Tag Archives: Melbourne

Melbourne…again – day 143 to 146

Return to Melbourne
Flying back into Melbourne, my friend Wendy met me at the bus station. Wendy had “surfed” my couch almost 3yrs ago and we had stayed in contact (never know when the favor might be returned). She had just moved to Melbourne from Brisbane (literally the day before) and her work had put her up in an apartment where I was able to make use of the fold out couch. Its not what you know its who you know.

The next day I went downtown while Wendy went apartment hunting. Meeting up with James (my friend from the looney farm – see Boorowa blog entry) we hung out at the library and messaged each other from across the room as we checked our email. Then we went in search of food, I hate to admit it but I turned to the dark side and had KFC… At 6pm Ari (the 3rd member of the Looney Farm Escapees) joined us and we headed out to meet a fellow *couch surfer (see definition below). Ai is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Melbourne and he loves showing people all the hidden spots in his city. He gets so excited sometimes that it is hard to keep up with him.

We had a great night out with happy hour wine, good cheap asian food and ending with delectable deserts in Lygon Street. A great night was had by all.

Thursday Wendy and I explored the Victorian Markets on the free tourist shuttle, walked through the downtown area to the next shuttle stop and caught it to the botanical gardens. The gardens were fantastic but I must say not as diverse as I had hoped.

They have an excellent program where you can take a walk through the gardens with an Aborigine and learn about the values of the plants. Unfortunately you had to book and pay in advance so I was unable to take advantage of this great opportunity.

Then it was off to meet James and pick up some of my stuff I had left in his safe keeping and finally off to meet 2 more couch surfing friends and pick up my big backpack I had left in their safekeeping during my time in Tasmania. We went out for Vietnamese food and then they were kind enough to drop me off saving me the train fair and the hassle of carrying my bag.

Friday morning at the crack of dawn Wendy had to leave for a flight to Canberra for a meeting, I was only leaving that afternoon, but was able to stay in the apartment till I had to set out. After doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, making breakfast, lunch and some sandwiches for dinner on the plane. My plane was leaving at 5.15pm and arriving at 7.15pm in Perth. For some reason my mind had decided that meant I only needed the 3.45pm shuttle which would get me there at 4.30pm. Around 1.30pm I realised that I should never become a math instructor and starting, well, shitting myself, as the next shuttle only left at 2.45pm and would not get me there with the required 2hr leeway. I hurriedly repacked the bag and finally headed out to catch a tram to Southern Cross Station where I had to get a bus to Avalon airport (almost an hour out of the city). I got there at 2pm and had a 45min, nerve racking wait. But we got there in perfect timing (turns out that was the preferred shuttle for that flight so had no need to worry). Got checked in, was actually 2kg over the 15kg limit with my big bag so just removed a few things and stuffed them in the little bag bringing me in at 14.5kg. A close call of nearly having to pay $20. The guy checking in at the station next to me had only carry ons which meant he should have checked in online and printed his boarding pass, it also meant checking in at the counter cost him an extra $30. Ouch! Got to love cheap airlines… The flight was uneventful and I had a whole row to stretch out.

My good friend, Deb (met in Scotland over 11yrs ago), met me at the airport and we headed to her house. I do love travel where you get a chance to meet up with old friends after many years.

*Couch Surfing is an online community connecting people from around the world who have the common interest of travel and cultural exchange. Members “surf” on fellow members couches for a set number of days at no cost, except maybe a beer or 2 for the host.


Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Australia, RTW, Travel


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Melbourne – Days 124 – 133 – Friends, Pub crawl and work

May 12th to 21st 2011

Arriving Melbourne Southern Cross Station
After I finished shaking with anger over the text message the looney farmer had sent me (please refer to previous post), I waited for my now delayed train. I chatted a bit with an older couple waiting for their daughter, they were from the Boorowa area and were upset at the experience I had had, they said it was a pity I didn’t come to their farm as they had clydesdales and many other animals… They did ask for Mr. Looney’s name and said they knew of the family and might report it to the council. That made me feel better, especially when they disagreed on his assertion that you had to pay gas money and large amounts of it.

Finally the train pulled in. Turned out I though I was waiting for the 1pm train, but apparently I can’t read and in my desperate attempt to escape I had booked on the 1am train and was now getting on the 12.30pm train. Luckily it wasn’t a problem, sounds like it happens quite often. As I sat in an empty seat I asked the lady in front of me if the dining car served coffee and how much it might be. She immediately brushed that notion aside gave me a small packet of cappucino mix, her travel mug and told me to go get free hot water. When I returned she gave me some choc powder to sprinkle on top…now this is the Aussie hospitality I have heard about.

After a 6hr journey we pulled into a very impressive looking train station, Southern Cross, the ceiling was made of all these wavy poles and look very…well, architectual. I sent my mate, Erin, a message to let her know I had arrived and settled down in a corner to charge my phone and read. Since Erin was doing classes it would be about 2hrs before she could meet me. Once she arrived I picked up a week long transport pass ($31) that could be used on bus/train/tram, I love a city with a decent transport system. We headed back to her house that she shared with 4 other grad students, all in various stages of finals and thesis’. My bed was the futon in the kitchen/dining area, and I must say it was the most comfortable bed I had slept in in weeks!

Tourist Bus and Pub Crawl
The following morning I headed out with Erin and she showed me the main drag of the city centre before she had to head to classes. I was planning on spending the day on the free tourist bus with another couchsurfing member, and then doing some work on the computer at the library. Sarah (Belgium) met me at the tourist info centre (must be one of the most impressive ones I have seen) and we headed off to the tourist bus stop. The tourist bus is a free service that goes around the city to the main attractions. We decided to get some lunch in Chinatown before heading out and made our way to a Korean Restaurant I had seen earlier. I got some bibimbap (veggies and rice) and she had some egg soup. I had almost forgotten how much I missed Korean food.

We picked the bus up and headed to the Victoria Markets. These are under cover markets where you can pick up anything from $1 tourist trinkets, to $200 Uggs or maybe even a didgeridoo. It was great fun walking around. Then we went and had some of the richest and most delicious coffee in the world, and at $6 it better be good. Max Brenner’s coffee shops are about as intense as you can get. For my mocha I had a choice of dark, milk or white chocolate and by the end of it all I can say is that I was suffering from an intense coffee buzz and a chocolate hangover.

The best part is the "hug mug" where you have to cup your hands around it to drink and makes the drinking experience even better

Sarah had to head out to go to another meeting and I had had another girl from couchsurfing call and ask to meet. So around 1pm I headed to the library, assuming I had about 20min to check internet and such before Abi arrived. At 4pm she finally strolled over and by then the last tourist bus had already left. (This habit would continue for 2 other outings we met up for). We hung out at the library for a bit longer and then headed over to find the first bar where the couchsurfing bar crawl was meant to be. While we waited we picked up a bowl of chips. Finally people started arriving and as I had put my number down as first pub contact, so did the calls of people trying to find us. It turned into quite the event and by the 2nd bar we had over 30 people. Everyone was great and I made a couple of new friends. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay too late and had to go meet Erin at work so we could head home.

Buddhist Day Fest
Saturday I decided to wander around at the festival for Buddha’s Birthday, this used to be one of my favorite festivals while living in Korea. Again I met up with a girl from couchsurfing and we explored the festival picking up stamps to complete an activity at the festival. I wrote a wish on a “lotus” flower, explored a book fair and “bathed the little Buddha statue”.

Around 5pm I got a call from Abi again asking if I was going to the festival, I told her the fest ended at 5pm and she whined “why didn’t anyone tell me?” she asked if I had been. I was there at 11am like my post said I would be… some people are just clueless.

Great Ocean Road
One of the most beautiful things to see and do on the Southern Coast of Australia is the Great Ocean Road. So when a post appeared on Couchsurfing for those interested in a road trip it sounded great and for a change I planned to sit back and enjoy the ride…or so I thought. I showed up Sunday morning at 8.30am as planned and shortly after 3 of the others showed up. The final 3, Abi and friends, didn’t show up till 9.15am. They were the ones who were supposed to have organised the van, they hadn’t. They had wanted to rent from a place called “Rent-a-Bomb”, which thankfully had no vans. We went to budget to rent a van and it turned out I was the only one with a credit card and along with 2 others the only one with a valid drivers license. I am so useless at going with the flow, think I should just organise things from now on… Dammit!

Even though it took 5 hrs to get to the 12 apostles and it was almost dark when we finally got there and another 4hrs home on the highway, it all worked out well, the views were spectacular, the weather was clear and sunny, I saw koala bears (which were actually rather boring lumps of fur that just sit around all day) and I didn’t kill any of the others, although it came close on occasion.

Remainder of the week
For the rest of the week I managed to pick up some cash work through couchsurfing. $20/hr for data entry on Mon and Tues. Wednesday I explored the op shops (2nd hand shops) and then managed to pick up work for Thursday and a bit on Friday morning. Meaning that I had managed to cover my flight to Tasmania, the one to Perth and should also be able to cover the one to the Gold Coast…woohoo. Not to mention, as crazy as it sounds, it was good to do some work again. Added to that some good friends made and it was a very good week indeed.

Here are some pics from a rather spectacular drive:


Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Australia, RTW, Travel, Uncategorized


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