Home Is Where The Heart Is
After all of these months spent traveling, I can say that what really make us like or dislike a city isn’t so much the place itself, but more the personal experiences that will happen there. For example, Cairns (Queensland, Australia) is quite a small and boring city. However it has been one of the highlights of my trip! And that is only because of the incredible vibe and community that was shared in my hostel – I even met my boyfriend there! On the other side, my time in Melbourne has been such a pain. But how come? Haven’t I heard so much GREAT stuff about the city? But then again, one place could be rated best in the world to live in, you could end up hating it for personal reasons and experiences. Looking back, I can appreciate Melbourne much more, and I sometimes catch myself missing it. Here’s all the good stuff that I can see now! And maybe a bit of the downsides too, I am not fully reconciled;)
The Neighbourhoods Are Cute AF
If Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) is stressful and hella grey – cuteness, parks and fun surprises are just a tram ride away. I didn’t get the chance to visit all of the ”suburbs”, but here’s a few of my favorites:
South Yarra /Windsor
This is an easy one because I was actually working in the area. This is where you will find Chapel Street, famous for its trendy boutiques, hip coffee shops and cool-clubs-for-cool-kids. Windsor is also filled with parks, public terraces, a beautiful library and THE best fish & chips in town 😉 The crowd is a hot mess between mid-twenty’s fashionistas and creepy old ladies. Loving it!
Renowned for its beach, penguins and backpacker’s vibe, St Kilda is the place to be on a hot and sunny day. If you are only visiting Melbourne for a weekend, it’s the spot I would recommend : a lot of travellers, fun bars, nice restaurants and general vacation vibe. There’s even a theme park and a really fun market ! The rent is higher and the water isn’t that nice but the atmosphere is certainly worth the visit.
Hipster alert – in the best way possible! : Thrift shops, vegan restaurants, live music venues, galleries, street art… If you’re into those kind of things, just take a walk along Brunswick or Gertrude Street. Easily accessible from the CBD, you can spend a whole day shopping and chilling in the area. Can’t decide between all the food options? Check out Smith & Daughters /Smith & Deli…Or just jump straight up to Doughnut Time.
Time For A Ride!
If you somehow have a ride, Melbourne is just a few hours drive from incredible natural beauties. Phillip Island, The Grampians, Mornington Peninsula, The Great (great, great, great) Ocean Road…Weekend getaway possibilities are endless around Melbourne. No car? No problem! Join some Facebook groups (eg: Melbourne Backpacker ) and find someone with a spare seat. As long as you are decent enough to share the fuel money – and your snacks! ;D
Nope, it is not easy to find a job in Melbourne. Of course, some travelers get really lucky. But most of us had to spend endless hours applying online and in real life – then running across the city for interviews/ trial shifts that led no where. It took me more than a month before finding a reasonably paid work. And I am not a shy girl with a broken English – but a perfectly bilingual Canadian lady with 3 years of waitressing background. The competition is HARSH. It truly occurred to me when I decided to quit my job. An ”available position” notice on the restaurant’s window brought me over 20 resumes a day, for a week! In short, good things take time, so make sure you still have some good cash before getting in Melbourne. It can burn fast, with those $300/week rooms and $41/week bus passes.
Friends are somehow harder to find in a big city than in a hostel in Byron Bay. A lot of backpackers settle in Melbourne, in an actual apartment. There’s suddenly no more fellow travellers/ future BFFs hanging in your living room everyday. It can get lonely at first, so the best trick I’ve found was to write a post on Melbourne Backpacker’s Facebook group:
”Heeey, are there any ladies in Melbs down for a drink on the weekend? A bit tired of my boyfriend’s bros!”
I literally received around 30 answers from lovely girls who were in the exact same situation. Couchsurfing.com has an event and a hangout platform, which is an other great way to meet new people. So it is possible to make yourself a nice group of friends, but it might take that extra push 🙂
I don’t regret my choice of settling in Melbourne. Despite all the struggles that crossed my path, I can say that it really helped me grow and learn. I just had to get over that big city overwhelming feeling! I have made friends for life – for who I couldn’t be grateful enough. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend’s work, I probably would have left Melbs after just a few weeks… But in the end, I am glad I didn’t and I can honestly say that Melbourne is an awesome city. It just take patience and good people to enjoy it fully.
Till Next Time, Melbourne !