also found an Ethiopian food place and I had just finished talking about how I was also in the mood for some kind of African food. Steffen got a brat as an “appetizer” (in Steffen world, trust me, that is an appetizer) and the rest of us hit up the Ethiopian food. The fare was a lamb and beef curry as well as some kind of lentil curry, both absolutely delicious. They were served with two pieces of flat bread, which was soft and airy. It was so good, Steffen went back and got some as his main course.

After we downed our food, Steffen, Sophie and I wanted to head out to Carlton/Brunswick for some drinks. There was a hookah bar on Lygon St. I often passed when I was staying with Charlie and the three of us were definitely in the mood for some flavored tobacco and drinks in their outdoor patio. Ben and Rich headed back to the hostel and the rest of us jumped on the tram going in the opposite direction.

The hookah bar was too pricey for us, so we headed for Brunswick St. in the hopes of drinks and live music. As we walked down Brunswick, contemplating drink options we were suddenly taken with the music wafting out the open door of a small, dark club. It was Reggae vs. Electronic vs. Jam, and we all agreed without words that we had to go in and listen to some more. I don’t remember what the bar was called, but it was between the Fritz cafe and a store called Quick Brown Fox, if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

The band was School of Dub and it featured a keyboard, bass, drums, guitar and a funky-haired bongo/cowbell player. The music is hard to describe, but it was the perfect music to just sit back and relax. The club was small but suprisingly not crowded. Seats on the low, leather couches were in strong supply and there was even more room on the dance floor, since most people were calmly positioned on the sofas, enjoying the music and a conversation.

We had a few pitchers of VB and had to leave early to catch the train to St. Kilda. Even though we were only there for about 1 1/2 hours, it was well worth the trip.

Back at Jackson’s, I shot a quick game of pool with Valerio and said my goodbye. I got his email and promised I’d look him up when I’m in Italy later in the year. He wanted me to come out to the bars with him, but I had to wake up early the next morning: Steffen and I were planning on leaving for Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road, and we had even convinced Sophie to completely change the course of her trip and come with us.

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