Why I <3 Melbs
Trip Start Sep 04, 2011
14Trip End Ongoing
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Long time... no blogging!!!
For about a month now, I have been meaning to update my blog as Melbourne, for two months, was my final travel destination where I was definitely a backpacker exploring this amazing city! So, it's only right I complete my blogs (for now) whilst things are still pretty clear and I remember my adventures.
So, I arrived in Melbourne quite appropriately on New Year's Day and it was a boiling 43 degrees! I spent 10 hours on an overnight bus from Sydney and typically, found myself on a bus with The Adam's family! The daughter starting crying hysterically as she was claustrophobic and her father couldnt help but make himself known and ask if it was okay if she sat next to me
Melbourne and I fit together - that's just the way I felt right from the beginning. Although it's a city and I wouldnt identify myself as a 'city' person, it never really feels like a big city to me. The city centre is tiny and no more than half an hour away from any of the suburbs. It is set out like a grid so its impossible to get lost and extremely easy to find your way around. For me, this is ideal as most will know I havent really got much spatial awareness (!) and my sense of direction is less than perfect! Within three days, I was finding my way around, knowing which trams to catch and this made me really happy :)
Melbourne's transport system is amazing - trams are the most common form of transport and Melbourne is known for them. I really like the system - it feels very old school and traditional and Im not sure why, but I just like using them
A massive river runs through the city called The Yarra and aligning the river are gorgeous parks and BBQ pitches and beautiful architecture - namely The Arts Centre (restaurants, bars, theatre, open air cinema), a complex called Southgate (!!), and Federation Sqaure - a massive, stunning outdoor square featuring cafes, live entertainment, a massive TV screen and museums. I love just relaxing in Fed Square - I watched the fireworks here on Australia Day, the tennis for the Australian Open and live comedy for the International Comedy Festival. If I could liken it to anything, I would say Covent Garden on a beautiful sunny day. Melbourne really is a stunning city, which I have hopefully captured in my photos
As most people know, Im a doer and there is ALWAYS something to do in Melbourne and this is what I initially loved about my hostel. Every morning, they would have a board of all the things that were on in the city that day - markets, festivals, events, shopping outlets open etc and how best to get there. So, what I will do is list all the different pockets in Melbourne that I have discovered so far and tell you a a little bit about them :)
1. The CBD: The city centre of Melbourne with old school arcades and little laneways, graffiti art, up market bars and restaurants, little cafes, museums, the IMAX, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Ethiad Stadium, Rod Laver Arena for Concerts, Queen Victoria Market (biggest outdoor market in Melbourne) and beautiful gardens. I loved my first month in the CBD - I enjoyed dancing to live music in bars, spending job hunting days at The State Victoria Library (the most magnificent building and my favourite so far); a great comedy night, outdoor cinema in deckchairs in the Royal Botanic Gardens, going to The Australian Open on an amazingly hot day - I dont even watch Tennis at home but it is just so massive in Melbourne and I couldnt be here without going. Atmosphere was amazing, seats were fab and all in all - a great day
2. St Kilda/ Acland Street - edgy, quirky part of Melbourne infamously known for patisseries, ice cream parlours, the esplanade and beach, live music and Luna Park - an awesome amusement park! I absolutely love St Kilda - I now live 5 minutes away and love running along the beach and watching the sunset or just reading a book on the esplanade. St Kilda festival in February was awesome - a completely free festival whereby all the surrounding roads are closed off and everyone fills the streets and the Esplanade to watch different stages of live music. I just couldnt get over the fact that this festival was free - it was unbelievable! Another amazing feature of Melbourne is how much entertainment is free - I now know which bar on a Sunday night to go to if I want to watch live music or which cafes are the most buzzing :) My hairdresser is on Acland Street and the guy that does my hair is actually a Brit and we have good banter hehe
3. Chapel Street - divided into Windsor and Prahan (very chique and expensive) and South Yarra. Chapel Street is the place to come for shopping!! This is where TopShop has opened up (as you can imagine, quickly became a hotspot for me!), when you can find amazing fruit, bread and vege markets, branded and high street shops - some of my favourite are SportsGirl, Cotton On and Cotton On Body and General Pants Co. :) Chapel St is also the place to come for bars and clubs if you dont want to go into the city - also, 5 minutes in the other direction from where I am now living, its awesome :) However, living here is extremely expensive as its such an amazing location.
4. Fitzroy - definitely my second favourite pocket in Melbourne after St Kilda. The most famous street here is called Brunswick Street, crossing over with Johnston and Smith Street. The best two words that I can think of to describe Fitzroy is vintage and quirky! Its got loads of vintage clothes shops, book shops, cafes, organic food, live music venues etc. I really love it here and genuinely feel in my element just browsing and taking it all in :)
There are so many other pockets of Melbourne which I have yet to discover but these are the main places where I have spent my time and become familiar with. All of these places are a tram ride from the city centre and completely accessible - trams run on the weekend until about 3am and alternatively,a cab ride is never far away.
Whilst touring, I also spent a day on The Great Ocean Road - absolutely stunning! Here, I witnessed the 12 Apostles, Bells Beach and just stunning beauty with wild Koalas en route. I also attended the infamous Neighbours night and visited the set!! This was a brilliant day - got to see Paul Daniels performing live in his band and met some characters - namely Steph who was always one of my favourites haha! Sorry if youre not a Neighbours fan - but if you are, you will appreciate the excitement
As I recall my adventures in retrospect, I select the best parts but I must also be honest and mention that January and February were also very turbulent times for me emotionally. Whilst touring, I was also job hunting and this turned out to be a very difficult, disheartening process. As most of you will know, I intended to come out here and teach in the second half of my year. I arrived in the equivalent of their Summer holidays in January so schools are closed and positions are mostly filled. Although I was partially aware of this, I didnt realise how difficult it would be. Psychology, although a subject taught over here, is no where near as established or as popular as it is back home. Jobs are few and far between, always require a second and usually third subject and also hired by the term as opposed to a contract 6 months +. I spoke with recruitment agencies and although they assured me that I was extremely experienced and had a lot to offer, I was on a temporary visa offering a subject which wasnt regularly looking for vacancies. I didnt stand much hope.
People suggested I do supply which I was very 'anti' - for two reasons
Financially, I was struggling so I started just applying for temporary casual positions in cafes, shops etc. Even here, they wanted experience!!! Two years experience working in a cafe - Ive been teaching and leading a department for 5 years - when the hell was I going to get experience working in a cafe!!? I exagerrated and embellished my little pub stint prior to travelling but theres only so much you can embellish before they start asking you to demonstrate making an extravagant latte as a barrista!!!! 1. I dont drink coffee or tea and 2. Ive never served a latte in my life! Oh dear... I laugh now but I was NOT laughing back then...
I spent my days extremely low - I genuinely felt I had failed; I had come abroad to settle in Melbourne and apply my teaching experience and skills and was failing. I started questionning myself on why I had left a very good job and a secure lifestyle for something so unsettling and disappointing. I spent several phone calls to my sister and mum crying my eyes out as I genuinely felt I was going to have to come home.At the time, I was living in a hostel barely affording my room
Unfortunately, during this time, my brand new laptop got stolen as well :( With it, my memory stick with all my photos, personal information, long job applications... everything! In retrospect, the actual story is very funny. I stayed in this specific hostel for two weeks and had to change rooms. In my first room, I shared with ten other people which was really nice and always had my phone and laptop out etc
Anyway, I had a great day out and went out for dinner with some people I met on the tour. I came back to the hostel that evening and went to get my laptop and it was gone.... For anyone that has ever had anything stolen or lost a memory stick, you will appreciate the sheer horror as the extent to what you have lost unfolds in your mind. Primarily, I realised the pictures and then all my work that I had invested over the last week into my job applications, cover letters etc
Anyway, whilst I was staying with my friend in Elwood a week later, I received an email from a young boy and I will paste to you the contents of this email:
'hi nat how r uthis is me umar akrami m the son of that person to whom u sale ur hp mini laptopwell... i find u through the usb device inside the bagi m msginu u coz i have a problem... u set a passward to ur windows 7.. if u dnt mind please give me the passward ov hp mini through which i could access to my laptop...i ll b very very thank ful to u for ur this act of kindness
Regards my arse!!!
hay nath r umay b fine but i dnt want u to b finenow listen i received e mail from ur police.
i dnt have any tension if they charge me or say me to return ur laptop.coz i never give them in any case coz i had paid 130 Australian dollars to the shop keeper to purchase ur laptop. if u want receipt then i ll send it to u in attachment. if u want to get ur laptop and ur pink flash drive back, give me my 130 dollars and pay postage expenses too to get it back. otherwise i want u to get the charge back u did in police station coz i challenge u that they cant catch me. i am very close to the ig of pakistan he is my first cousin so its ur time wastage to do this all. but listen carefully if u ll nt get ur charge back lamme clearly tell u i have ur all personal and private confidential information, i ll show u nearly what i can do. now its up to u.'
Nice huh?! Not so polite in his later email?!! ve been assured that he cannot do anything with my documents. All in all, I know I will never see my things again but I guess so much time has passed now, Im no longer bothered. It's now a story - I just wish he could have been punished for what he put me through that day.What I will will publically do however, is take this opportunity to thank my sister for her support at this time - she was the true epitome of a sister at this time and I would never have been able to get through it without her
So.... where am I at now?! Ok..... in quite a different place :) So, when my teaching/ student support/ hospitality job search was becoming less than successful I began to go down the nanny/ au pair route. It would never have been my first choice as I love working with young adults, not babies ideally. However, I did think it would be a cool opportunity to live with an Aussie family for a few months, have my accomodation sorted and apply my skills. I joined a few agencies which seemed hopeful although I was still told that given my lack of experience with babies and toddlers, it would still be difficult. Anyway, it got to Australia Day on January 26th - I wanted to enjoy it and met a really nice Canadian girl in my hostel and was in contact with some girls I had met travelling in New Zealand who were now settled in Melbourne. I went out for the day which was absolutely awesome - the streets were filled with celebrations and BBQs and fetes and music - it was great and I lost myself in the day, with fireworks in the evening. I got back to my hostel late that day and felt guilty as I hadnt been on my email or checking for jobs all day so I quickly went onto Gumtree which is massive in Australia - I had put an advert on there as a nanny looking for work and was also looking at adverts that had been posted. I wasnt even going to look that evening...
I went for an 'interview' the next day - it was like the Spanish inquisition!! The parents, grandparents, great grandparents were all there, questionning my intentions etc etc!!! As I approached the house, I couldnt believe the luxury - the most beautiful home I have ever seen
I now live with The Weinman family - the nicest, most warmest and welcoming family I have ever met. I am in love with the children I look after - Gabriel and Raphael (Gabe and Raphi) are the twins and Ellie is the little girl. Dean and Ilana have been married 8 years and met when they were very young - they are now in their early 30's and I can honestly say they are my closest friends here. Ilana and I are extremely close - we look after the children as a team and I dont even feel like I work for them - they have accepted me as part of their family and we all do everything together. I have two days off a week and all my evenings are my own. I have my own room, bathroom and walk in wardrobe (!) and use the car whenever I go out. I can honestly say I have never felt so content and balanced in my life, with a true sense of belonging. They have introduced me to their friends who are now becoming my friends and we have amazing Friday night dinners with 15 people every week, we are currently celebrating Pesach and they made me a wonderful birthday and got me lovely gifts. Ilana wrote me the following birthday card which sums up or relationship:
'Dear Nat, Wishing you a very happy birthday, full of all the wonderful things you deserve
Life is really good - my plans this year are to see as much of the state of Victoria as possible which is beautiful - lots of mountain ranges and country. Next year, I hope to see the other coasts of Australia. Im slowly but surely meeting people - I went to an awesome music festival a few weeks ago and met a few guys from Guildford who have been living here for a few years and they have kind of taken me under their wing and we go out and have a laugh. Ive met a group of Jewish girls who Im slowly building friendships with and making arrangements with regularly. I am also spending great times with a group of girls I met travelling in New Zealand who are living here for the next 6 months.
I read a quote the other day from the Dalai Lama which said: 'Sometimes, not getting what you want is a brilliant stroke of luck'
Everyday however, I miss you all so much. I miss the belly laughs with my friends, the nights out, the chats, the common understanding, the friendship that is there without trying, the hugs, the tears, the laughs... I love you all and could not have gottten through this last 6 months or even had the confidence to go at all without you. I believe true friendship is maintained inspite of distance.
All my love.... until my next adventure....
Bye for now xxxx