Monday, September 5, 2011

Up over from Down Under

Returning from Australia means experiencing one long 36-hour day, punctuated by disorienting naps. We collected all our things, including the many new toys, hats, uggs, wildlife books and souvenirs, and distributed them throughout our bodies.

We equipped the kids with the virtual reality gear necessary to preserve mental health over the endless Pacific.

When the plane touched down at long last, at exactly the same time on the clock as when we took off, we entered Limbo, also called the Los Angeles Airport Hilton, especially its pool hot tub.

When we were ready to be coherent again, we met up with Uncle Brian and Aunt Tricia to tell stories and reenact adventures.

After a month on the bottom of the world, it's back to Boston, for new schools, new friends, more things to turn into instruments, and the exotic wildlife of our own backyard.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Now museum, now you don't

Our holiday came to rest in Melbourne. An excursion to St. Kildans provided lots of character and an expanse of sand that ends in ocean, like so.

And a day at the Melbourne Museum, built in 2000 and therefore one of the newest museums we've ever seen, was packed with wonders. A split screen movie with actors playing an Aborigine elder and the museum's founder, arguing with each other about the treatment of artifacts, captivated C. A mind-blowing augmented reality dinosaur room and hall of animals made the Peabody seem ancient. Colin and C. took in a 3D Imax on animal rescuers. And a sprawling kid-focused mini-museum gave T. lots of surprises to explore.

It was a banner day for T., as a matter of fact. They had a turtle shell guitar he could play; he went back to try it three times.

At the playground, at the top of the slide, he shouted, "Look Mom! One leg!"

At the exhibit on forest fires he found a place to practice some soulful singing.

And even at dinner he worked on his microphone technique.

And with no bang but T.'s drumming and no whimper but C. complaining about walking too long, our visit to Australia had come to an end. All that remains is to make our way home to Boston.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Melbourne: the Yale of Australia

Melbourne seems to have a little chip on its shoulder about Sydney. The way people talk about it is so emphatic--"Oh, I LOVE Melbourne, it's so European, it's artier"--wethinks she doth protest too much. After all, we loved Sydney, and thought while we were there that it was among the very nicest cities we'd ever been to. How would Melbourne play its hand?

When Colin got a last minute invitation to go to an Australian football game there just after checking in, it seemed like a great chance to give the city a chance to show us its best. Our college friend Mike and his two sons were the sherpas for me and C.

There is something about that much fluorescent light that excites the brain, no doubt. But Colin is simply immune to the charms of highly-paid people wearing colorful suits running around obeying inscrutable rules. And boy are these rules inscrutable.

On the Melbourne/Sydney question, Mike put it like this: Sydney looks great from the outside, but living inside it is not too special. Melbourne may not look like much on a postcard, but walk around in it and it's infinitely rich. Our first day alone bore this out. We walked for hours without ever finding an uncharming corner. So much public space: parkland, gardens, plazas, playgrounds, riverfront, memorials, elevated walkways.

Mike's wife Clare and their brood showed us around. The kids bonded like a rock band.

Sydney, Melbourne: you're both pretty. Now let's all go to the footy.