Thursday Doors – Launceston

I’ve been following the blog Joeyfully Stated for quite some time now. I don’t remember how I found it, but when I did, hitting the “follow” button was kind of a no-brainer because Joey is just really funny and really honest, and I suppose there’s something weirdly fascinating about the life of a stranger on the other side of the world.

Joey also participates in this blogging feature/event called Thursday Doors, which is hosted/run by Norm 2.0. From what I gather, Thursday Doors is exactly what it sounds like: every Thursday, people publish posts/photos about interesting doors. Yes, it’s apparently that simple.

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prelude

For the last week and a half, I have been away from home. I travelled down to Melbourne near the end of July, spent a few days in Launceston in early August, and returned to Melbourne for a few more days before coming home today. And now I feel like there’s so much I want to write about!

And not just about my travels and the places I went to – if anything, that’s the least of what I want to write about (well, maybe except for the Launceston part of my trip – it was my first time there, and it is an amazing place!) The trouble, as it is in these sorts of situations, is where to start…

So this post is sort of just a prelude or some sort of introduction to the posts that will follow. Just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed my holidays immensely, and although I’ve only been gone for less than two weeks, it feels like I’ve been away for two months. And yet, coming home, it also feels like I never left.

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and… I’m back!

Home, sweet home.

There’s not really much to say about my trip to Melbourne, but I’ll go over a few things. I reckon every time I go back there, I notice something different, or I see things in a different way.

On this trip, it rained every single day. It didn’t rain all of the time, nor was it pouring rain (mostly), but it did rain at least a little bit every day that I was there. This is mainly significant because I can’t remember the last time I saw rain in Melbourne. It usually never rains when I’m there. Just all of my bad weather-associated luck coming out at once, or so it would seem.

Not that that mattered a great deal, since I was indoors most of the time – relatives’ houses, shopping centres, restaurants, function venues… Plus, we drove everywhere. I didn’t get the chance to hop on a tram or catch a train (not that those are particularly exciting if you’ve done them before many times). From what I’ve seen of Melbourne, I think it’d be quite hard to live there without a car, unless you’re really lucky and your home and work were both situated on convenient public transport lines.

I reckon it’s mostly that Melbourne’s so big – everything’s so far away from everything else. There were some days when it felt like we spent half the day just driving. Don’t even want to consider how long it would’ve taken by public transport. I probably did more driving in that one week than I’ve done all year in Brisbane.

As usual, it was cold in Melbourne, even though it’s almost summertime. I think the weather reports kept saying it was colder than usual for this time of the year (?). Still a bearable cold, though. I’ve just come to expect Melbourne to be at least a little bit cold regardless of what time of the year it is. I was quite amused at all of the beach/swimwear shops around the shopping centres. Don’t suppose locals have much use of their wares. Although, I suppose most of their holiday destinations would include beaches and warmer days…

So, the big question: which book did I take? [drum-roll…] “The Book Thief” (Markus Zusak)

I was already about halfway into the book, so it just seemed to make sense to take it. I still haven’t finished it, though – didn’t get that much time for reading. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I even had a dream one night that a friend was telling me what a great book it is, and I told them that I knew because I was reading it.

here and there

It’s good to be back home. Had a good flight, etc. Was my first time flying solo. Nothing interesting to follow from that (was a very normal and boring flight) but just a statement of realisation. Despite the turbulence around and over Brisbane, the actual landing was probably one of the smoothest I’ve had. Good work Virgin Blue (or Virgin Australia or whatever you’re calling yourselves now).

Not too much to report about my trip. Was mostly visiting family and eating a lot.

I did, however, get a chance to do quite a bit of driving in Melbourne because one of my uncles let me borrow his old car. Have possibly done more driving in this last week than I have in the preceding six months (? – trying to make a conservative estimate, since I’m not really sure how much driving I’ve actually done).

Not many differences between driving in Brisbane and Melbourne. I never drove into the City, so I didn’t get a chance to do a “hook turn” (pffft). Probably the main difference is sharing the road with trams and trying to not drive directly over the tram tracks.

Out of curiosity, I also visited a few pharmacies while in Melbourne – you know, just to see if there are any differences. I’d already been told that they don’t dispense/label S3 drugs, but I was kind of surprised to see practically all S2 drugs out in front shop where people can just randomly self-select. Then I thought that maybe they’d counsel when you go to pay, but I bought an S2 for my aunty and didn’t get asked/told anything. Also realised that the staff who operate the tills are probably mostly assistants, who don’t necessarily have formal pharmacy assistant training.

I’m probably biased, but I think the pharmacy system in Brisbane is better – although one of the Melbourne pharmacies I visited still had the S2s behind the counter. Some of the services on offer are also a bit different. I saw one place that offers ear-piercing, and another with a Tatts Lotto (selling lottery tickets, etc) actually inside the pharmacy. Also noticed one with a proper cafe in the pharmacy, but that’s not that weird, since I know one in Brisbane that sells coffee.

Could probably write a lot about and related to this, but would probably make this post too long and also bore a lot of people, so will leave it for now.

Melbourne ’09

Well, as some of you may or may not already know, I was in Melbourne from the 6th to the 24th, so I figured, since I sort of abandoned the internet for that time, I should probably write something about what I did in Melbourne. Ok, so I didn’t totally abandon the internet (that would actually be sort of irresponsible because it’s, like, good etiquette or whatever to check emails regularly and stuff like that), but my use of the internet was quite limited and infrequent.

Alright, I think I’m going to try to get back on topic before I (unintentionally) make this about the internet instead.

So… Melbourne was fun. Actually, to be honest, I think I have mixed feelings about how great a city Melbourne really is. Being proudly Brisbane born and bred has sort of made me intent on finding every other city to be not as great as Brisbane, so I suppose I’m not exactly being objective with my judgement here. And, yeah, I do realise that it would be hard for some/most of you to consider Brisbane to be better than whatever other city/cities you love, but I guess that would just be a greater indication of my pride then.

My main reason for going down to Melbourne was to visit family. (I have a lot of family down there, so it is sort of easier for us to go down to see them rather than for them to all come up to see us.) Consequently, a great part of my time there was spent with family. This time was often spent shopping or eating.

Anyone who has been to Melbourne, or who has even heard of Melbourne would surely know that it is like a shopper’s paradise. After all, it is supposed to be Australia’s “fashion capital”. Personally, I’m not really in to shopping that much, but even I can say that Melbourne shopping is quite good. There are just so many places to go to. I can hardly even begin to list the places we went to, so I’m not going to bother right now.

I suppose Melbourne’s also quite a nice city in terms of their buildings and their streets and stuff. I particularly liked the streets and boulevards and parades that had tree cover all along the entire road such that only specks of sunlight ever got through anywhere. (Not sure if that description will make total sense to people who haven’t seen it before, but, yeah, not sure how to put it – sort of like a tunnel whereby trees make the walls and roof. The only such road I can remember the name of is Highett Street in Richmond.) I would love to see these places as autumn’s coming. If anyone knows a place like this in Brisbane (I can’t think of any at the moment) please tell.

As for the buildings, I suppose the first ones that come to mind are those at that Swanston-Flinders Street intersection: Flinders Street Station, St Paul’s Cathedral, and those buildings around Federation Square. One of my uncles was saying stuff about heritage listed buildings and houses one time when we were driving around, and I guess I can better appreciate the point of heritage-listing things now. I mean, it seems sort of impractical if you’ve had to use a heritage-listed building, but if you’re just visiting (and, I guess, have some appreciation of history), you’re sort of glad that they did preserve it.

I think it would be reasonable to assume that many people would assume that Melbourne’s public transport is of a higher standard than Brisbane’s, but, in my opinion, I think, at best, it’s just on par. Of course, this is probably greatly influenced by there being good public transport around my area. I have become so used to frequent bus services that having to wait more than about 20 minutes for a bus is somewhere in the vicinity of ridiculous.

I will admit, however, that Melbourne’s train services are quite good (I don’t catch the train often enough in Brisbane to do a proper comparison, though). But, even having said that, I reckon every issue of mX I looked through while I was there had “Connex bashing” (as one person put it) in the “Vent your spleen” part. There was always someone with some sort of problem with the train services. As for me, if the seats were all a bit cleaner, I think I would not have so much of a problem with it.

Don’t think I have much of a problem with the trams, though. It’s just weird having to get on and off in the middle of the road. And also that (as I’ve been told) the whole point of the seemingly pointless “hook turn” is so that trams don’t get held up.

Moving on now… I actually quite like how close the beach is to the CBD. Of course, their beaches aren’t that great, but ease of access is nice anyway. Only visited Saint Kilda Beach for a while to have a look around and collect some shells (which I have since misplaced).

And, of course, I couldn’t possibly write an entry about Melbourne without mentioning Breadtop (an Asian bakery chain thing, for those of you unfortunately unacquainted with it). I don’t know what it is about it that I like so much. My uncle actually said he got sick of it after a while, so maybe it’s just the novelty of it for me. For now, anyway, I am eagerly awaiting the day when Breadtop franchises open in Brisbane.

wei~!

I have been saying that word way too much lately. I reckon it’s replaced so many words in my vocabulary. Not sure exactly when this “wei” thing started but it must end!
Don’t think I used it much on the plane ride over, even though that was more horrible than expected. It was friggin’ freezing cold and I got this real bad headache (yeah, the word “friggin'” popped into my head a few times on the way over). Let’s hope it is a one-off bad experience with planes. It wasn’t actually THAT bad. They (Virgin Blue) had them personal screen thingos to let you watch Foxtel stuff (didn’t really pay attention, though, because of headache and all). And then they had this map thingo to let you see where we were flying over at that point in time (we went over Dubbo and all them central NSW towns and whatever). And I was just following the speedometre thingo that averaged like 800km/h and, because I thought it was the speed/velocity (damn Physics-ly correct terminology!) that caused my headache, I kept death-staring at it (when I wasn’t sleeping or pretending to sleep so that the flight attendant people wouldn’t bother me) and trying to make the plane go slower or drop to a lower altitude, which, clearly, was impossible but it was worth a try. (Don’t quite remember but I think we stayed at 10,000m for most of the flight.)
Well, now I am here at my uncle and aunty’s house in Pascoe Vale. If anyone just so happens to be in the neighbourhood, feel free to drop by. There’s not much to do in this crazy gigantic city. Driving anywhere takes forever, which is OK by me but we mostly only ever drive to relatives’ houses. (Man, I have relatives I never knew I had before. My family tree’s probably all complicated and messy – even if you only put people who are in Melbourne on it.) So, yeah, driving around to people’s houses, giving them chocolates or whatever and sitting around talking for ages. Then you go eat at some place and talk some more.
Writing about driving reminds me of how I haven’t driven for ages. Probably have to go get used to sitting behind the wheel again. And writing about writing reminds me of how I haven’t worked on that story I’m supposed to be working on for ages. I finished the first chapter a few days before coming down here and haven’t really done much with it since – just trying to think of character names. I’ve been using fashion designers and labels and stuff like “Theodore and Scanlon” and “Abercrombie and Fitch”. Not that I actually have any idea what the heck those designers have actually designed. And street names can be useful, too – Brewster, Murray, Lillian, etc.
I suppose I ought to tell everyone that bothers reading this what I got offered by QTAC seeing as I haven’t told anyone except family because I did fly over here on the 10th and didn’t even get a chance to ask anyone (and didn’t even manage to get a hold of ‘The Courier Mail’ to look up what everyone’s doing without having to go around asking everyone). But I don’t think I will publish it here. Undoubtedly, SOMEONE has managed to get ‘The Courier Mail’ from January 11 and has looked at it. If not, too bad for everyone.
I think I will go do something else now.