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I’m sitting at the Melbourne Airport waiting for the plane that will (sadly) take me away from Australia and back to China. I have to tell you, guys, I really like these hours before the flight, when the frustration of queuing up and the check-in procedures are over, your hands free of the luggage. Sitting in the lounge, with just a book and a bottle of water, my passport stamped so there’s no going back: things are beyond my control and all I have to do is to let myself get carried away, off on a new adventure. Apart from one bother, which is the air conditioning (I really, really hate it. Give me a window any time), I don’t even mind the cramped leg space, the bad food and the jet lag. I’m flying over thousands of kilometres, I’m supposed to be tired! Travelling for me is all about long hours, uncomfortable sleep and getting cranky: in this age of jets and super-sonic speeds this is what helps me remember about the real vastness of our global village.

Having said all that, this time I’d gladly pass on the pleasures of the journey and stay put. This is the saddest I’ve ever felt about my holidays being over. To put it simply: I’ve fallen in love with this country, this city and these people. For the last two days I’ve been thinking: my visa allows me to stay here for at least three months! Why not do it? Why should I go back? On the way to the airport every time my friend Johnny (don’t worry, I secured permission to write about him) was starting to panic that he took the wrong turn I was beginning to entertain a hope that we’d get terribly lost and I’d miss my flight. Humph. I blame Australian road signs system for thwarting that plan.

Anyway, all it means for you, my dear Readers, is that for the next few weeks I’ll continue to pepper you with stories of my antipodean trip, before I move back to the more familiar ground of Chinese absurdities. The last post was way crazily long, so this time I’ll try to divide the whole into installments. Prepare for a lot of sloppiness as most of the stories will be ones of overwhelming hospitality that left me speechless. Don’t prepare for good pictures and geographical range: it was more of a holiday chill-out trip than a real journey and I just let myself go with the flow of things, which means that I mostly stayed around Melbourne bumping into crazy people. So no Sydney Opera House, no Byron Bay, no Golden Coast. And even around Melbourne itself: so many things I didn’t have time (or strength) to go and explore! Well, leaves a lot of space to plan for the next time!

And, so before I’m done with this introductory post, here’s some snaps to get you in the mood (I mean, I’ll choose them and post everything when I finish editing my photos and when I get to an internet connection I don’t have to pay extra for, which will be sometime over the next few days, but that’s not the point).

Colour coordination - lovely!

Little houses in the Fitzroy Precinct: I fell in love with them and their little front gardens. I’d move into any one of them without a second thought. Absolutely adorable! And the area is fantastic: twenty minutes on foot from the strict city centre and it feels like a small town.

Didn't noticed the hugging ladies until after I uploaded my photos. Lovely detail, eh?

I still don't know what they sell at that shop, but it looks so... cheerful!

Brunswick Street, where I was staying at Johnny and his flatmate R.’s (their apartment building has a swimming pool, a hot tub and a sauna in the garden! Is this fair, I ask you!). It’s a fantastic place, full of little pubs and cafes and quirky little shops that you could just explore all day long, and an occasional hippie hobo who’ll smile at you with eyes betraying the influence of some herbal substances. A very inspiring place, full of weird clothes, strange artwork and animal shaped calendars; just makes you think “I could do this. I could start a small random business, selling artistic socks or whatever,and make a living out of it!”. Brilliant.

Brilliant street art on every step!

Bebida Cafe, where J. had a gig on my last night. Wicked food!

I don't know how they do it, but they should have a branch in every city, town and village of the world!

Smith Street, parallel to Brunswick, is more or less the same. Between the two there are small alleys where nothing happens and everything’s quiet, and then within a few minutes you can jump into the centre of things, grab a stubby (or five) of Little Creatures, drop by a jam session or an open mic night and finish off after midnight with a terrific souvlaki or a slice of pizza sold to you by an old Italian.

The lovely coffee shop downstairs from where I stayed. If I could only spend my life hanging out in places like this...!

Another crafty-cute artwork posing as an entrance to a shop

Okay, that will be it. It’s almost boarding time. I’ll switch off my laptop now and maybe start writing another post on board.