Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rockin' the Boat, Icy Roomies, and Salsa-less, Taste-less Mexican food

It rained most of the morning of my last day in Tasmania, so I checked out at 10am, stored most of my luggage in their storage room, and hung out at the hostel until the rain let up. I ran some errands before catching the bus at 2pm. I had to walk down about 10 blocks, then turn and walk another 6. I did this with all my bags. It wasn't too bad, I did it when I arrived, but I don't understand people. When I see someone coming at me carrying a huge pack and 3 other bags, I will do my best to keep out of their way. I was constantly the one who had to step aside to avoid people. I should have just plowed them down; I had the momentum on my side. Because I am so paranoid, I arrived at the bus terminal almost an hour before my bus was scheduled to leave. So I sat in the empty terminal and read my Fodors Australia book to see what they suggested about Western Australia. I am undertaking the difficult task of narrowing down the towns I will see when doing Western Australia. It's the biggest state, twice the landmass of Texas, and the towns are spaced far apart, so I will probably be catching Greyhounds from place to place. I will have about a month from the time I land in Perth to when I am meeting Matt in Alice Springs, so I will have to figure out how I want to space my trip.
My bus finally arrived, and we ended up leaving late because some woman was late. This was concerning because if I didn't arrive to check in at the Spirit of Tasmania by 6:45, I would lose my ticket. The bus only had me and two other women on it. I sat towards the middle and both women sat up front and talked to the driver the whole way. I popped my earbuds in and listened to Foo Fighters while reading and dozing all the way to Launceston. The driver warned me we were running late, and I told him as long as we make it to Spirit before 6:45pm, it would be ok. He said we would. We picked up a man in Launceston and I moved up towards the front as to be more social. We talked intermitently about travel and prostitutes and gay people (I'm too tired to go into it). He did get me their before 6:45, but only by about 5 minutes. Flustered, I checked in, went through security, checked my pack, and made it onto the ship. I went directly to reception to inquire about an upgrade. She said they didn't do upgrades until after the safety announcement. I took a seat near reception and put my ear buds in even though I wasn't playing music. I hoped this would fend off anyone thinking I was in need of entertainment or company. I people watched until they finally showed the safety video. She must have told a group of people what she told me, because as soon as the safety video was over, a line formed at the counter. I took my place in it, trying my best to look sick, as this was going to be my excuse for wanting to move to a cabin. It was finally my turn and I explained I was interested to see if they had any open beds available. She asked for my boarding pass and typed on the computer. "This will be $82 for a bed and $198 for a private cabin." Ugh, no free upgrade. I was afraid of this because there seemed to be many more people on the ship this time, and I guess they figured they could charge for upgrades. I did pay for the upgrade, once again figuring I would never be on this ship again, and needed to experience the cabin. I walked up to the next floor with my new key card and walked for what seemed like forever to get to my room 3050. It was about what I expected, 4 beds stacked on top of each other, a window, a bathroom. I stuck my stuff under my bed and looked out the window. It was dark so I couldn't really see anything. I went back downstairs in search of food. I had decided if I got the free upgrade, I would opt for the nicer meal at the restaurant- either 2 courses for $54 or 3 courses for $63. Since I didn't, it was the $25 cafeteria food again. I filled my plate up, trying to feel like I was getting my 25 bucks worth. After eating, I walked around a little and checked on the movie. It was Green Zone, which I have seen and it was good, but I wasn't planning on staying up until midnight tonight. I found a bar and asked the older lady behind the bar if she could please fill my water bottle up (another trick from my American friend from the first voyage). She looked bewildered, then took my bottle and filled it with boiling hot water. I didn't think I would have to specify that I wanted cold water and not hot, but my mistake I suppose. I went to the bathroom and poured out the boiling water, burning my hand. I then let my metal bottle cool down a few minutes before I decided to try again, this time at the bar at the other end of the ship. This time, I made sure I requested COLD water. This seemed to confuse the male bartender again, but the female bartender grabbed my bottle and used both squirters to fill it. I thanked her and went upstairs to go to bed. I read a while, and as I did, the ship began rocking worse and worse. I literally could not lay still. I read until around 10, then decided to turn off the lights to see if I could go to sleep. The ship was rocking so badly that I could hear water being thrown up on the deck when the waves would hit the side. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, I was tired, but it was like someone was shaking me to wake me up every couple of minutes. I kept checking the clock and the waves did not calm down until almost 1am. I slept a few hours until we docked in Melbourne at 5:45. I was able to disembark, get my checked bag, and get a cab fairly easily, but I wasn't allowed to check in until 11am. I went to get another crepe from the same place I went a few weeks ago. The girl remembered me because she asked was I sure I wanted a flat white instead of hot chocolate. "No chocolate today?" she said. I was impressed. "Not today," I said. This place is situated so that it's basically outside, so I had to sit outside. I froze while eating, so I finished as quickly as I could.
I went to the grocery store to pick up brekky for the few days I would be in Melbourne. I was shocked to find eggs, not in the cold food section, but on a regular aisle, like with cereal. It was farm fresh, cage free, hormone free eggs, never have been refrigerated. And they were brown! I got a box of six, I will let you know how they are. I also picked up some fruit juice boxes, some muffins, and two bananas. All these things for my next four days breakfast cost less than what I spent for brekky this morning. I wasted a few hours until 11, then tried my room. There were still 6 girls in it. I went downstairs to see what the deal was. They had issued me a key for 310, and told me I was in 310, but really I was in 307. I was reissued a key, then tried again. The room was clear, except for one girl still in bed. At 11:30am. I asked if a bottom bunk I saw was taken. "No, but they haven't changed the sheets yet," she said. I claimed it anyway, not putting anything on the bed, but hanging things on railings, so newcomers would know it was mine. I then decided to let sleeping beauty have her time, took my Fodors, and went downstairs. They were showing Zoolander on the big screen, so I watched, while planning the west. After giving her two hours, I went back up, hoping she was gone. She was, thankfully. I showered and started making myself at home. The one thing about my bed- the top bunk is too low. I cannot even sit on the bed straight up! It's too low. So I weighed my options- climb up and down every time I get up, or have to lay down every time I'm in bed. I decided climbing was more annoying, and stayed on the bottom. I spent the afternoon figuring out what I would be doing with my free time on Saturday (Sunday is a day long trip to Great Ocean Road, Monday is Phillip Island Penguins). I was also craving Mexican, and decided I needed to give it a chance here, just to see if it's as bad as everyone says. Since I only had an apple for dinner, I left around 5:30pm to go to a place up the road called Amigos. I ordered a white wine sangria that had tequila and agave in it. It wasn't bad, pretty refreshing. I also ordered guacamole, since the meal didn't automatically come with salsa and the waitress advised against the salsa. "The guacamole is better," she said. No good salsa? At a Mexican place? Not boding well.
The guacamole was very good. I also ordered a combination meal that had a taco, an enchilada, and a taquito with rice and beans. The rice was awful, I didn't bother with the beans either because I was getting full. The beef in everything was shredded beef, but it reminded me of pot roast. It was clear that no spices whatsoever, except maybe salt, had been added when cooking it. The most flavorful item was the enchilada, and that was because it had melted cheese and a green salsa on top of it. The taquito was boring, and the taco had no taste and wasn't finished. And tacos are my favorite! I don't know if I'm going to try again. I mean, I love Mexican food, but that did not quench my thirst for it. it just reminded me that I am luke warm about pot roast. And Mexican food without salsa and tomatoes?! It's a sin!
My roommates seem pretty unfriendly. I think, and I am just stereotyping because I haven't stayed in a mix dorm yet, but I think that the girls that book all girl dorms tend to want to keep to themselves and not socialize or meet other people. I wish I could have the best of both worlds. I just imagine it smelling a lot worse if boys were in the room. I suppose I already usually dress in the bathroom after showers anyway, so the privacy thing wouldn't change. Well, at Kangaroo Island, I am booked in a mixed dorm, it was the only choice. It will be my first experience with it. I was booked in a mixed dorm in Brisbane too, but they put me with only girls.
I left my book and my voltage adaptor in Tassie, since neither could serve me any longer. I like the idea of leaving books where I have been. I left my favorite pages dog-eared, so maybe it will become someone else's favorite pages too.

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