Saturday, July 22, 2006

Two beautiful days in a row

Smack in the middle of "the worst part of winter" and we had two beautiful days in a row. For the last couple of weeks, it has been cloudy and cold and kind of wet and rumor is that it will stay that way in Melbourne until September. ugh.

BUT, Friday morning Carl and I began our day of oh-so-exciting groundwater sampling under cloudless skies and it remained so for a whole two days straight. It definitely made field work much more fun and reminded me that heck, this job may not be so bad after all! We did end up losing the whole day to work, even though I had a very Ferris Buellar's Day Off desire to go play.

Friday night, the start of the weekend, found a group of us at our weekly happy hour, this time at the Arcadia in South Yarra. Richard had organized the coup (straying from the Friday formula of the Royston in Richmond, much closer to work) and since it will be his birthday this week, we humored him. He promised me a dive bar though, and I just don't think they really know what a dive bar is. That, or true dive bars just aren't allowed in suburbs as hip as South Yarra. This one had pool tables, plasma screen TVs and big cushiony couches. They showed footy and golf. See, so not a dive bar.

Anyway, we carried on until a good eleven or so and then decided it was definitely time to find some food. Richard and Dee had found a great Italian place on Chapel Street and so we set off in search of "the best" gnocci. On the way, we passed a Greek place and were almost swayed into trying some take away kebabs (Otherwise known as gyros. Why they call gyros kebabs, I have no idea. What do they call meats on sticks?) Dee, being a strict vegetarian, vetoed the idea and we continued on. We finally made it to the restaurant only to have the chef standing at the door, shooing people away. Even our pleading, hungry faces couldn't sway him and he recommended another restaurant a block away. We trudged away dejected and we arrived at the next restaurant only to find that it was the one that was crap. Well, Richard and Dee thought it was crap, and since they were half of the votes by this point, Suzy and I decided they must be right. Going on midnight, we decided group dinner was not in the cards and so we split up and found our way home. My way home just happened to be past the Greek place with the kebabs, and so I got one after all. By the way, if they ask if you want everything, say "no". Pickles and pickled beets on a gyro? Eeww.

Saturday morning and the sky is still blue. An unprecedented event, and so I hurried along with my organizing and packing because I had to move again. This time I just switched apartments though the same leasing company and moved to a complex a couple of streets away. Turns out that Carrie, the loud American that came and interviewed a week ago was a bit vocal about how, um, under par the apartments they had us in were. Yeah, I had dodgy neighbors and thin walls, but I wasn't about to complain- I mean, I wasn't paying for it after all. Anyway, the boss felt bad and so I've moved to a much nicer place on Caroline Street, still in South Yarra. For some reason, this street really feels homey. Tree-lined and all. I was tempted to take a photo, but all you would see are naked, leafless trees. You'll have to trust me on this one.

Here's a photo of Toorak Street instead. This is the major street that connects my street, the train station, and Chapel Street. The uber-rich come here for their couture maternity wear and jewels. And cheap falafel. Heh.

Anyway, I was content with the new digs, and so I set about my next task for the day, bluffing my way into a library membership. Friday afternoon I'd printed a very official looking letter on company letterhead and had Richard sign it. Doesn't matter that he's my equal, his title is "Project Manager" and that's all that anyone outside of our industry would need to think he is important. It worked. Half an hour later, I came back to the flat with my hands full of books and feeling pretty proud of myself.

Next, onto lunch on Chapel Street. Lorenzo and I met up for sushi, and since he was characteristically late, I got to poke around some of the shops nearby. Danger. I really must find some more punctual friends.

Full on fish and all of my "plans" attended to, I decided I would catch a tram and check out South Melbourne, the Cranbourne Street shopping district, and the South Melbourne market. Having had a good look at the tram map before I left home, I hopped on the tram and headed on my way. About half-way to downtown where I was supposed to hop off and switch trams, the tram diverted. Apparently there was a rally about the war in Israel that was taking up all of Swanston Street, in front of Federation Square and more importantly, the Flinders Street Station where I had planned to hop out. Not totally panicked, I dug around my purse to find the trusty tram route map that I carry around. Not there. OK. So, I'm winging it. There really is no "lost" at this point because I can always a) get a taxi, or b) start walking toward the tall buildings of the CBD, but... yeah, I had no idea where we were heading. Not only that, but I had no idea where the South Melbourne market was. Who knew where Cranbourne Street was when you don't even know which way the tram is turning next?!

We eventually crossed Flinders Street (the dodgy end) and so I hopped off the tram and started heading towards the CBD. I made it to the train station, hoping for some kind of map, when I see someone in the blue uniform of the train operators. A quick chat with him and I was back on my way via tram (trains don't go near there, apparently) and I even had a choice of two trams that would get me there. I hopped on the first one and waited for Cranbourne Street.

And waited. And waited. I was definitely not on the right tram and I was heading west.

Next thing I know, I'm near Bay Street, which heads right into Port Melbourne. Since I wanted to check this out anyway, I hopped out and took a stroll around to check out the shops.

Not quite the bustling area that is Chapel Street, but it has a great ending:
The weird thing about Port Melbourne is that it has all these rich up-and-comers running around with their yachts, and just off in the distance you can see them making cars. A very strange place for the rich folk to end up. You figure they would have driven the hippies out of St. Kilda first, since it has everything. Oh well. Maybe they plan on buying out the factories.

The afternoon was getting on, and since I had loads of books to entertain me and only one layer to keep me warm (it was still chilly after all) I decided to head back to the flat. A very long look at the tram map posted at the stop and I was on my way home.

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