Day 148 – Ho Ho Ho

A very full day just came to an end. It’s surprising how much packs into a day when I’m down here. Today I had mid-year conversations with staff from one end of the day to the other. I’d been keeping my notes up-to-date throughout the year, so it hasn’t been too stressful to get everything in order.

Still, by the end of the day my brain did feel a little fried.

And I have come to the conclusion that the rapidly changing weather isn’t helping either. When every day goes through four seasons twice over, a short three day trip starts to feel like I’ve been here for weeks… I haven’t, have I? Please tell me if I’ve lost track of time and I’ve been here for months.

Okay… counting posts… it looks like I’m okay.

Appetizers for Christmas Dinner
Appetizers for Christmas Dinner

This trip is the last one we’ll be seeing all the managers together before Christmas, so we had a little dinner together to celebrate the year. This wasn’t our first trip to the Waterside Hotel in Melbourne, and it’s great that even a second time around it doesn’t disappoint.

I can’t believe I’ve been in my new role for well over a year now; it doesn’t feel like a year. But then, by how much better I am at my job than when I first started, I know it must be true. And I’m still learning more every week. I’ve got myself some good podcasts, and a steady stream of challenges to sharpen my skills on.

Back on 6
Back on 6

But now the day is almost over… and I have another long day ahead of me. Due to circumstance I’ll be taking a late flight for my return trip, so work will finish around 5pm-ish, and then I’ll not get home much before 10pm. I feel tired just thinking about it.

Day 147 – View from the Top

Just a picture post today.
Too tired to arrange words into sentences for fun.

From the Balcony looking North-ish
From the Balcony looking North-ish

It was a nice sunny morning when I woke up.
Only to turn into a chilly cloudy evening.
Passing through a miserably rainy afternoon along the way.

View looking South-ish
View looking South-ish

Melbourne is a meteorologic experience.
A marvel of misaligned weather and clothing.
Impossible to get right.

Day 146 – Camping on 6

Apparently the hotel is fully booked. I checked. I assumed it had something to do with the fact that they have been renovating, but apparently that is on halt over the holiday season as well. So that means all the rooms are actually full. With people. In all of them.

Some part of me wants to go down the hallway and check, but I think I’ll be polite and not disturb the other guests.

I was also told that part of the halt has something to do with the owners being unsure about the renovation. The original décor features lots of rich red carpeting and a certain Victorian sense of style. The renovation has been re-doing rooms in a modern collection of greys and browns, smaller tables, simpler kitchens. Apparently the owners prefer the more traditional look.

I’m not sure I agree either way; I think they should go even further and put different décor in every room. The rooms are already eclectically different in layout. Make it a feature. Make every room special and distinct. But that’s just me.

I have a Different Balcony again
I have a Different Balcony again

So today I find myself on level 6 at the top of the hotel with my donuts and Tonic. I have no internal balcony; I have an external one again. It’s a tall large room, but broken up with some separator walls. Last time I was on level 6 I had one big cave-like room which made the bed feel a lot less cozy than it could be.

Day 91 – Dash Around Melbourne

I earned my dinner by walking my 10k steps around Melbourne this evening. Fittingly, my bracelet buzzed just as I walked back into my hotel room. I checked the Melbourne map in Google before setting off to measure the scale of the CBD, and decided I could do the full width easily for a walk.

I really need to spend some time on a holiday here, because there are so many places that look ideal for the daytime that I’ll never get to on a business trip. Nice parks, just outside the bounds of the CBD, but too far from work to make for an easy trip in a lunch break. Unless I have a really unconscionably long lunch break that is.

I returned with a nice salami pizza that is now gone, a large bottle of pear cider that’ll last me the rest of the evening, and two donuts to try later. I briefly considered the Key Lime Pie donuts, but now that Android 4.4 has been renamed KitKat, I just didn’t see the point.

I think I got a good 5km walk in and now I deserve a rest, before I have to dive into the paperwork to prepare for tomorrow.

Day 58 – Weather and Mooncakes

Today was very full. I woke up at 6:50am from the knock on the door. Breakfast. Early. Nghmf.

On the upside it meant I was well in time for my 8am meeting in the office. On the downside, it was a long long day. By about 4:30pm my brain was trying to tell me the day was supposed to be over.

I managed to squeeze a quick lunch in with my coworkers between 11:30am and noon. Tomorrow we have a slot set aside for the Sherlock Holmes (yes, Peter, I’ll be taking pictures this time!)

Tonight we had dinner somewhere near the big shopping plaza, in some nondescript alley that looked inviting. Very pleasant wait-staff and delicious food. When I got back to the hotel my bracelet told me I hadn’t made 10k steps yet, so I went out for another walk along the river where I took most of my pictures tonight.

Unfortunately it is quite cold out there, so I didn’t get very far before I felt like getting back to my room, to the warmth, to a cup of green tea.

And to this post of course!

Day 57 – The Oddest Hotel

I had enough light this morning to get some good shots of the room that I am in. Some culling was necessary because I had of course not considered all the various mirrors and reflective surfaces in the room, and I doubt anyone out there is waiting for needless shirtless-Jerry pictures.

I think I have mentioned before how this may not be the most modern hotel, but it has an unmistakably interesting atmosphere. It suits me perfectly.

Upon arrival it isn’t entirely clear what you could expect from the hotel. The fountain at the front, and the look of the building try to breathe luxury and atmosphere. The international flags over the entrance scream out tacky and cheesy.

Once inside it luckily leans more towards classy, but in a slightly different era. From the rich red carpets running everywhere, through the solid furniture to the lighting in the hallways could all come out of an Agatha Christie novel if you ask me. Even the occasional sound of screeching trams curving through their iron tracks adds to the illusion.

But then you enter the rooms. And they have clearly been re-purposed from an earlier high-ceilinged life into new hotel-room duties. From the entrance there is a single step down to where the breakfast nook and kitchen are.

But straight ahead there are also four steps up to an intermediate level where the work desk, the coffee table and some comfortable seats are.

And once ready for bed, I need to avail myself of a whole other set of stairs leading to the bedroom/bathroom loft.

Yes, my room has 2 sets of internal stairs.

And then once you fall onto that bed, tired from a hard day worked, you’ll find yourself wondering who decided on the scalloped corrugated iron ceiling pattern. There is a floor right above, and it cannot possibly serve an actual purpose. But it’s the oddest architectural highlight to add to a room.

Still, it all adds to an odd kind of charm.

And a room that is needlessly luxurious for a single traveller.

Day 56 – On The Road Again

And once more I have arrived in Melbourne, safely tucked into a hotel room at the Grand Melbourne. Not as good a view this time, but still, the room is massive as always (photo-rapportage tomorrow). They are now overhauling the existing rooms, so there is a lot of construction going on.

I feel a bit like one of them weird conspiracy-theorists when I arrive.

I go around the room Unplugging All The Devices. This has nothing to do with radiation-whatevers, but more with the fact that most appliances have ridiculously bright leds, mostly blue. They keep me awake when I try to fall asleep. The only one I leave as-is is the tiny light in the smoke detector. I’m assuming it’d be frowned upon if I dismantled that.

I do wonder whether there is perhaps a note on my file that I’m the crazy guy that keeps unplugging the TVs and the clock-radio.

Here are some miscellaneous pictures of my travel.

Day 23 – Rips and Conflagrations

We had plans to go to dinner with the development managers tonight to a chef-teaching-institute, but due to a variety of reasons that ended up falling through. Instead a few of us went for a wander across and along the river. We compared the options along the riverbank; first stop was too pricy, second stop not too inspiring, third stop had three options and proved juuuuust right.

We walked up into the restaurant to get seating, and noticed the specials menu. We read the specials menu. We simply had to eat at this place. For one thing, we had to find out what “Pork Rips” taste like… and what part of the animal they actually might be.

Pork Rips
Pork Rips

And as it turns out the “Pork Rip” is the boniest part of the piggy. And the tastiest part in this case as well.

The ribs weren’t so well done that the meat fell off as soon as I looked at it, but it wasn’t very far off that mark. I had been given a fork and knife, but I don’t believe I did much by the way of cutting. Granted, the knife might not have been sharp enough for anything but mashing, but details, details…

We had some chips and salad for shared sides and that worked out very well.

As in, with room to spare for dessert.

Queue jokes from my friends with regards to my relationship to dessert… it’s okay… I’ll wait right here.

I ended up going for a straightforward tiramisu myself, and Stephen picked something that I don’t believe any of us could have pronounced. I trust it was good because it all disappeared. Hamish couldn’t make up his mind. Hamish opted to request an option that was not on the menu.

Daring move.

But a successful one in this case. He requested half of one dessert as the base with added butterscotch and ice cream from one of the other options. Had I realised that requesting customised desserts was an option at restaurants I would have long-since explored this option in-depth. I shall have to make it a standard part of my dining repertoire and see how far I can take it before the staff objects. I can see an entertaining series of escalating experiments in my future.

Torches along the River
Torches along the River

On a side-note, I have also figured out what’s been causing all this climate change we’ve been hearing so much about. As it turns out Melbourne has decided they have so much natural gas that just to show off they better burn blasts of it along the riverside.

There is a series of torches set up that every hour on the hour go through some random/pre-programmed pattern of fiery blasts. Starting with small gusts of flame to get warmed up…

Mid-summer Heat in Winter
Mid-summer Heat in Winter

Escalating to blasts that made me feel hot enough on my face that it could have been the middle of a summery day rather than the middle of a wintery night. It’s quite spectacular,… and also every-so-slightly indulgent.

Day 21 – Melbourne

I didn’t have the smoothest of flights this time around. No, not turbulence. Well, not in the typical sense of the word… it appears that perhaps somebodies IT systems are not as reliable as they should be.

In my rush to find the quickest way to make it to Melbourne, I totally forgot to take a picture of the queues. I walked straight past the snaking queues in the terminal entrance; there were easily thousands of people in various queues that did not seem to be moving.

I went through security and found the first gate with a near-empty Virgin desk and briefly spoke to a very helpful staffer who directed me to Gate 45 where the Service Desk is. I dutifully followed instructions… and still found myself in a queue with at least 60-70 people in front of me, and it was barely moving.

Not My Original Ticket
Not My Original Ticket

A quick call to the corporate booking agent later though, and they had my original ticket cancelled. I was to take an alternate flight with Qantas. So, from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 I dashed. I arrived with a few minutes to spare before boarding.

After all that I found my way to Melbourne on the same schedule that I had originally planned for, albeit quite a bit sweatier than intended. I’m sure when I get back home my FitBit will have a great story to tell about today.

It also briefly tickled me to think how many stairs one of the FitBits with the altimeters built-in might have thought I had taken after flying. That must easily equate to several weeks’ worth of calories in stair-climbing. Alas, mine doesn’t track that, so I’ll have to limit myself to real exercise only.

My Room on the Corner
My Room on the Corner

Whenever I arrive in Melbourne, I go on a quick shopping trip. I normally don’t find time to have dinner before I get all the way here. From the moment I leave the office at 4pm, get home and ready for the taxi by 5pm, and then taxi-plane-taxi to the hotel, it’s around 9pm and I’m usually starving.

I cannot say that I make the best dinner choices in this state *coughcideranddonutscough*, but once a month after 5 hours of rushing about, I really have little willpower left to do the right thing.

Above is a picture of my room this time around, as seen from street-level outside. One of my evenings this week I’ll blog a post about the hotel, because it has a very quirky out-of-time feel. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to encounter the TARDIS in one of its rooms.

Stow-away Cookies
Stow-away Cookies

And as a final note; it appears someone might have tampered with my luggage between the time I packed it, and when I arrived here because I have no knowledge of the package shown above at all. I will not vouch for the contents (other than to say: nomnomnom).

And now I must go do a little work before I go sleep.

I may have to head in for an 8am start as well! *shudder*