It was finally the day I had to leave my little paradise holiday and return to real life -At least that’s what my real life is – Travelling the world, having a laugh and doing things you normally only dream about!! After a nice lie in I packed my gear, said goodbye to my Spanish room-mates (Its just about the only time they have spoken to me anyway and went to pay my bill in the reception. I saw Sanna, who is one of the ladies who works the bar/reception and activities and said my goodbyes. She and most of the staff know me by name now and she and the rest of the staff has made me and everyone else here really welcome this last week.
I sat in the TV room for a bit with the chef watching a bad U.S. Made for TV movie until it was nearly time for the bus. One last look at the beach and I was off. The bus arrived on time and had one free seat which I took, just in front of a couple from Hong Kong who were here visiting their daughter and seemed to have a great life. The bus journey was uneventful except for a little girl being sick and the bus conductor refusing to drive any further until the dad had cleaned up the sick wit a mop. It was a bit like being back at school, with a few shouts of derision from other passengers until it was cleaned up and we continued on.
We arrived at the airport on time and I then had a 3 hour wait till my flight to Melbourne. There was plenty to do though and the time flew by as I topped up my Australian mobile online and had a look around the shops.
Fiji has really surprised me – It is a modern country with really lovely overly friendly people and is really cheap. The weather is great - even when it rains and I cant recommend it highly enough to anyone. I intend to come back some day and explore a bit more, but for now I said my goodbyes and we took off, leaving Fiji behind and heading back to Australia.
The 5 hour flight was a breeze as I watched a bit of TV, slept and chatted with a dude from New Zealand who was heading to Melbourne for the Grand Prix as well. Once we landed on time the process of getting back into Australia was a bit strung out – Fill n form – One person checks form and ID then writes a secret letter onto the form (I got a W.) Then queue up again and get bags. After getting bags, a 2nd person reads the secret letter and directs you towards one of 6 'corridors', separated by pull out dividers that you always get in the airports. At the end of that queue a 3rd person re-checks your secret code and then you put your stuff through an x-ray machine. The only problem with all that is the queues all seem to do the same thing – an X-ray machine at the end! Why can we just queue once and lob our stuff through the machine without going through all the palaver beforehand!?
Anyway, after that a quick sky-bus into town and a tram to St Kilda followed, which dropped me just a short walk from the Hostel. The Ritz. This isn’t as posh as it sounds as its an old Hotel that has been transformed into an old Hostel, but its comfortable enough, except for the live band and nightclub that goes on until 3am downstairs – but unfortunately that’s pretty much expected from a Hostel in a city nowadays. I lay in my bed wishing to be back on the shore of some beautiful lake in New Zealand, with nothing more to worry about than the wind and rain.
After a couple of hour sleep I was up at 8am and ready to get going to collect my race tickets and then spend the day in Albert Park, watching the build up to and then the qualifying for the 1st Grand Prix of the year.
Saturday was a long day - Not least because i didn't get much sleep after the pub downstairs from the hostel had loud music playing till 3am!!
It was a good day however as I spent most of the day wandering around the whole of the circuit and areas around the circuit at the grand prix. There was so much to do that there was no way that anyone could do it all. Fun fair rides, classic cars to look at, bars, autograph signings, helicopter displays and about 12 different kinds of car races on the track including the F1 practice and qualifying. It was a very busy day and I enjoyed it all - except for the cold weather, which was a bit if a shock after a week on the beach in Fiji.
After the F1 qualifying I went and had a beer in the pub under the hostel and got chatting with Craig and Tony - 2 guys who were watching the Aussie Rules football and introduced me to the rules and scoring. Craig is an Aussie through and through, but Tony is a Chelsea fan from London, so we had a bit of banter about real football before I had to leave to go and see Jennifer Parsonage - to pick up my credit card and phone cover that she had kindly had sent to her house for me. Unfortunately she had forgotten to take my package to work, so I arranged to meet her on Sunday morning instead. I went home and had an early night, even managing to sleep with the noise of the nightclub downstairs again.
I got a good nights sleep and was up at 9.30am on Sunday and after a shower I started towards Jennifer Parsonages house, but she called as I waited for a tram and said she would meet me as she was going out for Breakfast. 10 minutes late she turned up dropped off my stuff and headed off. It was great to finally have a decent cover for my phone after losing the old one 6 weeks ago in wellington. I then headed for the grand prix and after getting in I found a great spot by turn 9, by a good corner with a great view and I spent the next 6 hours waiting for the race to start. It was a lovely day with some great races before the F1, including the V8'S that crashed right in front of us!
The F1 race was also good, won by Sebastien Vettel, but the whole weekend was really worthwhile and I am so Glad I cam back to Melbourne for it. At the end of the race we all piled onto the track and I wandered back toward the pit straight where I got a good few photos and took some for a few other people too. The officials were already taking the fences down only an hour after the race, which was good to see, but I was hungry so I went for some dinner and a couple of beers before a reasonably early night
The last day in melbourne was a strange one – I woke up really early after a great nights sleep even though the music was blaring out again. I decided to get up and went for a walk around St Kilda and down to the beach where the sun was just rising. It was a chilly but lovely day, so after a wander around and a phone call home I went back to the Hostel, showered packed my stuff and went into the city to have a look around. My flight wasn't till late afternoon so I spent the morning looking around places I hadn't yet been like the Etihad stadium and the docklands, until I caught my skybus to the airport about 3pm. I arrived at the airport to find out my flight was delayed by 2 hours till 7.55pm, so I spent most of the afternoon messing around on the computer in the airport sorting out a few files until the flight eventually took off.