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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Epic Aussi Adventure: Melbourne

Today's Scenery:
Melbourne's Trams

Todays Travelling Track:
Coolio- Gangster's Paradise

Myself and the BF had both been enthusiastically looking forward to Melbourne for the whole trip. We had been told it was a city with a great vibe, an emphasis on food and drink, and a vibrant alternative culture, all of which are things which greatly appeal to us. The city definitely didn’t disappoint.

We were staying in St Kilda, a seaside suburb a few Kilometres outside of the city and a hub of backpacker activity. It seemed like a long time since we had been in real civilisation and relishing the prospect of an interesting, imaginative meal, we parked the van, dumped our things in our hostel and immediately headed out to lunch. We found Acland Street, which served as our base for the next few days. The street is a foodie’s paradise, chock-a-block with restaurants, cafes, bars and takeaways and is lively at all hours of the day and night. We had lunch in Fringe, a relaxed looking bar/restaurant with an innovative menu. I had an amazing duck gnocchi and, despite it being 11:30am, a pint of Heineken (and in Victoria a pint is actually a pint unlike other Australian states.) Giddy with happiness and beer we decided to explore St Kilda a little more and went to look at Luna Park, the famous old school theme park just off Acland Street. The Palais theatre opposite caught our eye and we noticed that British comedian Ross Noble was performing there that evening. We were in a somewhat impulsive mood and decided that we would go and buy tickets (we were also well ahead on budget as the previous week had proved to be very cheap indeed) but were told that tickets were far cheaper if paid for by cash, so we scurried off to an ATM. As we walked down the street a girl coming in the opposite direction caught my eye. I thought she seemed familiar but couldn’t quite place why. I realised she looked just like Claire, a girl who had worked with the BF on Hamilton Island…then I realised she was looking right back at us. It turned out it was in fact the actual Claire, not just a doppelganger. She had nothing to do that day and uttered the immortal words “let’s go for a drink and catch up!”
The Graffiti Lanes

We headed to Fitzroy Street (via an ATM and the Palais to get our tickets) which turned out to be a cheaper, less classy version of Acland street with all the same character and charm (I tend to quite like scummier areas as I spent 3 years as a student in Brighton and also find they are usually far kinder on the budget…) and to a cafĂ©/bar called Banff. Drinks were ridiculously cheap (although the beer was New Zealand Gold, which no one had ever heard of) and the food menu was interesting and very reasonably priced. We ended up at Banff for the next 5 or 6 hours drinking beer and chatting to Claire, and later another friend Cindy who arrived just as Claire was leaving. We soon realised that the time on our Ross Noble tickets was fast approaching and Cindy decided to join us for the show, which I don’t really remember thanks to the beer. The BF assures me that I seemed to enjoy it at the time! The plan had been to head out for the night after the show, however as we sobered up and our hangovers started to kick in we decided that wasn’t such a good idea and headed back to our hostel instead. I spent the night feeling extremely ill and vowed that I would never drink New Zealand Gold again!
Coffee Art!
Over the next couple of days we explored the city and met up with other friends and family members of the BF. It seemed that everyone we knew in Australia had moved to Melbourne and we had no shortage of people to hang out with or things to do. We managed to largely avoid touristy activities (aside from going to the immigration museum which was really interesting) and instead spent the next few days in the manner we had become accustomed; eating nice food, drinking nice drinks and enjoying nice company. It was nice. We had a hilarious lunch in china town with our friend Sarah and experienced one of the angriest waitresses I’ve ever come across. She dropped everything onto the table from a height of at least 20cms and brought us about 14 sets of cutlery as if she was trying to convince us that we didn’t actually know how to use chopsticks. Later that day we headed to Chapel Street, another interesting hub and took advantage of happy hour at a number of pubs along the road, including one that we later realised was a gay bar, and a really cool hip hop club which played awesome 90s music!

After a few days in Melbourne our livers and wallets were suffering somewhat and it was definitely time to move on. We had found it to be the most liveable place we had visited and decided to make it our backup plan if we couldn’t find jobs in ski resorts. On our final morning we went for a slightly hung over breakfast on Acland Street one last time, got the van serviced (which seemed to take an age) and headed off towards the Great Ocean Road!

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