Melbourne With New Friends

Seda: Our accommodation arrangements were a little all over the place for Melbourne. For the first couple of nights we stayed at an Airbnb with a posh old lady who wanted to talk to us a lot!

Andy: We had just come off the back of a 4 hour journey in a very slow campervan with very little sleep, and we had the added bonus of being covered in mosquito bites. As much as I’m usually happy to chat, I really just wanted a shower and a snooze at this moment, not to hear about the efficiency of her newly installed fan system!

Seda: We were a bit annoyed at the train station by the ticketing system when we decided to take a trip to the Central Business District – CBD. If you ever plan to come to Melbourne, bear in mind that the only way to travel on public transport is to get their local transport card, and pay for it. The money you pay for it will not be returned when you finished with the card either. You can travel the world and see many big cities with no fee or for a returnable fee, including Sydney, but Melbourne could still be the city to disappoint you with their weird logic! Well I did write to them and got my views known which I’m sure they cared deeply about.

Our sightseeing didn’t start easily as it was 42 degrees that first day. We headed for a now favourite Australian spot of ours – the city Botanical Gardens. Andy simply could not function. I wasn’t too bothered because it was dry heat, not the muggy, sticky horrible humidity. On the other hand, no wet towels or shady spots could console my Englishman!

The trees, plants and flowers were very different from what we’ve seen in Australia so far. They were all very lush and green here thanks to cooler and wetter climate of Melbourne (except that extremely warm day). We were very impressed with these beautiful colourful gardens.

There was a relief from the heat in the form of a tropical storm in the middle of the day but it only lasted about 4 minutes. Eventually either because of the heat or because of our love for the arts, we ended up in the NGV – National Gallery of Victoria. We enjoyed looking at displays from Europe, Asia and Africa, but nothing from Australia. I must have missed the “national” part somehow.

We walked around with our $1 coffees as the heat receded a little bit. Eventually we had to get back to the mad house with 2 cats, 2 dogs and 1 talkative woman. She told us that as soon as someone booked the room upstairs, she would treat it as their space and respect their privacy. The only problem is she just can’t. First she came and knocked on the door to say there was fresh milk if we wanted coffee, and in the morning she was knocking on the door at 8.45 asking if we wanted a lift to the train station. She is helpful all right but just can’t help herself. I was at the door in my pyjamas and she was still trying to come into the room and chat to a still in bed Andy!

When we finally left her place, we were picked up by our very kind couchsurfing host Akash. Originally from Nepal, Akash came to Australia 4 years ago. His partner Michael was working the first two days so we initially only chatted to him when he came home at lunch time. In the meantime, we met his two sisters who lived nearby and all the birds, dogs, cats and chickens living in their house. Well the house and the surrounding courtyard I should say which is a luxury people get when they live a little further out of the city.

Andy: Akash had a great knowledge of Indian and of course Nepalese cuisines, and loved to cook. This time I got the lesson in how to make roti because Seda was fully trained in Mumbai. Akash also showed us how to make paneer cheese from scratch which was amazing to see. We got to watch it being prepared, and with the added bonus of eating it all later on! Both Michael and Akash are vegetarian which brought back memories of our time in India spent sampling all the veggie dishes available there.

Akash joined us on a day trip into the City on our first full day. We took the train form their outer suburb of Bacchus Marsh. It’s about a 45 minute journey from there through the Aussie countryside before arriving into one of the 4 main city centre stations. The first thing we did was search out Hosier Lane. It’s a really cool street which is covered in awesome artwork. Everywhere you look you see something new.

For lunch we had yet more memories of our time in India as we had a Thali – Veg of course! It was an unlimited place too, so we each about 15 pieces of roti, much to Seda’s exclamation of “I shouldn’t really!”

Seda: After our veggie lunch we saw a lovely park, went to a pride festival, did penguin watching and had delicious tea at a glorious coffee shop with an amazing view of the marina and city. Basically we had a fantastic day.

Andy: When we arrived in Fitzroy Gardens, in the shadow of the great MCG it was very quiet with hardly any people, or indeed possums around…

Akash took some awesome pictures of us two in Fitzroy Gardens which made us feel like celebrities.

Seda: I did my bit my bit of photography as well and captured them chatting, all natural…

Andy: After lots of smiling, we walked around St Kilda, eventually arriving at a coffee shop at the end of the pier. We had a drink overlooking the city and marina which was beautiful. We had a lovely afternoon with Akash.

We also had a little bonus of spotting some Little Penguins which had loads of admirers besides us.

We also stopped by at one of the local Pride festivals where Akash and Seda couldn’t resist posing with this local beauty…

The next day was Michael’s day off which he kindly spent taking us to Geelong Beach where they had loads of bollards dressed up as funny characters linked to the city’s history. Seda loved them, and of course wanted to photograph every single one, which occasionally meant Michael and I posing with them. It’s something that I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about until I met the beauty queen…

After a short coffee break we visited the local botanical gardens which was lovely yet again. Australians really do know how to look after and care for their parks and gardens.

Seda: After our day out, we came home to find Akash have been very busy preparing loads of lovely things including some chicken drumsticks for us. Even though he tried to play it down by saying “they were discounted, that’s why I bought them”. Such a lovely guy!

After leaving their house, we did stay in two more Airbnbs in different parts of the town. Practically here there and everywhere, true travellers spirit!

Still observing in Australia that…

  • There are sometimes awesome bridges across roads for animals to cross safely
  • You get stuffing in supermarket bought hot roasted chickens which is amazingly tasty
  • There a strange lighting groups in some bathrooms which include massive spotlights which also act as a heater
  • There are drive through bottle shops for when you simply have to buy beer, and time is of the essence
  • 24 hour car and dog wash! You just never know when you‘ll need to wash the dog at 3am!
  • Drumsticks have a a very different meaning here.
And what the hell is a “Golden Gaytime”?!

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