Location: Melbourne, Australia
Highlight: Australian Open Final in the fanzone – Federer vs Nadal
So we have finally arrived at the number 1 most livable city in the world for the 6th year in a row (according to the Economist) – and I was particularly excited about it having read so much beforehand.
It was love at first sight.
Actually, it was love at second sight if first sight was our very budget hostel dorm room with 16 beds in it (and a fist fight involving two drunk Scottish residents one night, but I’ll not go into that in too much detail).
Simon and I separated on day 1 almost as soon as we touched down, as I had a music festival (St Jeromes’s Laneway Festival) to hop off to once we checked in to the aforementioned hostel.
A good friend of mine, James, who is living in Sydney was a legend and popped down for the festival as I didn’t have any company when I mentioned it to him, and two lovely girls that I met in Boracay in the Philippines moments after James said he was coming; Emily and Sarah. The girls put a BBQ on for us at their home and taught me how to operate it Oz style:
The festival was great – the sun was out all day, the people were partying hard and were so approachable, and it had all the great festival vibes I was hoping for.
My only gripes were that the sound quality was poor from the speakers, and the location was in long, thin street lanes so unless you wanted to force your way through the crowds or miss some of the bands (neither of which I wanted to do) you were stood too far away from the stage to see very much. But I still had a brilliant time and saw some bands I will definitely be seeing again in the future in better laid out venues.
When Simon and I met up again, we both said simultaneously “I-love-it-here-let’s-stay-forever-it’s-so-amazing”. He had a similar experience of friendly, happy people watching the Australian Open women’s final in the fanzone. Everyone we met was loving life and had big, warm smiles on their faces.
A couple of days of exploring the city in clear blue skies, watching one of the biggest tennis matches in history on the big screen just outside the venue where it was happening (Federer vs Nadal in the Aus Open final if you need me to spell it out. If you don’t know who won, you probably don’t care either so I won’t tell you.) and wandering to the beach.
There was so much happening while we were there that we couldn’t see it all. There was Chinese New Year, Gay Pride Parade, more music festivals and live shows, Grand Slam tennis finals, exhibitions by David Hockney and Banksy; we needed months to get round it all. It seemed that there was always something exciting happening in Melbourne, throughout the year and not just in the glorious sunshine that we experienced. They have a focused live music plan which is seemingly doing wonderful things for their thriving music scene, and another survey of 20,000 people recently showed that:
“73 per cent of Melburnians saying they loved living in their city, more than any other”
” 55 per cent saying the city was an ‘energising, inspiring place to live'”
… but London was highest for “frequency of hangovers”… so…
Anyway, on one of our days, Simon’s school friend Matt kindly drove us down the beautiful Great Ocean Road. It wasn’t the best weather but we managed to avoid getting too wet, and the views were darned lovely.
and we even spotted a couple of critters in the wild on our way:
The next day, after more sightseeing…
…we met with another of Simon’s friends in Melbourne (popular bloke, isn’t he) who showed us around some of the cool bars and eateries in Collingwood – he’s been a chef for over 15 years so unsurprisingly he knew what he was talking about! We drank at a lovely rooftop bar called (don’t judge it on the name) Naked for Satan which overlooked the city on a gorgeous summer day, then after a Greek kebab we were back in the hostel and googling how to find work in Melbourne and learning all there was about the income tax situation (you can take the accountant out of practice, but you can’t take the practice out of the accountant…)
Next stop: Christchurch, for the start of our NZ adventure…
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