After sleeping for a good 6 hours. I woke up to a sunny day and sat down to a breakfast of Vegemite on toast. A lot of people I know don’t like it, but I have sort of developed a taste for it. On top of that, I always try to eat local food and drink local beer when I go somewhere, so Vegemite had to be on the agenda. Still in my pyjamas (which consist of black cargo shorts and a black t-shirt before you get any silly ideas) I walked across the street to the supermarket to buy shampoo, when my phone went. It was a guy named Steve, who I had met a couple of times in Dublin through a mutual friend. He was wondering if I was interested in going for a beer that afternoon. Asking me for a beer is a bit like asking the pope if he would like to read the bible, so we agreed to meet in the afternoon in the Fitzroy area of town. I then took a shower and got ready for my last full day in Melbourne. As I was planning to leave Melbourne the next day, I walked over to a hostel a couple of streets from mine where, so I was informed, I would be able to book a bus trip to Sydney.
Why would I take a bus to Sydney rather than flying there, which would only cost me about 100 AUS$ or taking a train, which would be much more comfortable? Well, first of all, if I took a plane, I would have to get back to the airport, which would cost me another $16, check in my backpack (another $20), wait, fly to Sydney and get a bus from the airport (another $12,-). That would take the price of the trip to around $150,- . If I took the bus, yes, it would take me 10 times as long to get there, but the costs were much lower. Apart from the fact that the bus ticket was only $58,- and I could take my bags for free, I also had the option of taking the overnight bus, saving about $25,- that I would normally have to spend on a hostel. This would take the net price for the bus trip to $ 33,- which made the flight nearly 5 times as expensive as the bus. On top of that, the road trip seemed like much more fun than yet more time on planes and I would get to see some of the country, whereas from a plane you only see clouds. And, another reason for the bus trip was that I had never been on a Greyhound bus before. Either way, I booked my ticket and took the tram back to Fitzroy. As I was a bit early, I walked around for a bit, had a beer at Bar Open which, as it turned out, was not actually open, but the door was open and one of the guys that was inside served me a bottle of VB and didn’t mind me hanging around while they were doing maintenance, removing empty kegs and other stuff you get to do when you work in a bar. The fact that I was drinking sort of inspired the people who were supposed to be working and soon no work was being done and everyone was enjoying a beer break.
I then went over to a different bar, met up with Steve and had lunch. We caught up on what had been happening in the past year since he moved back to Melbourne from Dublin, what was going on with mutual friends and the state of the Aussie Rules football league. After lunch, he showed me around parts of the neighbourhood that I hadn’t visited yet and then went for another beer.
489. The Spread Eagle.
No, I am not joking. This was really the name of the pub. I thought this was really funny somehow. As it was sort of chilly by now, we sat at the bar inside and discussed the quality of Australian beer which, up until then, I had been very impressed with. Steve then had to leave because he had another appointment so I was left in the pub on my own. This gave me the chance to look around for a bit and I discovered a very interesting map on the wall. It was an historic map of Richmond, the part of town I was now in, and showed all the pubs that were there in the past. I was impressed because there were nearly a 100 pubs on that map alone. I entertained myself for the remainder of my pint by looking at the map and trying to find pubs that were still there.
When I had finished my beer, I walked around Richmond for a bit and then decided to take the tram to South Yarra. This was the area where I had watched the football final over the weekend and I wanted to check out the neighbourhood some more. By the time the tram had wormed itself through the evening rush hour traffic I was sort of urgently looking for a toilet and walked into a bar called
490. The Lucky Coq.
Yeah, strange name, but the big rooster that was painted on the wall explained it. I rushed to the toilet and after that to the bar. I ordered the house ale, called Blonde Coq, and I must say it tasted really nice. While I was looking around, I started to get a strange sense of déja vu. I was 100% sure that I had never been in this bar before, but it somehow looked strangely familiar. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out why, and I finally caught on when somebody walked up to the bar to order food and left the menu on the bar. The menu, I noticed, was exactly the same as in Bimbo Deluxe, the Fitzroy bar where I had been a couple of days earlier. It then all made sense. The house ale was called Blonde Coq (Blonde Bimbo in the other place), they had the same science-lab type of bowls with flavoured vodka above the bar and the place was not so much decorated exactly the same, but you could definitely see that the same designer had been at work. Somewhat proud of my Sherlock-like deduction skills, I finished my beer and headed out the door.
I then set out to find another place I wanted to visit and I walked by it at least 4 times before I finally figured out where it was. The reason for this confusion was, again, the description in my Lonely Planet book, which had labelled it as “the Rock&Roll atmosphere is genuine- it is owned by the drummer of local band Something for Kate.
491. Yellow Bird.
Now, if I think ‘genuine Rock&Roll atmosphere’, I get a picture in my head of a place with flyers and posters in the windows advertising future gigs, band logo stickers on the door, a dark interior with loud guitars blasting from the speakers. Long haired guys, dressed in black, are sitting at the bar drinking lager and Jagermeister, or playing pool or pinball machines. One of the regulars has put his head down on a table, passed out from too much alcohol. What I do not picture, is large floor to ceiling windows, pleasantly lit by coloured lights. Neither did I picture a bar with cheery girls behind it, dressed in colourful tops, mixing fancy drinks, while the diner tables are filled with groups of women dressed in what is probably in fashion at the moment, drinking white wine from a bottle in an ice bucket.
This is the reason I had missed this bar completely the first 3 times I walked past it. I had even looked inside through the window on one occasion. Anyway, this is not to say that it isn’t a pleasant place. It actually was quite nice, and the food looked really tasty. But Genuine Rock&Roll? No.
I had a bottle of Melbourne Bitter and went in search for a bite to eat. I didn’t have to go far, because when I crossed the street, I saw a place with a name so dumb that I just had to go in there.
492. Mad Mex
Yes. Mad Mex. You do not get a price for guessing what kind of food they sell here. I walked over to the counter, ordered a shredded beef burrito and a bottle of Sol and sat down. The burrito was really tasty and I buried it in hot sauce. At only $6,95 this was a real steal, and I enjoyed every bite of it. While I was eating, I noticed that I could make some serious money. All I had to do was smuggle my beer bottle out of the restaurant and return it to a shop in Quebec to pocket the 15 ct. deposit. Now all I have to do is get to Quebec.
I took the tram back to the city centre and made a short stop at my hostel. One of the great things about hostels is that they exist in a sort of parallel time warp to the real world. I got back to my hostel at 11 PM, went to the living room/kitchen area and found this sight: one guy who obviously just woke up was eating breakfast cereal, dressed in his pyjamas. Next to him was a guy who looked like he was planning to go to a corporate board meeting, dressed in a white shirt, black suit trousers and shiny polished shoes. He was also drinking cheap red wine straight from a 1.5 litre bottle. Across from him was a Japanese girl dressed in jogging pants and a pyjama top. She was drinking straight whisky from the bottle and kept urging her friends to go downstairs to the bar to party. A scene like this, you will only encounter in a backpackers hostel. A group of Irish guys then came in with a case of beer and 2 bottles of Bacardi, declaring the party was now officially opened. As I had no intention of spending my last night in Melbourne in the hostel, I finished my last can of VB and headed into town. I spent the rest of the night pub crawling through central Melbourne, and at around 4 AM ended up in the hostel bar, where the party was still in full swing. I had more beer, shots of Jim Beam and then more beer. I don’t remember going to bed but it must have been late. My final day in Melbourne had been an interesting one.
Yummie, VB tinnies.