Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spring in Melbourne

Elephants at the Melbourne Zoo

This week the warm, spring weather continued in Melbourne. Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, we went to St. Kilda beach, just outside of Melbourne. We had visited the area shortly after we arrived in Melbourne, back in July, which would have been winter. Needless to say this visit was much different. The beach was full of people laying out, walking, eating or riding bikes. The city definitely came alive with the signs of spring. We had a great time just relaxing in the sun and playing games on the beach. Unfortunately the water was still too cold to go for a swim, but we were brave enough to dip our toes. As the sun went down we decided to explore the town of St. Kilda. We ventured to Luna Park, a small amusement park close to the beach. The rides were pretty similar to those in the states, like the “pirate ship.” The smells of amusement park food were too much, so some of us just had to give in to a warm, jam filled doughnut. After leaving the park we continued to explore, walking down some of the main streets of St. Kilda. The town was bustling with people out eating and drinking. So many restaurants had outside seating with tables along the sidewalk. The smells were making everyone hungry so we decided to stop somewhere ourselves. We found this really interesting and small restaurant called Lentil as Anything. It was strictly vegetarian and vegan, with a small but delicious menu. What made this place so different was the pricing…there was none. The restaurant truly operates on the generosity of others. The menu says to pay whatever you feel the meal was worth. The restaurant started out as a hang out for local artists and musicians. Sometimes, money was low, but the restaurant provided them with food, telling them to pay whatever they could at the time. When weeks were good, people would often pay more in order to compensate for previous weeks. I couldn’t believe it. I never heard of anything like that in the States, nor am I sure if something like that would work. The food was delicious too! It was a very eclectic place and somewhere slightly off the beaten path. It still had a real sense of community and tourists were not in sight!

Unfortunately Saturday’s weather was not as nice, but we had a trip planned to the Melbourne Zoo. It was a lot of fun, considering the last time I went to a zoo was about ten years ago. The best part was that a baby elephant had just been born in September, so we were able to see it. He was so precious, and seemed so small compared to his mother. As they were eating, the baby got in the mother’s way, but she just pushed him away with her trunk and he clumsily moved to the side. It was pretty funny to watch the dynamics between the baby and the mother. We also were able to see a silverback gorilla. He was so big, and slightly intimidating. The orangutans were also really cool, swinging from rope to rope and just hanging by their arms as if it were nothing. I really felt like a little kid again, being so fascinated by all the animals.

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