Saturday, January 22, 2011

A warm welcome to Melbourne

A breezy day at the beach in Melbourne --- a nice welcome to Victoria's wonderful "big"  city
The VirginBlue plane trip from Canberra to Melbourne was quick and easy --- what a bright, smiling crew of cabin attendants compared to the bored, "been-working-way-too-many-years-I-hate-this-job-but-I'd-never-be-able-to-find-something-else-that-pays-this-well-so-I'll-hang-on-a-while-longer-but-resent-it-every-day-I-show-up-for-work United crew that brought us over from San Francisco.

Former South Whidbey High School grad --- and former Clinton resident (now a permanent resident of Australia) Anne Thorsen greeted us at the gate (hear you can --- sensibly --- meet and greet passengers as they leave or arrive) with a wonderful smile, energetic spirit, and amazing energy. Our baggage arrived quickly and we were off on a half hour ride into Melbourne a metro area of nearly 4 million people who live in dozens and dozens of very small-town-feel neighborhoods and/or suburbs.

After a whirlwind site-seeing trip, we checked into our very very very (get the idea?) small apartment in the central business district, then left for more of Anne's city-tour...ending up at their place. By amazing coincidence Anne's husband David Bruce pulled into the driveway right behind us..and we spent the next four hours asking questions, swapping stories and enjoying Aussie hospitality which included an amazing spread by Anne and Dave which included a gigantic prawn-fruit appetizer, grilled lamb and mint sausages, grilled kangaroo loin, grilled whole snapper (with lemons, onions and cilantro), potato salad, orange, almond bean and green salad...and, of course, great Australian beer.  And for dessert, Anne made and served one of Australia's favorite desserts: Pavlova . Stuffed, she drove us back to our space -- with the convertible top down -- driving along incredibly busy, bustling streets filled with throngs of weekenders having a late Friday night meal.

The next day Gerry confirmed what he expected: The cold he had caught along the way wasn't getting better. He managed a morning at Queen Vic Market, a brief outing to a park in the afternoon, and a meal at a Chinatown restaurant....but that was it he: He slept all night and until 2 p.m. Saturday in hopes the rest would help him feel better.

Anne --- who smiles like this ALL THE TIME!

David/Dave --- a brilliant man with an amazing sense of humor.

Ann's molded potato salad: with sundried tomatoes, leeks, spinach....very very good

And the fruit-topped melt-in-your-mouth Pavlova

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