This place is AMAZING!
Trip Start May 08, 2006
48Trip End May 06, 2007
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Well as Julie Andrews would say, let's start at the very beginning. It was Monday the 26th of February, Emer left me at around 8 in the morning and my plane wasn't due to take off until 9ish in the evening. After running around sending home gloves, scarfs, coasters and other stuff that I didn't really want to lug around South-East Asia I said my goodbyes to Tony, involving a general overview of his beginnings in Lebanon, his 52 years as a taxi driver in Sydney, a list of all his current assets and offspring, then wrapped up with his take on the meaning of life
After a couple of hours wondering around the town trying to find a pub and chatting to numerous people on the phone I eventually ended up in a hotel opposite the majestic Flinders Street Station and ordered a schooner of beer, to which they replied "We only serve pints and halves I'm afraid". I welled up, tears streaming down my face, filled with the sheer joy that flowed through my very being. This is my kind of city.
Melbourne is, quite simply, AMAZING. If any city is deserving of that one great Shakespearian word, this is it - and not just because they serve pints. It is incredibly friendly, clean, atmospheric, beautiful, musical and coooool in a way that Sydney could never quite manage. Walking down the street you will gather smiles from beautiful young ladies, pass dozens of pubs staging live bands, watch people entertain you with digeridoos, harmonicas, guitars and dustbins, take your picture in front of oversized purses and sinking libraries, ride on picturesque trams that glide down the streets, gently dinging at people crossing the road in front as if to say "I'm terribly sorry old boy, but I'm coming up very slowly behind you and if you don't move out of the way then you might get run over
The place has left such an impression on me that the original assumption that I could never live in Australia has been completely replaced with the realisation that I could happily live in Melbourne for a very long time, despite the fact that the climate is not quite as preferable, and the beaches nowhere near as beautiful as it's bigger brother. I do miss Coogee - the constant unrelenting heat of the sun, the beach just 3 minutes down the road, the Coogee Bay Hotel, and of course - Emer. But I'm not here to talk about that. I've been there 4 months, and you've had enough updates in that time to know how much I love the place. So... Onwards.
Lou very kindly let me crash on her sofa until Friday when I would get paid and have enough cash to check in to a backpackers'. Helen arrived on Tuesday and we all went out in St. Kilda to the 'Espy' - a live music venue and one of the most popular drinking holes in the suburb. Meeting up with cheeky southerners Tom and Alex, we marched off to Cushion which I reluctantly likened to that hole of holes in Salisbury - the N&N bar. Giving up entirely on the prospect of any decent music being played, Helen and I proceeded to walk home - getting lost on the way in the pissing rain and shouting abuse at a petrol station attendant who wouldn't even give me the time of day when I asked him for directions
Wednesday night, and Carsten and I went to a house-party. I was the friend of a friend of a friend of the host. A 'random' if you like. Well it turned out to be a great laugh with loads of great people and a guitar being passed around from one musician to the next. The DJ inside was poo, but that was ok since it meant everyone was sitting outside and chatting/playing/singing/dancing together on the patio and out on the road.
The days were spent wandering around, checking out sculptures and climbings trees and special walls, the nights were spent socialising, dancing, chatting to strangers and generally having a whale of a time. Life was good, but money was running low. Still, I wasn't about to stop doing things just because of a little thing like that. I could eat less, drink less, and climb more, and if my credit card would just arrive by the next Friday then all would be well. I could pay for my food and accommodation on that and then use the remaining cash for fun and frolicking.
Well I moved out of Lou's on Friday and into the Melbourne Connection Backpackers. Carsten and I went out on Saturday with $20 dollars (8 quid) between us.
We got back to the club, danced for a while, and then the girls led us down an alleyway to a club in the middle of nowhere with grass bars (yep - real grass), funky music and funkier people.
After that I went back to the hostel and had an impromptu beer with a few guys from the hostel including Craig who informed me that he was leaving the hostel on Friday, would be going to a gay bar/club to celebrate, and did I want to go. "Why not?" I said. Could be a laugh. There was one other straight guy going and plenty of girls so I would feel safe in the knowledge that if I was pounced on by 20 gay men then I would at least have some help. Joke.
Anyway Carsten, Gabrielle, Naomi and I went for some Egyptian cuisine on Tuesday night to sample garlic mushrooms and lamb tagines, then Thursday arrived and it was time to party like a queen
Today is the day of the Moomba parade. Not really sure what it's about. Moombas were the little spiky fluffy things on Final Fantasy 8 as I remember and if they're parading down the streets then I'm going to be more than a little excited. I don't think that's going to happen though. There will be fireworks however, and Mark (a friend who I went to uni with) has just arrived in Melbourne so it'll be interesting to find out what he's been up to since leaving Southampton. A whole load of us from the hostel will be going down there with a few beers I expect so it should be a good night. So until next time then, and I will try to narrow the gap between updates. Photos to follow. Adios.