This is probably because, while in Melbourne, all I heard was how good public transport was there. It was clean. It ran on time. It didn't skip stations. It was the kind of place Jesus would be born, if indeed, Jesus were to be born. In contrast, an elderly women with dementia stood on Central, in Sydney, screamed "Fuck you!" repeatedly, then called me Robert, and asked me from which part of the Armed Forces had I come from. Moments later, she was back screaming "Fucking cunts!" along the platform and carriage.
The trip started off on an odd note, when I arrive in Melbourne, but my bag did not. Instead, it had been replaced with a bag of similar colour that was filled with Richard Marx cds. I'm not making this shit up, I'll have you know. I couldn't. I hadn't thought of Richard Marx for fucking years, until the zipper teeth parted and his pouting Richard Marx face was revealed. I'm not talking one cd, either, I'll have you know. There were, like, four or five, in addition to some Elton John, a lady Remington, and a nasty aquarmine towel.
I stood there, looking into the bag, and the Virgin Blue employee said, "Are you sure these aren't yours?"
"That's Richard Marx," I replied.
"Who has that much Richard Marx?"
"So," she said, slowly, "I guess this isn't yours."
Here's a hint for people: if your bag is lost, expect it to be rummaged through by people. My bag, which in reality had gone to Brisbane (it knows how much I hate Brisbane in Summer and wanted to bring back that sunny taint with it) came back with a fresh mouth wash smell to it. The previously nicely secured mouth wash had been emptied and the lid reattached and one of my shirts is minty fresh now.
Eventually, after it occurred to everyone that I was not the owner of Richard Marx's album collection, I was sent on my way without any clothes. It would show up later that night, but in the mean time, I kept an eye on the cheap clothes stores (Best and Less and so forth) as I strolled round Melbourne, and tried to remember the name of expensive designers I don't buy so I could scam more money if my bag didn't show. However, it did, and the moment it returned it brought horrible sun and I eventually got sun burnt, though I have someone I can blame for that. She should be pleased I didn't make her lick my burnt head until it got better...
Maybe something else will be arranged.
I spent a lot of time traveling down the alleys of Melbourne, this time. I was looking for a bar called the Croft Institute, which was explained as, "It's in the back of this alley." It's hard to ignore such a shiny endorsement, and it became even more interesting when nobody could direct me to it. Left to my own devices, my friend and I instead found various dubious things going on in alleys (none of which were dubiously inviting), the 'discreet' entrances to Club Xs, which after about the third or fourth sign, you begin to wonder if one city really needs that many Club Xs (or that many Adult and X-Rated Bookshops), and a gay bar. It was the nicest of the things we found in alleys, but not what we were looking for. Indeed, I'd almost given up on finding this until we stumbled on a guy (who, while not in the gay bar, worked at another bar) who directed us to it with the directions, "It's at the end of the Alley of Death, basically."
Which, indeed, it was.**
The Croft Institute, which is a really tiny bar fashioned out in a medical scene theme, is located at the end of the Alley of Death, found in Chinatown. The alley, a long, twisting, narrow thing is more inviting in the day than it is in the night, which is where I first saw it at one in the morning, and had to navigate my way through a wall of garbage bins, empty bottles, tossed food, that alley smell, and shadowy corners covered in graffiti. The patrons are (well, when I was there) a bit on the ordinary side, but maybe the truth is no one can really equal the kind of person you think should be in a bar that is found at the end of such an alley.
Anyhow, outside seeing Melbourne's alleys, I caught up with the lovely Tess. We watched the film Steamboy, which is very pretty and has lots of cool steampunk inventions in it, but is quite skint on plot (and which is really not that surprising since it was made by the guy who did Akira, a film that didn't make a whole lot of sense) and ends with a strange credit sequence that will leave you thinking that perhaps, really, there was a bit more plot for this film than what actually made it onto the screen. It's a shame she wasn't round later to stop the ordering of spicy fish, which, really, needed someone to say, "That's a lot of fucking chili."*** But still, it was good to see her, even if she did pass on the glass elevator ride. The equally lovely Kirsten, however, did not, and we ignored the stairs of a business suited woman who watched us with a bemused expression as we rode up to the sixteenth floor and then back down on some very fast glass elevators for that rush of vertigo. It doesn't sound like much, but it's good for a laugh, and comes with huge monster mobiles that swim as you pass by. Anyhow, hanging with Kirsten was good, and showed me some cool little places that I'd missed because they weren't in alleys, and I in turn took her up the Alley of Death.
The only thing of extra thing to note is that I found myself a copy of Pio's 24 Hours, which is excellent. A huge, chunky thing, I used it to beat small children who made sound.
* CityRail, and not, for some dumb reason, StateRail, which I called it in my last post. The word you're looking for is "Stupid".
** the actual lane is called Croft Lane.
*** It was a fuck load of chili. I was just too white for that much chili.
And, while I was gone, people passed through from Hong Kong, the American Military, Greece, the UK, the Netherlands, the US Education System (I love how the military and education system are noted as different bodies from the United States, which is also listed--just makes me laugh) and Saudi Arabia. In case you're curious about these things.