In Melbourne, we were once again backpackers on foot in a big city. As we were making our way to the hostel we started to feel a bit claustrophobic, lacking fresh air, trapped in between steel buildings and shopping centres and somehow overwhelmed surrounded by that many people. We were missing the open spaces, the freedom of the campervan and the quiet lifestyle of the countryside. It is really amazing how quickly one can get used to being away from the noise and the civilization. But the one thing we have had to learn in our more than 10 months of travelling is to rapidly adapt to new situations and places, so it didn’t take long for us to start enjoying Melbourne.
Founded in 1835, Melbourne is still a young city. It is known in Australia for its lively atmosphere, the cosmopolitan culinary offer, its live music scene and a bustling nightlife – not for nothing it is called the cultural capital of Australia. We both agreed that it reminded us a little bit to London. Dinning out is really Melbournians most popular hobby, and as we experienced they prefer it al fresco! Neither the heavy rain nor the freezing cold stops them from enjoying a nice cappuccino or a glass of wine at one of the many fancy outdoors restaurants and cafés in the cute small alleys of the city centre. With over 4 million people, Melbourne is the second most populated city in Australia and probably the most diverse and multicultural. We were reminded of it at every step, for example when we went on a imaginary journey to Britain visiting the beautiful lanes and arcades of the city. Or when we were suddenly transported to a Spanish tablao as we listened flamenco on the main street, funny enough they were Ozzies. Or when we imagined ourselves in Athens tasting the most indulgent moussaka walking through Little Greece, surprisingly Melbourne has the 3rd largest Greek population in the world, just after Athens and Thessaloniki. Or when modern and aboriginal art compete to decorate the streets of Melbourne.
We were lucky to experience Melbourne at its best, on a weekend! On Saturday an Australian rules football game was on the agenda. Isma is a sports lover and now that we were in Melbourne, the birthplace of this unusual sport, I had to invite him to a game. The derby between Kangaroos, one of Australia’s first AFL (Australian football league) teams, and The Demons was the chosen one. Australians are passionate about AFL, so finding our way to Ethihad stadium was easy, we just had to follow the river of supporters. We didn’t really know much about the rules of Australian football, and with 36 players on the oval field we were a bit lost at the beginning. The game seemed to be a mix between rugby and football with hints of handball and basketball. But thanks to wikipedia, we were soon able to understand the rules enough to follow it and to cheer for the Kangaroos! The first quarter was somehow entertaining to watch, but the remaining three were a bit too much for us, we didn’t think it would be a 3 hours match… At the end the Kangaroos smashed the Demons with a score of 127 to 73, go Kangaroos!
On Sunday it was my turn to be treated, and as it couldn’t be any other way, there had to be food in the agenda! The day started with smoked salmon eggs Benedict brunch at the cutest family run café. It had been so long since the last time I had tasted such succulent flavours, specially smoked salmon, that my palate was in heaven. The brunch date was followed by a late yum cha (this is the way Australians call dim sums) lunch in Chinatown, where I was the happiest when we found Xialongbaos, the delicate Shanghai dumplings, which surprisingly were incredibly good. A coffee at a little Spanish tapas bar, where we let the hours go talking about how our life will be like when we go back home, put the end to a lovely Melbournian weekend. Can you believe that the owner of the Spanish tapas bar had never been to Spain? He was proudly promoting his patatas bravas or albondigas but had never tasted the real thing…
Melbourne is another city that has made it to the list of cities where we could see ourselves living… list which keeps growing and growing and growing!
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The Greenhouse Backpacker – The Greenhouse backpacker is a big hostel located in the heart of Melbourne. We stayed at a double room which was pretty decent, but the walls were paper thin. Although the hostel was so big, there were plenty of toilets and showers and they were always clean. The shared facilities were good, but the kitchen was a bit too small for that many guests and it lacked an oven. There was free wifi and free breakfast. We paid 80 AUD for the double room with shared bathroom per night.