In 2002, I had an opportunity to visit Melbourne, Australia for 4 days and 3 nights. I have one word to describe the city: BEAUTIFUL. The autumn leaves, the cool breeze and the picturesque Victorian structures gave me so much comfort. Every morning, I’d wake up and open the curtains to see the watchtower of the Flinders Street station. It was a heartwarming site with the Yarra River flowing beside it. Despite my short stay, I enjoyed my time mainly for the following reasons:
1. FOOD – I’m not really a zoo fan but I decided to take a trip to the Healesville Sanctuary because I wanted to see a Tasmanian Devil. The best thing about that tour was the food. Before the actual zoo tour, my companions and I feasted on “HUGE” medium rare tenderloin steaks and mashed potatoes served with red wine as part of the package. Being a steak fan, I literally ate 3 large pieces. In fact, they were so delicious and bloody that I ended up forgetting about why I decided to take a tour in the first place. Ha! Good thing our tour guide didn’t let us rest after eating. It was drizzling when we arrived at the zoo, so some of the animals hid under the trees. I got to see the Tasmanian Devil (it looked like a walking little black seal! Looney Tunes made me believe something else!), a few parrots, and a few kangaroos. I did take a picture of Taz but the film that has the shot went AWOL (story at the end of this write up). The only photo I have left is me posing in front of the kangaroos.
I ate nothing but tenderloin steaks during my stay. Everywhere I went, they all tasted well. Melbourne can deliver if you want your steaks raw and juicy. It can be expensive but for me, there’s nothing wrong if you spend a huge amount of money for food even just for one day. If you’re on a budget, you can still pamper yourself. You don’t have to eat something expensive on a daily basis. Do it once (eat in a fine dining restaurant) at least and leave the city with a hearty experience.
NOTE: If you plan to go to Australia, be prepared to spend a lot—even if it’s just a sandwich in a food court.
2. METAL MAYHEM – I decided to take a walk by myself one afternoon to experience the city without a tour guide. I didn’t really go very far since I was too young and paranoid then. But I did reach the area near Flinders Street station, which was a 10 minute walk from my hotel. In front of the station stood red brick, tunnel-like structures. I found out later that they were called “Banana Alley Vaults”. One of the vaults had a sign that read, Metal Mayhem. Since the logo had some black and red / dark vibe going on (my kind of taste!), I decided to enter the shop. It must have been fate for I entered HEAVY METAL HEAVEN. The shop sold metal CDs, vinyls, patches, and shirts including a Dimmu Borgir baby-tee (how cute!). But everything was too expensive. I went there looking forward to buy Scar Culture’s “Inscribe” CD. And when I asked the owner about it, he gave me a confused look and replied, “SKAAH CULCHER???! Waat do they sound lyyk?” (with the Aussie accent and all). I noticed that he was the “Oldschool” type of metalhead with his denim chaleco and patches of thrash and power metal bands but his shop has everything from Immolation to Hammerfall (well Scar Culture’s music is more hardcore which is probably why it wasn’t on his shelf). I didn’t want to leave his shop with nothing so I ended up purchasing Catamenia’s Eskhata album. Here are two pics of the store which I took from the website way back (I didn’t take any personal photos when I was inside the shop because it wasn’t allowed):
*Catamenia played melodic black metal in this album. But I think they play music leaning towards melodic death now
**NOTE: According to the shop’s MySpace page, Metal Mayhem has moved to a different location, from Banana Alley Vaults on Flinders St to 459 High St Northcote. So if you love heavy metal and you’re in Melbourne, be sure to drop by this place and ask for that Scar Culture CD!
3. BOOMERANG – I bought a heavy boomerang from the Queen Victoria Market. They say that the kind I bought is the real deal. I have never attempted to throw it because IT IS considered as a deadly weapon. And I don’t think I have the money to pay for a broken car window.
4. ROD LAVER ARENA – This arena is historic because it is the site of the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam. I’ve never been inside but the Yarra River tour that I took passed by this arena. This is not an exaggeration but I did raise my wine glass to tennis stars (and the athletes I LOVE) Monica Seles (Australian Open Champion 91, 92, 93, 96) and Jim Courier (Australian Open Champion 92, 93) when I saw the Rod Laver Arena sign from the small boat I was in.
6. PARENTS – Even if they let you pay for your own food in the name of discipline or let you accompany them to really boring sites such as…er…”Kmart”, traveling with the family is incomparable. I have traveled with friends and I have traveled alone, but being with the family is always fun and special. There’s so much love and comfort going on. If you have the opportunity to travel with your family or parents, DO IT. The experience is irreplaceable.
So there you have it. 4 days and 3 nights in Melbourne and all I have left is one tour photo of me and the kangaroos. How did the film disappear? Actually it wasn’t just one film. 2 rolls of film with pictures of the streets of Melbourne, the area outside Crown Towers, area outside Metal Mayhem, the Taz devil, Kmart, and Rod Laver Arena…all gone!!! This is what happened:
When we got back to Manila, some “lunatic” stole our camera along with the two rolls found inside the camera bag. The photo of me and the kangaroos fortunately was part of the film that my dad kept. Of course, the camera and the films were never retrieved; all that’s left are the memories. I’m glad that I still have them.