Sunday, January 29, 2012

Melbourne - Jan 7

First stop the gas station where we filled up the car before heading off into parts unknown. Let me say that it is hard work driving on the left and trying to figure out where you are going. We were on Hume Highway and it looked like it was simply a straight shot from Canberra to Melbourne. Somehow though, we got lost. Lost in a place that is nowhere near a town or people or road signs. We were lost in sheep and cow pastures. So instead of looking out the window at the beautiful scenery, we are praying for St. Anthony to find us! Thankfully we had gas and it was daytime and there was no rain or traffic. Actually,trafic would have been nice;  we didn’t see any cars for kilometers and kilometers. At some point I stopped the car, prayed, and then went back the way we had come. Then we saw the sign to turn off in the right direction. It was only on one side of the sign, not both so we didn’t see it the first time. We get into WaggaWagga, get more gas, see some people and cars and feel much better. We kept on going through many small towns, most without even a stop light and seeing lots of sheep and cows. We also saw many signs to visit various wineries. While a winery was on my list, going off the main road was no longer an option so we pressed on toward Melbourne, sans wine!

We found our hostel easily with a free car park attached to it. We checked into our little room with bath and refrigerator and left in search of food. For dinner we had burgers and as Elisa said, the meat tastes better than what we have here. Quite a few places were closed for holiday. We walked around for a while and then made our plans for tomorrow which was Sunday.

We went to 10 am Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea. It was raining so we drove to Church. Simply beautiful church. The only odd thing was that confession was going on the same time as Mass. The priest even commented on what a blessing it was that they could offer this to the people.

By the time Mass was over the rain had stopped so we walked to Max Brenner’s for a most excellent decadent brunch of waffles with ice cream, strawberries, bananas and chocolate sauce. Then it was off to Queen Victoria Market to browse and shop for souvenirs. This market has everything from fruit to shoes; cafes serving all types of food and take-away. There are close to 1000 vendors and parts of the market date back to 1878. I bought some small Aboriginal paintings for myself and few things for friends as well.

We were ready to sit for bit so we took a free bus tour of Melbourne, complete with narration. It is a beautiful city and we are both looking forward to exploring more of it while we are here.

Our car was out of the car park already so we went to Little Italy for dinner. Little is the operative word. Two blocks long of restaurants on both sides and a small park. Dinner was calamari with rice and vegetables for me, pizza for Elisa. We were both happy. After dinner we walked to Carlton Gardens. All day we had walked everywhere getting where we wanted to go with little trouble, so we figured we would venture forth in the car to find Crown Casino Entertainment Center by the Yarrow River. We saw it on the tour, it was marked on our map and we forged ahead, full of confidence. Silly us! We could not find it. I think it’s the car.

The next was bright and sunny, a bit cool. We set out to visit the Old Melbourne Gaol. We learned about Ned Kelly and saw what the cells and where people were hung. Eerie place, but then again, it was a jail. On the way to Chinatown we stopped at the State Library of Victoria where they had some exhibits and Wi-Fi. Chinatown was huge. We had Thai food for lunch and then walked to the tram stop so we could go to the Crown Casino, but we walked in the wrong direction. That, however, turned out to be a good thing since we passed by a shop selling bubble tea, Elisa’s favorite! We found the City Circle Tram and went to the Crown Entertainment Complex where Elisa won 1.10 at the slot machine. She cashed in her winnings and off we went.

We were pretty tired so dinner came from the grocery store: Copper sparkling ale, hummus and crackers, and noodles for dinner, with nutella for dessert.

Tomorrow we are leaving for Sydney via the coast to the Great Ocean Road.

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