Friday, December 26, 2008

The Two Towers

For anyone wondering: the contents of my bag arrived unscathed. Grant is now enjoying the tequila.

My friend Bryce, originally from San Francisco and now living in Brisbane (Australia, not California), arrived this afternoon. I met him at our hotel, the Urban St. Kilda in St. Kilda (of course). St. Kilda is a sort of arty/hippy/beachy/touristy/loungy neighborhood across the bay from the central business district of Melbourne. The architecture is a mix of Victorian cottages, 1960's style boxy brick buildings, and 2000's style modern curvilinear styles. We walked along the esplanade to St. Kilda pier, a very long construction that juts out to a seawall inhabited by fairy penguins (did not see any) and swans (saw a big black one).

Along the beach in St. Kilda are old public "conveniences" (bathrooms), bath houses (to serve beach goers), and a lovely clock tower.

After our walk we stopped at a wine bar/tapas place called Barcelona, where we drank a nice bottle of Australian Shiraz. It was Pertaringa, and was a 2006 McLaren Vale "Undercover" Shiraz. I have no idea what that means, but it did taste quite delicious. The vines are over fifty years old, and grow on their own rootstock.

I've done nothing but eat and sleep for the past three days, but it has been delightful. Tomorrow should bring some actual sight seeing.

Oh yeah, about the two towers...when I arrived in Melbourne yesterday one of the first buildings I noticed as we were driving in from the airport was the modern tower shown here. I remarked that at the angle I was looking from, it was awfully reminiscent of Barad-Dûr from The Lord of the Rings. Grant laughed, apparently this parallel is often drawn. At certain times of the day the gold square on the top reflects a lot of sunlight -- all it needs is a big eye. Unfortunately the picture here is too straight-on, so you don't get the best effect, but coming in from the airport the side towers aren't as noticeable and the tower appears much more curvy and narrower at the top.

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