Not Touristing In The City Again

Do people who live in countries that drive on the left side of the road automatically walk on the left? And does the reverse apply for those who live in countries that drive on the wrong right side of the road? And is that why people kept walking into me on my city walk today?

I was back in the Big Smoke to do the hospital run for a friend and while I waited I took myself off to a different part of the city.

Warning: This is another ‘I am not a tourist’ excursion so there will be no photos. Well, maybe one. If you’re lucky.

I didn’t walk any great distance today because I was wearing my holy socks. No, they do not help me walk on water! What are you talking about? Oh.

Take 2: I didn’t walk any great distance today because I was wearing my holey socks.

Kids, spelling is important.


Lygon Street – known as Little Italy – is the mecca for Italian food and good coffee. Well, one of the meccas. There’s one thing to be said about this city – you can always get a good coffee pretty much wherever you go.

It was too early for the restaurant spruikers to be out so I had a peaceful walk down the street.

One of the last truly independent bookshops is on this street. Overheard inside:

Father to Young Son: You don’t need a bookmark. Just bend the page over. That’s what everyone else does.

Some people have no business having books. Or children.

I went to Brunetti’s café for coffee and cake. It’s almost illegal not to go to Brunetti’s if you’re in Lygon Street. Unless you’re a student at the nearby university. Then it’s a) boring to go all the time and b) you can’t afford it anyway.

Brunetti's - Cake Mecca

Brunetti’s – Cake Mecca

From Lygon Street I headed into the city proper. This is where I encountered the walking directional problem. Maybe we need arrows on the footpath to show tourists where to walk.

For a little while, I followed a small group of four women and one man. The women were carrying music stands but only the man carried what looked like an instrument case (but I can’t say what the instrument was).

“Singers,” I thought.

“Or harmonica players,” said Musician Me.


“They could have them in their handbags. Or piccolos. Tin whistles.”

Sometimes I worry about Musician Me.

“They could be a Kazoo Orchestra,” said Always-Takes-Things-Too-Far Me.

Actually, when you think about it, there are all sorts of instruments you could hide about your person or in a small bag.

Ooh! There could be a Hidden Orchestra! No, listen, stay with me. Picture this:

One of the world’s great concert halls. On the stage are the seats and music stands of a great orchestra. As the lights go down, musicians in all their penguin-suited finery walk in and sit down. The audience is confused. Where are the instruments?? The conductor walks on to hesitant applause. She steps up to the podium, raises her hands and, as one, the musicians reveal from about their persons, small instruments – harmonicas, mouth harps, maracas, etc – and start to play.

Cool, huh?

I’m claiming copyright so no stealing the idea.

It was another warm Spring day but there was no lying in the sunshine today. I got my first quota of sunburn for the season last week so I was avoiding the UV. But a walk is always an endless source of writer’s fodder, eh?

And one last observation for the day:

It is very hard to watch a friend struggle against enormous odds and know there is nothing you can do to make it all right.



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Tourist Eyes In The Big Smoke

I always find it fun to put on my “tourist eyes” even when I’m walking around places I know very well. Heck, I even do it around my own neighbourhood. You never know what you might notice.

Yesterday, I was willingly helping out a friend by transporting her to appointments at a hospital in the Big Smoke. (I know she reads this blog, hence the emphasis in that sentence.) While she did what she needed to do – and as it was a beautiful warm Spring day – I went for a walk.

I decided, as I walked, to put on my ‘tourist eyes’ and pay particular attention to the things around me.

Hm. Here’s where I make a confession. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a lot but here’s the shocking thing: I hate taking photographs. (All the photography bloggers reading this just went GASP!) I take them because, let’s face it, one does like to have a visual reminder of where one has been, but whenever I do, I feel like such a tourist.

“But you are a tourist.”

Pedant. Well, yes, technically, but does the local populace have to know that? Can’t I pretend for a while that I’m a local? (Or, in some ethnic areas where I clearly am not a local, at least an ex-pat or migrant?) My favourite things to do when travelling is to jump on and off public transport, or go shopping at a local market or just sit in a park and watch other people. I do the ‘tourist’ thing because I feel I have to, not really because I want to.

So, when I say I put on my ‘tourist eyes’, that means the ‘no photographs tourist eyes’.

no photographs

Instead of stunning photographs of where I went and what I saw on this walk (not that you would get them anyway because I am a very ordinary photographer at the best of times), here’s some observations in word form instead.

It will be fun, I promise.


Why do souvlaki shop owners put pictures of fluffy lambs on their signage and call themselves things like “Lamb on Chapel”? I’m sorry but this does not entice me to enter your shop and buy a lamb souvlaki. In fact, I may never eat souvlaki again.

There were a number of swanky clothing shops on my route. I only window-shopped because I was dressed in jeans and sneakers and didn’t intend to re-enact the Rodeo Drive scene from ‘Pretty Woman’. The first one, not the follow up “Sucks to you” one.

I passed a rather swish Reception Centre right next door to an Anglican church. I was thinking the church must get good business when twenty metres further down the road I passed a Catholic church. Then I wondered if they competed for Reception Centre customers and what that might look like. “We have incense! Make your wedding smell great!” “Free confession for every guest! Start your marriage guilt-free!”

A truck reversing in front of me was playing a tune, rather than the usual ‘beep beep beep’. I don’t think this is very effective. I mean, if I hear ‘beeeep, beeeep, beeeep’, I get the hell out of the way. If I hear a tune, I’m likely to think it’s an ice cream truck and come running only to result in getting run over.

There was an Indian restaurant called “Hungry Nights Indian Restaurant”. The rest of the sign said “Delivering happiness beyond darkness”. What does that even mean?

I was walking through a park and a young blond American woman was ‘face-planting’ or whatever that ‘talking at the top of your voice to your phone while it’s at arm’s length’ procedure/app is called. This is what she said (and I kid you not):

“So, like, I’m saying ‘How are you supposed to signal here because, like, I’m used to driving on the other side of the road?’ and they’re, like, ‘You just signal the way that you’re going, you know, left, right’ and I’m, like, ‘Seriously??'”

My apologies to my American blogging friends but this just screams “typical American”. Don’t take it too hard, though. I know you’re not all like that. I mean, we Aussies are frequently portrayed as Fosters-swilling bogans. Let me tell you, nobody in Australia drinks Fosters. Unless they’re a tourist. But we do have bogans so, you know, fair due.


Part way through my walk, I stopped to sit under a tree in one of the many massive parks we have in the Big Smoke so I could listen to some friends’ mad radio broadcast on community radio. Let me just say, this was actually an incredibly difficult thing for me to do. I was going to sit and do nothing but listen for an hour. I was not to do anything else while I was listening. It took me a good 15 minutes to relax and allow myself to do just that.

Laughter and sunshine – a cure for all ills.

Well, except for the result of whatever it was that bit me at some point and resulted in a large, itchy, red lump on my arm. Oh, don’t worry, it’s gone now. I just have a bruise. (The things I put myself through to be supportive. Honestly.)

By the time I got back to the hospital, I’d walked well over 10 kilometres. Add it to the 6km run the previous day and needless to say the old leg muscles are a bit unhappy today.

Okay, I said it would be fun with no photographs and if you’ve made it this far, maybe it wasn’t so boring for you. As a prize, I’m going to offer you my one and only photograph from the day. I felt I could get away with this one on a ‘selfie’ standpoint in lieu of the tourist.


How was your day?



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