What to say about Melbourne? Well given that I haven’t written in about 6 weeks (I know, I know, bad me) I will stick to the highlights and try to keep it short. I blame the delay in writing on the spring time change. That’s seems entirely reasonable, right…?
During October I signed up for a 4-week salsa course known as salsa 1.5! It became quickly apparent that I am not a natural dancer (like at all) but it was heaps of fun. I hoped to meet me people (which I did not entirely do – I mean obviously I met people because I had to dance with people but will they become friends is a question yet to be determined). Anywho, 1.5 has a steep learning curve. The first and second weeks are fairly basic and then the third and fourth weeks involve some complex footwork for the women. Nothing like a little challenge at the end of the day. All that said, it was great and I will definitely be back.
Canadian Banking Woes
Sometime after my arrival in Melbourne, I tried to take out money from a particular Canadian bank via an Australian ATM. After several failed attempts to access the account, I gave in and decided to make the international call. What a freaking nightmare. Almost an hour later on the phone with said Canadian Bank, in answer to the question what if it is my PIN and not the account, the bank rep said: “yeah, there’s nothing we can do over the phone to reset your PIN, you have to attend a branch.” Ummm hello. You have got to be kidding me. I repeated to the friendly (but apparently oblivious phone rep) that I was in a foreign country and would not be back for a year. “What am I going to do in the mean time? Can I add someone to my bank account? Appoint a POA? What are my options?” Bank rep to me: “I am sorry, I don’t think there is anything that can be done. Perhaps Western Union?” USELESS. SO USELESS. Let’s just say that was not a great night and to make a bad night worse, I was drenched in a storm. On a positive note, a week later it did get sorted out.
Finding Canadians Abroad
In Melbourne (like in Brisbane) I have been fortunate to meet some amazing Canadians abroad who have been super welcoming and inviting into their lives. I went to a lovely family dinner style potluck, my first ever clothes swap and a super fun spooky Halloween movie night. Big shout out to these peeps and their friends. Making new friends is no easy feat, and they have made it easier!
Melbourne Inner Suburbs and the Transit System
I know that this was discussed in my first blog – the conception of Australia burbs versus Canadian burbs – but I think a friend has hit the nail on the head re: the difference, so I would like to share this insight. As I mentioned previously, the Australian inner suburbs are not what Canadians think of as suburbs. Rather (as explained by my friend) they are just the different neighbourhoods that comprise part of a megacity. E.g., in Toronto there are neighbourhoods like Little Italy or the Junction.
Melbourne has a ton of inner burbs, but some of the more interesting burbs that I have explored (and I use the phrase “explore” loosely to mean picked a location (usually a restaurant) and walked to it) are St. Kilda, Fitzroy, Thornbury, North Melbourne, Carlton, Richmond and South Yarra. I can’t believe how many bars, restaurants, and cafes there are in Melbourne!! If you ate one meal at a different restaurant every day for entire year I don’t think you would see a quarter of the food/watering holes Melbourne has to offer. The point being –there are an untold number of fantastic options for eating and as a result my pants are getting the opposite of lose.
As you may know from my second blog, I live in Boburg (or the boundary between Brunswick and Coburg). Unlike the other suburbs, I think it would be fair to say that I have done a pretty intensive exploration of these two – and still I have so much more to see. So far I love it. Close to me is the creek, which has quickly become my favourite running route. I am trying to run twice a week. As I am writing this blog entry, I am a bit bummed because they are doing major construction in our area and it is almost impossible to access the creek. While I usually find it pretty difficult to get out and run (and to you know to keep running), I always feel great once the run is over!
On an totally unrelated side note –the Melbourne Transit system is out of this world! It is so good. With the mix of trains, trams and buses, there are usually at least 2 ways of getting where you need to go and it is kick ass! This pic is only the train lines!
The St. Kilda Pier
Did you know the St. Kilda Pier has penguins? I bet you didn’t (or at least I didn’t). The penguins are super cute and you can get fairly close to them (but no – you cannot take a penguin home with you). The penguins are very miniature! I sort of imagined them as these larger than life waddling bears (I don’t know why) but they are not. St. Kilda’s penguins are Eudyptula minor (in case you are interested).
The AFL Grand Final and Go-Karting
The AFL Grand Final was hosted in Melbourne. The two competing teams were the Richmond Tigers versus the Adelaide Crows. I have only ever seen 1 live AFL game – and it was an Adelaide game but I currently live in Melbourne and felt the need to cheer for the home team. Divided loyalties. So I decided to stay neutral. Richmond ended up winning and Melbourne went nuts (as Richmond should. I think it was over 50 years since they made a final). On a more self reflective note, this is definitely an instance where I should have exerted some more independence. I really wanted to watch the game but because I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to watch with me, I just stayed in (booo me). That was totally silly. Lesson learned for next time – when you really want to do something – just do it.
I also went go-karting for the first time ever (not by myself). How the AFL Grand Final and go-karting go together, who knows but I decided to chuck them together for the purposes of this blog. Go-karting was heaps of fun! I thought I did fairly well. I am not saying that I am now an avid fan of karting but I definitely want to go back (a couple hundred times). It’s probably the closest experience I will have (and need to have) of being a race car driver! Vroom!!!!!!
The Dandenongs (and Emerald Lake) and the Tulip Festival
To date, I have been fortunate enough to go the Dandenogs twice (once for the tulip festival and once for a hike)! The tulip festival were good (although admission was pretty expensive for being in the middle of nowhere) and I’m sure the cold and rain did not help my impression of the festival.
The hike (which is free once you get there) was amazing!! There are heaps of trails. I highly recommend it!! I was lucky to spot an Echidna (which is like an Australian porcupine). Apparently, Echidna are some of the few mammals that lay eggs. Weird. I know. I also went to Emerald Lake. To manage expectations re: Emerald Lake, you just drive up to this smallish lake and walk around. It’s not exactly what I would describe as special. Canadian lakes are way better. But f you are out in the Dandenongs already you might as well visit it!
Queen Victoria Market/Melbourne Winter Night Market
So the Queen Vic Markets double as a functioning market during the week and a food festival in winter and summer. Pro tip, if you go to the regular market on a Sunday, close to the end of the day you can get some great deals on fresh fruit and veg. DEALS!! They also have all other sorts of things at a regular market like chocolate, cheese, and meat. During winter (and summer, although what’s that saying – you got to see it to believe it) one night a week – the Queen Vic Market turns into the winter night market. At the night market there is great music, food vendors, vendors selling other wares, drinks, fire pits and an overall fantastic time!!!
During September and October – most Tuesdays evenings – I participated in Trivia nights. This was my first ever time trivia experience. I would say that I (and/or my team) are not exactly trivia champions (repeatedly coming in dead last) but it is so much fun! This is something that I certainly want to make part of my regular routine. My favourite team names: A Tribe Called Quiz and the Harry Potter and the Quizards.
The House of Mirrors Exhibit
The Melbourne festival was during September. One of the exhibits was an outdoor maze called the House of Mirrors. You entered into the maze and (no surprises here) the mirrors are set up to disorient you, confuse you, and hamper your way to the exit. It was great! I think I went in to the maze a bit over confident but by the end I was sticking out my hands and feet with the best of them.
Hanging Rock is about an hour north of my suburb Coburg. Apparently Hanging Rock is the scene of a famous Australian book (which I have not read) and Australian movie (which I have not seen). It is a volcanic formation and the views from the top are incredible. It’s about an hour easy climb. There are loads of nooks and crannies to explore. I would definitely recommend going, getting to the top, and just enjoying the views.
The Hair Product Crisis
Last but not least, a minor comment about moving across the world and trying to find a hair product that works for you. It’s basically an experiment. And by basically, I mean is. It took me 3 attempts, conditioner give aways and very damaged hair but it can be done!!! Eventually you will find something that works for you. Can this principle be applied more broadly to life generally? I don’t know. It seems too deep to think about at 5 pm on a Wednesday afternoon.