There is no doubt that Melbourne is a beautiful city! Many of the main roads we were driving on were lined with trees and vegetation. The only unusual part of the drive in Melbourne were the notorious right hand hook turns across the tram lines. Some streets have tramlines that run right up the middle, splitting traffic. Melbourne devised a way where cars that want to turn right across the tracks pull over to the far left of the street and block the traffic going in the perpendicular direction. Once the light turns red, the car is then allowed to turn across their original lane and then across the tracks. Seems complicated but apparently it's managed to help reduce the number of people being hit by the trams.
After parking the car, we walked down to Etihad stadium, only a few blocks downhill. We were going to watch AFL pre-season NAB (National Australia Bank) Cup matches between Geelong, St. Kilda, and Sydney. Since these matches were pre-season, and really didn't count, the matches were short (only two 20 minute halves). The AFL doesn't host back-to-back games between three teams during the regular season either but for these matches it was appropriate.
Our seats were at midfield and only about 20 or so meters from the field on the second level. I couldn’t believe how close we were to the action! The seats were around $35 but may have cost as much as $100 back home if it had been an NFL match. Unfortunately, I had no idea who anyone was or what position each player was playing but the rules were simple and easy to learn, especially having seen a few games on the plane over and on television these past few weeks!
We were late to the first match, between St. Kilda and Sydney. St. Kilda didn't look that great and lost by 30 or so points. I was quite impressed with the players. Each team had 18 men on the field and a couple runners, who were responsible for relaying messages from the bench to the players. It seemed like the players kept running and running without stopping for much of the match. It was clear to me that this sport wouldn't be suited for NFL lineman. Many of the players were average in height to tall, and I don't think any of them were over 90 kgs. They definitely looked like they were trained to run endurance races that involved beating the crap out of the competitors.
After a short intermission and a break for some food, the games resumed, this time it was Sydney playing Geelong, the team Sheryl was supporting. Geelong managed to take the lead quickly and never let it go! I was quite impressed with the play, and the fact that Sydney put it all on the field for two straight matches. I was wondering what St. Kilda was doing in the locker room, waiting for their turn at Geelong.
Now, I had seen this style of play the weekend prior when three teams were playing in the first round of the NAB cup, and had seen each team win one game, and lose the other. I didn’t think I would see it Friday, since Geelong looked great and they had beaten the team that killed St. Kilda by 30. The final game seemed to be much quicker than the rest and before I knew it, the match was over! St. Kilda had won, kicking multiple super-goals. Super-goals only apply during the pre-season games and are worth 9 points. The issue is that the player needs to kick the ball through goal from the 50-meter mark. I had seen this on television but I was more excited that I was able to see one live!
After the matches, Sheryl and I followed the wave of people from the stadium up the hill from Etihad. We walked back to the car to collect our overnight stuff and headed a few blocks for our hotel for the night. It was a fantastic day in a beautiful city!
We woke up early the next morning and headed down the street to have some coffee and a quick breakfast. I had a coffee and a sausage roll; I’ve become very fond of these since I arrived. After a quick eat, we made our way back to the car and headed to Box Hill, where my host’s son, David, was moving into his new home while going to University.
I helped with the move in, since I would be staying there that night, and was impressed with how nice the house was, especially for a university student! I guess I’m just used to the junk holes in Oxford. The house in Box Hill was 2 kilometers from the Metro station and just around the corner from the main road; I think the location was fantastic for David. I think it’s also nice that he’s not right on top of the campus, since it is a 20-minute train ride to get to class.
After a trip to the supermarket and a local restaurant for tea, we changed and took a cab into the city. Our plan was to go to a rooftop bar to see some of David’s friends. Unfortunately, even in the 35-degree weather, we weren’t allowed into the bar with shorts. Are you kidding me? We decided to walk down to the casino along the river. On the way, we stopped for some pizza.
The casino, apparently with the largest in the southern hemisphere, was beautiful! I’m not much into gambling so I just watched at the black jack table. It got late really fast so we decided to head back to the house for the night. To get back we decided to take the Metro and then walk the 2 km back to David’s house. Not bad, and we managed to spot a possum along the walk.
The next day, we woke up and hung out for most of the day. We left in the afternoon to take the Metro into the city so I could take the train back to Bairnsdale. The train back to Bairnsdale left the city at 6:30, and I wasn’t supposed to arrive at the end of the line until 10. My ticket was right next to the window and unfortunately I had to sit next to someone; the seats were small. Thankfully, the train wasn’t full so the guy next to me moved to an empty seat across the aisle. I’m so glad!
The beginning hour of the trip took me throughout the suburbs of Melbourne. We went through a few places that I had recognized, most notably, Drouin, where my student teaching supervisor is from. We also passed through Traralgon and Sale, two larger towns along the way. By the time we arrived in Bairnsdale at 10, the last stop on the line, I was one of only a few who had started out on the train at Flinders Street (only one stop from Southern Cross, the main train station of Melbourne).
Sheryl picked me up at the station and took me home. I was so pooped and fell asleep soon after coming back! I was happy that I didn’t have class until fourth period today so I was able to get back into the swing of things in the morning, by planning a few of the week’s lessons.
I have a feeling like this week is going to be a long one but I have next week to look forward to! Next Friday, I will be heading back to Melbourne to take my students in “Animal Inside” to go to the zoo! I am really thrilled! The following Monday is a holiday in Victoria and the following day is a professional development day at school.
Tomorrow is bowls night and after the big win last week, I’m feeling pretty confident. With a win tomorrow, the team is headed into the Kryptonite divisional Grand Final. The Kryptonite division is for the teams that couldn’t make it to the Gold, Silver, or Bronze divisional championship rounds! I reckon it should have been the best division to be in! It’s never bad to be on Superman’s side!
I wish I could write more tonight but I’m ready to go to bed and need to do some more work before school tomorrow.