Return to Melbourne
Flying back into Melbourne, my friend Wendy met me at the bus station. Wendy had “surfed” my couch almost 3yrs ago and we had stayed in contact (never know when the favor might be returned). She had just moved to Melbourne from Brisbane (literally the day before) and her work had put her up in an apartment where I was able to make use of the fold out couch. Its not what you know its who you know.
The next day I went downtown while Wendy went apartment hunting. Meeting up with James (my friend from the looney farm – see Boorowa blog entry) we hung out at the library and messaged each other from across the room as we checked our email. Then we went in search of food, I hate to admit it but I turned to the dark side and had KFC… At 6pm Ari (the 3rd member of the Looney Farm Escapees) joined us and we headed out to meet a fellow *couch surfer (see definition below). Ai is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Melbourne and he loves showing people all the hidden spots in his city. He gets so excited sometimes that it is hard to keep up with him.
We had a great night out with happy hour wine, good cheap asian food and ending with delectable deserts in Lygon Street. A great night was had by all.
Thursday Wendy and I explored the Victorian Markets on the free tourist shuttle, walked through the downtown area to the next shuttle stop and caught it to the botanical gardens. The gardens were fantastic but I must say not as diverse as I had hoped.
They have an excellent program where you can take a walk through the gardens with an Aborigine and learn about the values of the plants. Unfortunately you had to book and pay in advance so I was unable to take advantage of this great opportunity.
Then it was off to meet James and pick up some of my stuff I had left in his safe keeping and finally off to meet 2 more couch surfing friends and pick up my big backpack I had left in their safekeeping during my time in Tasmania. We went out for Vietnamese food and then they were kind enough to drop me off saving me the train fair and the hassle of carrying my bag.
Friday morning at the crack of dawn Wendy had to leave for a flight to Canberra for a meeting, I was only leaving that afternoon, but was able to stay in the apartment till I had to set out. After doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, making breakfast, lunch and some sandwiches for dinner on the plane. My plane was leaving at 5.15pm and arriving at 7.15pm in Perth. For some reason my mind had decided that meant I only needed the 3.45pm shuttle which would get me there at 4.30pm. Around 1.30pm I realised that I should never become a math instructor and starting, well, shitting myself, as the next shuttle only left at 2.45pm and would not get me there with the required 2hr leeway. I hurriedly repacked the bag and finally headed out to catch a tram to Southern Cross Station where I had to get a bus to Avalon airport (almost an hour out of the city). I got there at 2pm and had a 45min, nerve racking wait. But we got there in perfect timing (turns out that was the preferred shuttle for that flight so had no need to worry). Got checked in, was actually 2kg over the 15kg limit with my big bag so just removed a few things and stuffed them in the little bag bringing me in at 14.5kg. A close call of nearly having to pay $20. The guy checking in at the station next to me had only carry ons which meant he should have checked in online and printed his boarding pass, it also meant checking in at the counter cost him an extra $30. Ouch! Got to love cheap airlines… The flight was uneventful and I had a whole row to stretch out.
My good friend, Deb (met in Scotland over 11yrs ago), met me at the airport and we headed to her house. I do love travel where you get a chance to meet up with old friends after many years.
*Couch Surfing is an online community connecting people from around the world who have the common interest of travel and cultural exchange. Members “surf” on fellow members couches for a set number of days at no cost, except maybe a beer or 2 for the host.