We had a week left down under, here’s how we spent them!
Day 5/6 : Melbourne – Are we in Space?
We booked our first two nights at the Space Hotel in downtown Melbourne. We tried to take a public bus from the airport, but after purchasing and loading two Myki cards with $50 AUS we soon realized that we were better off grabbing the Skybus ($20 CAD/pp). The shuttle stops at the Southern Cross Coach Terminal, which was quite far from our hotel. We weren’t really sure how to use the metro yet so we decided to hoof it to our hostel. Once we settled in, Clair literally got straight into bed leaving Kik to wander the streets looking for sustenance for the Queen Bee. He came back with some cured meats, variety of cheeses, and wine (a homemade charcuterie). We really want to get gout.
We stayed at the Space Hotel, which is more of a hostel than a hotel. It was $90 CAD/night for a private room with a shared bathroom. In general all accommodations in Australia will be expensive, so get ready! The facilities are amazing and well organized, but there are so many people that at peak bathroom/shower/kitchen times, there isn’t always available space. Also, there’s no WiFi in the rooms! Are you kidding me? I get it, you want us to socialize but we want to watch Netflix in bed.
The next morning, Kik had planned a couple of coffee shops for Clair to try. Melbourne is known for their many coffee shops (Kik – “Why can’t there be a city known for its chocolate milk?”). We went to Seven Seeds. Of course, hipsters with beards and man-buns, recyclable everything, and some bizarre names for their coffee and tea. We totally dug it, man.
We also checked out the Queen Victoria Market which was nice and worth a stop. There’s produce, beers/wine, live music, and some cool local fare to try out.
Day 7/8 : Ocean Grove – The Great Ocean Road
We were very fortunate to have made some good friends during our San Blas trip, which we reconnected with in Aus. One of these friends was Adam, an incredible chef (but more about that later), who picked us up from our hostel and would drive us along the Great Ocean Road. It’s a beautiful coastal drive. He showed us kangaroos and even a koala. What a good tour guide, and we didn’t have to tip!
The drive ended in Ocean Grove, where Shamus and Casey (two more Aussies from the San Blas trip) graciously invited us to stay at their place for the night. They had a roast lamb prepared for us and we brought the Corona’s and limes. It was a fun night reminiscing about our travels.
The next morning, with slight headaches, we went out for what we’re sure will remain one of the highlights of our trip. Shamus is the captain of a boat for a tour company, Sea All Dolphins Swim, in nearby Queenscliffe. The tour lasted four hours, with the majority of the time spent swimming in the water with dolphins and sea lions. We felt good about this tour, especially with how the company respected the animals. One example is no one can enter the waters if a dolphin calf is present. We were very fortunate to have not only great weather but we saw so many pods of dolphins. It’s not always a guarantee. You had to be ready to dive bomb in the water and hang on to the tow rope when the guides gave the ok. It was unforgettable! We still get shivers thinking about it, and both of us want to be marine biologists now.
Once the tour was over, it was time for lunch. Knowing a chef has its perks, as Adam was able to point out all the best restaurants. We had lunch with him at The Farmers Place. It was a cool restaurant on a farm which also generates their own compost.
On our way back to Melbourne, we realized we’d had so much fun over the past few days that we hadn’t booked any accommodations for the night. Abusing Adam even further, he brought us back to his place to use his WiFi and help us find a place. The Australian Open had started that week, so prices had quickly doubled and became very limited. Luckily, we found a great place in the neighbourhood of Fitzroy through Air BnB for 85$/night.
Day 9-12 : Melbourne – Exploring Fitroy
We loved this neighbourhood. It’s kind of like an Osbourne/Corydon back home on crack! It’s definitely worth checking out downtown but if you’re wanting to hang out in pubs, drink good coffee, and eat good food, then this is where you should stay. And, it’s only a quick tram into downtown. Pro tip – The trams here, like Sydney, require you two ‘tap on’ when getting on the bus and ‘tap off’ when you get off with a preloaded Myki card. But, there is a free tram zone within the downtown, so DON’T ‘tap on’ within the CBD. Tram rides aren’t that cheap, with a one way costing between $4-5.
Spoiled By Our Aussie Friends
Our Aussie friends weren’t done spoiling us just yet. We got to meet up with Nick and Steven, two more Aussies who were on the San Blas trip (I know…they’re everywhere!) We met up at the Rainbow Hotel Pub in Fitroy for a few starter drinks then to Adam’s restaurant, Pinotta, where he prepared us a million course meal with perfect wine pairings. Seriously, how is he still single? It was a great night and can’t thank these guys enough. They have no idea what’s in stores for them when they come to Manitoba, and we made sure to convince them to come visit.
Site Seeing in the CBD
We explored the downtown region a little more by stopping at the Federation Square, Flinders Train Station, Degraves Street, and a tour inside the Immigration Museum. It was a really great way to spend an afternoon and we highly recommend it. The museum actually had a lot in common with Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It seemed to collect stories rather than artifacts.
Seriously, we’re almost done but we had one more awesome night. Nick met us midday and took us to the Australian Open, where we were convinced we were going be BFFs with Eugenie Bouchard. On our way, he showed us the thousand stadiums they have in one location. Just before getting to the ticket booth, three people exiting gave us their ground passes for FREE! Yes…more beer money. Can you believe our luck?
The ground pass gives you access to all outside matches, which are played on several courts. You can hop from one to the other fairly easily. The main events are held in an indoor stadium, no Eugenie for us (but we still LOVED her crop top). We watched a few good matches then made our way to see a men’s doubles match between AUS and CND. Kik started an incredibly awkward hockey chant of “Here we go Nestor, here we go…clap…clap” mid game and Clair almost left. Unfortunately, the Aussies won.
The weather was awesome, the tennis was great, and for some reason Jimmy Eat World was the main act. The night continued far too late, and we had serious headaches for our nine-hour flight the next day to Bangkok, Thailand. Next thing we know we’re on Kao San Road at 1AM with Calvin, Clair’s brother, right in the middle of a huge street party trying to get to our hotel. We’ll explain more in our next post.