melbourne whotrip - day one

rainbow discs rainbow yarnbombing
Here I am, sitting in my very chilly (woohoo) Melbourne hotel room, somewhat excited, somewhere apprehensive, but mostly just hoping everything works out okay.

Essentially we're just here for the weekend. Almost the whole day today, all of Saturday and Sunday and then we fly out at quite literally the crack of dawn on Monday, which gives us both a chunk of the day at home before we go back to work on Tuesday.

And that brings me back to this morning.

After getting to bed later than I really should have last night, I was up at more or less my usual weekday time (so even though I'd set three different alarms on my phone to make sure I wouldn't oversleep, it turned out that I didn't need them). But instead of going to the gym, I changed my bedding, had a shower, threw the last of my toiletries in my suitcase and waited for Ma to arrive.

She did... the taxi did... the taxi driver was completely hopeless. Okay, he was essentially silent, which I like, but he kept straying over into the next lane and he wouldn't stop properly at any of the traffic lights... he was always inching forwards... stupid prick.

Anyway, we survived the journey (obviously), I got the fun of watching Ma use her iPhone to check her bags in (usually I do it, and I probably will again after this and just get her to use her phone to get on the aircraft itself), then the fun of watching people travelling off to various destinations in an amazing range of clothes and styles. That always amuses me... it can be the middle of winter but somebody is always going to be flying in shorts...

I always think the Melbourne flight is kinda too short to really do anything. You take off, achieve the correct altitude, then they bring you food about five minutes after that, then about 30 minutes after that they say they're starting landing. Very short.

Even though I'd had some dramas with the chauffeur car company we always use when we're in Melbourne (I can only think that they've been taken over by another company or something), once we actually got to our driver it was all incredibly easy. He had my name on an iPad (fancy!), the car was a BMW with seemingly a ton of room in the back, he was friendly and personable without being overly so. It was good.

dead horse torn
We decided on a different hotel this time... we were originally going to try for something down by Degraves Street, but couldn't get two rooms for the whole stay, which is a bit of a pain when it's only a three night stay. Instead we went with Quest Collins Street Central.

And if you were going to judge hotels on what they look like from the outside, you would never stay here in a million years... it's a tiny, tiny door, leading to a tiny, tiny hall... which is also the entrance to a Japanese restaurant... and the reception area is TINY... but fortunately the rooms turned out to be fairly nice, a decent size and, unlike our last trip to Sydney, the air-conditioning works a treat!

But since it was only about 10am or so when we got to the hotel, our rooms weren't actually ready, so we left our bags and wandered off in search of... well, not exactly adventure, which is what I was going to say... but "stuff to do" really doesn't have much of an aura about it. Somewhere in the middle I guess.

So we did what we most often do the first day in a new city... wandered a bit aimlessly until we found something that caught our attention.

The first place was the Swatch Shop (well, right after the yarnbombing on the trees in City Square), mostly because it's just around the corner from the hotel, it’s the same one we looked in but never bought anything from last November, and we both want another Swatch. Ma has to go back in tomorrow about hers, something about it being the last one in stock, but couldn't be sold or something. I don't know, I wasn't listening, I was picking out something for myself.

laneway goddess encouraged
Next up on the "catching-our-interestometer", with this being Melbourne, was street art. Specifically Union Lane. And I was able to release some more eyeBirds into their natural habitat.

I'm not sure how many Melbourne readers I have, but if anybody happens to notice them or photograph them, drop me an email and I'll give you a shout out on the blog.

Anyway, I was very thankful that I still had my street art eyes happening, because I then noticed some giant Lego men in the third floor window of Myer. So we had to go and look... and turns out they had a Lego Captain Jack Sparrow.

legoman made of lego manchester
After Myer we started the Hunt For Vinyl 2012. Okay, not so much a hunt given that I knew where all three shops were... but still.

We started off by going back to Outré again... I do very much like that shop, I'm just lucky I don't have all that much wall space, otherwise I could potentially get myself into trouble.

And since we were essentially in the neighbourhood, we headed up to QV Square to find Villain, which was recommended to me by one of the street artists in Adelaide. Again, I say that it's very good that that particular store a) isn't in Adelaide or b) that I'm not in Melbourne.

Yeah, I could do some serious damage to my bank balance in that place. But they had stuff I hadn't even heard of! Good stuff too! Sure, it's pointless plastic crap, but so very good.

Anyway, we shopped, I would have liked to have flirted with the particularly Melbourne (on the hipster side, fantastic ink) guy behind the counter... but we all know I'm shit at flirting. See also... league, out of my.

And just to finish up the unholy trilogy, after we stopped off at Max Brenner and had something cold to drink... really, really cold... but really, really yummy (dark chocolate iced mocha for Ma, peanut butter iced chocolate for me)... we headed down to Minotaur. Given that I went a little berserk in Villain, I wasn't going to get anything in Minotaur... and I almost didn't. I did resist all of the Doctor Who stuff however... I mean, do I really NEED a sonic screwdriver?

laneway chat melbourne centre
It was getting very lunchtimey by this point, so for some reason we wandered in the direction of Degraves Street. Yes, I know, Friday lunchtime, in Summer... what the hell were we thinking. But the combination of time, location and indecision on our part turned out to be a good thing.

We were debating whether to eat at Grill'd when we noticed this girl with green hair sitting in the laneway opposite behind a couple of milk crates piled, drawing or painting or something. And she had a couple of examples of her work attached to the front, but I was actually trying to stickybeak at what she was working on right then. I wondered if it might have been people around her or bits of the buildings or something.

Turns out that it was a seahorse. Not the best ever seahorse, but a decent one. She did say that it was for someone particularly, but that she took commissions (on a donation basis), and if we wanted to come back in 15 or so minutes, she'd have something for Ma.

Which was a good plan all around... Grill'd was too busy at that point, so we wandered slightly aimlessly, found some more street art, took some more pictures, looped all the way back around to Degraves and the line-up was gone from Grill'd plus there was a vacant table. Turned out the seahorse wasn't quite ready, so we had lunch (the burgers aren't on par with say Burger Theory... but very few are... they are decent though... but it's the chips/sauce that I really love).

And after lunch we went over to get the seahorse. It was gorgeous... so pretty and girly and just lovely. And completely different from the one we’d seen her drawing earlier... in fact, so much better than the earlier one.

I never got around to snapping a pic of it, I'll have to get Ma to bring it down so I can though...

By then it was time to head back to the hotel because our rooms would be ready.

quest room quest bedroom
Like I said before, the rooms were good... functional air-conditioning, okay size, they’re right next to each other (which is sometimes good, sometimes bad)... turned out they have a distinct lack of available powerpoints, the wardrobe is a little too close to the bed, my view is a blank wall within spitting distance and you have to go up a step to go to the bathroom, the corridor smells faintly of warm beef (that might be from the restaurant downstairs)... but otherwise, good.

After we unpacked all our gear and then I took all the vinyl to Ma's room so we could have a mass opening... it felt just like Christmas. And not bad results...

With all that done, it was time to head back out again... this time down to Hosier Lane and Federation Square.

I've actually been surprised, given that we were only here in November and hit all of these spots then, how much had changed, street art wise. And I don't know if it was because I had the eyeBirds to stick up around the place, but there seemed to be a LOT of eye related street art around.

mitchell house toxic face
I also heard two young women amongst the people wandered up and down Hosier Lane get very excited about the fact that there were images of hands among the street art... and given that the FebPhotoADay challenge for today was "hands", I was pretty certain that was what they were doing. So I asked them, and they were. Which amused me.

As we headed to Federation Square, there was a bit of a crowd of people watching what I instantly recognised as one of Theo Jansen's kintetic sculptures (okay, I didn't remember his name right off the bat, but I did recognise the sculpture). Well actually two... there was the big giant sculpture, "Anumaris Umerus", but there was also a smaller section piece that people could move back and forth...

For anyone not familiar with Jansen's work, you should go and check it out.

Mostly there were kids pulling the smaller section back and forward, but then it didn't seem like anybody wanted to step up do it, so I did... it was interesting. The thing was kind of heavier than I was expecting, and weirdly noisy, since it's really just plastic rubbing up against plastic.

tubular feet laurent reprise
The most beautiful part of both of the pieces though was the feet. The way they move, the way they seem to delicately step down like an animal... beautiful.

Then we went in search of the other laneway we found by accident last time (and then possibly one other time before those)... but I couldn't remember what it was called or exactly where it was, so we got a little lost and went further west than we needed to... whoops. And after all that, that was the least changed of all the laneways.

But I did leave a couple of well-placed eyeBirds there...

blue spew artist at work
So then we headed back here for the usual pre-dinner rest before trying to work out where the hell we wanted to eat.

We couldn't really make up our minds, so we were going to go to the same Indian place we've been the past couple of times. But when we got there, neither one of us really wanted Indian so we ended up wandering down Exhibition Street and decided on Yum Cha Café. We'd spotted it when we were here for QI Live I think, and they had a "pre theatre" menu that sounded okay, so we went with that.

Three courses... soup (chicken and corn... possibly with tofu in it), dumplings (chicken on this occasion) and then a main meal and rice. Ma went with the fish and vegetables while I had the beef version. And I have to say, that has to be some of the most tender beef I think I've ever eaten. Actually it was all really nice. Sure, the soup was a little... gloopy, but the dumplings were piping hot and delicious... and both the fish and the beef were amazing.

That was more or less it really. We wandered through Chinatown, found another street art laneway (another one we found on a previous visit, except I could never find it on the map, I just know it's in Chinatown and I could see it my hotel room the trip before last... I think maybe it's Croft Alley).

We were partially interested in something sweet for dessert, but both pretty full which meant that we ended up doing a lot of wandering around but never got around to getting anything. So we came back to the hotel instead.

All things considered, not a bad first day away.

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