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There are so many things to do in Melbourne. After all, it is the art and culture ‘capital’ of Australia and there you will meet the coolest Ozzies. Wait, have you ever met an uncool Ozzie? It’s impossible 🙂
The first thing you should do is get a coffee. Yes, a flat white and an Aussie breakky with avocado spread on toast, poached eggs and mushrooms. Oh, I miss those avocado-based breakfasts. A former Melbourne-based barista has put together a perfect list for you coffee lovers: http://www.meldmagazine.com.au/2013/01/melbournes-top-10-cafes
I have to say coming from freezing Scotland, Malbourne was not what I was expecting from Australia. Silly me I arrived in summer clothes, ignorant of the fact that Melbourne is the southernmost city in the country and also the coldest one. As we had many friends from Melbourne who we had met in the hostel in Edinburgh, where I lived for ten months, we decided to make that our first stop and thought we would stay there, for years to come. I remember telling my mum that I would make money and bring her to Bali LOL.
However things did not go as planned and after two weeks we decided to move to the countryside to work in a farm in order to gain the second year visa, for which you needed specifically eighty-eight days work there. One of my friends from home, Luca, who writes @ Flachitotravels, was living in Griffith and told me there was a lot of work so we booked our bus and were on our way there in no time.
We stayed at a working hostel, which was set in the middle of the countryside and provided little bungalows and shared dorms. We were staying in one of the bungalows with other two people and paying around hundredfifty dollars each per week. Every morning we would go to the kitchen to find out if we had work or not; there was a huge blackboard where the hostel’s boss would write the name of the farm and the name of the person that would work there; then, we were driven to the right place and picked up each day. Of course the longer you stayed the best opportunities you had; some people had been there for a few months and had a permanent job at some of the farms. I personally did a cleaning job to a massive ten bedrooms house, where I also had to cut the grass around the mansion (I wish I had a video of that, it was hilarious how the owner was telling me how to do it, I think he even felt tenderness for me in a way!), which lasted five days, then I sorted and packed oranges and I also pruned vines. We did not enjoy our time there that much, we worked too hard and it was very unpredictable. As explained in my other post, it is best to get your own car and your own place and meet locals rather than living that way. I am sure we would have had a much much better experience, like in fact my friend Luca did 🙂
Sorry again, I got a bit sidetracked, but again as you can tell, it is these experiences, the harder ones, that mean the most, because they teach you, they make you grow. And what can I say, Melbourne was also a great lesson, because next time I would do it differently, maybe I would not stay with friends, because it was too comfortable, and didn’t shake us enough. Our friends were living in a beautiful house thirty minutes away by train from Melbourne city centre, they picked us up from the airport, cooked for us, we shared food and gave us a bed to sleep in. You will say what is wrong with that? Well, every morning we would set out to Melbourne with our CVs, looking for a job, and by the time it was two we were so tired we would come back home to rest and after that we were never going back to town because it was expensive to go back and forth. When I got a job in a beautiful restaurant which seemed a very good opportunity for me, I didn’t take it because I didn’t want to get the train after midnight to come back home. All these little decisions we made were not good. I keep thinking that we should have gotten a room in a hostel, or even beds in mixed dorms to start with, and interact with people who were in our same situation, just arrived in the city, sharing information about work and all the other stuff expats do. The lesson here is do not compromise on things because you have friends there, or because it is cheaper to stay with friends, but do what you want to do and stay where you like to stay, even if it means spending more money.
However, if we had not stayed with our lovely friends from Melbourne, who I consider sisters (as remember we shared the same dorm for ten months in the hostel in Edinburgh), we would have never experienced some amazing stuff that locals do. One of the best day out was in fact at the Royal Melbourne Show, a huge fair showing animals, art and craft, cookery, attractions and so much more!
Or getting to St Kilda’s, Melbourne’s beach side, where surfers, more coffee shops, the Esplanade artisan market with arts and crafts and the many flying kites all create that bubbly atmosphere for which Melbourne attracts tourists and workers from all over the world.
And Queen Victoria Market where you can taste fresh food from all over the world.