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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Thursday, 22 August 2002
--> Melbourne, Australia

Like I wrote yesterday, today was going to be my leisure day in Melbourne. It was a beautiful day with lots of sun. After waking up around 10am I had a shower and got down to the café for a sandwich breakfast on the tab.

After this I tied my shoelaces again and got walking. The Hotel Bakpak is situated only two blocks away from the centre grid of Melbourne. I caught the free Circle Tram (2) that rides around this centre grid of the city and exposed me to a Voice that told me about all the things to see and do at every stop. I got off at the other end of town, at Flinders Station and walked through the streets of Melbourne.

It is an amazing place, but I actually walked from one end of the grid to the other in les than thirty minutes. And I did that so incredibly easy, even though the place is speckled with old Victorian buildings, humps of modern concrete and huge high skyscrapers. I never thought that doing something like that in a city as Melbourne would be possible.

And I kept walking, passed all the cinema complexes, through the mall street, across through Chinatown and I ended up in the implausible large shopping complex of Melbourne Central (that’s its name), which simply stretches a few blocks and which is even more simply built around another tall building.

The walk through Melbourne was refreshing and calming, as I did not have to go somewhere to meet my next hosts or something similar today. There was even no media. It has been nicely quiet in Melbourne.

I was just in time back at the hotel in the afternoon. Bad weather had approached the city and it was pouring down rain in the streets. This is where I stayed in my room, working on my laptop, until dinnertime.

I waited for Ed and Hamish to finish their day work at the hotel reception around 7.30pm and then we three headed into town for dinner. I was able to have meals at the hotel café, but for tonight Ed and Hamish were going to treat me on a dinner in Brunswick Street in the Fitzroy suburb.

“Brunswick Street is just like St. Kilda an area in Melbourne which is typically Melbourne,” Ed told me. We arrived on Brunswick Street with a taxi and walk up and down the street, looking for a good place to eat.

Musicians were playing in front of closed shops, there were lots of cafés and pubs which artistic characteristics, where people just lounged around or had drinks. It reminded me of Long Street in Cape Town, of the restaurant strip of Barcelona and the pub life of London’s East End. But this still was Melbourne in all its glory and I loved it too.

We ended up having a scrumptious dinner at Joe’s Garage, a trendy place with very nice waitresses and apparently a great cook. One plate of food was actually already enough, but that cheesecake with that creamy strawberry sauce on top of it in the desert display just looked so amazingly mouth-watering too.

We decided to just take one slice and attack it with three spoons. Maybe we shouldn’t have done that, because our stomachs just cramped a bit when we left the place a couple of hours later.

Ed and Hamish are a fun bunch; I can indeed understand that they can work easily together. I heard lots of fascinating stories about how things go and have happened at the hotel. And of course they were both intrigued by my project. They just could not comprehend that I have managed to make letmestayforaday work and be there with them in Melbourne. “Fascinating!”

And I gave them a taste of how the media has been treating me the last fourteen months, as since the last nine months I have grown into a media-declared celebrity. “So there is a celebrity sitting at our table,” they said.

I spent enough time to make them understand that the declared celebrity is still the same Ramon who started this web project (even though I get email from folks that conclude that I suffer from celebrity-it is, yes sure!). I think it was the fact that I was so much just-Ramon that interested them the most in the entire hyping thing around this project.

After our visit to Joe’s Garage we ended up on the first floor of Bar Open, just across the street. And suddenly we were in an entirely different civilization. In this fragranced small room all sorts of people were sitting and lying around on the carpet floor, some on cushions, some tucked away in old couches. In the corner there was a man with long hair playing this great instrument, which Hamish told me it was a sitar.

I have heard that sitar music before, but never actually heard it play life (or knew how the thing looked like) and the man just played as he was on another planet. A few people behind him were playing the drums and violins. This place was so over-peaceful – it purely struck me. We had a beer as we decided to lounge around here too and I was fascinating by the fact that this artist was simply playing songs of Madonna or Kylie Minogue on his sitar. And it just sounded so different, so far away from Melbourne. I swear, if you’d have dropped me here, I wouldn’t know in which country I was.

We could only handle one beer, as our stomach just would not allow any more content. That dinner was just awesome!

It wasn’t much later we got a taxi back to the hotel. Ed decided to get to his own home from here. Hamish girlfriend Casey was working behind the RooBar in the basement, so that was a reason to at least try one more (small) beer. And that was really enough.

You might easily understand that after this night I’d have another embarrassing sleep-in and simply lounge around and let all the sense of life in Melbourne get through the strains.

Good night Melbourne!

Ramon.