Monday, 30 May 2011

Days 106-112: Extra long post as promised!

Location: Narre Warren, Near Melbourne
Country: Australia
Day number: 113
Mood: Cofffeeeeee

Well, I know it's been a long time since I've posted, mainly because of a lack of battery power on the laptop and late nights and early mornings. Evil combination. Anyhow, last time I left you we were en route to the Grampians. Shortly after, we arrived at said mountains, after an interesting drive through the park. The roads were closed at places due to high rainfall 5 months earlier. Landslides had wiped away the roads and about 80% of the park was inaccessible. The woman in the information centre was helpful though, and directed us to a few nice walks we could do. We saw some emus, kangaroos, an elk and a ton of birds, plus some lovely views. Only downside was that it was so freakin' cold!

We proceeded out of the park, and continued to the Great Ocean Road. In a word: Wow. This road curved its way along the ocean, with viewing spots and lookouts every few kilometres. 200 km of some spectacular views... really a great find. It took us two days to get to the end of it, after plenty of stops and camera opportunities. Pictures en route.

After the GOR, we headed for Melbourne, where we needed to drop off the van for more repairs. The guys said it would take an entire day, and to return in the morning, so we started looking at the map for a place to stay. Jerome wanted to stay at a hostel, because he missed social contact. We called up a few regarding parking in their car parks and had a few puzzled people inform us that they didn't have  a car park.

I decided to call John and beg, and after a brief drive through rush hour, we arrived in Narre Warren and parked the van next to the house. I met Julie finally, so that's a plus! We've been really lucky, Julie and John say we can park here as long as we like, so we're very grateful to them for that.

We headed into Melbourne the next day, and Aya called up her friend who lives in the area. Aya's new camera had arrived, so that was the first thing to pick up. Her friend Olivia arrived, and we headed off to look around the city. Shopping, looking at street art and more shopping were the things to do apparently, so after a while I said farewell and returned south to pick up the van and bring it up to see them all again.

We met up with Olivia's boyfriend, Evan, who Jerome and I got along well with (He's a computer programmer) and so together we headed out to the Greek Precinct of the city to have food. It was an excellent dinner, and we headed off to have coffee afterwards before staggering back to the car and driving home, arriving at about 1 AM.

The next day, after waking up far too early in my opinion, we headed back into the city for the day. I called up Sharon, saying I was in the area and it would be great to see her, and got a call back just after we arrived. So after dropping off the other two with Olivia again, I headed down the M1 to see my family.

The drive was pleasant. The area around where they live is very english countryside-esque, so it was nice to see a little reminder of home. Sharon, Barry, Ryan and Jess were there, and we talked for a while before they offered to show me an impressive cricket ground with nice views a short drive away. They were right, it was impressive. The ground went to the edge of a cliff and then dropped like a stone. You hit the ball hard enough and you need a new one. I wondered if there was a small collection of cricket balls down the bottom...

Anyway, I returned to Melbourne just in time for the girls to call me up and say to meet them on the far side of the city so we could go to the Casino. We stopped in a food court for dinner, and I had an excellent Burrito Bowl thing which woke me up. Evan met up with us, and we headed out to the Crown Casino.

What a building. Jerome blew 15 bucks on blackjack in less than 10 seconds, and if I had felt confident enough about the rules, I might have had a go. We stopped into the poker room, and almost left Jerome there after he started drifting towards the tournament sign up counter. We offered to pick him up the next day, but he resisted and we continued on.

Aya decided to have a go at slots, and we all helped her, none of us (including Aya) having any clue whatsoever on how to play the slots. My contribution was the old Pokemon games, where you can play slots. Needless to say, we didn't win anything except for 10 cents which went back into the pot to continue playing.

What a place though, it was huge. Evan took us down to the old arcade games afterwards, and we spent some time playing classic games. I think I spent 15 bucks, it was an addictive thing. We had a great time though, and before we left for the night, Evan insisted we return the next day and see an Australian Football match that was playing at the MCG the next day.

The match was... interesting. We started off by being very neutral, not supporting one or the other (it was the Collingwood Magpies versus the West Coast Eagles. Evan supported Collingwood, so we felt inclined to also support them, but none of us were announcing who we supported... at first) but after the half time, we were cheering along with the rest. There was a foul at some point half way through, and Jerome and I looked at each other and exclaimed "There are rules!?"

Anyway, the game is slightly crazy in my opinion, but I'm glad I saw a game. I managed to get in as a student, so the tickets were extra cheap.

Today I'm off for a haircut and possibly to look round the museum. I'm just killing time until the other two are ready to leave... then again, I really do like Melbourne. I could spend a while here quite happily.

Hope everyone is well.

Andy

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