Hello Mel

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I updated this blog. The last parts of my trip were arguably the busiest parts, but I know that’s a poor excuse.

The view was beautiful as I flew away from Cairns on Saturday, May 19. I arrived in Melbourne as the sun was setting. This was at about 5pm, which was noticeably earlier than in Cairns. It was also noticeably colder than in Cairns.

I got the Skybus into the city centre and a taxi to Nomads, which wasn’t a very nice hostel. I stayed there for the two nights I’d booked when I booked my flight, and then I moved to the ever-reliable YHA, where I was joined by Jemma who I’d met in Sydney and Brisbane.

Melbourne had a unique atmosphere. There were lots of street entertainers (some of which were good and some of which were awful), horse-drawn carriages taking tourists up and down the streets, graffiti-covered laneways, grand old buildings alongside modern ones, and trams to dodge as well as cars and buses. The free city circle tram was really useful.

I didn’t see much Melbourne nightlife – after all, pints generally cost over £6 and cocktails over £10 – but I went to the famous Young & Jackson Hotel. There were lots of places with rooftop bars, but the ones I visited didn’t have a decent view, and it was cold, so I didn’t stay long. I had a memorable evening in the bar next to Nomads with a couple of Aussies, after we won quite a lot of money on the games machine. I also spent a few evenings in the bar next to the YHA hostel, where Jemma, my roommate Michelle and I won a free jug of beer in the quiz.

I visited the large Queen Victoria Market, which seemed the best place to go for Australian souvenirs, and the very relaxing Fitzroy Gardens and Carlton Gardens, which contained the impressive Royal Exhibition Building. With all the red and gold leaves falling from the trees, I had to keep reminding myself that it was May. I also visited the Botanic Gardens and went up to the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower. There were amazing views of the city from there, and it made me realise that Melbourne is huge. I only saw a small section of the city.

I took the tram to St Kilda, about 20 minutes from central Melbourne. It was quite a quirky place, and I liked it. There was some cool public art, and some cake shops that made you feel like you were putting on weight just by looking at the goodies in the windows. There was a nice beach, and at the end of the pier, at dusk, you could see little penguins returning from the sea, which were really cute. It was while I was sitting at the end of the pier that I got chatting to an Aussie called Brad, who took me out for dinner followed by copious amounts of wine. We went to a bizarre bar called 29th Apartment which was fitted out like an apartment, complete with bed, bath, television and fish tank, and enjoyed some live music.

There were some very strange people in Melbourne. The one that stood out most was an old woman called JJ, who came and sat down at my table in McDonald’s. Without removing her sunglasses, bright red coat or black beret, she spooned ice cream into her coffee and told me all about her life and thoughts about the world. She was an inspirational character, who claimed to have never had a bad day. She said there was always a positive way of looking at things. I have tried to remember that.

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