Another in our OBT series, coming to you from Melbourne Australia as part of our roving retirement.
For years, working in a sales organization focused me on one thing: Hitting Quota. In sales, hitting quota means you met your sales goal and that was the highlight of any year as it brings the possibility of greater compensation and recognition.
Running into Friends
Over the years, I frequently and unexpectedly run into friends and colleagues while traveling. It happened on planes, trains, and busses. In ski chalets and resort pools. It could happen anywhere. I came to expect the chance meetings and I referred to them as my travel quota. When I would return from a business trip, I would tell Diana, “I hit my quota” and then explain to whom I had encountered. The biggest coincidence occurred on a Swiss train when I learned from someone I barely knew that a close friend was getting married. So, I sent my friend a postcard:
As such, it was not unusual to run into friends at an animal park in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Strictly speaking, Josh saw them first, but I will still count it for me. After briefly saying hi, we learned we were all headed to Melbourne the next day. We described our plan to see the Fairy Penguins and they told us of their plans to go to an Aussie Football game. We wound up having dinner together and running into them at the penguins and the football game, with no prior arrangement. I would say our collective experiences were the better for it. I look forward to more chance encounters as our trip goes on.
Melbourne Fairy Penguins
A significant reason we chose to go to Melbourne was to see the Fairy Penguins again. We caught them on our honeymoon and we thought they were cool enough to share with the kids. Although the penguins hadn’t changed, there was a larger crowd and more tourists blatantly ignoring the rules for no photos (one of my pet peeves). Still, it was entertaining to see the penguins waddle up to their burrows. Apparently, they don’t sleep much on land. In fact, they can spend over 3 weeks at sea, sleeping in the ocean for a few minutes at a time. It doesn’t sound fun to me. At the penguins, we had to buy 4 ponchos. They made the penguin viewing and the football game much more pleasant.
What a hoot. Despite the rain, 35,000+ fans came out to support one of the nine local (Melbourne) professional Aussie Football clubs against the Sydney Giants. Being a Bay Area native, I wanted to support the Giants, but we were seated with a boisterous bunch of Richmond Tigers fans, so I decided it would be more fun to go with the locals. Aussie Football is a mix between (mostly) soccer and American Football, and its creation dates back to college students in the 1850s. Movement is pretty constant until there is a score, and scoring happens pretty frequently, so there are many opportunities to celebrate with your favorite beverage. What could be better?
The Old Gaol
Dating to the early years of the colony, the Old Melbourne Gaol (pronounced jail) presents criminal and rehabilitation history, including its role in the hanging of Ned Kelly, an Australian version of Jesse James, only Ned was arguably more popular and more successful, until the end, of course. Placards also describe hangmen, who were convicts paid to do the deed. Sometimes, the police would arrest one of the town drunks so that he would be available to perform a hanging. Hangmen had to disguise themselves to prevent retribution and several ultimately committed suicide. During WW2, the Gaol was used as a military prison, mostly for AWOL personnel. Notably, an American soldier stationed nearby was hanged for killing prostitutes.
Food in Melbourne
Burgers, meat pies, schnitzel, and fish-n-chips everywhere, and a strong barista culture. That is my summary of Aussie food. There are a decent variety of Greek, Malay, Indian and other ethnic foods available also. Our best meal was Thai, boding well for our upcoming time there. Pricing was quite reasonable, perhaps because of the exchange rate. The boys got a $10 magnum of white wine at Queen Victoria Market, which they proceeded to imbibe quickly before the game. Sadly, we didn’t get much fine Aussie wine. When we met our friends at a European restaurant, no domestic wine was available. So, we had a competition between a Cote de Rhone and an Italian Nero D’Avola. Most favored France, but Italy garnered one vote. I think more boots on the ground investigation is warranted.
Saying Goodbye to TJ
Diana, Josh and I were headed to Japan and TJ headed off to Bali. We won’t see him until Christmas, so Diana was a little teary-eyed. We get some solace knowing we are all headed off to new adventures.