Travels without a Plan #10

Melbourne Mumblings
After all the excitement of the opening weekend of the Olympics, to say that arriving in Melbourne was a bit of a shock to the system would be an understatement. It also did not help that for the day before I was feeling like death warmed up, I think with a 48 hour flu attack, so a 12 hour coach journey was not what was needed.

Melbourne is a hard place to describe as unlike Sydney the town is not about what is in the centre, it all revolves around what is in the suburbs and that can take some time to get used to. Looking just at the CBD could leave you with a sense of disappointment. However, give the place enough time and it grows on you, the locals are tonnes more laid back and friendly compared with those in Sydney, and the pace of life is also more relaxed, which for someone like me is always a bonus.

The place that I’m staying in is slap bang in the centre of town, called the Friendly Backpacker and so far the place has certainly lived up to its name, both with the people working there and the people who are staying. People staying tend to fall into two groups, those that are just passing through to those who are working and are spending longer term in the hostel, this means that there are always new people to get to know.

Despite Melbourne not being the Olympic city, a number of rounds of football have been played here, and so gave the ideal opportunity to watch some international games and also be able to say that I have been to an Olympic event. A group of us from the hostel got some tickets for the Semi-Finals of the football, Cameroon vs Chile, which was an amazing experience, despite being neutral, being surrounded by hundreds of screaming South Americans always gives a game a unique feel. In the end the Cameroon won, 2-1, and then eventually went on to win the Gold, which in my opinion they deserved to get.

Melbourne is also famous for its fringe festival (Oct 1-22), highlighting everything from comedy, theatre, cinema and music. Every year the festival kicks off with a huge street festival with carnival floats, live music and street performers. The street festival is also an ideal opportunity for all the “slightly” eccentric people of Melbourne to gather in one place, and show off. This huge gathering of eccentrics gives a great chance for the rest of the city to wander around and do some serious people watching. I’ve certainly never seen such an array of oddballs all in one street. The event ends up with a huge party, with a great selection of DJ’s playing an amazing mix of music. I’ve never seen such a big group of people dancing as maniacally in the pouring rain, what a sight.

There is not as much work here as I had originally hoped, but I’ve done bits and pieces so hopefully this week I should get something slightly more long term, otherwise I shall have to cut my losses and head off sooner than I had planned. All the agencies I have talked to all seem to think that it’s a short term situation, and things will pick up again soon. Fingers crossed.