Today was my last day in Melbourne before heading back to Auckland. Packing up all of my stuff, double checking and triple checking to make sure I haven't left anything behind, I once again headed off to Queen Victoria Market to meet up with Jake, after saying farewell to Damien. I wasn't planning on doing anything too intense today - since I was heading off directly from the city to the airport for a 4pm flight, I was going to be carrying my pack with me all day.
Today, with the market open, it was a very different atmosphere compared to yesterday. With the stores open, many customers were milling around, and it proved to be quite a centre of activity. First order of business was to grab breakfast at a place that Jake liked. There, we had a very cheap, but hearty breakfast, and I enjoyed a flat white to make up for my lack of sleep. From here, we quickly toured the inside portion of the market, which reminded me very much of the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (although a bit smaller - or perhaps I didn't tour the entire area). I thought I would be happy living near a market like this, with low-cost but fresh-looking butchers, seafood stalls, and boutique beer and wine vendors. From here, we moved on to the main reason that Jake wanted to visit the market - souvenirs. Since he was returning home to the US the next day from his three month trip, he wanted to bring back some souvenirs for his family and friends. The souvenir portion of the market was located in what appeared to be large outdoor warehouses, with a variety of cheap and mostly campy trinkets for sale, but at very low prices. Picking out a few items that fit Jake's limited budget, we headed over to the library for me to check my flight information, where we took turns going online as I couldn't bring my bag into the library, and there wasn't much point in storing it.
From here, there wasn't much time to do much else, so we just wandered around the city, eventually ending up along the southern banks of the Yarra. We ended up just sitting on a bench on the shores of the Yarra looking at the skyscrapers of the Melbourne CBD. We had some great and deep conversations about life, and were enjoying each other's company in the warm sun. These are the kind of relaxing moments that I feel like everyone needs once in a while - and it makes me realise that it's not where you go, but who you go with and who you meet that defines a trip. After sitting there for quite some time, a bit after noon, I decided it was time for me to head off to the airport. We meandered our way to the Southern Cross Station, stopping once to take a commemorative photos of us together in Melbourne. Seeing Southern Cross Station for the first time from the outside, I was impressed with its modern architecture, especially its wavy roof, completed in 2006. There were also odd-looking multi-story yellow boxes with rounded edges perched on thin metal legs, which served as what I think are offices in the station, judging by the contents of the boxes visible from large glass panels.
At the station, we said our farewells as I boarded the bus, and wished him luck with his plans of retuning to school. I arrived at the airport reasonably early, so I sat at a café to enjoy a mocha while reviewing my photos from the trip and watching the airplanes milling about outside the window. As I sat at various parts of the terminal for some changes in scenery, I was surveyed by Yvette, a representative from Tourism Australia. As it turns out, she was a Couchsurfer, and we chatted for a while after the survey. I asked many questions regarding life in Melbourne and her reasons for moving there. As for the flight and trip back to my flat in Auckland, that was quite uneventful. I had plenty of time to think about the lessons I learned on this trip on the three hour flight, and I arrived home satisfied at my leisurely tour of Melbourne and the time I spent with Jake and our deep and meaningful conversations. In the short time what we have been together in New Zealand and Australia, I feel that Jake and I have gotten to know each other pretty well, and will be checking in with each other for the rest of our lives, hoping, and believing that we will meet again in the future. We had better, as Jake owes me a dinner or two!