The Brisbanites and the Sydneysiders from the north warned me that Melbourne has shitty weather this time of year (November).
“Get ready to experience four different seasons in one day!” they would say.
Then I would think to myself. Pssshh, please. I’m from Michigan. If you really want to experience four seasons in a day for the rest of your life, just go and live there. I’ve suffered through snow, hail, rain, and sunshine all in just a few hours before. Fact!
Besides the weather, just like the rest of Australia, my expectations for Melbourne were calculated to be nonexistent. So far I haven’t been disappointed, but this time I was doing things differently.
- Spend about a week in Melbourne with my friend Ben.
- Take a four-day trip to Tasmania.
- Spend another week in Melbourne on my own, exploring the surrounding area.
I have a lot on my plate, but first, here’s how my time with my friend Ben played out. I arrived in Melbourne via flight early in the morning where my fellow traveling buddy Ben picked me up. It was a taxing process, as I had to sleep for a couple hours in a parking lot restroom before the Sydney airport opened up. Anyways, I met him in Antigua, Guatemala (January 2015). He taught English alongside me and later we hit up the beaches of El Tunco in El Salvador after our teaching stint there was complete. My fondest memory of Ben is when we climbed up a volcano called Acatenango over the course of two days, which still has been one of coolest hikes I’ve ever done.
He scooped me up in his little yellow jeep. Nothings changed much in his appearance except now his hair has grown longer and he was sportin’ a man bun. We got some groceries on the way, stocking up on essentials including kangaroo meat that I’ve been wanting to try and a few boxes of Weet-Bix cereal, (Weetabix in the UK) my new obsession in life. The American cereal aisles absolutely DESTROY Australia’s cereal selection, but thank God for Weet-Bix. It’s extremelely rare to find over in the States.
I can’t decide which one I like the best.
Ben lives just outside of the Melbourne city center and shares a home with his friend and roommate Glady. I also another friend of his and also neighbor by the name of Nick. I found myself constantly laughing whenever they spoke to me, whether they were cracking a joke or not. It was at this point I realized I have been laughing all over Australia. I think the Aussie accents make everything sound funny to me. The three of us played his N64, with all of the classics I played as a kid with Mario Party, Smash Bros, and Pokemon Stadium included in that mix.
Ben’s a swim coach and gym instructor so I had plenty of downtime when he was busy working. I took some time to investigate the city central of Melbourne on one of its nicer days.
From the looks of it, Melbourne appeared to be a touch more diverse as far as the people around and the placement of the different architecture and surroundings. Loads of cafe’s and cozy restaurants lined up the river that ran through the city.
Somehow I lost the key he gave me to his place. That sucker must have jumped right out of my pocket on the train between cities.
Also nearby was a large outdoor Noodle Market that served up lots of Asian inspired cuisine with an emphasis on noodles. Ben and his buddies took me here to get my taste buds flarin’. If you’re a fan of noodles, specifically Asian culture inspired noodles, then this is the place for you! I personally found it to be overpriced and over crowded. There was a line about 50 people deep full of patrons waiting to buy a tiny baby scoop of ice cream! Psshh.
It didn’t look anywhere close to this amazing. Photo courtesy of Chris Phutully.
Ben is basically a party animal. Back in our Guatemalan days, he was the one known to tear up the dance floor at the bars and clubs in Antigua. I am the total opposite (unless I’m boozed up) but knowing him, I was fully prepared for at least one night in a club of sorts. Besides a button up shirt that I brought but haven’t wore once since this Quest to the Seven Continents began, I didn’t have the proper attire on hand. Luckily, Ben had some extra pants and some black shoes that weren’t anything I would ever wear, but they actually fit perfectly. We met up with his totally down-to-earth friend Alyscha at her house and pregamed a bit before going out.
We had a great time and grubbed on McDonalds at the end.
Speaking of grub, the kangaroo meat tasted great. Just like beef. However the thin layer of vegemite spread on toast was something I don’t ever need to try again. I tried it on two separate occasions just to make sure of what I was tasting. The verdict is: ehh, I can live without it. The fairy bread though…that was pretty scrumptious! What is fairy bread? It’s pretty simple. All it is, is bread with butter spread and lots of sprinkles (hundreds and thousands as they call it here in Australia) on top. It’s mainly served at children’s parties but since I am a giant kid, it fit my tastes nicely.
My first week in Melbourne was pretty low-key which was what I wanted. It was a warm sunshine and then cold sudden rain most of the days, just like the northerners predicted, but still I was able to get some work done and lounge, explore, and play the N64 at my leisure. I had another full week in Melbourne later where I knew I would constantly be on foot, so I was completely fine with relaxing all week.
But before that week, I was invited down to the island state of Tasmania for a few days. I didn’t have any intentions on going to Tassie initially, but then I thought “Why not?” Return flights are cheap and I have two friends who live there that are ready to welcome me with open arms.
Ben thanks for having me! Hopefully you get closer to my neck of the woods over in Canada. Off to Tasmania!