Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Australia Part 2

I marveled at the various road signs I saw along the roads. Rather than the ubiquitous red circle with a line through it, the Australians have a way of cutting to the chase. Why yield if you can just give way...maybe a few of those merging cars that seem to feel yield applies to the other car might understand give way better...

and what says crosswalk better than a pair of walking legs...Eva was ever vigilant for my safety. Coming from Portland where pedestrians are king, I was unprepared for the cars that whizzed by me while walking in the crosswalk. And did I mention they drive (and walk) on the opposite side that we do? So I looked left, when I should have looked right and ran into numerous folks on the sidewalk when trying to stay right. Even the escalators are opposite!

One look at the prices on the pop machines and I was well on my way to getting over my Diet Coke habit. So many differences here and I delighted in each one.

On Sundays, you can ride the train and trams all day for just $3. So, Eva and I boarded the train to Melbourne for our next adventure, the Victoria Market. When we got downtown, she first took me to the "laneways"...stores and restaurants lining alleyways, crowded with people. Oh how I wish I had hours to explore each and every nook and cranny.

We walked inside another group of stores with ornate arches and skylights. We window shopped for a bit and stopped for a taste of handcrafted chocolates, the best I'd tasted to that point (I was to find this a land filled with chocolate shoppes and chocolaterias, each seemingly better than the last.)

We said goodbye to the laneways and hopped a tram to Victoria Market. Row after row after row of food, discounted goods, jewelry, souvenirs and art. And some very charming vendors.

We watched this man create the most beautiful calligraphy, making it look easy and effortless. Amazing how he would mix two or more colors on one pen nub and the colors magically applied them self without bleeding or running on the paper.

There was live music to be listened to while we walked the rows of merchandise. I stopped in one stall to try on a pair of shoes. The vendor smiled and told me in heavily accented English that those shoes were the best and many customers loved them. He kept a steady spiel of rhetoric going while I tried first one size and then another, and realizing my foot needed something in between. So I sadly handed the shoes back to him, saying they did not fit. I wasn't ready for the reaction I received. He begin yelling, "you leave now, leave right now - you no like my shoes" and he chased me from the booth!

The colors were eye catching, especially the candy. We felt like we had walked miles before we finally reached the end. And were we done? Oh no, more stores beckoned from down the street.

Especially the Christmas store around the corner with it's lovely decorations organized by color.

Everywhere in Melbourne, I found oddly colored buildings and abstract architecture. It was a feast for the eyes and the camera.

I wish we could have seen this festival. I loved the idea of a celebration of the fringe community.

We traveled by tram to the Victoria State Library, an imposing structure surrounded by a small park full of people, pigeons and seagulls. Inside reveals a domed structure several stories tall.

There was a show of books on one level that began with books created in 1200 AD, including a Gutenberg Bible and an original Audubon book of bird prints. Such exquisite work, many of them hand printed and decorated with gold leaf and brilliant colors, all hand bound.

I was awed by the work that went into creating each volume. How the book's creator must have loved written word in order to invest so much labor and care into each page!

Reluctantly we left the library and began to walk back downtown, window shopping and stopping at a "cheap" shop or two (our equivalent to a dollar store, except prices had a range of value rather than just $1. I was excited to find a little mini art department in each store and even more excited when I found true bargains like an entire tablet of copper leaf for only $3.50. Here I was in my first week and already I was wondering how I would get these things home with me!

How I loved these silly bronze statues Eva pointed out to me, hidden in the hustle and bustle of the sidewalk and looking such a part of the other pedestrians hurrying by...we headed for the train station to find our way back home, next

and stopped to relax near the Yarra River, both of us worn out by miles of walking...

when I remembered we were near the alley full of fabulous graffiti I visited on my trip last year. Eva graciously agreed to take me there and explained since my last trip, the graffiti had been painted over and re-created and so would be new to me again. And I was not disappointed...

From graffiti to the beautify architecture of the Anglican Cathedral nearby. The interior of this church took my breath away with its innate beauty. I was filled with peace and serenity as I took in the high arched ceilings, gilded alter and rich stained glass windows.

As the light began to fade in the sky, we climbed aboard the train and headed home. My head filled with so many sights and sounds, I spent the ride trying to commit them all to memory so I can take a bit of Oz with me wherever I go.


Lucy said...

Oh Jan, I love reading your view of our city though an Americans eyes. When you live in & see the same sights all the time, it becomes mundane, so it's great to read of your reactions.
We have a varied city, the old & the new, the good & the bad, but, like you, we LOVE it!
Looking forward to your next post!
Hugs Lucy

Jen Crossley said...

Jan how beautifully you write I feel through your words and pictures I'm seeing a side of Melbourne that I have never seen before.You should really be a travel write its like a story a adventure that I want to go on.

Eva said...

Yep - lots of walking Jan ... but we had to burn off those calories some how - lol.

I'm so enjoying reliving your visit. Can't wait for Part 3.

Eva :-)

Bevlea said...

lovely 'chapter' jan.. you certainly are showing off our city's delights :-)