Sunday, March 18, 2012

Australia Trip, Part 2

Another day in Melbourne! I had insisted that the morning not start too early; I was asleep before 9 p.m. and within about five minutes of going to bed--and that never happens. Even tired, however, the jet lag and time change had me awake around 5 a.m. I dozed for a bit and then got up. I think we might have been on time to meet K, which was good, because we'd kept her waiting a bit the afternoon before when I was so tired I couldn't figure out how to plug in my electronics.

This morning, we wandered across the street to find breakfast near Queen Victoria Market. I'm not sure which of several shops we stopped in, but we found one, just open, and went in. I ordered two eggs, toast, and a latte, and a few minutes later, I was rewarded with eggs, yolks in an otherworldly orange-brown and a latte that was frothy and airy and thick and light. This was only the first of many delicious breakfasts. It turns out that no matter what greasy thing you order--fried eggs, french fries--Australia will bring it to you with[edit: it should be WITHOUT!] a pool of oil. And the lattes, the lattes.

At this point, I'm also really bemused; I think it's just little details. The U.S. and Australia have similar cultures with enough differences to be, well, different, and it's somehow weirder than being somewhere that feels wholly foreign.

Queen Victoria Market is an amazing array of food and shopping, to the point that I was quickly overwhelmed. I wasn't really sure what to buy or if to buy, but mostly, I wasn't ready to buy. (I do wish I'd grabbed one of the travel bags I saw branded with defunct airlines.)

After this wander, we wandered toward the Central Business District, passing:

The mint.

A tour bus. The one on the right is the size of the ones we had tickets for. Actually, I'm over on the left, and I think we were trying to take a picture of the shop sign for a place called Pie Face.

Ah, there.

Some fantastic older buildings.

Next, into a shopping gallery:

Under Gog and Magog. My apologies: this is the walking-with-cell-phone photo tour.

Now I wish I'd insisted on exploring this tea shop and bakery place with the most beautiful desserts I'd ever seen, including the Pavlova that I thought I'd be able to find later. Though I'm actually not primarily a chocolate person when it comes to candy, I did enjoy our foray into Haigh's Chocolates, and purchased a few items.

Onward, out of order, to:

I'm not certain, now.

The skydeck, from where one can get an excellent 360-degree view of Melbourne and surrounds.

Around this point, I think we made it to Federation Square (the name of which I didn't recognize on my exit survey, but a place you might have seen if you watched Oprah's Australian tour shows), the waterfront (truly lovely), and some theatres, one where K saw Hugh Jackman before he was superduperfamous.

I believe we rested a bit on a bench, and grabbed something to drink, and I went in search of an ATM. Despite having a debit card sporting international logos, nothing worked. I have receipt upon receipt charging me $3 just to be told my account is empty or inaccessible. I know this isn't true, and I'm only calm about it because I have an envelope of Australian currency (not Austrian, as C received from a bank; spelling does count). I don't have any real reason to use credit at this point, and C has things taken care of, but I'm annoyed, still. What if I wanted to buy, like, a koala? Anyway, I collect a nice pile of ATM receipts as souvenirs.

Next, we took a cruise on the Yarra River, which runs through Melbourne. I think it was this vendor. I confess that I tucked myself in next to the window in the sun and, in a spot where the speakers weren't so good, took the opportunity to tune out a little. I was still really tired (and had that medical issue going on). The captain chatted and the sparse passengers took tea and I took these pictures:

Waiting for the boat to come. I LOVED this waterfront. It was so relaxing and peaceful, even when busy.

Art along the river. Apparently this, and some other art out on a somewhat inaccessible island, has cost a great deal of money.

More of this day in part 2.5...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lucky Leprechaun Book Hop

Edit: never mind. I don't see my blog on the list, my preliminary placeholder post apparently didn't have enough info, my complete post with the books and entry info apparently got unscheduled by Blogger (and it is in such a state of coding issues I can't even work with it, due to whatever issues Blogger has), and I can't get the link list script to work anyway. I'll hold a giveaway later!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dumpling Days by Grace Lin

I didn't realize that Dumpling Days by Grace Lin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) was connected to some of Lin's other books when I got it in ARC form (and at which conference, I forget). It languished in my to-read pile for a bit--not for any reason except a massive sense of disorganization about my reading, which I'm solving through a complete reorganization of my bookshelves.