Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December Updates

December has been going well.

My car is unreal (well it's my first car). Needs a wash though as it looks like a panther with yellow spots.

Work managed to renew the contract with the government. So I am still employed.

Christmas was good. All of my family were together, a bi-annual event. My brother and his two girls are down from NSW. Can't believe how tall my oldest niece is, she is 13 and is calling me old! Youngest niece is growing too, but is still a little girl. They both got Ripsticks and Nintendo DSi for Christmas and that is all. I like that approach to presents, two big things, one from each parent (they are divorced) instead of lots of little things.

Christmas dinner itself was at my other brothers (who still lives in Melbourne) wifes parents house. That was a bit awkward with our mob invading their house but it all went pretty well.

Boxing day I spent hanging out with my brothers and 8 year old nephew while my brothers wife and three nieces all went shopping. Mum and brothers in laws came to brothers for BBQ that night.

Yesterday I went with brothers and nephew to the cricket at the MCG. I have never been to a cricket game before, and I thought it would be pretty boring. Wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Nephew was hanging over the fence for autographs, got two, Siddel and someone else. Ended up taking nephew for a walk when he began to get really bored towards the end. I made him walk all the way to the top of the Southern Stand and the Ponsford Stand and back down again to tire him out. Again all the girls went out together, apparently they had Max Brenner at QV and then went up the Eureka tower. Nephew ended up at our place to sleep the night, while the three nieces had a girly sleepover at my brothers place. We played some Mario Kart on the Wii before nephew crashed last night.

Today I woke up at 7:15 to turn the Wii on for the nephew, then went back to sleep for a few hours. After I got up, showered and dressed we played some more Wii, then went out for a game of cricket in the driveway. Brother and sister in law finally turned up at 3pm to get nephew. After recovering I finally got the chance to do some shopping for myself. I decided to go to Westfield Plenty Valley rather than Greensborough or Doncaster. Good move as it wasn't very busy at all. What I really needed was some shorts to replace the pair that got ripped in the washing machine the other week. I wasn't happy about that. In the end I got a pair of shorts from Colorado for half price and a shirt from Target as well.

All in all things are pretty good at the moment.

Myki is finally here. Well sort of...

Today at 3pm Myki was turned on...

...for trains only!

What the?

Turns out there are issues with getting the mobile equipment on trams and trains talking to the rest of the system. Apparently Ms Kosky is not amused. Excuse me Ms Kosky, but you've had how many years to get this working and now you are shifting the blame to DoT people. They are probably the same people who might have told you it was unrealistic to tell the public that it would work before 2009 was out.

Also supposedly you can get the Myki for free (instead of paying for the card) if you order it online. I tried to get a card with Myki money but the session timed out before I could finish.

Melbourne Laneways

So in the name of Geocaching a friend and I did some exploring of some of Melbourne's laneways a few weeks ago. Some I had been to before, others I hadn't. One I had been to but didn't realise it was AC DC lane. On some drunken stupor a few years ago I remember getting refused entry from a number of clubs around here.

Anyway this day we visited AC DC lane in search of a cache. It was a Sunday so there was a distinct odour of Beer, piss, spew and rubbish. We found the cache eventually after scouring every likely looking place in the lane. Geocaches are always very obvious once you know where they are.

Next stop on our tour was Degraves followed by Bank Place. I like Bank Place and the Indian restaurant there looks great too. We also visited Hardware lane and finally Hosier lane. But the lane that most interested me was Langs Lane that runs between Bourke and Little Bourke in the block between Spencer and King. At the Little Bourke end it is wide enough for vehicles to enter, but at the other end it is only wide enough for a footpath.

Langs Lane

My question is this. Is Langs Lane Melbourne's Narrowest?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hip to be square

...and other songs by Huey Lewis and the News such as, The Power of Love. (Although I like this fan video with all the Back to to future footage better. And here is hip to be square as mentioned earlier just to be consistent.)

Speaking of Hueys. I happened to be at Borders at Doncaster tonight and Ian Hewitson owner of various pubs and restaurants (although I hear his last restaurant didn't go so well) and the long running Huey's Cooking Adventures TV show (Channel 10 at 3:30 pm weekdays IIRC) was signing his new book, Bloody Good Recipes.

It was funny because he was at his table and everyone was standing back, not sure what to do. So then he whipped open a salad (recipe in book) and offered everyone to help themselves. Can I just say it was one of the best salads I've had in my life. It was a called Thai Slaw, and it had a great Thai flavour (I reckon it is more Vietnameseish, but I'm not a chef so what would I know?) with lots of chilli and coriander. That was enough for me to buy the book. Well first I had a look to make sure the recipe was in there. Plus I got him to sign it. So in one go I got both my first cooking book and first book signed to me by the author in one go. So I guess the moral of the story is if you want me to buy your book, give me some food first.

Although next week no food will be necessary because one of my favourite authors will be signing at Borders Doncaster. That is none other than Matthew Reilly and this latest book The Five Greatest Warriors. If you are unfamiliar with his work then I would say that he rights the kinds of books that Dan Brown wishes he could write. His books are usually a mixture of myth, legend, history, science fiction, action and comedy. Matthew Reilly is known for his meticulous research, in his last book The Six Sacred Stones he even included a bibliography. The current trilogy I would say is pretty close to a melding of Indiana Jones, Stargate and Tom Clancy.

Who knew publishers made video trailers for books?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Docklands-South Wharf Wander

A few weekends ago I went for a wander around Docklands specifically because one morning on the train on the way to work (yep it stopped in no mans land between Jolimont and Flinders Street) I watched a route 48 tram turn out of Wellington Parade into Spring Street. A bit of digging revealed that route 48 trams now run down Collins Street instead of Flinders Street to a new terminus at Victoria Harbour. I have no idea when the change happened but it is an interesting development. So after a quick lunch in the food court in Australia on Collins I caught a route 48 along Collins Street.



Almost here...

Soon enough we were crossing Spencer Street and passing the Southern Cross station. Then we travelled down hill to the new terminus amongst the giant new headquarters for Myer and the ANZ Bank.

New Myer building

It was interesting to see the the tram terminus is clearly temporary with a small single track stub going off beyond the island tram stop. I guess it will finish up right at then end of this sliver of land eventually.

Funnily this part of Melbourne is how I imagine Dubai to be. All these new and shiny buildings built in a desert. The docklands do remind me of a desert, almost no one walking around in the hot sun/freezing cold wind. There are probably more Mercedes in Dubai though. I hear a lot of people leaving Dubai just dump the car at the airport on the way out.


Shunting into the stub to wait to head back to North Balwyn.

From here I walked over to the river. Skateboarders were already making use of the new urban space and furniture. I'm sure the suits next door will disapprove. Looks like a good fishing spot too, but there are signs saying that is banned.

The New

The old

Boats everywhere

ANZ has imposed a ban on fishing along here. I guess
they don't want smelly bait littering the smokers area.

I set off along the river outside the ANZ building and crossed the river at the pedestrian bridge and then found my way to the new South Wharf complex.

I've got to say that I'm not terribly impressed with the new DFO, it has a huge ground level car park and very indirect access to public transport. Strangely all the shops are underground. As fro the sheds along the wharf itself, they seem like they are destined to be yet more overpriced restaurants that I will never eat at.

While there I also had a peek inside the Convention Centre. There seemed to be some kind of event on, as there were a lot of families around. I didn't like the interior of the foyer though, I think it will age very quickly. The huge glass wall is great. Somewhere in here is the Hilton Hotel as well.

As a whole, the area seems contrived and desperate, more so than docklands.

From there I crossed the new bridge and edged my way towards Spencer Street. As I crossed a helicopter arrived on the adjacent heli pad. Not a bad way to go shopping at DFO South Wharf.

I wish I could do my shopping in a Robinson R44. A great
parking space as well.

The helicopter is a Robinson R44, the most popular helicopter in the world (the company's website even says so!), it carries 4 people including pilot. It is based on the R22 which seats 2 people.
This particular helicopter has also been seen at Ayers Rock.

The always photogenic robofish.

I then walked over the Clarendon Street bridge and back again, before heading up the hill to Southern Cross. On the way I passed this apartment building which has been built on the tiny sliver of land between Flinders Street and the railway viaducts.

Good location, close to public transport.

Not sure I would like to live here.I get a good view in the window of the first floor apartment on the end from the train. Sure being close to Public transport is good, but being this close is bordering on the ridiculous.

From there I made my way up the hill to Southern Cross station passing the new Age building on the way.

pretty self explanatory.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Oh what a feeling - Yes I bought a car

After much uming and ahing I finally bought a car. Nothing very special, but it is my first car so I am quite proud. It is a 2008 Toyota Corolla sedan. It's the Ascent model, so just the basic equipment level. Call me lazy, it's an automatic.

Safety wise it has 2 airbags and ABS, but no stability control. Fuel wise at 1.8 litres the engine promises to be quite fuel efficient. I filled it up the night I got it and it took just under $50 worth of petrol. The petrol needle is still sitting above the full mark after driving over 70 km since the refill (I expect it to start dropping fast any day now). If I can be bothered I will check the fuel efficiency and usage stats on the car computer at some stage.

So far it has left a good impression on me. After mostly driving more powerful cars (albeit heavier too) I didn't know what to expect. It accelerates very smoothly and likes climbing hills more than the Subaru Liberty I was driving earlier in the year. The steering at fist seemed a bit iffy, it has a different "road feel" than I was used to, but I'm getting used to it.

I think I'll get rid of the car dealer number plate thingys and sticker on the back window as they clash with the black theme going on with the car.

Pictogram Man Strikes Again

Daniel posted about a poor unfortunate pictogram man he found. This guy is one I found in the streets (with rather bumpy footpaths!) of Vancouver.

He was outside the court buildings, so I guess they don't leave themselves open to litigation. I guess we could call him Mr not looking where he is going.

This reminds me that I really should post some photos from my trip.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The art of riding the cable car

So you are in San Francisco and want to go for a ride on the cable car, but you take one look at the lines at the terminus and decide you don't want to wait around that along. What to do?

The secret is knowing that most of the people who get on here will take a seat and others behind them in the line will pass on a spot on the foot board and wait for the next cable car.

If you think you can hang on, and dont mind hanging out the side, then the answer is to walk to the next stop and jump on the foot board of the next car. While I expect it is different in the middle of vacation time there are usually spots on the foot board available.

But if you do wan t a seat people do get on and off along the route so if you are waiting at an intermediate stop you are likely to find a seat. The conductor will usually shout what's available when the car comes to a stop.

Either way riding the cable cars are fun.

This advice mostly applies to the Powell/Hyde and Powell/Mason lines. When I was in San Francisco the California line was much more lightly loaded, and in a way I found it a more interesting ride.

As for fares, a one way trip on the cable car is $5. However you can buy a muni pass. These are available for 1 day, 3 day, and 7 day periods from Muni ticket booths. Prices range from $6 to $21, and allow travel on any muni operated service, be it muni metro, buses, the F Line and of course the cable car. Interestingly they use a scratch off system like the infamous Met "scratchie" tickets in Melbourne.

Free Game

Saw this in Jason Hill's excellent Screen Play blog today.

As part of Wallace and Gromit's 20th aniversary, game developer Telltale Games are giving away one instalment of the Wallace and Gromit game series, "Muzzled" for free here. Don't know how long this will last. for a limited time only.

I've been meaning to try these games out for while so what better opportunity. Currently downloading now. I'm still kicking myself for not picking up World of Goo the other week when it was on "name your own price" special...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Notes on the art of USA air travel


In my journey I became very adept at the US air travel security procedure. These are my tips
  • Always take your shoes and jacket/jumper off and place them in one of the tubs provided.
  • Do not leave heavy metal objects in bags (such as padlocks), but make sure you stuff everything you can in as it makes it easier when getting dressed again on the other side.
  • Don't wear a belt unless you really need to. (Actually the belt thing is a conclusion I came to in Australia a few years ago)
  • Most of all allow plenty of time for the formalities at security.


Most airlines in the US charge for any luggage when you check in.

Some airlines have reduced bag fees if you check in and pay your baggage fee on line. For example United gave me a $5 discount for doing this.

In Flight Service

In a short it does not exist. For example, in Australia I am used to showing my boarding pass to the flight attendants at the door of the aircraft and they will usually tell you which way to go (even when there is only one option, "down the aisle to the right"). In the US they just wave you on. While it's not rocket science for most people to find the right seat, it is just a difference I noticed.

There are no meals provided, even on full service carriers. However you always get a free drink, even on low cost airlines such as Southwest. You also usually get a small packet of peanuts or pretzels.

Flying with Southwest

This airline really deserves it's own category as it is the weirdest flight I have ever been on.

When you check in it is advisable to check in online the night before or arrive at the airport very early. The reason for this is, Southwest has free seating and instead allocates each passenger a number. This number is their order for boarding, therefore early check in means a lower number and a better choice of seat. There are three categories A B and C. There are only a small number of A, a large number of B and a smaller number of C.

At the gate they call boarding by letter group and passengers are expected to line up in order. So when they call A all the As line up in order from 1 to 20 or whatever. Then when they have boarded the call all the Bs up and get them to line up in order. And so it goes with C.

On our flight we were B twenty something, but it was quite empty and so got a row between the 2 of us.

As we checked in late, we got special "late" tags on our bags, which must in some cases give the baggage handlers the ok to "forget" loading certain bags on the plane, we were lucky however. The woman who checked up is also did her best to put our bags on the conveyor upside down. Nice one.

The rest of the flight on Southwest is relatively normal. It's just the boarding process that is really strange. Unlike Jetstar, Southwest seem to have got the unallocated seating thing to work. Although it's probably a cultural thing with Australians...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Back in Real Life

Well I got back last Friday, and went back to work on Monday.

I can 't believe how slow time drags at work and yet seems to pass so fast otherwise. Back a week already! Time on holiday seems to pass at a normal rate, I like that.

I have started posting parts of my trip. I wrote most of them while in the US, but didn't post at the time. Posts are backdated close enough to the time they occurred. Should get most of it up over the weekend.

As for a lack of photos. Yes I acknowledge that, just so many of them to go through. I will do something about that soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sun, Fun and Priceless Treasures in LA

Wednesday, my last day. I set my sights on the Getty Museum. Checking out of the hotel and putting my bags in storage I took the bus north along Sepulveda to Westwood where I stopped for breakfast/lunch before taking another bus to the Getty.

This time I was there to see the art. I managed to see the paintings and the Irving Penn, Small trades photography exhibition. The paintings were mostly from medieval and reneisance with a few examples from the later artists impresionist like Van Gough (Irises no less) and Degas. J Paul Getty seemed to dislike modern art. The photography exhibition just made me smile for some reason. just plain portraits of working class people who do crappy jobs. But mostly they appeared very proud. I recommend a visit to the Getty to see the photographs alone.

Having taken in some art I made my way back down to the bus stop and when the bus came back to Westwood. Here I had an argument with a man on the street who "didn't want any money" but said that by talking to me he could "help people". My stance was that I didn't have the time, really, I didn't. It ended up with him telling me it is no wonder I spend my Saturday nights alone. Thanks buddy. Eventually after stopping at an ATM to extract some final US dollars I was on a bus heading towards Santa Monica.

The idea behind going to Santa Monica was that it seemed a logical location to find a store selling Paul Frank stuff. I was looking for a birthday present for someone, a T shirt I had seen in San Francisco. Do you think I could find a shop selling Paul Frank? No. I ended up conceding defeat after finding the local shopping mall was under renovation.

I had an interesting dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express. The same Wolfgang Puck who I seem to recall opened a restaurant at crown in Melbourne that closed down not long after opening. The food was actually pretty good, although it is hard to go wrong with Spag Bol. The Caesar Salad was a bit weird though, no fetta. My last meal was washed down with a Heineken, my safety beer in the US. Sitting on the outdoor balcony above the street was quite pleasant, but I needed to make tracks.

An hour bus ride back to my hotel at LAX followed. It was interesting note at one of several car yards that used Mercedes are quite plentiful and cheap. You could get a 2003 C class for $12000. Back at the hotel I made a phone call home and then collected my luggage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Southward Bound

So on Tuesday I flew back to LA. I took the ever reliable Canada Line to Vancouver Airport (or YVR it's code and the name everyone calls it by) and found the Alaska airlines check in.

The thing with flying from Canada to the US is that you pass US immigration while still on the ground in Canada. In fact flights to the US get their own segregated area of the terminal. So after going through Canadian security and border control I was ushered to US immigration. This is where it all seemed to go wrong.

The US border security officer took my finger prints and photo then stamped my passport before deciding that there was actually something wrong with my fingerprints. "Just go through those doors there and they will help you" he said. Well they did, but not before I began to think I was an illegal alien or something. After waiting 10-15 minutes with some shifty looking people I was called up to the desk, a few questions asked, everything stamped and I was allowed to enter the US. I asked why I didn't need to submit my finger prints again, but didn't get a clear answer. I'm not one to complain.

As I had allowed time for stuffing around with customs, I still had nearly 2 hours until my flight. at 1pm. I decided to grab an early lunch and make use of the free WiFi. Still having some Canadian money in my wallet I raided the vending machines for some water and a packet of chips as well. All remaining Canadian penny's (and there were a lot of them) were thrown into a charity collection near the gate.

I was dismayed to see that the aircraft, to be used on my flight, a Boeing 737 400 similar to this one. How embarrassing. Walking down the aisle it became apparent that this aircraft had seen better days. Worn carpet and upholstery were the order of the day. It got worse when I went to sit down in my seat and the whole row moved like it wasn't bolted to the floor properly. Luckily however the flight was empty, so I had that row to myself. Alaska Airlines is very basic service wise, although at least you get a free drink. There is also no IFE so I had to make do with Good Game vodcasts on my iPod between just staring out the window at the scenery.

The flight was very uneventful. We took off out to sea and turned south, hitting land near Seattle and then taking the inland route across Washington, Oregon and California. I saw the snow capped volcano summits of Mount Ranier and Mount Shasta (we went straight over St Helens!), Lake Tahoe which also already had snow on the ski slopes surrounding the lake, and the snow capped Sierra Nevada stretching off majestically to the south east. We landed at LAX on schedule.

After collecting luggage and taking a shuttle (they love their shuttles, there is a shuttle for everything) I arrived at my hotel, the Radisson LAX, the closest hotel to the airport. I would have had a good view of the runways had the windows not been so dirty.

For the second time on my trip I took a fantastic hot bath. Both times the bathtubs were too small, but it had the right effect. I really think the Romans were on to something. Refreshed, I watched TV for a few hours.

That night I got the bus to a near by shopping mall, Westfield Culver City. I drooled over the prices of electrical goods in Best Buy, things are so cheap, coupled with a high Australian dollar meant I could have bought lots of stuff if I had the will to carry it home. Which brings me to the reason I was there, to buy a small bag to put some of my purchases in. While not heavy, mostly clothing for myself and family, they really bulked up my bag which looked like it would burst. I found a suitable bag in Target.

Back at the hotel I caught up with Jay Leno for one last time.

Out and About in Vancouver eh?

Well it is the last night of my short 3 night stay in Vancouver.

It is beautiful here. The city is really gearing up for the Winter Olympics The squirrels in Stanley Park are really cute, especially the black ones. And the air is really fresh.

The bad thing about this place is there is very little choice in food. For example I went to Chinatown last night thinking I would be able to find a goodChinese meal. Given I had read something somewhere about it being the 3rd largest chinatown in North America, I thought I would have a good chance. There are no Chinese restaurants in the Vancouver Chinatown. well I saw one, but it was "east-west fusion" and seemed expensive for what it was. Then I took a turn down a street thinking China town was more than one street. Wrong.

So I walked back to the city and ended up having two slices of really bad pizza. As long as you like pizza or burritos you are set. I don't want to see another hamburger or french fry for a long time. Oh and the Pizza gave me bad indigestion through the night.

Yesterday I took the "sea bus" ferry over to North Vancouver and to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge is a 400 foot long and is 200 feet over the river at the bottom of the canyon. There is also a forest walk canopy walk which was quite cool. It was good, but way overpriced. I also considered taking the gondola up Grouse Mountain (1400 meters high) , but I really didn't want to pay the $39 to get up there.

This morning I took a bit of a ride on the Skytrain and Canada Line light rail lines. Think Dockland's Light Railway and that's pretty much what it is like. The services are very frequent on both, about every 2-3 minutes. The Skytrain, which is over 20 years old has 3-4 car trains, while the brand new Canada line, built for the Olympics to link the city to the airport has 2 car trains. The Vancouver translink fare system is a zone system like Melbourne, although tickets seem to be valid for odd periods of 1.5 hours. A 1 zone ticket is $2.50 and will get you most places you need to go as a visitor. To cross to North Vancouver, either by bus or Seabus you need a 2 zone ticket. From what I have seen, there is no ticket checking at all, and there are no fare gates at stations.

In the afternoon I visited Stanley Park which is a huge park just to the west of the CBD, totally free. I walked through the park from the bus terminal (actually a trolley Bus, after 3 cities in a row with trolley buses I'm now a big fan) and around the water on the edge. I only did about a 4 km walk, but the whole shore line goes for miles around the park. I also visited the aquarium, which is in the park. They had marine mammals such Dolphins, Beluga Whales and Otters. They also had local fish, and an array of tropical fish. I have come to the conclusion that animals should be free in the wild, the Beluga Whales especially looked very bored.

Tommorrow I'm starting my journey home, flying to LA. I will be back in Australia by the end of the week.

And if you are wondering, I do have some drafts almost ready to go from earlier in my trip.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Further North to Canada

On Saturday I took the train from Seattle, Washington, USA to Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. ( see previous post) While it was overcast and raining, it was a very scenic trip up the coast. Along the way we passed mud flats, swollen rivers, rocky shorelines, industry and suburbs.

The train itself was very comfortable and quite smooth. It was about a 3 hour journey, although we were a bit late because we had to slow down because there was water on the track (Did I mention it was raining).

In Vancouver you arrive into a caged platform and you pass Canadian Customs when you go into the station building. Luckily the train was lightly loaded and we did not have to line up for long. As usual there was a sniffer dog inspecting the line, although the dog was more interested in biting the toy the handler had for it.

After clearing customs it was a matter of finding the Skytrain station and getting to the hotel.

Seattle - Boeing

The main thing I wanted to do in Seattle was visit the Boeing factory at Everett about 30 miles north of Seattle. I found a tour ran by Gray Line, which was quite good. It was just the five of us, 2 middle age american couples, me and the very talkative driver in a small van. Although it was expensive, entry to the tour is only $15, but the tour cost about $50 all up, a nice little profit there.

The factory tour was fantastic. You drive out in a bus from the visitor's center across the airfield to the production building. There everyone get's out, goes dowin into a tunnel and then an elevator up to an observation deck.

Imagine a building big enough to fit a Boeing 747. Now imagine standing on the observation deck looking down on 5 747's in various states of construction, then looking up and seeing the ceiling far above. And this is just one of several production lines in the plant, the largest building by volume in the world. At the Everett factory they also produce the 767, 777 and the new 787, basically all the twin aisle Boeing's. From memory the building is 1km long and 500m wide.

The 747's we saw were the first examples of the 747-8 which is replacing the 747-400, which is now over 20 years old. The -8 has many improvements to aerodynamics and new engines borrowed from the 787. It is also stretched in length compared to the -400.

We also got to see the 777 and 787 production lines. I'm sure you've all read about the delays of the 787 in the paper. The guide was adamant that it would fly by the end of the year. We'll see... Of the 777, the ones that we saw under construction were going to Emirates (2) and Fed Ex (1). Emirates is the largest customer for the 777, the ones we could see were the 61st and 62nd for the airline.

As with all good tours, this tour ended at the gift shop. Being a plane geek, I was tempted to buy a model, but the bus driver was hurrying me up. I ended up being content with a t shirt and playing cards. The drive back to Seattle was slow, due to bumper to bumper rush hour traffic.


Well it lived up to it's reputation, it rained most of the time. (As soon as I started writing this Frasier started on the TV!) It was also cold, but in a refreshing way. I can imagine winter is very cold here.

Yes there are Starbuck's everywhere. The original Starbucks is at the Pike Place market. It doesn't really look like a Starbucks that the world knows, just a small coffee shop. Pike Place market is where they throw the fish around, I missed that part, but the seafood did look very fresh.

...There are actually other coffee shops everywhere too.

Being the home of Boeing there is a lot of aviation related things to do. On the first day I visited the Museum of flight at Boeing Field about a 20 minute bus ride south of the city. If you are at all interested in aviation I highly reccommend the museum. There is also the Boeing Factory tour which I did the following day, also reccomended and detailed in another post.

Seattle actually has an interesting history, basically the whole reason for the founding of the city was to make easy money from timber. This latter expanded to ripping off miners on their way to the Klondike. This was revealed to me on the underground tour I did of the "old city". Basically the city burnt down one day and they decided for various reasons to build one level higher. not the least of which was the fact that anyone who flushed the toilet at high tide often found themselves with a geyser in their outhouse. The raising of the streets led to a labyrinth of tunnels under the sidewalks of the old part of the city. It is a really interesting part of the city's history.

In Seattle I also went up the Space Needle and rode the monorail. Both of which are leftovers from the World's Fair of 1962. The theme of the World's Fair that year was the 21st century.

Other than that there wasn't a lot to do in Seattle. The area I stayed in, Belltown, was quite cool though. There were lots of small cafes, restaurants and bars. I ate a a diner/bar called Hurricanes one night, and I've got to say the burger and fires were quite tasty. I also ate at a Thai restaurant which was quite good too.

Public transport in Seattle is very good too. The city buses are frequent. They have both trolley buses and conventional buses. Some of the conventional buses use alternative fuels and/or are hybrid electric powered. There is also the new light rail linking downtown to the airport, and there is a short streetcar line, which goes to Lake Union. Fares are a flat fare of $2.50 for 2 hours.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Onward and Upward, North I Came and Went

So I never made it to Alcatraz, it was pouring with rain that day. I just stuck to the city, did some souvenir shopping and had one last ride on both the F Line and cable car.

On Wednesday the 14th I said goodbye to San Francisco and hello to Seattle. I flew a dirty old United airlines 757 like this one. It was cloudy the whole way so I couldn't see much. The flight was standard for the us. You get a drink, everything else you pay for. This aircraft didn't have fancy personal TV's so it was back to screens over the aisle. Once again I was watching 2 and a half men on an aeroplane, just like Qantas.

One interesting feature of the audio system on United Airlines is channel 9, which is tuned to air traffic control. I listened at take off and landing, which as I said, was interesting. We were warned of turbulence on approach to Seattle, but this wasn't related over the PA until the last moments before we hit it.

The landing was quite exciting, with not quite as much turbulence as we were lead to believe, but judging by the swerving on touchdown, quite a strong cross wind. On leaving the aircraft I couldn't help but notice the mismatched seat cushions throughout the cabin. It just looks odd.

On the ground in Seattle we arrived at a remote terminal meaning we had to go down a set of escalators to a train station and take a sort of rubber tired train. Eventually the luggage appeared and my bag was once again one of the first off, happens nearly every time.

Now it was a matter of finding my way to the city of Seattle. After a wrong turn I eventually found a bus. It was a normal bus but went express on the freeway most of the way. Cost was only $2.50. As of December the Seattle light rail will link to the airport, right now it stops one stop short, there is a shuttle, but I didn't want to mess around.

When the bus reached down town Seattle it went through the transit tunnel, which is shared by both buses and the light rail line. I got off at the station nearest my hotel and walked the remaining 4 blocks. Easy.

Compared to my last few hotels this one seemed like luxury. It even had a bath in the bathroom, which I was very quick to make use of. I haven't had a bath for years.

That night I went wandering around the city, most stores were closed. Eventually I decided on small Thai restaurant for dinner.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Still in San Francisco

So I'm still in San Francisco and have one day to go before heading to Seattle.

So far I've pretty much exhausted most things that I wanted to do except that I still haven't been to Alcatraz. On the first two days I didn't venture very far, I just stayed around the central city or Fisherman's wharf, Rode the F line and cable cars, as well as having a look at the Ferry Building which is now a market of sorts. I also visited the F line museum and the Cable Car Museum, which also happens to be the car barn and winding house for the cables.

On Friday I ventured down to the Monterey Aquarium about 3 hours drive south of San Francisco. I was on a bus tour so I didn't really have enough time to see it properly, but I got to have a good look at the main exhibits, which were the Sea Otters and the Kelp Forrest.

The actual tour was pretty interesting too. The driver knew all kinds of little factoids of information, particularly the natural and human history of the area. The coast was quite spectacular, a bit like the Surf coast and Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I got so interested in the history of California that I bought a book on it tonight.

Monterey itself is quite historic, originally being settled by the Spanish hundereds of years ago. It was also home to author John Steinbeck, who set many of his novels in the area. We also visited Pebble Beach golf course and saw some very expensive real estate, including one of Clint Eastwood's former houses. The final stop on the tour was the town of Carmel, which is a very exclusive and beautiful town. Clint Eastwood was mayor for a while a few years back.

Saturday was a bit of a rest day, and moving day from hotel to hostel. I couldn't book all the nights at the one place so I decided to spend some time at a hotel and the rest at the hostel. The hotel was really good. It was cheap and the rooms were tiny, but it was more than adequate and very well located. So if you come to San Francisco I would recommend the Mosser Hotel if you are on a buidget. There is nothing wrong with the hostel either except needing to flash a bit of paper at reception every time you walk in for "security reasons". You could flash any old bit of paper. The other upside is free wifi which seems standard in hostels over here. In both hotels I've stayed at, it has been pay for use. The private room I am in is also about twice the size of the one I was in at the Mosser.

Yesterday I got the bus to the Golden Gate Bridge and then walked across. I picked a good day for two reasons. The first being it was overcast, which meant no fog, which was a big plus for visibilty, the second reason being that the Blue Angels put their airshow on when I was going across, so they were flying all around the bridge almost the whole time. The bridge is pretty long, 4200 feet or so on the main span I think I read.

When I got to the other side I stopped at the lookout overlooking the bay and the bridge for a while before continuing down the side of the road (with no footpath) to the town of Sausalito. While the walk was bit hair raising walking beside a windy road with cars only a foot away and no footpath it was probably worth it. Sausalito is a town that literally clings to the hillside in order to get the best view of the bay (reminds me of Sydney in a way). One house I saw even had it's own funicular to get from the garage at street level to the house high up on the Hill. Sausalito is very exlusive, the main street is line with expensive cars and boutiques. From here it was a short 20 minute ferry ride back across the bay to fisherman's wharf.

Today I decided to seek out Lombard Street, "the worlds windiest street". That is the street that zig zags down the hill. It turns out that the Powell-Hyde cable car line drops you off right at the top. I really like riding the cable car on the footboard, lots of fun. It just wouldn't happen in Australia, mind you the maximum speed is only 9mph.

After that I walked some of the way to Coit Tower before luckily coming across a bus that would take me there. Public tranport is fantastic in San Francisco. Coit Tower was bequethed to the city by the well known, rich, tomboy Lillie Hitchcock Coit when she died. Inside are murals painted by out of work artists during the great depression depicting every day Californian life. The views from the tower ($5 to go up plus tip to the elevator driver).

Leaving Coit tower I made my way to Fisherman's wharf and after walking around a bit I decided to visit the Aquarium of the Bay. What a disappointment. while it was interesting to finally find out what type of fish all the pelicans, seals, cormorants and fisherman I had seen catching, the overall display looked a bit run down. They had a touch pool where you could pat a Leopard Shark as well as some small skates and rays. The collection of other animals was a bit random though, as they also had tree frogs, Chinchillas (yes Chinchillas) Tarantulas, Tortoises, and what caught my attention, a "Blue Tongue Skink". I really felt for my Aussie mate, the poor thing looked very bored in its small enclosure. They also had the african Hedgehog, which according to the sign also inhabits New Zealand as well as the continents of Africa and Asia.

So that's what I've been doing so far. Maybe tomorrow I will visit Alcatraz.

Great American Chocolate Taste Off

So once again here we are in the City by the Bay, the town that Dirty Harry once got lucky in (or something like that), San Francisco, for the Great American Chocolate taste off.

Actually I thought it would be interesting to compare American chocolate to something I am familiar with. This is all based on my assumption that American chocolate is mostly sugar with less cocoa. Let's see if my assumption is correct. So I have 3 bars of chocolate to try.

From Left to Right: English Cadbury Dairy Milk, American Cadbury Dairy Milk
and Hershey's Milk Chocolate

Contender Number 1: Cadbury Dairy Milk

This is the original made in Bournville Birmingham England, that I found in a candy store at Fisherman's Wharf the other day. I've already had a bit and it is very good, like how I remember Dairy Milk tasting before they started playing with it a few years ago.

Ingredients as listed: Milk, Sugar, Cocoa, Cocoa Butter, Vegetable Oil, Emulsifiers (Ammonium phosphatides, Polyglycerol, polyricinoleate, Vanilla.

Appearance, Smell etc...: Typical Cadbury Dairy Milk, bits start flaking off as soon as you break it. Smells of cocoa.

Contender Number 2: Cadbury Dairy Milk, manufactured in the USA.

Manufactured under licence by the Hershey Company in Hershey PA it comes in the original foil pack with paper label wrapped around, it even carries the royal seal and the words "By appointment to H.M the Queen..."


Appearance, Smell etc...: Looks and smells just the same as the English variety.

Contender Number 3: Hershey's Milk Chocolate

As far as I know this is the default chocolate for the US I could be wrong though, as Ghiradelli Chocolate is everywhere in San Francisco. (I bought some Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa dark chocolate the other day and it is pretty good. See not at bottom)


Appearance, Smell etc...: Darker in colour than both Cadbury's, but smell's not too sweet. Reminds me of Easter egg chocolate a bit.

And now for the moment of truth. I have clensed my palate with a good swig of the Sierra Nevada's finest natural alpine spring water, and will do so between tastings.

The Taste Test

English Cadbury Dairy Milk:

Makes a nice snap when you bite through the piece, the creamy texture fill's your mouth and you get that first burst of cocoa. Leaves a nice milky cocoa aftertaste.

American Cadbury Dairy Milk:

Starts well with that nice snap sound on the first bite, but then you hit the granular texture and sickly sweet taste. The after taste is sugary.

Hershey's Milk Chocolate:

The snap is barely noticable, the texture is sticky and a bit mushy. The taste is too strong and very sweet. The aftertaste is unpleasant. I didn't even finish the piece I bit into.

The Verdict:

English Cadbury by a mile. I don't know if I was just confirming my subconscious prejudices, but the American chocolate was awful. I was surprised that even the Cadbury made by Hershey's was not closer to the English version. I should get some English Cadbury when I get home and compare it to the Australian made version. The Hershey was just too sickly sweet, just all wrong wrong wrong. There is very little chocolate there. Looking at the ingredients it is clear that there is something wrong when you see that "artificial flavor" is listed. Also telling is that the first ingredient on both USA made bars is sugar, assuming ingredients are listed by percentage.

I think I will bin the American ones and continue to nibble the English Cadbury.

Ghirardelli Chocolate

As I said, the Ghirardelli Chocolate I had was very good dark chocolate. It is made right here in San Francisco, which probably accounts for its popularity here. It seems to be made to a higher standard than Hershey's. If you come here I recommend buying this over other American chocolate.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Still There

Hi all, greetings from the city by the bay. San Francisco. I've been here for four days now and I've got to say I like it. SF reminds me of Melbourne, a lot. First thing I saw when I emerged into the street after taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train from the airport were tram tracks and wires, then I realised I was standing next to a Westfield shopping centre. Market Street could easily pass for Bourke Street or Collins Street. It was uncanny.

This city is really cool. Both figuratively and literally. Firstly the people have a certain laidback attitude (that's cali for you), but they dress really well. There is definite arts scene a lot like Melbourne too.

Secondly the other reason the city is cool is beacause it is. The weather here is really deceptive.It turns out the first couple of days I was here it was unseasonably warm. A quote sticks in the back of my mind, I'm not sure who said it, someone like Charles Dicken's, Mark Twain etc said something along the lines of "The coldest winter I have ever endured was a summer in San Francisco". Even though it is October, into the "Fall", I highly agree.

The reason it is so cold as I have found out is that the water current off the coast comes straight from Alaska, this is also the reason it is so foggy here at any time of year. Warm air on land heats up and rises, which in turn suck in cold moist air from the sea, when it gets near land it fogs up. I've only seen the whole Golden Gate Bridge really well once. Then it got foggy.

In SF this week it is fleet week, which is an anual event when the navy is welcomed into town. I've been watching the US Navy practicing for this weekends air displays over the past few days. only today the display was canceled due to fog.

That's about it for now gotta go find some dinner. It's about 830 on Saturday evening.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

USA I'm there

Just a note to say I'm here in LA and all is going well.

More detailed posts coming...


Well I've been in LA since Wednesday morning (at time of writting it is about midnight Friday). The flight was long, about 13 hours, but was made just that bit more comfortable by the diverse range of TV shows and movies on the in flight entertainment. The aircraft was an Airbus A380 ( VH-OQB Sir Hudson Fysh). I actually quite enjoyed the flight except towards the end when it became unbearable.

On arrival in LA we passed customs easily and collected our luggage. We then managed to find a shuttle bus to take us to our hostel in Hollywood.

We walked up hollywood boulevard to Hollywood and Highland were the main tourist atractions are, with a German guy we met at the hostel named with Moritz (don't know how to spell his name). We ended up spending most of our time with him and for one day with an English guy named Gavin.

In the afternoon we got the metro and a bus to the NBC studios in Burbank for a filming of the Jay Leno show. That was really interesting as my only other experience with live TV was a taping of Spicks and Specks a few years ago. the main difference being the number of times the audience was counted before entering the studio (at least 10 times) and the very tight security, including a walk through metal detector and wand.

The show itself was great, the main guest on the show was Steve Carell from "The 40 Year old Virgin", "Evan Almighty", "Get Smart" and the US version of "The Office". He also completed a lap of Leno's race track out the back of the studio in an electric car. He managed to secure second place behind Cameron Diaz.

After the taping we got the bus and train back to Hollywood and i basically crashed after being awake for 30 hours straight.

Day 2

we arranged to go to Universal Studio's with Moritz and Gavin (the English guy). Again it was a short ride on the metro to Universal City and then ou get a shuttle "tram" up the hill. It was better than I remembered, although a number orides have been replaced since I last went in 1994. Most interestingly the Back to the Future Ride has been replaced by the Simposon's ride, only you still clearly ride in a Delorean. ET was gone and replaced by the Mummy rollercoaster, and one "new" ride was the Jurrasic Park ride. Overall it was pretty good. We also did the backlot tour, the backdraft experience, and the special effects tour. We saved the best to last which was the Waterworld show, lots of Jetski action with lots of explosions. One hint I have is to not sit in the green seats if you don't want to get wet.

Day 3

We said goodbye to Gavin who was leaving for San Francisco, and then we got the bus from Hollywood to the Getty Centre. That Getty Centre is amazing, a great collection of art and some fascinating architecture. We then got the bus via Westwood to Santa Monica. Mike and Moritz went for a swim. We walked on the pier and up the beach before heading back to 4th street for dinner. Out of all the places we visited in LA Westwood and Santa Monica probably had the best

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Still Here

Still in Australia, only a few days to go and I'm off. I have been busy organising things, not much time for blog reading or writing.

I watched the grand final at a mates place on Saturday, was going for the Saints, but it was so evenly matched. The best team won on the day.

I will miss my brother and family by hours, they get back from 6 month around Australia trip the day I am leaving. Well it's really a half Australia trip as they went up west coast and down the middle. Still sounds great. I guess a few weeks won't make much difference after all that time away.

I Don't know how they will cope living in a house again after 6 months in the caravan. Mum went up to Darwin a few weeks ago to meet up with them and they took her to Kakadu and Lichfield national park. They continued on their trip and left mum in a hotel in Darwin for a few nights. Mum reckons sister in law flipped out when she saw all the space mum had in her hotel room.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Seattle to Vancouver by train

While researching this online, I came across the fact that this route is part of the growing trend back to public transport in America. The full route runs from Eugene south of Portland in Oregon, all the way through Seattle, and over the border to Vancouver. The route has been opened to passenger trains in stages since the early 90's (the tracks are primarily freight tracks owned by Union Pacific and BNSF). Known as Amtrak Cascades, the trains run multiple times daily, mostly between Portland and Seattle, but a few go north/south from this main spine.

To me the most astonishing thing is that the carriages used are articulated tilting trainsets manufactured by Talgo in Spain. Think of the French TGV (or Spanish AVE)and that is pretty much what they look like. The only difference is that instead of the sleek electric locomotives found on trains in Europe, they use a diesel locomotive (an EMD F59PHI) at one end and at a an unpowered locomotive at the other. The unpowered locomotive looks exactly like an EMD F40 locomotive only the "locomotive" parts are missing and it is filled with ballast instead (concrete or something heavy like that), but still allows the train to be driven from that end.

Despite being designed for higher speeds, the trains travel at the regular speeds of North American trains.

I almost forgot, the scenery looks like this! Not that I will be there in winter, but still...


I guess I should tell you all about my upcoming overseas trip. Taking advantage of the airfare war across the Pacific I will be travelling too...

The United States of America.

Maybe it is a bad move to go to the home of saturated fats, but I've been wanting to explore the west coast for a while now and this is my chance.

I'll be flying over with and spending the first week with my mate Mike who is beginning a 6 week trip of South America. Together we are going to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon and back to Vegas before we go out Separate ways. He is off to Mexico city, and I'll head north for 2 weeks. I plan to visit San Francisco, Yosemite, Monterey, Seattle. Since I will be in the area I thought I may as well head up to Vancouver before flying back to LA for my flight home, which may be a waste of time due to the few days I will have there, but I'm going anyway.

So much to do in so little time, I wish I had longer. Originally I wanted to do a tour from San Francisco to Seattle, but the tour companies finish up for the "winter" just before I get there. So instead I am going it alone for 2 weeks. Did I mention there is so much to do in such a short space of time. I have no idea how I will fit it all in. Already I feel like I am missing stuff, but then again you can't see everything.

Only a few weeks to go now and getting excited... a bit, the reality of it hasn't hit me yet (seem common for overseas trips). Basically all I have is a return flight to LA and a vague idea of where I am headed. That's a bit of a lie actually, I have also booked some domestic flights and a hotel room at LAX the night before I come home (hoping to do some shopping on my last day in LA before the flight). But other than that it seems I'll be busing and hostelling around the place.

Oh and I plan to take the train from Seattle to Vancouver, I am looking forward to that. Now that's an interesting train I will do a separate post on that.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's been how long?

Thought I should put in an appearance for August. Can't believe it has been over a month since the last post. What can I say except that my attention has been elsewhere. Mostly on planning my upcoming overseas trip. Only a month to go now. I'm completely over it really. Just get me there already.

Was pulling out some weeds at my brothers house this afternoon. The back lawn is full of them, like thistles. I was going to mow the grass, but it is all weeds. Decided it is my brothers mess to sort out when he gets back. My Brother, sister in law and kids are on an extended trip to Western Australia and Northern Territory. sounds great but there is no one in the house.

While I was there pulling weeds every so often I could hear a steam train whistles in the distance. I had totally forgot about the Wattle Festival at Hurstbridge. Usually a steam train comes out for the day and runs short trips between Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge. I have taken photos in previous years (here), but it all starts to seem the same after a while.

Also to do with my brothers trip, I have been "minding" one of their cars while they are away. And so I have been driving too/from work since April. I am sort of looking forward to taking train/bus too from work again. Don't know how I will go without a car now that I have been indoctrinated to the world of driving, but I'm not going to get one until after my overseas trip.

Speaking of driving, I got my full licence back in July after 3 years on P plates. So glad to be off them. P platers do get "special" treatment from more "experienced" drivers, but not as bad as some of the things I have seen happen to learners. Learners really cop it, they get cut off, overtaken in suburban streets when travelling at 50, and when they try to overtake on Freeways, the car they are trying to overtake will often speed up so they can't. I've seen it all. Be nice to all drivers, don't treat learners badly, it could be your kids getting this treatment one day in the future when they are learning to drive.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wii Sports Resort + Wii MotionPlus

Picked up Wii Sports Resort at JB HiFi tonight for for $79, including the Wii MotionPlus dongle. Normal RPP is $99 for this pack at places like EB Games.

The Wii motionPlus comes integrated into a Wiimote jacket , not what I was expecting at all. When you start up the game for the first time a video plays detailing the process of inserting the Wiimote into the jacket. I managed to do this before viewing the instructions, so it can't be that hard.

The intro to the game involves all your Miis skydiving on to the island. This is a nice touch, and you get to control one of them on the way down. The game itself a wider array of sports to choose from than the original Wii Sports. Of the sports available only two old favourites remain in the game, bowling and golf. New sports/activities include frisbee, archery, wake boarding, air sports, jet skiing, table tennis, canoeing and fencing.

The addition of the Wii Motion Plus allows for very sensitive controls making sports much harder to master. Bowling in particular I found much more difficult than on the original Wii sports games. While I haven't had a chance to sample all of the sports, from what I did though, I can say that the Wii MotionPlus is a big improvement over the sometimes hit and miss controls of the Wiimote on its own. Bowling in particular!

Of the sports that I tried out, probably the most enjoyable I found were archery and flying the plane around the island. All I can say is that the controls to these sports seemed very natural. With flying you hold the Wiimote horizontally in front of you, tilting it to turn, climb and descend, I could have spent ages just flying around the island if there wasn't a time limit. The archery made use of the Wiimote and nun chuck but in reverse to normal. So if you are right handed you hold the Wiimote upright in your left hand representing the bow with the nunchuck in your right representing the end of the arrow.

As to the bad controls, there were a few namely the jet ski and frisbee. The jet ski left me with sore shoulders due to the way you hold the Wiimote and nunchuck, which is as if you are holding the handlebars of the jet ski, it just doesn't feel very natural at all. As for the frisbee, lets just say I'm not too good at frisbee in real life, so I have little hope of aiming one in the game. The dog is cute though.

Is Wii Sports Resort worth buying? Yes it is. In fact I would go so far as to say that this is probably how Wii Sports should have been made in the first place. If you do not have the greatest hand eye coordinated like myself, then the addition of the Wii MotionPlus will definitely add a challenge to all the sports on offer. No more bowling Turkey's and serving aces. That frisbee really could go anywhere. Then increasing the sensitivity of the Wiimote, which often does not register my backhand in Wii tennis can't be a bad thing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Keeping my adventures to myself

I'm good at keeping things to myself. This is probably not a surprise to people who read this blog, but I do keep stuff from you. Stuff I should probably blog about. Let me tell you a bit about my adventures that haven't made it to the blog yet.

In the last year I have been to every state in Australia (not counting the territories, ACT or NT).

I have been to Perth twice in the last year, once for the footy trip last September, and once on Easter Saturday this year. Yes for the day. The latter I will blog about shortly.

I have been to Sydney twice in the last 2 months. The first time in May I bored you all with a blow by blow description of the trip. The second time was a weekend trip last month, that was kind of last minute. I may as well blog a bit about that too when I get the chance.

Actually I have been to the ACT. I flew to Sydney the second time via Canberra. Stayed in the airport for an hour, but I did see the flagpole on top of parliament house while we were taxiing from the runway. That leaves only the Northern territory and a few outlying islands to go...

In August last year I took advantage of very cheap airfares and flew to Launceston for the day. Very cold day it was, but was a fun random thing to do.

I now have a reputation at work for flying to random places whenever it takes my fancy. This is far from the truth.

My final confession is that latter in the year I will be going overseas. My first overseas trip since I was 13. More on that later...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Tianjin Gardens

On the corner of Spring and Nicholson Street in Melbourne there is a small Chinese garden over the entrance to Parliament Station. This is the Tianjin Garden. I've been past it a many times, but barely taken any notice of it, until a few weeks ago...

According to the plaque the gardens were a gift from Melbourne's Chinese sister city, Tianjin. It was designed by experts on such matters from Tianjin. (A short City of Melbourne word document about the garden is here - I think this is what is written on the plaque)

The entrance to the garden is guarded by a pair of lions.

The large boulders you can see around the garden are local Tianjin granite.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Bendigo Day Trip

On the Sunday of the Queens Birthday long weekend I went for a drive with my mum to Bendigo. Been meaning to post this one for a while, there's nothing like other bloggers posting on a similar topic to spur me into action.

Somewhere under all that cloud is Mount Macedon

We drove there along the Calder Freeway (it's all Freeway now) as far as Elphinstone where we turned "inland" towards Sutton Grange, Mandurang and Strathfieldsaye. Along the way we stopped to do a Geocache by a creek near Sutton Grange, and then went on all the way to Strathfieldsaye just outside of Bendigo.

The next stop was Kennington Reservoir, where I found a second Geocache.

Kennington Reservoir

Next was lunch, had in the car by Lake Weeroona. Sandwhiches from home along with hot jam doughnuts bought from one of two caravans beside the lake.

One of the main reasons for the trip was for mum to visit Bendigo pottery to top up the dinner set. After getting some plates and bowls it was back on the road and into the back blocks of White Hills to look for a house where a relative used to live. Successfully found, we continued on and made our way to Eaglehawk before heading back to Bendigo proper via a round about sort of route.

Shamrock Hotel

Old Buiding, now a museum and tourist
information centre.

I should know what it was originally, but can't remember.
I suspect it was whwere the kept the gold Does anyone know?

I had two more Geocaches on my list for the day, so we went back to lake Weeroona to look for the first. It was really busy on this side of the lake and had to wait ages to get a car park. Then I had to be extra sneaky to retrieve the cache without being seen. While I was waiting for my chance I made friends with a swan.

Lake Weeroona

Black Swan

Tram crossing creek

The Bendigo Creek, now a drain

The final Geocache I found before heading home was near the Bendigo station.

The functional side of Bendigo rail station

We stuck to the Calder Highway all the way back to Melbourne.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

St Kilda and City

Still back two weeks ago. After the market I got a tram to St Kilda. There I decided to go for a walk on the St Kilda Pier.

Going forward

...Looking back

On the breakwall

I read somewhere that the breakwall was built to create a harbour for the sailing events at the 1956 Olympics.

The end the breakwall is home to some criters, the Little Penguin
and the Native Water Rat.

While I was looking at the sign above I overheard the following

"how cute"

"oh yuk, it's a rat, oooo!"

You just can't please some people. As far as rats go it is pretty cute.

Looking towards the city skyline

going down wind...

I sat on a rock for a few minutes waiting for the yacht to get closer so I could take the photo. After it passed I headed back towards the shore.

Say aloha to Captain Cook.

I don't know why, but this statue seems somehow out of place here.

I then walked along the Esplanade to the Palais and Luna Park.

The old Palais looks really run down.

And again somehow out of place here.

The show that was on this day was a live version of the childrens TV show Yo Gabba Gabba. I have no Idea who they are or what they do, but it seemed pretty popular with the kids.

Then I saw this restored fire truck, which a maxi taxi kindly decided to park in front of just as I was about to take a photo...

Never mind double parking illegally blocking entry to the street,
or the space a few metres down the road where you could safely unload,
or the person standing in the middle of a traffic island with a camera clearly trying to
take a photo of something...

After a few minutes he settled his fare and finally drove off after asking me if I needed a taxi. I was after all standing on a traffic island to take this photo.


Around the back where all the hoses and attachments go.

I guess you could call this the money shot if there
were such a thing as fire engine porn.

AFter getting sick of St Kilda I travelled back to the city on a tram via St Kilda road. I don't know why but I am always surprised that this route usually does not take any longer than the light rail to get to the city. I got off the tram at Lonsdale Street and slowly made my way down to Southbank where I was due to meet my mother.

Southbank Footbridge

Am I the only preson who does not like the design of this footbridge? Not in looks, but in the way it handles pedestrian traffic. There is no clear path across, you spend the whole time trying not to walk into the handrails and dodging people coming the other who are also trying not to walk into the hand rails. All because of the way the bridge zig zags. Not to mention that there are always tourists taking photos, not that that is a bad thing, but because of the design of the bridge they get in the way. My other gripe is the narrow subway under Flinders Street Station that the bridge feeds into, it is all rather uncomfortable. And the often terrible buskers impede the flow of traffic.

Eureka! Tower

Looking back towards Flinders Street Station

After theis I met my mother who had been to the opera and we ate dinner in the Foodcourt at Southbank before catching the train home.

That was my day on the 30th of May 2009