Alex's and Andrew's Awesome Aussie Adventures, Melbourne

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Internet and such have been limited for me...even now, I'm dealing with a closed internet cafe (I paid in advance to use their wireless from the car outside...).  And I only managed this one because I was too busy this morning to make it to the afternoon tour I wanted (still will have to drive a bit tonight for tomorrow's fun, but figured I should check in while I have the chance).  So I'll keep this on the shorter side and let the pictures do most of the talking.  This is still just the end of Australia (New Zealand will have to wait some, although I'm getting less pictures and more stories there).

But Melbourne started with a visit to Rachel's house and some fun with Charlotte (and Rachel, Brian and Olga).  A very nice (and large) house only a short drive outside the city.

After that, we were meant to go boating but the weather (wind) didn't cooperate.  So, instead, we went back to hang out at Brian and Olga's house (Casey came along as well).  Had the tasty sandwiches originally intended for the boat and also threw together some awesome salami, serrano ham, cheese, olive, and onion pizzas (I hope I'm not forgetting too much...was a tomato base on pita breads roasted in the oven).  All while brewing up some medivka (sadly, it doesn't turn out nearly as well when you can't get the grain alcohol...or, at least, the recipe requires more modification than I tried this time).  Fun times (although not many pictures...).

The next day was more conducive to boating (although colder).  Brian took us on an epic tour through the Melbourne harbor and all the way up the Yarra river.  Lots of great views.  Highlights included greetings from the many friendly Melbournites along the river, an introduction to art appreciation with Brian and Alex (they spent most of the 5 minutes looking at the one sculpture complaining about it being called art...while not realizing they'd spent 4 more minutes discussing the piece than they had when last looking at a Picasso or Monet or similar, and probably studying it in more depth), the huge cargo ship (it's somewhat scary to think just how big they really are), and the constant reminders that the Melbourne city council feels you should travel more slowly than a duck on the river (5 knots...technically faster than a duck, but it sometimes doesn't feel that way:)).

After the boat tour, we rejoined Olga (who had been taking care of Charlotte all day) for some more snacks (and medivka).  Then some more fun when Rachel came to pick Charlotte up at the end of the night.  Good times!

The next day, we had a little free time in the morning so went out to the RAAF Museum in Point Cook.  Supposedly the longest continuously operating air base in the world.  And Alex got the picture he had always dreamed of (the two bomb configurations).

After that, Alex and I split up.  Alex joined Brian and Olga for a nice dinner (you'd have to ask one of them where they went, but Casey assures me it is a nice place).  I went with Casey and Bobby to the Eureka Skydeck (lookout point on the 88th floor in downtown Melbourne, and even managed to get a photo of Casey and Bobby in front of their currently under construction condo...from way up), the casino (where Casey ran into her favorite football star, who was gracious enough to have his picture taken with her), and finally the excellent Spanish tapas restaurant, Movida (too busy eating to take photos of everything...but usually remembered right after finishing a dish that we hadn't taken a photo yet...luckily the next dish sometimes showed up right after...9 different tastes of Spanish delight).

The last night (Sunday), Olga cooked up a feast!  We were also joined by some close family friends (who regaled us with stories of Lesyk's epic dancing with a magic mug of beer in each hand at Rachel's wedding ).  At the end, someone even managed to convince Casey that it was a good idea to cut my hair and convinced me to sit still long enough for it to happen.  Alex took some pictures...but I think his hands were shaking so much from joy that most of them came out extremely blurry.  Luckily, I can choose which photos to send and the "silly" group photo gave the perfect opportunity to hide the new do!

At the end of the night, Casey and Bobby drove us back to our hotel with a brief stop at the construction site of their soon-to-be-new home.  Quite nice location, although we left a bit late to get any great photos.  Sorry!

And that's that...  I've forgotten/skipped a lot, but an awesome trip that I hope you've enjoyed hearing about.  I'll send an update about New Zealand when I get another chance but, as a small preview, I'll leave you with a simple comment.  Peter Jackson didn't do this country justice (like the Lord of the Rings movies).

P.S.  This story isn't entirely the internet at the cafe cut off before I could send it and so I'll actually hit the send button two days later....

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