Craig’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 11 Jul 2007

Location: Melbourne, Australia

MapG’day mate!

Well I’ve arrived in the land of bbq’s, kangaroo’s and footy (but not as we know it)!

I arrived last weekend after long transfer in Vietnam but managed to sneak into the business class lounge so it was free beer and food which made my 9 hour wait bearable!

Once I arrived in the centre of Melbourne my old mate from Uni, Ash came in to meet me and subsequently put me up at his gaf for a week until I found a place of my own. Ash had organized some tickets for the Australia vs New Zealand rugby game at the huge 100,000 capacity MCG stadium. It was pretty much filled with a great atmosphere…this place makes Ewood Park look like a conference stadium! Good game with Australia unexpectedly stealing the game in final minutes. That night was spent touring the watering holes in a Melbourne suburb and I got to meet Ash’s Scottish connection…3 cool jock’s who have been here for nearly a year.

Just to give you an idea about Melbourne, you have the city centre which is surrounded by suburbs all easily accessible by the great tram network here. You don’t even need to go into the city much as the suburbs themselves are like small towns with plenty going on at night. I went to my first Australian Football League (AFL) game this weekend which is a bit crazy and very brutal! It’s a little like rugby but with the rules being…well no particular rules apart from getting the ball between the posts, a guy at the game I watched was in seriously bad shape as something happed to one of his lungs during the game – not sure if I’ll try playing the game! That night we went out into the city and went to some really nice places, one bar was at the top of a skyscraper with the city sky line as the backdrop…amazing views! Having said that you’ll all be glad to know that it’s really cold here, not quite as chilly as our winters but because the houses are designed for warm weather and consequently have little insulation and no heating systems you tend to feel the cold more, especially at night. It is sunny during the day though with little rain and I’ve been promised it will start warming up in a month.

Last week was spent looking around the city and trying to get my bearings for the area. The city centre has so much going on and about 5 huge sports stadiums, the grand Federation square, loads of parks, theatre’s and much much more that I’m yet to discover! Melbourne is an incredibly multicultural city, more than I expected. This is illustrated by the many Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Italian, Lebanese restaurants…and of course Irish pubs! It was initially very strange moving back into a western culture but with the many different nationalities around me it still feels like I’m in a slightly exotic location…apart from when they speak and out comes a strong ozzy accent! It’s hard to get out of habits I picked up in Asia, for example I went in a shop the day and bought a few things for my room and said to the guy, “so what’s the best price if I buy all these items from you” with my finest ‘discount me please’ face on. He added it up saying, “as much as each item is for sale for” giving me a look as if I’d walked into his shop with no pants on! As much as the Asia shopping system of haggling annoyed me it does make shopping a lot more fun!

I started looking for a place to live last week which involved me with a map of the city and suburbs looking like ‘where’s wally’ trying to find addresses. I got lucky and found a house with some cool people near the city and they felt similar so I moved in on Monday. I’ve managed to furnish it for next to nothing by exploring the local op shops and yesterday, for the first time in over 6 months……I actually unpacked my bag and hung my clothes up, it was an emotional moment! Seriously though, it did feel a bit strange, kinda knowing this is where I’ll be settling for a while.

My new task is one which I have dreaded for a long time…looking for a job – arhhh! I’ve decided to look for bar and restaurant work as hopefully I’ll enjoy it and will get to meet lots of people. I like to think my time keeping has improved vastly over the last 6 months so will be interesting to see if I can actually turn up on time!

I’ve also got a new Australian mobile phone number which is: 0061 413621028 if anyone needs some bartering advice!

That’s all for now…I’m off for a bbq!