09 June 2010

Melbourne: City of Quality

Melbourne was quite an experience, to say the least. Both for the city itself and the personal events that occurred there. I won't mention anything about the latter except as they pertain to my mindset as I explored the former. Suffice to say that I was not in a stellar mood following the first evening, but despite that I really did enjoy Melbourne itself and getting to hang out with everyone I met/knew there.

I spent the first night at La Trobe University for a 'scribble party' from which I learned two important things:
  1. The quality of on-campus parties is one of the few areas where the USA has Australia beat.
  2. Four Jager bombs and a pitcher of beer may be a good way to start a night, but are not the wisest way to conclude one.
My next day was considerably less eventful, as I didn't feel all that well and ended up sleeping a bunch, but I still managed to climb a few rock-walls despite myself. The next day I spent basically just walking around Melbourne with Eileen, who deserves a special shout out for hosting me for a few nights, and introducing me to a bunch of her friends. She showed me a lot of places, but what sticks out is the Shrine of Remembrance, which was truly stunning. I think standing on top of that building in the rain, looking out over the whole city, filled me with such tranquility and peace that it ended up being the emotional high point of the entire trip*.

The last day I walked around solo, and spent a lot of time in the art gallery. I also visited St. Francis (stayed for a bit of the evening mass, and let me say that sermons delivered in an Australian accent are more humorous than they ought to be). Soon I found my way into a English-style** bar next to an old (now indoor) shot-tower. Some drinks and a lot of cash later I had made friends with a few bartenders and a number of locals, who decided at some point that I was ready to go to the airport, where I slept until my 7AM flight.

I wouldn't feel right without mentioning the main thing that distinguishes Melbourne as a city; that unique touch that sets it apart as a cultural powerhouse. The 7-11. There are multiple locations where you can stand outside of a 7-11... and see another 7-11. Incredible.

*I get this feeling generally from any solemn building, be it a war memorial or some sort of religious construction -in this case though I think it was the contrast to how I had been feeling that made it so spectacular.
**A pint is the correct volume for beer consumption, in case you didn't know