It was the 10th of August 2016, I left Italy the evening of my birthday, and after 25 hours I arrived in Melbourne at 6 a.m.
In Rome, where I live, there aren’t skyscrapers and contemporary buildings. Although I’m not a fan of metropolitan cities, this one was much different from the others that I saw.
At first, I thought: “Wow, I will live here for one and a half-year”, I was projected to another world, I felt happy, and I wanted to enjoy this big city.
Looking for a place
For one week, I walked an average of 15 km looking for a house. I preferred to find a place along the railway line that brings me to work, despite the fact that public transport works appropriately in Melbourne, the city is immense, and it takes time to move around.
The rent for a proper home in Melbourne is expensive, and it’s impossible to stay on budget. A room in a decent shared house can cost at least 1000 AUD per month. I didn’t have too many pretences. What I needed was just a clean place; Though I saw roughly 30 houses, I had the impression it was an impossible mission. I never could imagine places so dirty, impressive rooms, kitchens or toilettes… Goosebumps!!!
During my stay, I changed three houses in three different suburbs very far away from each other, and I can say that I know this city almost better than Rome. This city is wondrous, I moved around by public transport but most of the time by bike.
I always felt safe in Melbourne; people are respectful except for the bastard thieves that came to visit my room. Police officers are regularly around, 2 or more security guards are at any train station all the night.
I could write more and more, but if I tell you about every single day, you will leave my blog and never come back again. So, let’s speak about something more interesting. I think that the influential suburbs can be appealing for every visitor, so here my summary.
I think that the influential suburbs can be appealing for every visitor, so here my summary.
Probably my favourite suburb is Fitzroy; the atmosphere here is different from other parts of the city. I feel back in the ‘80s. Vintage shops are everywhere selling clothes 20 – 30 years old in some case. The objects’ design is also selected, you should come to Fitzroy if you want to make your mother feel young again or if you are looking for some particular gift for your friends.
What I love more about Fitzroy is the nightlife. There are many good restaurants; I ate every kind of food from the world: Africa, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesia, Chinese, Japanese, Afghan, Lebanese, Mexican, and so on!!!
After dinner, the number of places to spend the rest of the evening is almost embarrassing. There are hundreds of bars, pubs or discos. Someone offers live music session, someone else excellent cocktails, good beers or a good view from the rooftop.
Carlton is also attractive, this is the Italian suburb, so I don’t prefer to eat or drink here. I’m not a fan of Italian food overseas. I just come here when some other friends wish to live a bit of the Italian culture and cuisine. However, if you are not Italian, I strongly suggest to visit it.
St Kilda is the beach of Melbourne. It’s not the stunning Australian beach that everyone imagines or has seen on some travel journal. The water is also pretty cold for my comfort; however, the ambience in St Kilda is fantastic, especially for spring/summer. People relax on the beach or the grass, someone else works out, rides a bike, run or just enjoy a happy hour or a dinner during the most beautiful sunset in the city.
There is also a lovely Luna Park, delightful for children, a bit less for the parents’ wallets.
The “St Kilda Pier” is a fantastic place. I used to go, to have a walk
after my summertime workout or with some friends. The sunset is magnificent, and there is a gorgeous city view. After spending a half hour taking photos, penguins start to arrive. Yes, penguins. A colony is stabilised here on the pier. These little swimming birds come back from the ocean every evening after sunset. They are so agile when in the water, but very funny on the ground.
Please, don’t use the flash taking photos and don’t be too noisy, these can disturb the penguins, BE RESPECTFUL!
I enjoyed a lot ride the bike from St Kilda to Brighton Beach, a coastal bikeway very beautiful.
Brighton Beach is probably one of the places more advertised in the travel magazines.
It’s a beautiful spot, many people come here to take excellent photos or just to chill on the beach. Unfortunately, there aren’t shops or restaurants very close; it takes a short walk before finding someplace to eat or drink.
I’ve heard that these huts cost crazy prices. They are private and used just to store something, drink some beers with friends or just sit in front of the beach.
Very nice to see, but for my personal preference, instead of buying a hut, I would prefer travelling for the rest of my life.
The central business district, this is the city centre. It’s probably the busiest part of Melbourne, with traffic, bikes and thousands of people everywhere; but also music, colours and excellent spots.
The CBD can be visited easily. It has a simple rectangular shape, be lost is impossible. The Yarra River is always a reference point, and Flinders Station is often a meeting point. In front of Flinders Station, there is Federation Square, with bars and museums (and toilette, they are everywhere in Melbourne and fortunately they are pretty clean).
The CBD is busy but is also livable and enjoyable. Artists play guitars or pianos, and someone organises a real concert with a whole band.
Graffities are very common in the CBD, but also around the city. I loved to walk in Hozier Lane, full of colours and always different from the last time.
Another great walk is along the Yarra, in South Bank. Here the view is excellent, the sun reflects on the skyscrapers and illuminates the step. There are many bars and restaurants along the Yarra and the famous casino. During the evening, if you are there at the right moment, it’s possible to see flames of fire get out from towers placed in front of the casino.
The Queen Victoria Market is a “must”. It’s a big busy food and objects market where I used to go every weekend to buy fruits and fish (cheaper and fresher than in the supermarket where prices are crazy). The QVM is famous for its night version that takes place every Wednesday in winter and summer. There is street food from every part of the world, music in every corner, people eat, drink, sing, dance and then eat again. That’s amazing!!!
Things to see and to do
After work, I used to spend some hours in a park. Usually, I worked out in one of the parks around my houses: the one between Merry Creek and Jackson Reserve in Coburg, the All Nations Park and the parks along Gardiners Creek in Glen Iris. They are not the most beautiful, but close to my place and great to relax or workout.
Of course, Melbourne offers better parks than these. Small or huge, they are everywhere. Around the city centre, there is the Royal Botanical Garden, Carlton Garden where the Melbourne Museum is, Royal Park and Princes Park in the North, Fitzroy Garden and many others.
Panorama spots in Melbourne are everywhere. The most famous one is the top of Eureka Tower, the tallest building in Melbourne, but personally, I prefer another one. The Rialto Tower is a skyscraper in Collins street, it’s smaller the Eureka, but there is a bar on the top, where you can enjoy the view sitting with a drink, very much better. Other famous sights are in the Royal Botanical Garden, from the Shrine of Remembrance. I had a private spot in Northcote because I used to live there, it was beautiful during the sunset.
I’m a sportive person, and fortunately, Melbourne lets you do sport everywhere.
I use to do Calisthenics outdoor, so I need few things, some of these are bars. Almost every park in every suburb in Melbourne has sports gear, and it was exceptional. Moreover, every suburb has own public swimming pool, often with a gym. The one in Albert Park is my favourite.
I used to run in the parks or St Kilda, that’s an extraordinary spot, if not windy and I usually rode the bike to move around. Personally, I think that riding here in Melbourne is pretty safe. Some of my friends from North Europe presume it’s not, in Sweden the traffic is splendidly regulated, but if I compare with Rome, where the traffic is crazy, I don’t have any doubt.
I loved this city because there is always, always, always something to do over the standard weekend routine. There are not just the major sportive events that everyone knows, like AU Open in January or the Melbourne F1 in Albert Park in March or the Moto GP in October for the fans.
Festivals are everywhere, and about everything: art, food, drink, hobbies, cinema, music, and they are spread in every suburb and during all the year. Plenty of websites make a list of everything is going on around the city. In the bottom of the page my suggestions.
SOME NEGATIVE ASPECTS
Melbourne is the only city I loved to live in, but of course, it’s not a utopic place with just amazing streets, clean parks and excellent nightlife. There are also negative aspects, and I would like to summarise the worse for my point of view.
First of all, the weather. I couldn’t imagine it could be so nasty before coming here. It is used to say about Melbourne that “there are four seasons in one day” and seems like it is true. The weather changes continuously; it is never stable. Probably this is the reason because it’s possible to see people on the train with tongs and winter jacket or with wool hat and bathing suit. The temperatures change drastically from one day to another, and it’s often windy… OMG, too much wind!!!
A second negative aspect is the restaurants’ closing time, it can seem stupid, but was a big issue for me. As a Mediterranean guy, I use to have dinner relatively late. In Melbourne, and all around Australia, Kitchens’ restaurants close between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., after that time there are available just junk food chains.
Melbourne is expensive. The global crisis here wasn’t so severe as in the rest of world. Consequently, the quality of life is notably high, and almost everyone has a valid and stable job; but unfortunately, as a budget visitor, most of the primary things looked expensive.
Fruits and vegetables have the same prices of gold, meat and fish of silver. Look at here for some example:
|Apple (supermarket)||4 - 7 $/kg|
|Banana (supermarket)||2 - 4 $/kg|
|Capsicum||4 - 19 $/kg|
|Peaches||6 -16 $/kg|
|Milk||1,5 - 5 $/L|
|Beef meat||30 - 80 $/kg|
|Beer (pub)||8 - 15 $/bottle|
|Public transport||8,1 $/day|
|Cigarette||25 - 35 $/pack|
BE CAREFUL when you go out for dinner because it can be painful, but looking around it is also possible to find something delicious for a reasonable price. I can suggest right places (some suggestion).
The saddest issues are alcohol and drug and the heavy use that some people makes. There are sharps collecting boxes in every public toilette in the city, in parks, in commercial centres, in pubs and discos. Even though it is a very controversial topic, personally, I appreciated that at least the government try to keep the community safe.
MELBOURNE IS UNFORGETTABLE
I met amazing people in this city. They were from every part of the world.
This aspect is the best thing about Melbourne, without any doubt. People come here from everywhere and often they are travelling for a long time, or they immigrate looking for a job. Both of these categories always have some incredible story to tell.
I met young Indian girls trying to change their future and emancipating from a rigorous tradition; people who lost their job and came here looking for happiness. I met crazy funny travellers and solo travellers; nature lovers looking for wildlife, NERDs trying to become punks and every thinkable class of people. Everyone was here for similar reasons: to change, escape from something or someone, bored about their past life or just dreaming landscapes, fascinated by other cultures, or desiring to be protagonists of their life. A bit like I am.
Ah, guys: Melbourne is full of rules, but remember the most important 🙂