During my weekend’s rest and recuperation in St Kilda, one of my hosts was Gabriel, the guy I’d met on The Ghan on my previous visit to Australia [Exploring Australia 5: The Ghan].
I took to Gabe immediately when we met because we introduced ourselves as Gabriel and Mike, and he immediately said, “Ah! two archangels!”. This guy’s sharp, I thought, and then cottoned on that he’s Romanian, and unlike me capable of wit in more than one language.
It fell to Gabe to help me find clean clothes to buy in Melbourne, in the course of which he felt compelled to buy a couple of T-shirts out of a sense of solidarity. Our salesman was a Botswanan guy called Ojee, with a Singaporean degree studying media in Melbourne as a postgraduate.
Gabe also showed me where to eat: the French Brasserie [http://www.thefrenchbrasserie.com.au/site] is architecturally exciting, gastronomically satisfying, and tucked out of sight of Flinders and Exhibition Streets; Mecca Bah [http://www.meccabah.com.au], out in the wide-open spaces of Melbourne’s Docklands, is elegant, comfortable Moroccan cuisine with an Australian accent.
Once I was properly clothed, fed and watered, and after we’d drunk white beer on his balcony with a magnificent view across the centre of Melbourne, Gabe gave up his precious time off while his wife Cordelia was at work to show me some fascinating Victorian buildings that I would never have found unassisted.
I’ll describe them in a short while, but first comes an article that could be entitled ‘Drink your way round Melbourne’, but isn’t.