Everybody needs good neighbours...
Melbourne Travel Blog› entry 77 of 93 › view all entries
I love Melbourne. We'd heard loads about how cool and cosmopolitan it was and it certainly didn't disappoint. In fact, we were quite reluctant to leave. However our time there didn't start too well. After the tranquility of most Kiwi cities, it definitely took some getting used to. It didn't help matters that we were staying in Base, St. Kilda, where the party atmosphere was laid on thickly. Budget-conscious, our first couple of nights were spent in the 8-bed dorms where we were treated to no sleep whatsoever. Drunken kids in and out at all hours (now I really do feel old!) and two screaming orgasms coming from the permanent-dwellers bed the next night. And not the drink kind.
Anyway, we moved to a four-bed dorm for some peace and sleep and started enjoying Melbourne. To be fair to Base it was a sociable place and we did meet some cool people there, including three model Irishmen, thoroughly nice and friendly, but totally hammered. The rest of St. Kilda was great, the boardwalk cool and the cafes and bars numerous and lively. We even did the Neighbours tour, complete with trip to 'Erinsborough High' (only recognisable once the guide took the sign out of the van and hung it on the fence!), the studios (various parts of which double as almost every conceivable setting in an episode) and Pine Oak Court, which you may know better as Ramsey Street. We were even treated to meeting an old cast member... I was quite underwhelmed, and as fun and kitsch as it is, it's one for the die-hards.
We spent the rest of our week exploring the city, visiting the Old Melbourne Gaol where Ned Kelly was hanged, touring the huge and hugely impressive MCG (an excellent and very informative tour), visiting the markets, walking the banks of the Yarra, visiting yet another Aquarium, wandering down the shopping paradise of Chapel Street and generally soaking up Melbourne.
There's certainly plenty to keep you entertained here but the best thing about Melbourne is just wandering around, have a coffee here and a beer there, dive down the alleyways to see what's there and check out the endless shopping. It's really easy to get around too (at least as a tourist - can't vouch for rush hour commuting), the tram's great and there's a tourist bus loop with commentary and a free city circle tram, again with commentary.
We changed hostels for our last few nights so that we could be closer to the city, so we ended up in the Greenhouse hostel, slap bang in the city. The Greenhouse had a much better vibe than Base, and was much more relaxed. And being the weekend, it was time to see what the night-life was like. On recommendation from Em's uncle we bought a pack of playing cards called Melbourne Bar Secrets, detailing 52 cool bars around the city that you'd never ever stumble upon if left to your own devices. As a rule of thumb in Melbourne, if one of the innumerable alleyways has enough graffiti all over it to make you think you're likely to be stabbed or worse, then there's probably an awesome bar at the end of it.
Armed only with a heavily annotated city map I'd torn out of Lonely Planet (see - it is good for something) we headed out with Ed, another guy who'd made the Base-Greenhouse transition, to sample the delights. And we definitely weren't disappointed, finding loads of cool bars that we'd never have found otherwise and finishing in the Carlton, a saloon-style hotel bar with a stuffed Ostrich in one corner and where someone had gone around with a red velvet spray gun and gone wild on the funiture, mirrors, plants, and probably anyone who'd got in his way.