Howdy hey readers! I’m back from a lovely four days in Melbourne so here’s the recap of my adventures there! Sorry that this post is so long, the past four days have been jam packed with activities!
Things you need to know about Melbourne before you read this blog:
1. Melbourne is located in the state of Victoria, a different state than Sydney which is in New South Wales
2. Sydney and Melbourne are rivals in every sense of the word
3. Melbourne was settled by entrepreneurial people, unlike the convict beginnings of Sydney
4. Melbourne is designed as a grid so it is fairly easy to get around
5. Everything in Melbourne is small and hidden. The best restaurants and bars are tucked away in back alleys with minimal signage. The city is small and unfranchised and has a strong cultural heart
6. The larrikin spirit (pushing the limits) lives on more in Melbourne compared to other cities
6. Everyone in Melbourne seems to be a hipster
7. Melbourne is located more inland than Sydney so it does not have beaches directly on the coastline
8. Melbourne is CRAZY about their sports
9. Melbourne is pronounced “Mel-bin”, don’t mess it up!
So our trip began Sunday morning with a lovely 6 am wake up call in order to make our 8 am flight to Melbourne. The whole program seemed to be riding the struggle bus that morning (literally) but thankfully, Australian airport security doesn’t require you to take liquids out of your bag, take off your shoes, go through a body scanner, or even show your boarding pass or your ID. Safe? Maybe not. Convenient? Definitely yes. When we arrived in Melbourne a quick hour and a half later, we dumped our bags at our hotel and immediately took a class “field trip” to the Queen Victoria Markets. The markets were basically a ginormous flea market type setup where everyone has their own booths and sells souvenirs, clothes, shoes, fresh fruits and veggies, and all that other jazz. We all bought some stuff, had amazing bratwursts for lunch (maybe just a little better than yours Dad), and went back to our hotel as happy little campers.
Quick note about our hotel, it was SO nice. We all had our own little apartments with kitchens and an ice cube tray that was to die for. Thank you BU for killin it with the hotel choice.
Peep Sid sleeping like a grandpa on the couch
After a couple hours of much needed rest, Sid, Nat and I (per usual) set out to go to St. Kilda, Melbourne’s most popular beachside town, located on Port Phillip Bay. Although it could not even compare to the beauty that is Sydney beaches, St. Kilda was beautiful with its safe beaches and cute boardwalk. We wandered the town for a while and then decided to get drinks and appetizers at a warm looking restaurant that had happy hour, a definite necessity. I will say right now that my only regret of this whole trip is not getting a pastry after dinner from one of the dozens of pastry shops in St. Kilda. They looked so scrumptious and it left me wanting one for the rest of the week with none to be found. So sad. All I wanted was a fruit tart, is that too much to ask? (S/o to Erika for fighting for my right to have a fruit tart, you rock)
Sunday night a bunch of us hit the Melbourne streets but, as happens on Sunday nights, they were dead. After bar hopping for a while, we ended up at this weird techno bar night club thing where the bouncer questioned our intentions of being there based on what we were wearing. “Do you like, know what you’re getting yourself into?” the bouncer said to us. Trying to seem cool and not out of place, we said it would be fine and walked in. It was not fine. The place was us (a group of 9 American girls) and about six other people. Plus techno music. Lots of techno music. Oh well.
The next morning, we had our one mandatory hour of class for this field trip because I guess there has to be a ‘study’ component to study abroad. When we were released, I walked over to Chinatown to get these meat filled sweet buns called baos, that I always used to get with my mom. They were yummy in my tummy and a great reminder of the Viv-ster.
Established in 1857, Melbourne has the oldest surviving Chinatown in the world
Obviously needing more sustenance than just one bao, we went to go explore the hidden laneways of Melbourne. We found a laneway (aka saw it on the Australia instagram and wanted to find it) that had a ton of little cafes and shops, so we stopped there for lunch.
Now that our stomachs were satisfied (or as satisfied as they’ll ever be, I’m not really sure if mine can ever be completely full), we started off for Federation Square, the meeting place for our academic tour of the day. We were about an hour early for our tour so we partook in some of the AFL themed activities happening in the area. On Saturday, the Sydney Swans are taking on the Hawthorn Hawks (a Melbourne team) in the AFL finals, aka the Super Bowl of Aussie football. Given that Melbourne is as obsessed with sports as Ryan Atwood is with wearing wife beaters, the party in Federation Square was quite expansive. There were tons of games with prizes, free give-aways, food, and interviews with players on a main stage. Natalie and I played a game that involved kicking a footy (the Aussie word for an AFL ball) into a net. We were the tallest people in the line by at least two feet. It’s fine though because we won an inflatable footy!
Against the desires of my inner child, we had to stop playing games to go on our tour where we were to learn about the deeply ingrained graffiti culture of Melbourne. I know that I have talked about graffiti in one of my earlier posts so I won’t go into too much detail here, but graffiti in Melbourne really is something special. While graffiti is prevalent in Sydney, it is much more popular in Melbourne, partly because of the rebellious, defy-the-man persona of the city. We walked down a bunch of alleys filled with graffiti that contained some truly mind blowing pieces. This tour reestablished my amazement for the things that people are able to create and reminded me how pathetically un-artistic I am.
Sometimes we try to be tough
We were even lucky enough to see some graffiti artists at work!
Full of artistic inspiration, we went to the grocery store so that we could make art out of our favorite thing: food. But then we got lazy and just bought a rotisserie chicken (I’m chuckling in my head at what I just wrote right now). After dinner, we made another attempt at Melbourne night life. Of course our program planned for us to go on this trip from Sunday to Wednesday, probably the worst nights of the week to go out – typical BU. No worries though, almost the whole program went out together so we brought the party to all of the bars we went to.
On Tuesday, we (pretty much every time I say ‘we’ I mean Sidra, Natalie and I because we are never apart) had signed up for a bus tour of the Great Ocean Road. The bus picked up a bunch of us from BU at 7 am and we headed down the coastline of Victoria. This trip basically consisted of driving to a ton of beaches and spending about 20 minutes at each of them. I could give you a more detailed description, but I’ll just show you some panos instead. I love a good pano.
Loch Arch Gorge
We stopped for lunch at the Koala Kafe which will now be famous for the first place I saw a wild koala! Actually I saw about four of them. I just love those cuddly little sleeping grandpas so much.
We also did a short walk through a rainforest which was pretty cool. The rainforest was fairly small because humans suck and destroy everything so I won’t go into much detail about our hike but as always, here are some pictures.
On the last two stops of our drive, we were able to see some of the most famous Great Ocean Road icons, the 12 Apostles and the London Bridge. Like this is the kind of stuff that pops up on Google images when you search for pictures of Australia. Absolutely breathtaking. We even got to see a whale wave his flipper at us while we were at the 12 Apostles! My first whale sighting ever! Thank you Midwest for limiting my whale-spotting opportunities.
The 12 Apostles (even though there are only about 8 left)
Rocks, man. They’re crazy.
After a long day of driving and beach frolicking, we were rightfully exhausted when we got home around 9:30 pm. Luckily we were able to rally for what was probably one of the most fun nights I’ve had in Australia so far. We ended up at a bar that served free McDonalds french fries, had a free photo booth and played throwbacks for an entire hour. Honestly could there be anything better? The answer is no, there could not be.
Wednesday morning we had to get up bright and early so that we could check out of the hotel by 10 am. We put our bags in storage and set out for our second academic tour, a recount of the life of Ned Kelly, an infamous Australian bushranger of Irish decent. After a raid on Kelly’s home in which Kelly, his brother, and two colleagues killed three police men in self defense, Kelly and his gang were proclaimed outlaws. They were forced to live in the bush and steal in order to survive. Tired of running, Kelly and his gang staged a final confrontation with the police at Glenrowan. The gang dressed themselves in homemade armor that repelled bullets and went to face the police. After many hours of gunfire, Ned Kelly was captured and the rest of the gang was dead. Ned Kelly was taken to Melbourne Gaol where he was tried and found guilty of murder. On November 11, 1880, he was hanged, leaving the world with the words “such is life” and solidifying his status as an Australian icon. Views on Kelly are very divided: some believe he is a murderous villain while others see him as a folk hero and Australia’s equivalent of Robin Hood. Pretty interesting stuff.
Ned Kelly’s armor, displayed at the State Library
Notice how it says for kids to dress up in the armor
After the tour, a group of us wanted to go to Fitzroy for a late lunch. We were told that this area had cool cafes and shops and we wanted to make the most of our last four hours in Melbourne. We ate lunch at an AMAZING spot that served breakfast until 4 pm. There were too many tantalizing options on the menu so Sid and I split a roasted chicken flatbread sandwich and a banana bread stack with pomegranate sauce. My tastebuds have been spoiled on this trip. Also I’m fat. We did some more walking and shopping but we were obviously still hungry. HUNGRY FOR A PASTRY FROM ST. KILDA. Ugh so much regret. We ended up a Koko Black, a super classy chocolate shop. It was cool to look at but chocolate is gross so I got a blueberry muffin from next door 🙂
With my sweet tooth fulfilled, we walked back to the hotel where the program was meeting so that we could load up the busses and head to the airport. This part is boring and ends up with me being back in Sydney. I will say that I honestly could not believe how happy I was to be back home to the city that has pretty much captured my heart. So props to you Sydney, you’ve done good.
Now that I’m back from Melbourne and have had time to reflect on my time there, I can understand why Sydney and Melbourne have such an intense rivalry. Melbourne is like Sydney’s artsy sibling that isn’t getting all of the attention it thinks it deserves. Even though Melbourne was once the richest city in the world and was recently voted ‘the world’s most livable city,’ Sydney remains more internationally known and Melbourne seems a little salty about that. During my time there, I could truly feel the culture of Melbourne seeping through all of the little laneways, something that is not always prevalent in Sydney. Overall, I’m glad that I am able to call Sydney home for this semester because I think that I would feel constricted and almost bored in Melbourne. Which is weird because Melbourne is one of the sister cities of Boston, a place that I absolutely love. Melbourne did remind me a lot of Boston in some ways but it was also very different. The people in Melbourne are very passionate about speaking their minds and questioning authority via protests and rallies which is not all that common in Boston. It’s cool that I can now make comparisons between not only Sydney and Melbourne, but Melbourne and Boston as well. I’m sure that this will change the way that I look at Boston when I get back to school and I’m pretty excited.
Tell me this doesn’t look exactly like Beantown
I could probably write another 20 pages about my opinions on all the cities I’ve been able to visit but I will spare you all. Plus I’ve been using this blog post as a way to procrastinate on all of the homework I need to do 😦
This weekend Sidra, Natalie, and I are off to the Gold Coast on a last minute trip. The weekend should consist of a lot of laying on the beach and relaxing so I’m pretty excited.
See ya on the beach!!