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Three Days In Melbourne

Tonight at a lovely fancy dinner with wine and aperitifs Bren asked me the question that burns on everyone’s mind when I do this winter excursion to Australia, “so, was it worth it for such a short time?” The answer is always yes, but why?

I didn’t do a tremendous amount of things these past two days. Day one was an adventure and so when I woke up on day two I was perfectly happy taking it slow. I wandered around Collingwood taking in all the differences from the last time I was here six months ago. Plenty of new restaurants and businesses, some old ones shuttered, the weird dvd store replaced with a trendy thrift store. I took a nap and met Bren for dinner afterwards at Chotto Motto, a restaurant I had watched get set up when I was here in the summer and happens to be run by the same guy who has an Instagram famous dog (the motivational shiba inu Tofu Pupper who I discovered when going to a cafe also run by the same people). They have a phone set up with recordings from the dog and to be honest that was at least 50% of the reason I wanted to go eat there. The food was good and the phone was so much fun.

On day 3 I found myself on my own again since Bren was busy with errands and my other friend had just moved houses and hurt her back. I tried to continue my cultural excursions by going to the ACMI museum in Fed Square. With the day all to myself I decided to recharge my local phone sim and walk to the city, playing Pokémon Go the whole time. Even though it was a walk I’d done at least a dozen times before, playing Pokémon along the way helped me learn more about the different landmarks and little odds and ends through the city. Still the streets were as familiar as the ones I grew up wandering in Queens. The ACMI museum it turned out was closed for renovations so I went to an aboriginal cultural center. It was tiny and there wasn’t much to see but it was still interesting to hear the aboriginal stories of how the rivers in Melbourne were created. I looked through the artwork and interactive table and admired the similarities from what I had seen in the aboriginal peoples or the world portrait exhibit in Estonia. Amazing how people from the four corners of the world have such similarities amongst their vast differences. After the mini museum I continued my walk through the city and then hopped a tram to the park where I watched the skateboarders outside the Melbourne Museum for a while.

The evening of day 3 was spent with Bren. I went over the Wellington house and gave him his very belated birthday gifts and gifts from Estonia while I finished up some paperwork for my new job. I was grateful to be able to get it done and not have to worry about doing it when I got home. Bren’s new room, formerly Jobin’s room, was also nice and warm, a great change of pace from the cold wet weather outside. Finally done I forced him to put on socks (“I can’t be fucked with finding socks” I just got you a pair and it’s sitting right next to you. “Oh, yea alright”) and we headed out to a new spot. As is our odd tradition we went to a slightly fancier place then usual. We picked the chef’s selection option and drank a bunch of different wines. I was laughing so hard at times that I couldn’t breathe. Bren posed the question if my short trip was worth it and I did think on it for a moment before confirming it was. When we left (Bren insisted on paying despite my protest) the server brought us our jackets and I learned a new Australian-ism - “it’s absolutely Baltic out there.” Bren and I glanced at each other on the verge of laughter and when we were finally out of range he wondered aloud if the server knew I had just come from there. Although the temperature there now (in summer) is similar to the winter in Melbourne I’m not sure if I’d classify an Australian winter as similar to a Baltic one.

The only unfortunate part of the evening was Bren leaving me at 10:30pm to go to sleep. I had to be up for my flight at 3am but thought we’d at least continue the party a little longer. He was a sleepy quokka though and I couldn’t convince him otherwise so we hugged goodbye and I thought well at least I’ll get good rest before my 4 flights tomorrow. I’ve never been so wrong in my life. The Airbnb I was staying in has a second door on the outside that can only be locked and unlocked from the inside. The family staying in the other apartment had the nasty habit of locking it when they came back and I had hoped when I left for dinner earlier that they were in for the night and wouldn’t lock me out. And boy was I wrong. I didn’t want to keep Bren up late so I went to the bar across the street to wait out the conclusion. The Airbnb host couldn’t wake up or get in touch with the other apartment and so I found myself walking back into the nearly empty bar to share the news and wait the hour it would take the host to get from their home to the apartment to let me in. Normally I wouldn’t care much but sleeping before a 30hr journey home seemed like such a good idea earlier. I shared the news that I’d be in the bar a while longer and then quickly found myself in the thick of the party. I got the chance to celebrate a Chilean girl’s birthday and she kept gushing about how much she loved that I was there that night and that I was from New York. Her classmate also couldn’t believe my travel schedule and the bartender was kind enough to give me a free beer for my troubles. I spent the rest of the night talking about everything from her life in Chile to life in New York to Australian’s abuse of the English language.

It was in that moment that I went back to Bren’s question from earlier in the evening, was such a short trip worth it? The answer before was absolutely and in that moment as this Chilean woman was pouring beer into my glass I realized that while I’ve almost never found myself in this situation back in New York it was far from the first time in Melbourne that I had quickly made a new friend. I have a whole collection of them that I keep in touch with through Instagram. And that’s what keeps drawing me back again and again. Cause even if I didn’t have my best friend Bren I would still have a whole city of strangers to meet and become friends with.


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