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The Melbourne Identity

Trained to kill when activated. Ashley, a CIA trained international operative, was dispatched to Australia. Her objective: locate and destroy Matt Damon in Melbourne, his Identity’s namesake. At her disposal was one globetrotter (Greg) and a pair of wily ex-patriots (Carolyn and Holly) working in Oz on one year visas.

Alley to Croft Institute Boag's Brewery, Carolyn Hiding Her Wine in Shame Rooftop with Little Creatures

Like any mobile hunter, Ashley aimed to get a lay of the land and become acquainted with Australia’s Second City. With the help of Carolyn (Greg’s former co-worker) and Holly (Carolyn’s friend) a walking tour of the sprawling metropolitan area was tackled. A delicious tapas dinner was consumed while we caught up with Carolyn and got to know Holly. It was clear as day after 5 minutes of conservation that we were going to have a ball together. Walking through alleys of graffiti that looked more like an art exhibit than a home for trash receptacles, we approached The Croft Institute. Perhaps we were lucky that this insane asylum turned dance club was closed at the moment. Instead, we planted our bums at Boag’s Brewery and sampled six varieties of beer. Well, three of us did. It seems six months in Australia had turned Carolyn to the dark side as she imbibed on white wine. In a brewery? I digress. The sun was put to bed so we headed for one of Melbourne’s iconic rooftop bars on this warm evening. Contrary to some bozos informing us the establishment was closed as we were halfway up the eight flights of stairs, we were welcomed by hundreds of revelers taking in the night skyline. It seemed like a hippie commune with people sitting in circles on the AstroTurf surface. When Holly introduced us to Little Creatures, we knew Australian for beer certainly was not Fosters. In the midst of all this, Ash seemingly forgot her mission, but recalled her target’s love for cricket.

Ashley Taking in the MCG Action... Finally Fast Pitch

Thankfully, the Boxing Day (day after Christmas) Match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) was in full swing. Australia versus Pakistan. Ashley pleaded not to go, but I kindly pointed out that her CIA Dossier had clear instructions she was to attend. We arrived just as the players were having their afternoon tea and that began what was to become lots of questions about this peculiar sport. Wickets, stumped, spinner, overs, bowls? After fifty minutes of players standing motionless, checking swings, or fake running, our thirst for knowledge needed relief so we inquired with the sweatiest bloke in Section Eight. Twenty minutes of explanation left us more confused and Ashley apologizing for my endless line of follow up questions. Slowly though, the rules of cricket became more evident and I found myself enjoying the match. Ashley, not so much. In many ways, the sport reminded me of watching America’s baseball: an exciting moment here and there, opportunity for casual conservation, and simply relaxing. Alas, Ash’s boredom was unbearable and I was sliding off my seat from perspiration. So Jason Bourne wasn’t at the MCG after all, maybe in the suburbs of Melbourne?

And I'm Proud to be an American American Girls BBQing

It was late afternoon when the train pulled into the suburban rail station with Carolyn and Holly awaiting our arrival. Andy (Holly’s family friend on leave from Iraq) arrived on the next train and with that we piled in the car for the short drive to Holly’s Aunt and Uncle’s home for a good old BBQ. A real home with a family, dog, and home cooking. We were ecstatic. Aunt Ann and Uncle John and Holly’s cousin Jeff took us in like their own. The way the three of them interacted was hilarious and for an instant it felt like our home. Knowing full well that Aussies don’t call a grill a barbie or shrimp prawns, I could not help but ask. With a sly smile, Uncle John replied, “that damn Crocodile Dundee.” Being a proud American transplanted in Australia, Aunt Ann was thrilled to have a home full of USA Passport holders. The neighbors were probably sneaking a peak through their blinds when the six of us posed under the Stars and Stripes displayed high in their front yard. Army Andy (my secret nickname for him) valiantly handled a steady line of questions concerning what Iraq is really like over some cold ones on the porch. May God watch over our soldiers in uniform. Conversation continued into the night and we seemingly missed the last train back to Melbourne. Jeff then taught Army Andy and me about footy, the other Aussie sport, while the girls gossiped over wine. We watched 1980s highlight tapes of players resembling American Gladiators with the “footy fanatic” providing biographical info on his heroes. I stretched my legs on the couch for the night while Ashley and Carolyn shared Holly’s bed upstairs. Home sweet home.

Turns out Ashley is a terrible international operative and never even sniffed Jason Bourne. But her mission sent us to Melbourne, why not stay awhile?

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

  1. Attaining an Australian Visa is a piece of cake. Do it online before you travel as they do not issue visas on arrival. Here is the website: http://www.eta.immi.gov.au/
  2. It is tempting to arrive at an airport after a long flight and hop in a cab to your hostel or hotel. Fight this urge in expensive countries as most international airports offer economical buses or trains to the city center. Hop in a cab from there if necessary, your budget will thank you.

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