Trip Start Sep 01, 2008
113Trip End Feb 26, 2010
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Where I stayed
Strangely for us, we somehow managed to both get about 8 hours sleep on the overnight bus journey from Sydney so were able to enjoy our first day as humans rather than the usual zombies. We enjoyed a tour of the CBD courtesy of the free City Circle tram and, as usual on our first day anywahere, walked around for miles. In this case, we wandered along the banks of the Yarra and sat in Federation Sqaure enjoying the sunshine and people watching. In the evening, we ventured into the hostel underground bar, to attempt to make new friends as we were going to be here for a while but were greeted with silence: there was nobody there! So we enjoyed happy hour drinks with the staff and regulars of the hostel then headed to bed.
We woke up terribly excited about the prospect of Christmas Eve in a foreign land
It was a little depressing to wake up on Christmas Day in a dorm room with no presents to give or receive so we tried to cheer ourselves up by having mince pies for breakfast. The day got much better though, as we had been invited to Christmas dinner at Jeremy's (a family friend of the Porters) house where 18 people were gathered together for the day
Boxing day in Melbourne means one of two things: Cricket or the races. As we had nothing smarter than our newly purchased jeans, we opted for the former and headed to the MCG to see the first day of the test match between Australia and South Africa. While neither of us are experienced cricket fans (in fact we spent most of the match asking each other whispered questions about what on earth was going on!) the atmosphere was infectious and we were soon cheering for fours ("TONKED!") and even stood up and cheered when Ricky Pointing got a century. The pace slowed after this point and, feeling slightly subdued after the previous day's excesses, we headed home for a Subway sandwich and some chillaxation with a film.
The next day was spent wandering around electronics shops while Stu compared prices of netbooks and mobile phones (I think he was missing having no Christmas presents to open so he had to compensate!). We finally found a netbook in the sale and bargained hard, finally being persuaded to pay slightly more than we wanted
In the evening, we were picked up by David (Stu's mum's cousin) and Elise and taken for a drink in an Irish pub before heading to the Telstra Dome AFL Stadium to watch Melbourne Victory against Sydney (soccer not AFL). While David and Elise sat in the season ticket holders' section, we bought general admission and sat up the top for the first half. Sydney somehow scored 2 goals in the first 10 minutes so we were a bit disappointed, as we were supporting Melbourne (sorry Rachel's Dad). By half time, Melbourne had scored then in the second half, we managed to sneak into the season ticket holder's stand with David and Elise and from there saw Melbourne's next 2 goals, meaning they won! The atmosphere was amazing and we are planning on coming to more matches if we can. After the match, we had another drink then headed back. A great evening!
Melbourne Gaol awaited us in the morning (no we didn't get locked up for hooliganism at the match). Despite expecting an old jail building to wander around, we were greeted with a number of interactive experiences including a reenactment of Ned Kelly's (Australia's most famous outlaw) trial (featuring 'volunteer' tourists reading from a script) and 'The Watch House Experience' where we were shown what happens when you get arrested and locked up in a police station cell in Australia (it's a bit different to Britain as ten people get shoved in a cell together and left to fight it out!). Our interest piqued, we headed over to the State Library of Victoria to take a peek at the armour worn by Kelly at the famous siege at Glenrowan (see pics)
In the morning, we got the tram to St Kilda and met Elise at Luna Park, an old theme park on the beach. There, we took a ride on the world's oldest working roller coaster, which was very rickety but good fun (the action shot they took at the park featured Elise and Rachel both holding their boobs, as it was so bumpy!) Following this, we took a walk along Acland Street, famous for it's cake shops and cafes and bought fish and chips and Pure Blonde beer to take to the beach. Although it was cloudy, it was still nice sitting on the beach, until Rachel managed to explode a pot of tomato sauce over her clothes, hair and face - typical! Elise had to leave so we stayed sitting on the beach for a while then headed back ourselves, stopping at the Rialto tower 360 degrees viewing deck for amazing panoramic views of the city. We were able to return for free later that night, so after cooking some delicious fajitas, we rushed back and were up the top in time for sunset and to see the city lighting up. On the way home, we explored the Crown Entertainment Complex which includes a casino, shopping centre, restaurants etc and is HUGE! We're ashamed to admit thaat we did indulge in a spot of gambling, losing a grand total of $3 in the process - we tried to look like we knew what we were doing, pressing buttons on the pokies but apart from Rachel winning 4 cents (which she couldn't collect as their smallest coin is 5c), we were pretty useless
A visit to Melbourne Zoo is an essential part of any visit to this city (as it is the oldest and best zoo in Australia) and so the next morning we headed out early on the train. We saw many wonderful species, our favourites being the frankly bizarre Platypus, the Meerkats, Giraffes, Penguins, Echidnas and the Orangutans although it was odd seeing them in captivity after Indonesia. In the evening we went to East Camberwell to meet up with some of our friends from Christmas Day. It was supposed to be a 'quiet night in' with a few games of tennis and maybe a dip in the hot tub, but after Rachel had hit all the balls over the fence and on discovering that the hot tub was out of service, we concentrated on drinking instead. The evening ended up with a drunken charades session and some interesting, over enthusiastic dancing from the girls (see photos). I believe Elise has now copyrighted 'The Ferret Dance'. Having missed the last train, we stayed in the spare room.
Unsurprisingly, we all felt pretty ill the next day, so we headed back to the hostel and went to bed to recover and prepare ourselves for New Year's Eve. At about 6, we headed to Richmond and met Elise, David and Anna (David's girlfriend) for a BBQ by the Yarra river. There were lots of people doing the same and it was a really nice atmosphere, especially when the group next to us started playing good music on their boombox
On our final full day in Melbourne and the first of 2009, we slept in late then went to see an exhibition Stu had wanted to see all week of the work of photographer Andreas Gursky at the NGV International. These are enormous, incredibly detailed panoramic shots of twenty-first century vistas, e.g. a formula one pitstop, Tokyo stock exchange, a 99c store in the US and a basket weaving factory in Nha Trang, Vietnam (been there!). We spent a while staring at them up close and deciding we would quite like one on the wall of our flat. Afterwards we took ourselves off for a 'bot-walk' around the Botanic Gardens and then along the south bank of the Yarra. Feeling peckish we bought a pizza and sat in Fed Square watching a video of the highlights of 2008 on the big screen. In the evening, we chilled out watching films in the movie room of our hostel.
We've had a fantastic time in Melbourne, having met so many friendly and welcoming people and we're really looking forward to coming back in February (although the prospect of looking for jobs and a flat is not so appealing!)