Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Chapter 7: 10 Great Days in Melbourne!

So, I've returned from Melbourne in one piece, thankfully. Apart from a hole in my wallet, a bit of a burn and some new friends I haven't changed much. Or maybe I have! It was daunting to pack up an go to a new city. I didn't know my way about, barely knew another soul (except for one Irish friend from home). I felt like a fish out of water. After checking in at the hostel, I headed to the common area and within minutes found myself engaged in a giant game of Jenga. That's how you get to know people. I met a lovely girl from Dublin that night. Small world, huh! She's lives one suburb over from me! Mental.

The hostel was a pretty cool place. Strict enough in matters of drinking and that made it a pretty safe environment to spend ten days. They staff were great. They really made an effort to provide entertainment each night. I arrived on Monday, which was game night (i.e. Jenga, Monopoly, Uno, Nitty Gritty etc.). After, we went to the Espe, a bar down near the beach. There was a band playing called Secret Tsunami. They had a great front man, who totally rocked a pink cowboy hat! Alas, I have no evidence. That was an early night for myself and my Irish friend.

The next night was New Years Eve! We had drinks in the hostel in the garden before we went down to the beach in St Kilda. Standing in the ocean as the clock stuck 12 and rung in the new year as a new person. Honestly, I've never felt more alive than I did then. Knee deep in warm water, looking at a cloudless sky on the other side of the world! It was incredibly liberating! At that moment, I made a decision to leave 2013 behind and to move forward. I also decided that I was going to stay on in Australia. More on that later. Didn't get any firework photos but, if you can imagine the entire city skyline stretched out in front of you, the lights of the city twinkling at you from all sides, stars and constellations in clear view, seagulls frolicking over the baby waves crashing on the sand, music blaring in the background - coming from a packed pub on the beach, people counting back from 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.....and then colours exploding against the inky black sky. Hugging anyone and everyone. Splashing around in the water. Lots of laughter. Never felt so free. A great start to the year.

New Years Day was a bit of a washout. Yes, rain. So I may have watched cricket all day...or maybe it was random movies. I can't remember exactly. I was hung-over! By the evening we had started drinking again. This was Wednesday. Think it was a pretty civilised night!

Thursday, I took a tram into the city for the day. I have lots of photos from that trip. I love Melbourne. It's very easy to navigate your way about. I got off at Federation Square, which is near South Bank/the river and proceeded to wander around the neighbouring side streets.

Flinder's St Station

Side View of Federation Square

View towards MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) on the river

Cathedral off Federation Square

View from Federation Square towards South Bank

It's very difficult to get lost in Melbourne. There is actual accurate sign posts, not like in Ireland. Walked up Swanson St to the National Library. The sun was shining down and it was great to be out in it. I had a look at a free exhibition inside about the architecture of the building. On route, I had passed Chinatown and the main shopping district.

 Front of National Library

 Statue outside

After that I took a walk up to Russell St to the Melbourne Gaol. This is where Ned Kelly served his sentence and was killed in 1880. I also saw the City Court which is on the same street. While I was in town, I did the mandatory lunch and shopping routine before I jumped on a tram back to the hostel.

Melbourne Gaol

That night is when all the fun kicked off! Haha! There was a BQQ back at Habitat (the hostel) or a sausage sizzle as it can be called here. I was sitting with my Irish friend. We got chatting to this young Aussie guy. After a few drinks, the three of us took a trip back into the city. We went to a bar in Chinatown - I can't remember the name of it, so you know it was a good night haha! All I know was that it had this fantastic vintage Juke Box, a supply of Jameson and a pool table. Also, we Irish drank the Aussie under the table and staggered back to the hostel around 4am.

Got to see a pre dawn view over St. Kilda Beach. As you can see, it's a pretty nice photo!

Friday, well after only two hours sleep, I obviously didn't do much! We did a cool thing that evening though, now that I think of it. I had volunteered to go down to guide the penguins into the pier. They come in at night to breed, feed their young and to shed their feathers (which they do all in one go). It's not a march of the penguins scenario but there were a few about. Each of us were given a high vis vest and a red light touch. We had to make sure that nobody was taking flash photography. Penguins are very sensitive to flash photography and it can cause them to go blind and therefore they wouldn't be able to hunt/see underwater. Funny enough, they don't register the colour red. So when people wanted to take a photo, we were on hand to light their way - so to speak! It was fierce windy up their on the pier. If I was to live in Melbourne, I would definitely volunteer every week!

This is the turnout on the night we went down. Packed!

Saturday, I went into town to meet up with a friend from Galway. We went to the National Gallery of Victoria. It was a really diverse experience. Very child friendly and I got to make a bracelet and take it home. I watched a bit of the cricket with a group of Poms in the afternoon and that night we all went out dancing. Made a few new friends. It was one of those perfect nights out. Sunday, we watched the last match of the Ashes (Cricket). England v Australia and it was a wash out! Aussies won 5-0. Had a cat nap in the afternoon. Had drinks with the Aussie, who was on a high after the cricket. Beat me at pool and then we watched Pulp Fiction until stupid o'clock in the morning!

Monday, I went to meet another friend in the city. We went to this place called Lentil As Anything. It was a vegetarian restaurant, where they had no set prices. You could have as much as you wanted and then donate what you thought the food was worth. It was delicious and the idea is pretty cool. I heard a story about a guy who brought his girlfriend on their first date there. You'd think that wouldn't go down well but after they ate he donated 50 dollars before he left which certainly impressed his date. That night, there was a fierce game of Monopoly going on at the hostel when I got back. Over a few drinks, of course! It was game night at the hostel and it wasn't long before the giant Jenga resurfaced. It was fun and then we went out dancing that night! Great fun!

Tuesday was definitely a movie day! The Fast and the Furious and Catch Me If You Can. I may have booked my flight back to Brisbane that day. Wednesday was my last full day in Melbourne, so my Irish friend Sara and I took a trip down to Brighton Beach which is a few stops away from the city by train. Brighton Beach is home to the colourful bathing boxes (I'd call them sheds) and gives you some nice views of city skyline.

We enjoyed playing the tourist and got lots of photos. It was a warm 25 degrees that day which was my downfall. I had forgotten to bring sun cream. The wind is very deceitful so you don't feel it happening, until it's too late. I had turned into a strawberry by late afternoon and was still a walking talking human radiator by 11pm that night.

I was sad to say goodbye to the people I had met that night. One or two people particularly. But, I'm sure we'll meet again as I'm planning to extend my stay in Australia. And we'll keep in contact in the meantime. But, as I had spent too much already, I knew it was time to go back, sleep, save and recuperate! It was a good thing though because in the days since I left, Melbourne has been hit with a heat wave. I swear it has hit 45 degrees at some point and we're expecting a slightly cooler heat wave her in Brissy over the weekend.

That's all for now,

Love Tasha x

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