Thursday, October 14, 2010

Monday in Melbourne

Monday in Melbourne

After the excitement of the AFL Final on Saturday, I started the Sunday taking a tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a truely magnificent stadium just outside the Central Business District of Melbourne. It was a great tour and took me through the entire stadium. They even let me stand on the pitch!

As the MCG is situated in an area that is full of sporting facilities, among others, the Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Open, the home ground of Collingwood FC and the Olympic pool from the 1956 Olympics, I decided to walk around for a bit. The tennis area was quite interesting. There was a sort of Hall of Fame with busts of Australian tennis greats, the Centre Court and, like at Wimbledon, a shattering of smaller courts and a bunch of normal tennis courts.

To my surprise, I could simply walk into one of the main courts (I think it was court 3 or something) and have a look around for a bit. I even found a tennis ball, which I thought would make a great souvenir so I took it.

I spent the rest of the day walking around central Melbourne and did not visit any new bars. I did have lunch in the open air on the lawn before the Victoria State Library where, I am sort of amused to say, I was able to have the famous Dutch dish of Nasi goreng with saté chicken.
I did not visit any new bars that day, but I did go back to Section8, which was very busy on this Sunny afternoon.

I ordered a beer and looked for a place to sit. I asked a group of guys if there was some space left on their pallets and was invited to sit down. I didn’t want to interfere with their discussion so I set about studying my Lonely Planet guide. As it turns out, the guy sitting next to me was the Melbourne bureau editor for Lonely Planet, which basically meant that he had put my book together. We discussed the book and Melbourne in general and he was so nice to point out a couple of mistakes in the maps and pointed out some cool places to go that hadn’t made the book. I had a good time and then went on my way.

The next morning, Monday, I had a nice souvlaki for breakfast at
481. The Golden Tower.
While this sounds like a token name for a cheesy Chinese restaurant, it was actually more of a diner sort of place. Well, to be completely honest, this place apparently wanted to be everything at once. The walls were filled with a motley collection of sports memorabilia, a portrait of Jimmy Hendrix, 70’s soul records, flags, speakers and souvenir trinkets like boomerangs, pictures of obscure celebrities and other assorted parafernalia. Every table had a small, coin operated 50’s style jukebox. The menu did not show a clear direction either. Among the items I discovered on the menu and in the various coolers and display cases in the place, I found dishes as diverse as hamburgers, souvlaki, chicken saté, spring rolls, chicken wings, sandwiches, curry, Belgian waffels, kebab and pizza. Either way, my souvlaki was good and it came with a bottle of VB so I was a happy man.

I then made my way on the tram to the Fitzroy area of town, as I had been told there were some good bars there. After checking out the neighbourhood for a while, I encountered the first rain of my trip, so I headed across the street to a dishevelled looking place. The sign on the door said
So I decided that I had to go in.

482. Bimbo De Luxe
I didn’t discover the name of this place until I was halfway through my first beer when I found it printed in the corner of a menu. They had a whole ‘Bimbo’ theme going because they had their own ale called ‘Blonde Bimbo’ and a pizza kitchen that was called ‘ La Bimbolini’. Even though the place was not dishevelled at all inside, and actually looked quite nice, I had a good time. The Bimbo ale was excellent so I had another one, because I needed it wash down my $4 pizza. Yes, that’s right, you have read correctly. 4 Australian dollars for a pizza. And I’m not talking some frozen supermarket pizza that has been microwaved and then put in the oven like you often get here in Dublin, I’m talking home made bases, with fresh ingredients, made to order at your wishes. I had the Gorgonzola and Parma ham pizza and it was delicious. And all that.. for 4 dollars.

Bimbo beer and $4 pizza

Alright, before I start to sound like some dodgy guy selling rides at a fun fair, let’s walk across the street. This is where

483. Bar Open
Is situated. If I lived in Melbourne, this would be the place where I spent most of my time. I loved it the second I walked in. It had everything I am looking for in a good bar: a bare concrete floor, couches that were held together by ductape, stickers and graffiti everywhere, a couple of cracked windows, a garden and a bunch of weird regulars. A boy in a Ben Sherman Shirt and a baseball cap was behind the bar reading the paper. I ordered a pint and sat down at the bar while some locals were having a discussion over some bizarre incident that had happened the week before, although I could not make out what exactly had happened. The music was excellent, mostly stuff what you could label as 80’s post punk type of stuff. As it was Monday afternoon and only about 2, it wasn’t exactly packed. I had another beer and went on my way.

Bar Open and the house rules

A little further up the street was a place called
484. Labour in Vain.
Well, a lot of labour certainly had not gone into the decoration of this place. This is your basic beer barn, big, mainly empty room with rag tag dirty carpet on the floor and a pool table. Apparently this place is big when it comes to AFL games. It was a nice enough place, though the beer was somewhat expensive at $9,20 for a pint of Mountain goat ale.

That’s it for now, more on Melbourne soon.


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