Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Victoria: Downtown Melbourne & St Kilda

Its been almost a week since our return to the states, it still feel really odd. Being home has been an adjustment and it has been a bit disorienting, were still somewhat stuck on Australia time (at least i am) so getting to sleep has been a bit of a challenge. Keeping track of the days has also been a little difficult, living in a camper van for a month you stop keeping track of days so everything starts to blur together. Slowly were getting back into the swing of things and things about our trip begin to trickle into our minds to be processed. In the coming weeks i will be updating the blog with a lot of photos and observations, so i hope you're in somewhat of a reading mood. Australia is divided into 6 different states Victoria, New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territories. When we fist began planning our trip we were very ambitious and were going to drive all the way from Melbourne in Victoria into the outback in the Northern Territories and catch a flight to Pert in WA and then back to Melbourne for our flight home. As we planned more and more we came to the realization that it would be absolutely impossible especially when we realized that Australia is almost as big as the USA. So to go through with our plan would be utter suicide. The decision was made to only stick to the eastern coast and it was the right choice, so we moved on and after much waiting our trip had finally arrived and after a 15hr flight we found ourselves in melbourne. After what seems like forever we finally got through customs and were on our way to our hotel as we couldn't pick up our camper for 2 days. Obviously the biggest thing to hit us right away was driving on the left hand side of the was weird even as a passenger in a bus. Furthermore the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car and that was even weirder. Excited to get underway we checked into our hotel, i got my gear ready and off we went to explore the city. 2nd thing to hit us was that for a city Melbourne felt completely deserted! The was no one on the streets, it was really eerie. Part of it was that it was Christmas Eve and the feeling of no one on the streets only got worse on Christmas Day when there was literally no one out in the city. 3rd thing to really hit is was that for a city Melbourne felt tiny, when i hear "major city" i envision a sprawling urban landscape like NYC or Chicago. This was nothing like that, we were in downtown melbourne and it felt open, like you could breathe. Not like NYC were you are constantly surrounded by people and feel like a sardine. It was a nice surprise for us, everything felt really laid back and not stressful. Another thing that was nice was that there were people on a lot of the corners in bright colored shirts and their sole purpose was to give information to travelers. It was nice to just be able to ask questions and get some detailed info which is how we found a place to eat at 1st day. One of the challenges in going to another country is the language and slang, even in a country that speaks english. The lady that gave us info on where to find food told us to look for an arcade and look for the alleyway that has a bunch of restaurants. Well we heard arcade and I'm thinking a loud building full of teenagers playing video games. Turns out arcade for them is really more like a mall, or a place with a lot of shops. So we more or less stumbled upon our destination. We found this alley way that was full of grafity and more of a place that you would envision a mugging than a place to eat. But there it was little restaurants everywhere and full of activity, places like this were quite common actually as was the graffiti. Melbourne sees the graffiti more like art than a nuisance so theres quite a bit of it. Melbourne also has a central area called federation square, they hold all kinds of concerts and events here and there a major train station right across the street so getting to it was easy. Being christmas eve they televised a christmas eve special and there was tons of people there watching it. Our next day we went down to explore the St Kilda area, we were greeted by a nice surprise when we went to catch a trolley to St Kilda. We saw a sign that said "all public transportation free of charge today. Merry Christmas" Jen and i were astounded and had to ask an official just because we didn't think that it was true. Turns out it was, something like that is just unheard of here in the states i would almost expect to be charged more because its Christmas Day here. So with a little spring in our step we were off and began to explore. There was lots to see in St. Kilda, between the beach area to all the little desert shops to Luna Park which is home to the creepy Moon Man. We walked all over the place it was an amazing time. We also got caught in some freak thunderstorm, it would drizzle and then it would pour buckets of rain and then lightning and thunder then clear again. This cycle went on almost all day and it culminated in a beautiful sunset down by the pier where we waited out the storm while watching lots of australians celebrating Christmas by drinking and swimming naked in the ocean during a lightning storm. There you have it, that was our 1st couple of days in Australia. The next day we picked up our camper van, little did we know of what was in store for us. For the time being all we knew was that we had just had a great couple of days and we were already in love with Australia. I could write so much more but it would take forever to write down my observations and stories and no now wants to be here that long :) so heres some photos to go along with my babbling. ENJOY!!

St Kilda Harbour at sunset

Pier at St Kilda harbour at sunset

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