Mellow Melbourne ~Escaping a Train Wreck (Australia Part 2)

By Train or By Plane

If by plane, I would have arrived in three hours, and if by train, twelve. I decided on both. Late at night around ten pm, I arrived at the cold Sydney train platform, bounded for the airport. Only a few riders were huddled under the on the platform in that dark night as the golden clock tower shone and at that very moment, the first lightning in downtown Sydney struck the sky.

The sky roared and rumbled, and the rain poured like it was spraying from a water hose or like I was in a shower. The wind blew so hard that the rain came in at a forty-five degree angle, and the narrow platform cover wasn’t enough to avoid water splashing at my feet.

Our train arrived at last, but we strained to take careful steps as the wind and rain blew into our face, and started to drench my hair, my denim jacket, and the long dress I had bought from Hawaii, and to top it off, I was just at the beach, so I was wearing flip flops… so as quickly, swiftly, and as balanced as I can, I leapt onto the train.

After getting off at the wrong train stop and riding backward to find that the domestic airport was closed, I somehow managed to sleep at the side entrance of the international flight airport on a hard black chair where people who were stranded for their flight were waiting. I kept dozing in and out of sleep since they had construction workers drilling. In the morning before sunrise, I was more than ready to board the plane in the dark.

At sunrise, I arrived at Melbourne Airport and walked into the giant colorful airport to see news reporters lined up to do the news on the planes that were caught in the Sydney storm.

Mall Break

A tired me made my way to the public transportation and on the route to downtown, I dropped off at Broadmeadows Central where I brought fruits and looked at the stores, and bought my transportation card at a stand. Moments later, I walked out to the train with an umbrella, but ended up taking the train to the opposite end and chatting with an old man.

Melbourne CBD

The skyscrapers outside the train was an array of color–blue, pink, and purple, and all glass. I found my hostel at the edge of CBD (Central Business District), and its entrance in an ally with foreign and Australians early-twenties tourists, both women and men, smoking by the door. The building seemed to be an old brick factory, and later on, after seeing the huge concrete rooms and the tall ceilings, it seemed to be true.

Unfortunately, my hostel did not check anyone in until 2pm, and I’d had to carry my bag or rent out a locker. Of course, I refusing to be outsmarted, I carried my backpack and went out to walk to the edge of downtown, to Melbourne Central, where I discovered the food court, and had Japanese food and fried dumpling and fried shrimp ball. The mall had multiple floors and near the food court was a facade of a brick building and a huge golden clock.


After my lunch, I went back to the hostel to drop off my things and to brush up. Less than two hours later, I was back on the main street and hopping on trams–first to return to Melbourne central to have more sushi and to meet a friend. Later, he had to teach so I made my way down all the way to the Southbank, where I rived in the great view of the river and city.

They had a theater, mall, fancy restaurants that overlooked the river where people were canoeing and boating, and one bridge with a huge white arch. On the city side, there was a restaurant with music playing, creating a very charming mood.

Down back on Flinder Street, a block away, was the Finder Street Station, standing about two stories tall in golden brick with green glass rooftop. Melbourne has many new buildings but also old ones like these that surprises you. At the catty-corner, there was a brown steeple, and across the streets were old building that stood side to side and looked like they were from Boston.

Queen Victoria Market

I wanted to meet some locals and travelers that night, so I took the free tram to Queen Victoria Market. On the weekends, it was a farmer’s market, but on the weekday evening, it was a food fair that brought everyone. The first two trams that were completely full, and I finally wedge myself into the third with some college students.

Great upbeat music played. Our traveler group gathering was a success and we hung out at this fair for hours. Though I’ve lost touch with many of them, the moment was one for the books.

Late Morning

I had a late morning the next day because I didn’t really sleep the night before. There was a mix-up with beds since the maid had cleaned the wrong bunk, and the guy who was originally sleeping there had dumped my stuff onto other stuff.

Melbourne Mall

Around noon, I met a local who showed me the everlasting Melbourne Mall-a collection of malls that is literally one after another. Someone had designed every part of this mall from geometric tiles to glass and mirrors. One part of the mall had green quartz hanging from the ceiling. One could spend days at that mall and admiring the artwork. It is definitely worth the visit if you’re looking for food or shopping.

Block Arcades and Alleys

Next we went to a block arcade, which was like another mall except it was beautiful and looked very European. It had a lovely tea room, the Hopetoun Tea Room which was always booked. The inside of this “arcade” was like Italy. Then, to top off Italian vibe, we explored Brunetti Cafe and got their decorative desserts.

We wander out and into one of the alleys filled with open shops selling food. We had ventured through Campbell Arcade, which we didn’t have time to explore but would have been nice to.

Royal Botanical Garden

The best hang outdoor hang chair.

I parted ways with the local and jumped onto the tram to the Shrine of Remembrance at the Royal Botanical Garden, which I knew I would not want to miss! Magpies flew around and walked on the steps. I walked the path past the house where an event was taking place that evening.

There were flowers of all kinds and colors. Trees with strange pinecones that seemed to be made of lines. A gazebo with a curved, dome-like top with a gold ball.

Then, I entered a rainforest, and I saw, between the leaves, a huge lake with a grassy green park right next to it. Different palms grew on the grassy knoll, and it was the most peaceful picnic area. Another magpie flew down to walk on the grass.

I explored the Asian garden nearby, and then headed back through the rainforest. On the way, a silver bird-shaped hammock glimmered through the lush greens. After relaxing in this unique hammock, I followed a stream and found a spherical black rock fountain, placed as if it was in the middle of a campfire ring. These treasures made the walk worth it.

Saint Kilda and Real Penguins!

Another interesting part near Melbourne was Saint Kilda and the beach.

After, I took the tram and then the bus to what was the “Russian” block. I knew I had to get there by sunset to catch the penguins. At the end of the pier, I saw penguins in their natural element. The darker the evening became, the more penguins would come up to the rocks and even try to dash past people. More often, the curious twelve-inch tall penguins stopped traffic by standing there.

After hours with the penguins, I finally went to see a hippie dance circle where drums and tambourines played and one man threw and spun a stick of fire.

The night ended with a short hour at the bar listening to a band, then at my hostel where they were doing karaoke night.

Queen Victoria Farmers Market

Two nights moved fast, and in the morning, I quickly went back to Queen Victoria Market to see the farmer’s market. There was a section where souvenirs and clothing were sold. Past that was a market where they sold fresh food and apparently lamb and kangaroo bones for dogs!

After exploring the market quickly, I went to Fitzroy, a run-down town and made my way to a side street where my friend had said there was the Lune bakery. The pastry was delicious but the coffee was different from what I was used to. Just as I wandered outside after eating, it started sprinkling.

Museums, Gardens, and Harry Potter Theater

As I made my way back from Fitzroy, I saw the glimpse of Museum Victoria, the Carlton Gardens, the Parliament Garden, and the Harry Potter theater– all which I would have done if I had more time, but my priority wasn’t in seeing more museums after going to so many the last three years. I took the tram down the street to see Fitzroy Gardens and the quaint Cooks cottage in the middle of the park.

Brighton Beach

From the gardens, I crossed the streets and found the train that took me to Brighton, the Australian beach I was longing since I heard so much about it. I walked through peaceful neighborhood and some restaurants and on the sandy beach, I saw the row of colorful beach houses as expected. They were small, all the same size, and neatly placed.

One had an Australian flag, one had a dolphin, one was pastel, and so many more hugged the coast. Past the dozens of beach houses was the tide pool and where giant black swans swam in the ocean.


I landed in Docklands after catching the train in the evening. As I trekked toward the train station, I saw a sculpture of a tram sinking into the green lawn. When I arrived at Southern Cross, I realized how big the train station was, and saw that my train was “relocated” to the coach section, which I assumed was the bus section. I went up to some security guards, and they confirmed the new location, but I still didn’t understand…

An hour later, I went to the coach section and found that our train had been replaced by buses. The news spread through the crowd… our train had derailed as it made its way from Sydney to Melbourne, killing the driver and co-pilot the day before.

Life Can’t Be Rushed

I couldn’t believe… that I had a narrow escape. That by chance, I had not taken the train from Sydney and that I hadn’t chosen that date. I was lucky, and times like this made me realize that staying home would have been safer… Not exploring would have been safer.

At the end of the day, I was on a bus, snacking on Australian chips, drinking Coca Cola, and looking at the sunset. The train had derailed because it was going fast, trying to make up for lost time.

Don’t rush, I reminded myself. There are some things that people can do in a hurry, but in life, there are some things that must never be rushed.

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