I just submitted this to the Strib, but I'm posting it here to enlist the help of the universe and cyberspace to get it published!
My husband, Patrick, and I had just arrived in
Our friends had a natty little apartment across from the boardwalk, on the wide mouth of
Because it was early June – the beginning of winter Down Under – the tourist count was as low as the sun; the days were short and the shadows long. It was jacket weather, high 60s, yet locals were clad in coats and scarves, and some even wore gloves. Walking to the next tram stop, the food stand Lord of the Fries caught my eye. French fries are my weakness, especially those “tossed with sea salt” so we stopped and ordered a cone-full. On the menu board there was a long list of sauces in which to dip the fries: “Belgian - our famous euro-mayo; Indian - spicy mango chutney, sour cream; Vietnamese - thick sweet chili mayo; Thai - golden satay sauce; Aussie - rich tomato sauce, vinegar; American - southern bbq sauce.” “American-style bbq sauce” was an everyday condiment here, as would learn, even as a topping for eggs.
We waited for the
The City Circle, which runs in a rectangle around the CBD, would take us past many of Melbourne’s notable locales, including the serene Fitzroy Gardens, to the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, the Queen Victoria Market. We planned to buy the obligatory souvenirs to bring home to family and friends. Along with T-shirts, hats and key chains embroidered with “
The Vic Market takes up 17 acres on the edge of the CBD. The market may be over 200 years old, having grown up along with
We bought the didgeridoo from a stall run by two Aboriginal men. The older, lankier man sported cowboy boots and an Elvis pompadour and claimed to be a singer/songwriter of country music. We declined the offer to buy his CD and asked to examine his collection of didgeridoos. He explained that the instruments, some of which look like a giant’s walking stick, are naturally hollowed out by termites before being carved and painted. To help us decide which one to buy, Elvis “played” a few of the didgis to demonstrate their unique tones, treating us to that eerie serenade that falls between a sustained hum and a groan.
Shopping made us hungry so we headed toward the deli stands. Our friends had recommended a particular ethnic lunch-time favorite, borek, a Turkish bread roll-up stuffed with a savory ground of lamb, cheese and spices. That’s what I decided on, while Pat chose a crusty French bread sandwich of bratwurst and onions. We sat in the sun at a ubiquitous sidewalk table and traded bites of our satisfying fare, quenching our thirst with cold beer. Erected near the curb was a six-feet-high glass wall, allowing us to feel a part of the bustling street scene without having to consume exhaust from the passing cars.