Sunday, 6 November 2016

Week 29 - Melbourne

We woke at 6.15 am, nice and early to prepare for our flight to Melbourne, only to find that our flight had been cancelled, thanks a lot Tiger Air! All was not lost though as they had arranged a later flight for us with Virgin Australia, I was buzzing as I’d always wanted to fly with Virgin to see what all the fuss was about. As the flight wasn’t until 4 pm we had a lot of time to kill in Adelaide and not much left to do, so after walking around for a good 3 hours we went back to China Town and ordered some of our favourite dishes, including Kung Po chicken and it all tasted as good as we remembered. We caught the bus to the airport and upon arrival at check in I thought, “Great, this is where that 5 * Virgin service will begin”. Only it didn’t, the woman was probably the most miserable check in assistant I’ve ever encountered…luckily for her, the complaints team and Richard Branson, the flight attendants had a better attitude. Turns out though Virgin flights aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, I mean we did get a brew and a biscuit but other than that it was just the same as any other trip we’ve had. Gutted!

The best thing about domestic flights is not having to go through immigration, all you have to do is wait for your bag, jump in a taxi and go. Which is exactly what we did, and after a 25 minute drive we pulled into our new home, The Victoria Hotel. I was not impressed by this hostel as soon as we pulled up outside, it’s above a pub, miles out of the centre and upon further investigation we found that the shared areas are minging. Now I’m no snob, I’ve seen a lot worse, but when you’ve got to live in it for 5 nights it’s a little bit gross, why can’t grown adults clean up after themselves? I suppose the staff are nice, there’s good transport links and I am in Australia and not at work so it’s not all too bad. As we arrived late we dumped our bags and had a walk around Brunswick to get to know the area, and we learnt that Brunswick is the equivalent to Camden, London. There’s hipsters, graffiti, coffee and vintage everywhere and if you haven’t got a beard you just don’t fit in. Compared to the other parts of Australia which we have seen Brunswick seems to have a little more of an edge, kind of like Osaka, Japan.  

After a long nights sleep we woke feeling refreshed and ready for a days exploring, so without any real plans or any idea of where we were going, we jumped on a train to the CBD. The idea was to explore the main parts of the city but the sun was shining and I felt a little pasty so we jumped on the tram to St.Kilda beach instead. Bad move, even though it was 22 degrees the wind was cold and we sat there in our hoodies with a coffee whilst everyone else sunbathed around us. We decided to brave a little sun session after an hour or so, and it is a gorgeous beach to relax at, with a huge stretch of sand, clear (cold) waters and a nice boardwalk to stroll along. Later on we took ourselves along the pier to see the penguins and could only find one little guy hidden in the rocks, so we had a wander around the boat yard to see all the yachts which we could never afford. 

On the way back to the city we jumped off the tram a stop early to visit the Shrine of Remembrance. The shrine commemorates the lives lost in the Great War of 1914-1918 and is set amongst a peaceful park, with the view from the top of the building offering great views of Melbourne central. The next stop was the arts district, filled with amazing looking buildings, such as the black and white South Bank Theatre, the National Gallery of Victoria which is surrounded by water and the Arts Centre which looks like a mini eiffel tower and was hosting a Kylie exhibit…which was free, so of course we visited. I don’t think Kyle was too impressed, but it was cool to see some of Kylie’s on stage outfits, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen clothes so small, she has the waist and feet of a child! The walk took us over the Yarra river and onto Federation Square, where we stopped for a very late lunch of Gozleme. Gozleme is a traditional Turkish pastry with a savoury filling of feta cheese and spinach and it was delicious! Federation Square was filled with people chilling in the sun or sitting on deck chairs either viewing the cricket or horse racing, some were even playing chess on the giant boards provided for free. Melbourne has a great feel and we walked around for 8 hours finishing our trip in China Town and viewing some of the graffiti art that Melbourne is famous for, before heading back to the hostel for a much needed rest. 

Our second day was hot, finally one of those Australian days that we’d heard so much about. So it was only natural that we packed all of our beach gear and went back to St.Kilda. We expected it to be packed but I think the 30mph winds may have been putting most sane people off, Kyle and I however selected a good spot close to the sea, got our suncream on, books out and started to tan. What a fucking disaster that turned out to be, sand and wind DO NOT mix well at all! We were covered in it, and Kyle got in a right arse, especially when I accidentally shook the sand off my towel into his face and let his hat blow away. Not ones to be defeated by a little wind, we moved our towels on to a grassy patch behind the sand and got comfy once more, shame many others joined us mind. Kyle even braved the sea to rinse the sand off, something which I don’t think he’ll be repeating before we leave, he looked like a bubblegum bottle when he emerged, all blue and pink.

We returned to China Town for lunch/tea and ordered both pork and duck rice expecting tiny portions, but they were huge! I’m not complaining, at more than double the price of actual China they should be giant sized portions. Back at the hostel we had a relaxing evening and a catch up with my all time favourite, Made In Chelsea, Kyle pretended not to be impressed but I could tell that he was loving it. 

I honestly can’t cope with the weather in Australia, as when we woke the next morning it was freezing again. So cold in fact that I went out and bought myself a huge blanket scarf to wrap up in, it reminds me of curling up in my old one at work when people put the air-con on too high! We spent the morning in the launderette, yes its back to doing our own washing again, but the time went quickly with a warming coffee and a good book. Our plan for the day was to explore Brunswick, so on the advice of the guy in the coffee shop we headed right on Sydney Road towards the city. Sydney Road is filled with coffee shops and vintage stores, with room for little else in-between, it is a collectors dream and it was great walking round all of the stores, shame that we can’t fit much else in our backpacks though. My favourite shop however, had to be Savers. A little like TK Max at home, Savers is filled to the rafters with clothing, only this is all second hand clothing and you can pick up a pair of jeans for as little as $4. Me and Kyle wanted to get some jumpers for New Zealand but it was too busy, and we just couldn’t be bothered fighting through all the people to find our size, so we opted for lunch and another coffee instead. Lunch was a choice between a vegan street food festival or one of the “hipster cafes”, meat for me wins every time so we quickly perused the festival before moving on to place our order at a cafe next door.

Bonfire night, a yearly “heated discussion” for me and Kyle, I think he’s taken me to see fireworks twice in 8 years, normally I’m told to watch the neighbours displays from the kitchen window. Imagine my surprise when he said we could go to a bonfire and fireworks right here in Melbourne. Then imagine my disappointment when I found out that there weren’t any displays on…I was fuming! Maybe next year then. Instead of fireworks we settled for food, and Kyle ate his body weight in Lebanese meats and dips, he ate that much that he couldn’t move or speak for the rest of the evening! 

Sleep was an issue last night, obviously staying above a pub on a Saturday night is not ideal! It was crazy loud, so we took to watching Youtube videos until god knows what time, though all the musicals I made Kyle watch has prepared him nicely for our arrival in New York. Today we got up early and went back to the beach to relax, it was super windy so we wrapped up in my blanket scarf and watched the windsurfers, before moving back into the park and sunbathing behind some trees. Feeling suitably tanned we made our way back to the city for one last walk around before leaving tomorrow, we walked along the Yarra river to the Australian Open Tennis courts and by the Etihad Stadium. It’s been boiling today, and the weird thing about Aus is that it tends to get hotter the later it gets, so at 5pm today it was 29 degrees, a great time to return home we thought. 

I’ve enjoyed Australia more than I thought I would, Kyle likes it so much that he’s considering moving here. It’s been heaven to walk around with out sweating, and I’ve loved walking around the cities and getting lost again like we did in China and Japan. Coming to terms with supermarkets here has been a chore, I mean why can’t you buy everything in one place? For example alcohol can only be purchased from a bottle shop (next door to a bar or pub) or a bottle hole, a drive through alcohol shop, surely that makes for all sorts of problems? It’s been challenging readapting to Western culture, you forget how rude we actually are, but seeing old friends and exploring their new home towns has more than made up for it.

Tomorrow we fly onwards to New Zealand, but not until 1am so we have plenty of time to kill. For now I won’t say goodbye to Aus, but maybe a see you later.

Love Carrie xxx

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