It’s day three Down Under and I am just beginning to shake the jet lag. While Rocket-man toils away at work I set my sights on finding a post office, a meat pie, and the National Museum of Australia….not necessarily in that order. And, I’m happy to report that I managed to do all three. I’m feeling quite pleased with myself.
Making use of the hotel’s wi-fi so as not to incur hefty international Verizon charges, I had looked up the nearest post office on Google maps while at breakfast. Scribbling on a piece of paper, I made a note of the main streets to get there and hoped that I could find the place since 1) I was on foot in inclement weather, and 2) I get lost easily. I definitely wasn’t thrilled about the weather. It was barely 36 degrees, windy, and drizzling. My weather App hinted snow (thankfully that didn’t happen!). Google maps showed that it was a 17-minute walk to the post office.
So, I’ll confess that I am a bit map-challenged. Sometimes (not always) I can’t find my way out of a wet paper bag. God forbid there is some sort of solar flare that fries all manner of telecommunications and satellites and with it navigation systems! I am just not the best map reader–my eyes easily glaze over when looking at a map due to visual overload. It’s not so much that I cannot read a map, it’s that I cannot read a map fast. This of course can be a source of irritation for my husband. Rocket-man would ask: Which way should I turn on such and such street? And me….looking at the map, would nearly seize with fear knowing that it would take me more than a moment to figure it out. Long enough, for sure, to where Rocket-man would get exasperated which in turn would cause buttons to be pushed and….well….you get the picture.
I know; It’s simply a matter of practice. The more I do it, the better I become. So, imagine my delight when I found my way to the post office! Up the main boulevard I went, and then through side streets ….past a Catholic high school, then on around to a small public library, through a run-down residential area…a grocery store here and there, and McDonalds too, various little Vietnamese and thai restaurants and even Canberra’s DMV. When I got to the post office I was relieved….pleased…and….
…struck by a throughly wonderful aroma.
Oh my. Something good is cooking somewhere!
And there it was. Elaine’s Pie Shop. The “Sir-man” Jeff had said I must do three things to embrace the full Aussie experience and noshing on meat pie was one of them. I’d already checked off the Vegemite experience…for good I might add. Thoroughly disgusting!
I peered through the window and could see dozens of meat pies in a display case. My eyes lit up like a child at Christmas. I could feel the saliva increasing in my mouth just looking at those meat pies. I looked at my watch. Damn. It was only 9 a.m. I had finished breakfast just a half-hour before. Oh God…the aroma of the pies was almost overwhelmingly irrisitable…. impossibly divine.
This is not good. I simply cannot eat a meat pie, now!
I cannot even purchase one for later; I’ve got no way to warm it up and no utensils in the hotel room. I am not going to rush this decision. I can tell from the wonderful smells wafting through the cold morning air that this is one gastronomic meat pie experience that must be savoured properly…preferably with a glass of wine. I’ll have to plan on returning tomorrow. Promise!
Having mailed my postcards, I turned my resolve to finding the National Museum of Australia. Back up the long boulevard I go. It’s a long way on foot. I could take a bus but I am determiined to get some steps on the pedometer. It takes me an hour to get there. By then, I’d racked up six miles in steps on my Garmin VivoFit and my fingers, despite gloves, were numb with cold from the long walk. A hot chocolate would be terrific about now.
Still, it was a lovely walk despite the foul weather. Mine was a solitary walk; After passing the city center, I rarely saw another soul as I made my way on the path around lake Burley Griffin towards the museum. I’m guessing weather was a factor, although there were plenty of cycling commuters on the main boulevard which impressed me given the weather. These folks weren’t out for a recreational, pleasure ride either; it was clear they were commuting to or from work.
I hadn’t been at the museum for more than five minutes when scores of uniformed school children in plaid blues and reds…. ties for the boys and proper length skirts for the girls, descended upon the place. Their typical-for-their-age loud voices and boisterous activity pierced the quiet of the place in short order. Normally I would have been just a tad irritated, but I was feeling supremely content with everything that I had accomplished in the day so far.
The National Museum of Australia is a lovely little gem in a city that is full of ultilitarian (read….dull looking and even boring) government buildings. I happily passed an afternoon leisurely browsing through exhibit after exhibit. There was lots to see and learn …from the artwork of the Aborigines to the handling of the rabbit population that all but ravaged most of the continent (worse than fires!)….and much more. I even saw a perfectly taxidermied kangaroo, which is probably the closest I’ll ever get to seeing one Down Under…during this trip anyway.
The only downside of the day was that I had to enjoy all of this alone. I certainly felt bad that Rocket-man wasn’t able to share in the experience…or my sis and family either for that matter. What a blast that would have been. And I felt an even greater pang of regret that he wasn’t able to help me with my lunch selection; I all but inhaled a chicken and leek pastry-puff topped pie. I selected this menu item at the museum’s cafe because of course I had meat pie on the brain. Rest assured….Elaine’s Pie Shop is still on my radar before Friday is come and gone.
My eyes are weary…my legs are achy and sore. I’ve covered over ten miles on foot today.
It’s time to turn in and dream of another day more, Down Under.
Thankful for this opportunity for Down Under bliss.