Morning in Melbourne

Australia Tour Map
We arrived about 24 hours ago.  It is now Monday Dec 10 in Melbourne (pronounced:  Mel-bin) and our official tour starts in about 45 minutes.  Our trip over was uneventful, our carry-on strategy worked, X-ray was not traumatic, and it really wasn't as long as all that (9 movies to choose from certainly doesn't hurt!).  We arrived here to spring-like weather and immediately started exploring (they say that sunlight is good for jet lag).  The hotel is on the Yarra River... so far, the city reminds us of a cross between Cambridge, Mass with a little bit of Nice thrown in. There is not the kind of hustle and bustle as Capetown or SF. The British influence is still strong, and the accent is easy on the ears.  You could get used to Melbourne easily; very nice.

Yesterday we went to an open-air crafts market (every Sunday) saw some wacky street performers (one asked if there were any Americans.  Andrew mistakenly raised his hand and the guy said "it's tough to be an American out of the states, isn't it...and made some derogatory comment about W.  Love it).  Then, we went to the Immigration Museum. Perhaps there was one syllable (not even an inch) in all of the exhibits dedicated to the Aborigines... other than that, the exhibits were all about the other groups who have made their way here.  Fascinating.  (By the way, I read the Bill Bryson Australia book on the way over.  It is pretty pathetic how they have treated the indigenous people here; it is tragically familiar to what we've done in the states.)  Then, on to dinner which was incredible  (NEW READERS NOTE:  we feature food descriptions in our travelogues.  If you're not into food, feel free to stop subscribing at any time!).  The dinner was incredible; the concierge (who is a real piece of work... a very typical OZ sense of humor!) was impressed we even knew about the place (Donovan's) and raised his eye brows (it's trendy for foodies).  We had "4-tastes" for first with a foot-long prawn, veal sausage, roasted vegetables, and an arrancini with an Italian flag in it.  A and I shared an asparagus salad.  For mains, Wayne had bouillabaisse with barramundi; I had a whole red snapper; Andrew had risotto with sea food.  The presentation was lovely.  Andrew had a carmelized banana tart for dessert.  Already, I can see I should have packed more pants with elastic waists!

Went back to hotel to continue adjusting to the time change.  It is funky to think we missed Dec 9 altogether.  Let us know if anything significant happened then (such as Barack clinching in Iowa!).  (NEW READERS ALSO NOTE:  the editor has definite political biases; if you don't agree, simply ignore or stop subscribing at any time.)  This morning we went for a nice walk along the river and had a great breakfast in the city center in an alley that reminded us of Barcelona or Venice.  They like doing things with poached eggs here...  And the egg yolks have a much deeper yellow.  The bacon is more like Canadian bacon and the toast is very thick and wonderful.  You don't ask for latte with skim milk; it's a skinny latte.  And it's served in a juice glass.

Again, ever so shortly, our tour starts.  On the itinerary today is a cruise on the Yarra River and a dinner on the tram car (!).  Tomorrow a.m. there is a bus tour; we are free in the p.m.  Perhaps we will go to the botanic garden.  Wednesday morning, we are off to Alice Springs.

Weather is low 60s, but for the most part sunny.  We will see if our carry-on only strategy works (we packed layers so hopefully we will be good but will cross our fingers we do not need to wear all layers at once!). 

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