As I mentioned in a previous post, I had to leave most of my things behind. My bed. My books. My car. My giant stuffed moose, named Falafel (and his little brother Waffle). I also left behind my family, so when I found out moving in that The Housemate’s family was coming to visit and stay with us for two weeks, I knew things were going to get interesting.
The Housemate’s sister had recently graduated from university up in Brisbane, so her parents and grandmother were travelling around Australia for a month on holiday. Their last stop was Good Old Melbourne, where her mom, dad and sister were going to crash with us.
Our apartment isn’t very big, but I appreciated that The Housemate hadn’t seen much of her family in a few years. She is originally from Indonesia and has been living in Melbourne since she started at uni. her family lives in Jakarta and she hasn’t really been back there since, so it’s been a while since she’d seen everyone. Her uncle, aunt and cousins, along with some other extended family I’m still not quite certain about were all in the city at the same time.
Fortunately for me, they weren’t all staying with us. We did, however, spend the Sunday after my Open House Melbourne adventure hanging out in the city together, which was certainly interesting.
My first impression of Indonesians is that they are all astoundingly friendly and welcoming, though I suspect that The Housemate’s parents were being extra super nice to me because I had only been in Australia for about two weeks at this point and they knew I’d be feeling overwhelmed (which I was) by them all being around. That being said, it only took them about ten minutes before they officially adopted me as their “Yankee Daughter” and told me that I absolutely had to come to Jakarta and stay with them while I was there. Since all their kids are now out of the house, “Mom” and “Dad” are currently in the throes of a severe case of Empty Nest Syndrome. Their offer to come and stay with them was extended repeatedly for the next two weeks. If I can muster up the cash to go to Indonesia, I’ll definitely be taking them up on it.
In any case, that first day when everyone was there was spent waiting for and then hanging out with family. I don’t know if this is a broadly Indonesian characteristic, but none of The Housemate’s family members seemed to be very punctual, so planned events seemed to take place about two hours after their proposed start time. I found it particularly bizarre when The Housemate’s uncle said he was coming over from their place on Flinders Street (a 15 minute trip to our place) and didn’t arrive for more than an hour and a half. In any case, they all made it safely and were awesome.
Our first stop was the Queen Victoria Market, which is basically right around the corner from where I live and towards the city a few blocks. I hadn’t been there before and I haven’t been back since, but it is definitely on my to-do list. The reason for this is that it’s such a popular local and tourist attraction that there are about a million people swarming all over the place. As I’ve also previously mentioned, I don’t like crowds, so the narrow shop/flea market thing was not overly enjoyable for me. They have pretty much everything you can think of though, from socks to bacon to bouncy castles, you’re good to go.
I discovered that the best strategy for going to Queen Vic is to go later in the day, especially if you intend to go food shopping. The later it gets (say around 3pm being a good time), the more discounted the meat, bread and produce is because they have to get rid of it for the day. We mostly just walked through, but “Mom” bought some really yummy Turkish flatbread that I will definitely need to relocate in the future.
Out real quest was for this Spanish restaurant that The Housemate said was amazing and where we were going to eat lunch. It took us a lot longer to get there than it probably should have, but we eventually reached this delicious-smelling heaven of paella and got to eating. Real tapas = yum. This was the part where I felt like I had become a part of The Housemate’s family – the one little white girl from New Jersey, sitting around a table with eight of her family members, as we all stuffed our faces with some of the best paella I’ve ever had. It was really great.
From there we soft of futzed around for a bit and eventually wound up at the hotel The Housemate’s Aunt and Uncle were staying at. It was a pretty neat apartment-style place that had some excellent views of the Yarra River and the Etihad Stadium, which was getting ready for an AFL match for the evening. I got some great photos of some of the bigger buildings in Melbourne’s CBD while the sun was going down.
After that, The Housemate got a message from a friend of hers saying that she and her mom, who was visiting, were at a local cider bar a few blocks away, so we headed over there to say hello. By this point I was pretty tired, but it had been a fun day. We got to the bar and unsurprisingly enough, the only person the guy at the door stopped and carded was me.
It’s sad enough that I get carded in the States when I try to go to R-rated movies, but I was kind of miffed by being carded in an Australian bar. Unlike in the States where the drinking age is 21, you can drink at 18 in Australia. I am 26. Damn you, baby face! It’s actually really not that big a deal because I don’t drink at all anyway, but still. Annoying.
After being there for a while and after having an extremely tiny, drunk Irishwoman nearly spill her beer on me and then ask me to take photos of her and her friends on her phone, we eventually (thankfully) got some food. I absolutely hate that you can’t eat out for less than $20 in Melbourne. Everything is expensive, tiny, and relatively mediocre-tasting. Given that I’m a poor uni student again, I will not be going out all that much. Ugh, food.
Believe me when I say that I have a very strongly worded pizza-themed rant in the works.