Hello from Down Unda!
Earlier this month Jake and I took a trip down South. Jake planned the entire adventure for us a few months ago and I had been daydreaming of it ever since! First we took the train to Sydney for a short one night stay and then flew to Melbourne from there for the weekend (see map below.)
Surprisingly, the train from our suburb of Newcastle to Central Station in Sydney CBD was inexpensive and painless. The trip cost $9 AUD (one-way) and took less than 3 hours. The views are beautiful along the coast, so there is plenty to look at out the window and time passes quickly. On the other hand, driving to Sydney by car takes about half the time but it’s loaded with tolls and traffic!
Once we arrived at Central Station, our Airbnb was only a ten minute walk away! We stayed in the Surry Hills neighborhood which has a very hipster-y vibe. The houses were beautiful and there were numerous restaurants, pubs and cafes in the area. After dropping our bags we decided to check out the Thursday Happy Hour deals in Surry Hills. We found a sports bar a few blocks away and watched the end of a Bulls game while waiting for our friends to arrive.
Shortly after we met up with our friends for dinner before our night out on the town. A few months ago, we all bought tickets to see ‘Tycho’ (an American techno band) and were really keen to see them. We had a grand ol’ time at the show, which also was within walking distance of our Airbnb. (On a side note: I highly recommend seeing a band that performs music without lyrics at least once in your life. It is a much more intimate experience, as it forces you to interpret the music for yourself!)
The next day, Jake and I woke early to Uber to the airport in time for our flight to Melbourne. The airport was nice and seemed to have a lot of healthy options for food in comparison to airports at home. As for security, TSA didn’t even check my ID once since it was a domestic flight. What a nice change of pace from American airports!
The flight to Melbourne was only about an hour and I slept the whole way! We found bus transportation from the airport to the CBD very easily. A return bus ticket to the Melbourne CBD was only $37 AUD, with buses leaving every 15 minutes round the clock. (Unfortunately there is not a train/metro directly from the airport and taxis from the airport can be very expensive.) The bus dropped us in the Melbourne CBD and we caught the metro to South Yarra where our hotel was located. We stayed at The Claremont Hotel, which was affordable, clean, and had a nice continental breakfast. It was very close to grocery stores, bars, cafes and the metro. My only complaint is that they did not allow alcohol in the guest rooms, but that didn’t stop us from sneaking a 6-pack & a bottle of wine in using our backpacks!
Aftertaking a much needed rest day after arriving in Melbourne, we were eager to explore the following morning. First we enjoyed our continental breakfast and then we headed out for the day to the Royal Botanical Gardens, located in the heart of Melbourne. The gardens are massive and packed with joggers, tourists and mothers with strollers. There are a wide variety of indigenous Australian plants, trees and wildlife to absorb. My favorite spots were the Lilly pad pool and the green house.
Next we worked our way to the Queen Victoria Market for some shopping and some lunch. Did you know, it’s the biggest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere? At the market we wandered through somewhat endless aisles of crafts, clothing, leather goods, toys, and even knock off NBA jerseys! We stopped for pizza from one of the vendors for lunch and it was delicious. After lunch we checked out Melbourne’s famous DFOs (Direct Factory Outlets.) There are a few different DFO locations throughout Melbourne, but we only visited the South Wharf Location. Finally after walking for 6 straight hours, we headed back towards our hotel. For dinner we grabbed some items from a local IGA grocery store, since eating out for every meal becomes very pricey in Melbourne.
For our second and final day in Melbourne, we decided to explore the St. Kilda area. We wanted to see Luna Park as well as the sights around St. Kilda beach. Luna park is an amusement park built over 100 years ago. You’re only required to pay per ride so anyone can walk through the park without a ticket.
For lunch we wandered up and down St. Kilda/Fitzroy Street and gazed in all the windows til we were nearly drooling (see photos below.) Instead of one of the delectable treats I was salivating over, I chose a chicken peri-peri wrap. It did not disappoint! Even the “grab & go” options from takeaway places in Australia seem to be much more nutritious than at home.
In the early afternoon we headed back to our hotel, since we planned to go to another concert that night. Jakes two favorite bands, While She Sleeps & Bring Me the Horizon were performing near where the Australian Open was held just days before. I personally am not a huge fan of metal music but I was willing to give it a listen. Before we got to the venue however, we were soaked with rain. (Melbourne is notorious for showing all four seasons in just one day…) Nevertheless, it was an entertaining show to say the least. The people watching alone made it worth my time, even if I was drenched in rain and shivering. 🙂
The next day we made it to the airport just in time to see the end of the first half of the Super Bowl. I was feeling confident about the butt kicking the Patriot’s were receiving. We were in the air by the time the second half ended and unfortunately we were shocked when we learned of the outcome!
All in all, Melbourne was a hoot. I’d go back in a heartbeat! …and I still hate Tom Brady.