museum

Melbourne Trip

Posted on April 29, 2018

Got it in two.

So I went to Melbourne for a few days with R, J & T to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra perform with Joe Hasiashi, the music of Studio Ghibli films. Here’s what happened.

Thursday

Started the trip with a delayed flight, causing our arrival in Melbourne to be around 8:30pm. We caught a bus into the city and walked the rest of the way to our apartment, where we met up with T who had already checked in.

A quick rest to settle in, before heading downstairs to grab some pizzas for dinner at Roza’s (tandoori chicken was legit).

Friday

Friday night was the concert, so we had the day to explore and have fun. We had a good sleep, and took our time in the morning. We had decided to see a movie that day, so booked the tickets online at the cinema in the Crown, and left around midday.

We saw the new Avenger’s Infinity War movie, and opted to see it in a Vmax theatre. Spacious, comfortable seating, huge screen, Dolby Atmos sound system – definitely should be the standard for cinema experiences. The movie itself was good, albeit a bit confusing because I’ve missed a lot of the previous Marvel movies. I don’t even want to know what the budget for that movie was…

After the movie, we walked around through the city, seeing the different shops and restaurants around, before deciding to stop to eat at Betty’s Burgers. They make a pretty delicious burger. And they have some crazy cool desserts too.

A bit more of a wander, before heading back to the apartment to get ready for the concert. Once we were suitably fancied-up, we walked to the venue and eagerly took our seats. Then this happened for two hours.

It was a very special night. Joe Hasiashi seems like such a sweet old man. Hearing the music of the films played live with a big orchestra (not as big as shown in the video mind you) was such a treat. Made me want to watch all those films again.

But the night was not over yet! From the venue, we walked to the Crown and went into the casino. I got to watch R&J lose some money, despite my best button-pressing efforts. T had to head back early, so I opted to go too while R&J stayed a bit longer to meet up with J (okay this started as laziness, but now it’s just confusing… too late to go back now).

If you haven’t noticed by this point, while I did bring my camera to Melbourne with me, I hadn’t taken it out yet as I don’t have my camera bag and would have to carry it everywhere with me. But luckily, we had our whole Saturday with no plans, so I decided to make up for lost photos then. Speaking of which…

Saturday

Another late start this morning, as we had had a late night, and were in no rush to get anywhere. We had some breakfast at the apartment (the classic Nutella on toast), before heading out with some loose ideas of what we wanted to see. Camera in hand, we ventured across the river and started by ducking into a church for a quick look.

Then we crossed the street to go into one of the free galleries they had running, which was all about technology, past and present. They had exhibits related to film, animation, sound, the internet, video games, television and the like, a lot of it interactive. The games area was pretty dope.

After exploring the exhibition, and watching a bit of the experimental film they had running next-door, we headed off down Swanston Street, in search of the Overwatch mural. It was several blocks down before we found it, but we got there in the end. It was pretty cool.

From there, we walked in search of a few of the famous street art lanes, specifically Hosier and Union. Union wasn’t far, so we walked there and had a look, while stopping for J&T to get some lunch. R&J also bought Mario Kart for the Switch so we could have a tournament later. I decided not to eat lunch, so I could save room for what was coming later on…

We made it to Union lane and walked through. It’s cool, but quite a dank, dirty lane.

At this point, R&J decided to head back to the apartment to rest before our dinner venture. I walked with T to the next lane, Hosier, which I expected to be similar to Union. I was wrong.

Hosier was much bigger, more popular and just generally more interesting. There was a LOT more art to try to take in, with so many layers upon layers from different artists painting on top of each other. We spent a while there just looking around and taking photos, spotting new things when looking from different angles. I took a lot of photos…

It was definitely a highlight of the trip. After we left there, we came across the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), which we had been looking for earlier, and so we stopped in to check out the free exhibits. They had three floors of Australian art, old and new. Paintings, sculptures, and everything in between. I didn’t take many photos inside, but boy was there some cool stuff.

And a couple more from upstairs:

Once finished there, we walked back to the apartment, feet sore, stomach empty. A bit of a rest (some photo-processing time for me), and it was out to dinner. We had booked to eat at Gami Chicken and Beer, on A’s fervent recommendation. He had been hyping this chicken for months (Korean fried), so we were eager to try it.

We found the sneaky restaurant and ordered bulk chicken, with the four different sauces, so we could try them all. Now, I will say, it wasn’t life changing as A had made it out to be. I’m not a different person now having tasted this chicken. But, it was pretty damn good chicken. We struggled to eat it all, ending up with some leftovers to take home, though we put in a solid effort. I ate waaay too much, but no regrets.

Somehow we managed to walk back home, and prepare ourselves for the Mario Kart tournament. J came over too so we could catch up and have some not-so-friendly, competitive games. Not that you asked, but yes I did win most rounds.

After many games, laughs and screams, we concluded our final night in Melbourne, took one last polaroid photo, and called it a night (except me, I’m writing this).

Tomorrow we have to wake early, get ready, pack up and clean the room before checking out by 10am. Then we’ll have a couple hours to roam around and get some lunch, before heading to the airport to catch our flight at 2:30pm.

Though we were only here a few days, we managed to do a lot which I’m happy about. Melbourne is a really interesting city and a lot of fun to explore. I’m looking forward to returning some day, hopefully sometime soon!

Signing off now. I need sleep.

Day 12 – Baalbek

Posted on April 3, 2018

How do you take a photo?

Today was one of our biggest days yet. We left our hotel bright and early around 7:30am, and met up with some of our Sydney family who are also visiting at the moment. We packed ourselves into a big van, and drove out of Beirut, towards our cousin Fadi’s house, who was going to be taking us around for the day.

We drove away from the city, through the scenic fields and mountains once more, before arriving at the house which he had built entirely himself, from the ground up over the past few years.

We got to meet his family and see his house, located in what seems like open farmland, with the mountains surrounding on all sides, where just over the mountain top is the Syrian border.

They bought a whole lot of munoosh, and laid out a range of cheeses, labneh, olives etc. for our breakfast – all locally sourced. We ate, and talked, and relaxed, before piling up in two cars and driving to our main destination for the day, Baalbek.

First in Baalbek, we were taken to The Sayyida Khawla Shrine, where locals come to pray and pay their respects. It is a beautifully built shrine and has a quiet peace to it. Apparently it is where the prophet’s granddaughter died so they built this shrine here, around her grave and tree she was buried under.

From there, we walked the short distance to the Baalbek Roman Ruins. They are some of the best preserved Roman ruins in Lebanon, including a huge temple at its center.

We had a tour guide of sorts, showing us around and explaining the history of various things, but since I couldn’t understand what he was saying, I wandered off to explore myself and take photos.

Fadi’s son came with me and became my new bestie. I mostly followed him around as he climbed over the ruins and rocks, and took a few photos when I could.

After exploring the main area, we went down to the main temple to have a look there and take more photos. It’s pretty incredible how many of the ruins are preserved.

It was incredibly hot and sunny though, so we headed off to the final underground area which was a sort of museum with different artifacts and information.

By the time we left Baalbek, it was late afternoon, soon to be sunset. We drove further up the mountain, climbing up towards the peak for a while, before arriving at the cliff-side restaurant where we were going to eat dinner. The owner had built this himself too, and although there’s not much to see at the entrance (which is a pretty hidden door next to a petrol station), once you walk in to the main restaurant, it opens up and you have an amazing view looking down over Lebanon, with snowcapped mountains all around.

A big selection of mezze was soon brought out, followed by the usual meats. It was a great way to end the day, and what felt like, to end the trip. This would be the last we would see our Lebanon family on this trip, so we all enjoyed eating, talking and taking in the view as day turned to night.

When we had finally finished eating, and drinking various teas and such, the owner of the restaurant took us down to his collection/museum he had set up under the restaurant. He had built these tunnels and filled them with items he had either bought/collected, or made himself. There was a lot of stuff, from a lot of different periods of time, so he just gave us a quick walk-through.

At last, it came time to say goodbye and head our separate ways. It was sad to be leaving so soon, and my new bestie was very sweet as we left. After our extended goodbyes, we drove off back down the mountain, towards the glowing lights of the city far below. It was a pretty long drive, so we all tried to sleep until we made it to the hotel.

Once there, we said goodbye to the driver and his family, before turning in for the night. It was maybe 11pm or 12am at this point, so I just downloaded the photos from my camera and went straight to bed. Doing the sorting, processing and uploaded in the morning, hence the late post.

We have two more days in Lebanon before we leave, and it seems like we won’t be doing a whole lot, as we need today to recover from yesterday, and then tomorrow we need to be ready for our flights (oh god…).

Day 26 – Zagreb

Posted on July 22, 2017

How are you going to toast anything now?

Our plan was to visit a bunch of museums and galleries today, but turns out it’s Saturday and most of them are closed, or if they are open, it’s only for a short while. We walked to a few places and all were closed which was annoying, especially since it was extremely hot once again and such an effort to walk around.

We ended up getting a drink at a nearby cafe and using the powers of the internet to find out what we could do next. We decided to first go the National Theatre and see if there were any shows we could book for another day, but that was closed too. No matter, as it was on our way to a museum which was actually open, The Museum of Broken Relationships.

It was a bit of a walk to get there, and we needed a short rest with cold water and ice cream before we went into the exhibit. The museum itself has travelled around the world and has a bunch of different objects donated from people around the world, along with personal stories about their failed/broken relationships with partners, friends or family.

It was very interesting to read people’s stories, and read some of the messages left in a large guestbook-type-thing by other patrons. A lot of them were quite sad, but there were some funny and uplifting ones too.

After that, we had a short walk to the Rocket Burger cafe to get some dinner. Solid burger and fries, before walking back to the hotel. I wanted to go to the Observatory and check out the panoramic city view, but everyone was so hot and tired, we decided to just go back. I’ll probably try and go up there tomorrow, closer to sunset.

Day 23 – Prague

Posted on July 19, 2017

It’s just like a bit of weird art.

We started the day by going to the Gerhard Richter exhibition at one of the National Galleries near our apartment. Apparently our tickets also get us into a bunch of other exhibitions around town. He had some really impressive photo-realistic paintings which were the highlight for me.

After walking around the gallery, we walked to the square and immediately needed to stop for a drink and morning tea, as it was insanely hot, and I was hungry. We shared a couple pizzas and had a cold drink, before beginning the long walk to where the other galleries we could visit were located. They were across the river, over near the Prague Castle.

We braved the heat and the many steps, finally arriving at one of the places, a palace, after an hour or so of walking. We entered, only to be told our ticket wasn’t actually valid for this place, or the other few in the area. It looked like it only gets into one other gallery, five minutes from the first. Feels bad man.

Since we had already trekked all that way, we thought we might as well go into Prague Castle again, and have a rest in a shady spot in the Royal Gardens, where it was nice and peaceful.

We sat on a bench under some trees and rested for about an hour, before going back to get some dinner. There was an Italian restaurant I found, near the river, which is apparently great, so we tried it out. It did not disappoint.

One of the best meals we’ve had on this trip so far! Fancy, but hearty and affordable. Some homemade lemonade. Rib-eye steak, mashed potatoes and mushroom sauce. Chocolate cake with lemon, banana, coconut and ice cream. Man I love food.

When we had finished our meal, we walked leisurely back to the apartment, following the river, watching the sunset. We came across this John Lennon Wall on the way back too which was cool.

Tomorrow is our last day in Prague. We have to check-out by 6pm, but our flight isn’t until late (11pm or so), so we’ll be hanging out at the airport! Yay! Not sure what we’ll do during the day, but probably won’t be many photos. Just relaxing, exploring a little more and having a nice lunch before getting organised to leave.

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