Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Melbourne

Looking back on my 3 weeks in Melbourne I just feel there is a 3 week void in my travels. Suffering major post Asia blues, being in Melbourne seemed to be more of a problem for me than a joy. It was cold, everything was about 5 times more expensive and the prospect of having to get a job out here did not (and still does not) seem very appealing. That said I did have some good times while I was in Melbourne and it wasn't all bad. It's just all this time I have thought about how I would much rather be back in Asia where my money goes further, the days are warmer and does share about a million similarities with home. Actually the more I think about it the more I would probably rather be home right now, the only things keeping me out know is the fact I would not have a job to go back to... anyway that depressing bombshell aside here is my experience of Melbourne.


First night as you can see from the post below, I was freezing my arse off, coming from 3 and a half months of mid to high forties to then walk out of an airport into 8 degree blustery winds was not a nice experience. The hostel we stayed in was damp, had no heating in the rooms and was also a huge sterile place full of people I really did not want to get to know. My first night in Melbourne/Australia basically involved me being miserable. My own personal feelings aside I could see what people liked about Melbourne, St.Kildas where I stayed the first night was very picturesque, a coastal suburb with a old theme park and lots of little boutique shops. It would have been amazing in the summer and the more I saw the more I felt like I had made a huge mistake coming here in the winter as it was so obvious how much better the place is in the summer.

I thought it would be a good idea to not dwell to much how much I did not want to be here and take a tram to an area I had read a bit about which sounded pretty cool. I thought if I saw more of the place I wouldn't feel so lost and would slowly start to feel more settled. So we jumped on the tram to Fitzroy, a suburb to the north of the city about 40 minutes from where we were staying. Fitzroy was mint, full of awesome shops, graffiti bars and restaurants and was exactly the sort of places I like to go back home. The only downside was everywhere I went I was shivering. We stopped to get some dinner and Tommy and I discussed our first impressions of Melbourne. I don't Tommy was missing Asia as much as I was and I also think he wasn't being such a pussy like me about the cold but he also liked this area and was very much up for trying to find a place to stay in Fitzroy. We asked around a bit and eventually got the name of a hostel on the border of Fitzroy and Carlton called The Nunnery.

The Nunnery turned out to be a real lifesaver for me in terms of how I was feeling and what I thought about Melbourne. The minute I arrived at The Nunnery and looked through the window to see an open fire I knew I was going to like it there! We went in and asked if there was space and how much. There was but it was $30 a night for the cheapest rooms, not as expensive as Japan had been, but now we really didn't have that sort of money. Slightly disappointed I felt maybe just a couple of days comfort may help ease me into Australia so was prepared to pay the extra even if it was just for a few days. The Nunnery turned out to be my home for the next 3 weeks! It was pricey but done right it actually worked out cheaper than most hostels due to the saving that could be made. They had free towels - bonus, free breakfast - bonus and they also left food out such as bread and Vegemite which if desperate could be put towards a free lunch. As well as that they had free wine on a Friday! Free pancakes on a Sunday morning and free vegetarian meal night once a week. All these freebies really added up and all in all the $30 a night Nunnery experience didn't work out to be that much. The Nunnery was real homely and was just nice having a bit of comfort after several months and really helped me to cheer up and enjoy Melbourne. There was a real good crowd at the Nunnery, a lot more "older" people around the 30 something bracket but still had a nice chilled out vibe. Something else I liked about the place was the ironic way they ran the place, it was full of religious pictures and paintings, a few bibles and the staff refereed to themselves as "The Nuns" it was a nice little touch which at first I had to work out whether or not it was actually a joke or not but added to the character of the place for sure.

One of the first things we got involved with was a trip to the the Etiade stadium to see a bit of Ozzy Rules football. There is nowhere else you can really watch Australian Rule Football (unsurprisingly) so thought it would be a great way to see a bit of what Australia was all about. We rocked up to the 50,000 seater stadium but unfortunately all the seats were full, but to our surprise they also had standing areas. This area was just behind all the seats on each level and meant you could just sort of hang around and watch the game for a slightly reduced price. We saw Carlton V St.Kilda, both Melbourne teams. Carlton up to this point had been undefeated this season which explained why the stadium was packed. Also after our night in St.Kildas we also felt we had some allegiance to one of the teams, better still for me it was the underdog who I always like to see do well. I had no idea what was going on at the start of the game, it just seemed like lots of men in vests, pushing each other around playing a weird version of rugby. By the end I had basically got the impression someone kicks the ball, if you then make a clean catch you basically have a free kick or pass, un-tackled, of the ball towards the goal or player near the goal. Other than that there didn't really seem like much to it. It was a quality night in the end, I was obviously cold, but I forgot about that and just stood back watching the game and but seemed to watch all the Australians around me even more. It was great to see the banter between them all and the main thing to note was that the fans are not separated into home and away aras, everyone just sits where ever they want. I left that night feeling pleased I caught some AFL as well a starting to feel a little bit more settled in Melbourne.

I also got up to a lot of picture taking while I was in Melbourne. But not of pretty things like the parks and the lakes or the skyline but of the Graffiti. I love graffiti, only when its done well though other wise its just a mess. Melbourne has a lot of great graffiti and Fitzroy especially seems to have a huge amount of it. So on a couple of days when I was bored but didn't want to spend anything I would head out with my camera and take some snaps of any of the graffiti which took my fancy. I also got a lot of use out of my new wide-angled lens which I think really suits graf photos as it gives them a pretty edgy look (Well I think so anyway). One day I will put a whole album either up on here or an facebook of all the snaps I took, I think I have 300 or so as I couldn't get enough of it, but for now I will just put a few up on here. It was a great way of passing the time though, especially when I am trying to save money.

Despite saying I was trying to save money I still seemed to have the available funds to go to the iMax cinema. Despite holding a degree in film I had never been to an iMax cinema back home mainly because there is not one in Norwich or York and never really been that bothered in seeing anything at one. However I was living right opposite the worlds 3rd biggest iMax cinema so thought it was about time I went to see what all this iMax shiz was about. I ended up going twice altogether firstly to see Star Trek (Awesome) and then Transformers (Dogshit!). The screen size blew me away and at times I actually felt a little ill but would definitely like to go again some time. Would have loved to have seen "Watchmen" on iMax would have been unreal.

As well as the iMax chipping away at my steadily depleting funds I also did go on a few nights out during my 3 weeks in Melbourne, none of them were anything major and none really broke the bank but if you really want to save money going out and drinking really isn't the way to do it! I've felt though one of the best ways of getting to know a city is by having a few beers and crawling round a few of the bars it has to offer, it is obviously more difficult the bigger the city is but you do get to see more and definitely another side to a city through its night life. There were 3 stand out worth mentioning while I was here. First night was my first night out in Melbourne with a few people from the hostel and my first experience of how Australia doesn't have pints. Instead a collections of various sizes all smaller than a pint such as a pot (?!) and a scooner (?!). I also went to a few bars and finished the night of with an Australasian Kebab, which was actually awesome. Then another night was a Dub step night at bar just round the corner from the hostel. The music there was mint but it being a Sunday night meant there were very few people there. One funny thing worth mentioning was that for some reason, as I was from England they all thought I was some sort of authority on Dub step. The Dj's and bar owner started showing me loads of pictures of sound systems and telling me how powerful it was etc etc. At one point one of them said "Obviously it doesn't compare with what you guys have back home...", I pretend to know what they were talking about and just tried to make friends. The other night me and Tommy went out at about 00:30am. It was a late one so just went out for one, the best bit about this was that everyone was wasted other than us and got in some very unusual conversations with people. There was also a lot of high drama going on around the place as Fitzroy has a very large concentration of people I like to call "Art Fags". So there were a lot of people who feel like they are carrying a great deal of emotional baggage and pent up creativity which all seems to explode out on a Saturday night the minute they get drunk. Causing lots of tears, arguments and people just generally being a mess. As a sober observer I loved it.

Other than that I just spent my time in Melbourne casually looking for employment, catching up on the blog, enjoying the chilled out vibe of Fitzroy going in bookshops and coffee shops, trying not to spend anything of course and just taking advantage of the huge amount of time I had to think about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. It was nice completely slowing down and spending several weeks in one place, although it meant I really didn't feel like I was traveling any more which sucked.

One great thing about writing my blog is that it gives me a chance to think about and reflect about all the stuff I am doing while I am away and allowing me to gain a greater understanding of what I am up to and how it is effecting me. Well normally that's the case but after writing all this Melbourne confuse me. I think I really like the place, everything about it is cool. It is just the bloody weather that has ruined it for me! Everything I see and do all I think about is how much better it would be in the summer! I did have a great time here and I will be sorry to say goodbye to it but at the same time I cannot wait to get up north and get some sun. I thoroughly recommend Melbourne but wait till the Summer if you do come.

6 comments:

  1. "Sydney" Thats one overrated shitbag of a city right there!
    Besides...What is it with sydney.... always "trying" to compete with Melbourne.
    Melbourne is'nt commonly known as the worlds most livable city for nothing.

    Difference between visiting shitney and lebanon?
    ... Nothing.

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