Around the World in 90 Days

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Tag Archives: Movies

Merry Melbourne

Long time no blog aye?  Sorry dudes, between my altitude sickness and Tompaul’s actual sickness (think Bleeeeeeeeeeh) and the fact we only got good internet connections on the roof, we have been silent as sloths.  So back to Australia.

Finally we got to Melbourne.  In reality Melbourne was a late addition to the trip.  It was only after visiting our good friends Lynelle and Gary and listening to them drone (I mean exclaim) on and on about Melbourne.  Plus they were married in Melbourne and I have always LOVED their wedding pictures.

Tompaul (aka mastermind of the trip) found us a lovely room in the Albany.  Rumor is that U2 recently spent a night their on their Australia leg of the tour.  Here is our room…it was as lovely as it looked!

So after settling in, showering, and just getting adjusted after forever on the road we decided to hit the town.  We decided to start in St. Kilda.   To get there we took a LOVELY tram, as you can see below.  Essentially you have to pay cash for all trams, or get a day pass.  The machine is at the back of the tram, and it was a little difficult putting coins in and swaying too and fro.  Some of the trams were decorated with advertisements.  Oprah was recently in Australia (as you can see by her very own tram).

St. Kilda is a lovely “resort town.”  In reality it was a suburb of Melbourne in the old days, when everything seemed so far away because you had to hitch up Bessie and Nellie to go anywhere. And you would go there to get out of the city.   Now it is just a short tram ride down.  It was bustling.  The day was brilliantly hot and we enjoyed walking around people-watching.  As you can see the beach is sweet.  The area itself reminded me of Miami with the art deco vibe, awesome boutiques, and amazing food (which we will get to in a minute).  Miami, except way nicer.

We walked along the boardwalk and Tompaul got some fab pictures (here are just a few).

Teenage guys (and a token girl) chillin’ on the pier.

Melbourne in the distance.

The tea rooms on the end of the dock, also called St. Kilda Pavilion.  The original one was destroyed in a fire (arson), so they rebuilt it as it once was.  This reminds me of my street in Roanoke…we had a tree in the middle of the road, and it died spectacularly by falling on someone’s house.  So what did we do?  Plant a new tree in the middle of the road.  Not saying that the Pavilion shouldn’t of been rebuilt, more of a comment on human nature.  We like things how they are, and this is lovely.

Long before the Sydney Olympics there was the Melbourne Olympics, 1956.  A breakwater at the end of the pier was built for rowing, or sailing or some water sport.  The Fairy Penguins decided this was an absolutely lovely city to live in, and how it was super sweet for the featherless inhabitants to build them their own place and they took up residence.  We only found one fairy penguin, and he was molting (it was hot and I would have molted too).  And so began my foray into birding (thank you, Heather!).

After the pier we went and looked for bookstores (of course!) and food.  To be frank at this point we were non-plussed with our food options in Australia.  Botswana was better (okay, plus the Koonses live there and Heather is a fab cook).  But Melbourne was a different beast.  While looking for food and books (what else is there in life?) we noticed the lovely decorations of the shopping areas.

Finally we settled on BlueCorn.  Maybe because they promised Mexican food, and we have not left a mexican food resturant untested.  So it wasn’t Mexican, it was fusion Mexican.  And I would eat there every day of my life if I could.  We ended up with takeaway (because it was cheaper).  Note the food below.

The appetizer was spicy chips (granted, when we ordered we were in Mexican mode and thought chips as in chips, not chips as in “fish and chips”) which were amazing!  We each got a burrito.  Mine is pictured: pumpkin, eggplant, and corn filled with rice, beans, coriander (cilantro in the U.S.) and olives with sides of guac (ahhhhhhhhh, guac) and salsa.  Tompaul got jalapeno, corn and beans.  We both ate until we could eat no more…and were sad we couldn’t.

Before retiring for the night we stopped by the grocery store to grab cereal (Australia has not met the complimentary brekkie, or wireless for that matter)  and lunch fixins.  Tompaul found this apparent tribute to a) Calvin and Hobbes or b) contradiction:

Rise and Shine!  After waking up and investing in a 1.5L water, slurpees, and all-day tram tickets from 7-11 we hit the town.  First we investigated the botanical gardens on our way to walking to downtown (yes I did mention all-day tram tickets, but exercise is rad).  So far we have hit every botanical garden known to man, as well as every bookstrore, 7-11 (real or not), and every Mexican restaurant rumored.

This is one of my favorite statues, the Phoenix, which is actually in the Queen Victoria Gardens.

And this is a view of Melbourne as we approach the Plaza. The funky patchwork design building on the bottom left is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.  We greatly enjoyed the exhibits, including one on Walt Disney “Dreams Come True” looking at the Disney fairy tale genre.

Across the street was St. Paul’s Cathedral.  It was absolutely lovely.  My favorite was the new lantern added over the lecturn to give the illusion of light.

Also the stained glass doors were fab.  Each corner represents a one of the gospels.  This was one of the few cathedrals where light was prominent.

Outside there are the obligatory statues, and birds desecrating them.  Just remember if you do something great it will be made into a statue and then a bird will find a nice handy loo.

Because the previous night was so yum, and because we still hadn’t found Lynelle’s favorite bookstore, we headed back to St. Kilda.  Her favorite coffee shop was no where to be seen, and the bookstore (while not as fab as McKays) was still worthy.  I got Skippy Dies.  Then we found a vegetarian restaurant that looked promising.  I enjoyed the quote over the door.


I got the Malaysian Noodles with peanut sauce and a samosa, Tompaul ordered off the buffet with dal, korma, and a spinach roll.

I think we licked the plates.  While eating we saw a tram restaurant go by.


So I leave you with this image from Luna Park.  Tomorrow?  The Great Ocean Road and wherever it may lead.




On our second night in Cape Town Tompaul took me on a date to the movies.  We chose Spud, a South African movie about a boy who heads off to boarding school as Nelson Mandela is released from prison.  It stars John Clease, who has the ability to make me laugh without speaking.

I tried to upload the trailer, but am unable to somehow on the computer I am borrowing.  It was hilarious, part of this may be that we watched it in South Africa and the audience was eating it up.  Overall the movie was hilarious, poignant, and showed the pain but also joy of growing up.  The child actor,  Troye Sivan, was amazing and well directed.  I think I might understand South Africa a bit more, but I will never get why the theater we were in was named Labia.

Destination Movies: Mary and Max

We had wanted to watch movies that pertained to each country we are going to visit.  This has proved to be more challenging than planned.  We ended up watching some IMAX stuff, then there was that horrible movie The Maid I couldn’t finish, cause it was psycho.

Then in browsing our Netflix it suggested this movie.  Usually Netflix suggests stuff I don’t want to see.  But this time…I was intrigued.  Mostly cause I love claymation.

First let me preface this is not a children’s movie.  It isn’t bad, just adult.  Mary is a girl who lives in Australia, the world of sepia.  Her family life is a mess, and she decides at random to write someone in America.  Little does she know she will make a friend in Max, a 44 yo Jewish, Atheist, New Yorker with Asperger Syndrome.  What ensues is a true friendship, and real life.  It is a black comedy I can wrap my mind around (unlike the psycho The Maid) a la Royal Tenenbaums.  Check it out.

Next movie…Ethiopia…I think?

The next country after Belgium will be Ethiopia.  So it’s time to pick an Ethiopian movie.  Problem?  There aren’t many films or documentaries taking place in Ethiopia.  IMDB has only 29 movies listed.  Many of these are not available on netflix.    So I list the movies that are available.

Teza is a movie about an  Ethiopian who returns home after years of studying medicine in Germany, he finds Ethiopia completely transformed into a violent, war-torn country under the rule of Haile Mariam Mengistu.  He is trying to figure out where he fits into this new world.

Altetu is a movie about the first Ethiopian to win the Olympics.  It is uncertain if this is available through Netflix.  It apparently was presented in the Nashville film festival.  I can’t find a trailer.

And that’s it.  Seriously  That’s it.  Of 29 movies only one is definitely available.  The other may be available.

In Bruges: Our First Movie Prep…

Lessons learned from In Bruges:

1. Don’t shoot a child

2. Jumping off a tower with a gun in your front pocket will only smash the gun.

3. Bruges is amazing and gorgeous and I can’t wait to go!

Long story short In Bruges gets 5/10 and the city of Bruges gets a 9/10.
I think the poster says it all

Another Kind of Preparation

We have decided to fully prepare for the trip we are going to need to buckle down and watch some movies.  We must watch a movie for each country we are visiting.  It must be shot on location in the country in question.  It must also show something about the culture, scenery or gist of the country.

We are taking suggestions…

First up?  In Bruges

. . . Well, not a movie we’d recommend to anyone feeling down (extremely dark comedy with copious swearing mixed with spiritual and philosophical ponderings, violent images, and a whole lot of death and irony), and it didn’t really tell us anything about the culture since it was about tourists, but Bruges the city looks like it will be terrific. Stay tuned for our next, slightly more uplifting selection . . .