Hellllllllllllllo Melbourne, Australia!!! (pronounced Mel-bin here ;)
As you probably could have guessed, the culture here is very similar to America. This was one of the reasons I started here- a gradual transition to traveling in a country that at least speaks the same language! Aside from the obvious accents (so great!), they like purple cars, the boys wear short (er) shorts, the police stop you for random breathalyzers whenever, they drive on the opposite side of the road... even the steering wheel is on the other side of the car. Their street signs say “give way” instead of “yield” and things are measured in kilometers and kilos instead of miles and pounds. The also write the date backwards.... but in this case, I like it better. Means that I arrived on 13/12/11!! I looove cool dates/number/signs!!! I think it’s a sign of good things to come... and if my first week is any indicator, I’m off to a smashingly great start!
13-12-11. My first day! The actual day was kindof sad cuz I couldnt stay awake for the life of me! My 5pm “power nap” turned into me waking up at 5:30am the next morn! whooopsss;) BUT, the date is still awesome :)
Here's the top ten highlights from my first week!
10. Eureka Tower- most touristy thing I did. The highest building in Melbourne at 88 stories. The whole top floor is floor to ceiling glass so you get a pretty sweeeeet 360 view of the city. I also went out on... da da da.. the Edge!!! A glass box that protrudes out of the building and has a glass floor. That intro was totally fake... it was slightly lame! hahah! unless you’re afraid of heights it’s basically just like looking out the window ;)
|They made us wear those booties.. I was not happy about it ;) |
And.. the entry guy told me I could take this pic of a pic, so not stealing!
9. Mt. Dandenong- killer view over Melbourne at night. Went up there w/ Dazza and we had hot cocoa to even out the crazy cold breeze. He’s my awesome friend who picked me up from the airport, toured me around, took me to Healsville (#3!), let me stay at his place, and fed me vegemite! I know him thru Jill-do-ram, one of my besties (who just got engageddddddddddddd wahhhooo and I’m the MOH!!!). She did a semester here in college and didn’t stop talking about it forrrrever. You were right though Jillyhoo-- LOVE IT!
|The sign I made him when he came to USA in 2004!|
8. Queen Victoria Market- This is like most markets in big cities... anything and everything you want in small dirty booths and tons of people- fun! ;) I think the reason it was special though is I rode bikes there w/ Pete Saturday morning. He toured me around and we ate yummy borek (turkish) snacks while listening to street performers. Pete (and Gail) are the people I stayed with from Thur-Tue. I found them through this AMAZING website called www.workaway.info (which i highly recommend for traveling). Basically, you link up with people who will house and feed you in exchange for 4 hours of work per day. Pretty sweet deal... especially when it lands you with people like Pete and Gail. More on them to come ;0)
7. Drinks with new friends: My Miami friend BreeAnna was born and raised here in Melbourne. She not only sat w/ me before I left to go over ideas/suggestions, but spent plenty of time also setting me up w/ her friends here. The day I met them (Simon, Lachlan and Jane) I was getting home from a 14hr bus tour (#2!) and was soooo tired. I had a fleeting moment of almost wanting to cancel.. glad I didn't! We started out at a roofdeck bar and got to know each other, then moved to a Crreeeeeepppy bar in a dark scary alley called Croft Institute, hospital decor! Whoaa... totally straight out of a medical horror movie! We sat and talked there and I really enjoyed it. Noteworthy to say they bought both my drinks which was sooo unnecessary but sooo nice! Thanksss guys and thanks Bree! (ALSO, BreeAnna is my friend that made my awesome application video! )
|Specially done photo for the queen of jumping pics herself, Ms. BreeAnna Obst!|
6. Bike touring and city Tour Melbourne: Pretty much every day I rode Gail’s bike around. One day I rode waaaaaay across town, got lost and barely made it home in time for dinner! What I love about this city is how its used. Yes tourists everywhere, but the residents really seem to use and get the most out of the city. There are a zillion parks, free events and things to do, and lots of people using them. You could see tons of activity at all times of all days. Biking is such a great way to see more of a city... pretty cool. They other great way to tour a city? With locals :) P&G took me into town one day, walked me alllll over and showed me some really great streets/architecture/hidden gems. We ate out that night and then watched an Australian movie (Rabbit-proof Fence, good stuff) at home. I love this day. Success:)
|Exhibition Hall... love these columns|
|One of the pass thru block galleries|
5. Painting the railing-- This is the “job” I had to do for Pete and Gail in their late 1890’s two-story super-cute terrace house real close to the city center. They are in the middle of a renovation so the kitchen was the laundry was the bathroom type situation. Perfect :). I say “job” because they barely made me work and Gail and I had this fun banter where I would feel guilty if I didn’t do enough and she would feel guilty if she thought to was too late or too much :) aww, like a good momma! So, did this really make my top ten? Travel 1/2 way around the world to paint a railing? Totally! hahha... I know it sounds strange- BUT, I’m a busy body. I like to have things to do AND I love to be productive. It has always been work hard= reward for me. Soooo, yes, I actually enjoyed laying all over that stairway to paint those pickets... it made the relaxing/touristy/lazy things much more enjoyable! Plus I loved being able to help out Pete and Gail... ohhhhh they were SO great!!!
|Gotta get the bottom too!|
3. Botanical Gardens: My first day of workaway, Gail took to the botanical gardens. Love at first sight :) It’s this ginormo park, totally free to the public, everything in full bloom and perfectly maintained! All sorts of different landscapes, picture-perfect green lawns and plenty of happy-go-lucky park dwellers. It’s also a great run around the perimeter. Tons of people exercising. Dazza met me one day and we ran, and then I went again on my last day. Took me 19:07 minutes to do the 3.87km. Not too shabby for a freshly healed broken toe ;)
2. Great Ocean Road- okay, seriously.. this place is AMAZING. I could go on and on and onnnnn about this. The 14 hr bus tour was totally worth the 45 minutes we got at each site: 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge were my two favorites. It’s these truly amazing limestone rock stacks out in the water that we formed from erosion. I’ve realized that even though I’m an architect, natural landscapes are totally my numbero uno when it comes to visual orgasmo :) I really think I should look into tree house design- best of both worlds!!! This day was pretty stinking great. Happened to be sitting next to another solo traveler on the bus. We were chatty cathys, and we became unspoken partners for the day. YAY! It is nice to share the awesomeness :) We stopped probably 10-12 times, with honorable mentions going to the parrot encounter and rainforest walk. Look at the full album for awesommmee pictures!!!
|Erosion. Originally started with making caves, eventually eroded to arches, and now to just the stacks left. Still some of the stacks fall nowadays (last in 2005) so there are not really 12 ;)|
|Crazy arctic wind going on here!|
|How awesome is that?|
1. Family Christmas- This is what Im talking about! One of the things this trip is about for me -is to really get to know people, to learn about the culture, to join in the fun. Im doing tourist stuff, yes, but I want to do more of this! Partying isn't even on the radar. This, being part of this Christmas, was someethingggg very very very special for me! Pete and Gail were having their family Christmas at the house and said they’d love me to be there! All the family came, we drank champagne, listened to Australia comedy, ate pavlova (traditional aussie dessert, yum), and opened presents-- of which I got THREE!!! How cool is that?? Getting me any present was so unnecessary. I totally didn’t expect it but it was suuuuuch a sweet surprise! How truly thoughtful and kind is it for them to not only take in a stranger, but to do just about everything possible to make me feel welcome. Their family is as eclectic and varied as any, but incredibly welcoming. Not-a-one of the 14 people gave me the “who are you again?” look ;) I, classically, made great friends with the grandkids, and by the end of the night the little girl Charlie had said I was her best friend- awwww:). I think Im going to be spoiled by this workaway experience. Thank you thank you Pete and Gail (and Pete jr. and Emily), you’ve given me waaay more than just room and board!! ;)
|Gail loooooves to have her picture taken ;)|
|The Bells :) Welcome at my (future!) home anyday!|
|I prefer the self description of childlike, not childish :)|
So there’s my highlights folks! I really couldn’t have asked for a better week here in Melbourne, or even a better first week to my new trip! Be nice to a stranger... it's reallllllly appreciated :)
See full albums here!