Our traveling foursome touched down to a friendly welcome by Alli’s local friend Leon who greeted us with an impressively constructed pickup sign and a free ride from the airport into Melbourne. Once in a quiet neighborhood, we each tried our hand at driving a car on the other side of the road. This was a first for me – it was odd to say the least. After some cheap pizza, gelato, and meeting Alli’s Aussie boyfriend Josh, we settled in for our
first low-key evening in the comfort of a home.
The next day we set out energized and excited to explore the trendy “second city” of Australia. We found Melbourne to have a lot of character – which we gladly met with a lot of shopping! After really splurging on some much-needed Aussie fashion, we walked the many alleys of Melbourne – a staple of the city. The alleys are more like works of art, each colorfully painted with both amateur and professional graffiti-style work. The walls are a
symphony of rainbows which embody this eclectic city – they wind all throughout the city and lead to new streets with hidden cafes and boutiques. I couldn’t get enough! We spent the day exploring these bustling alleyways, making our way to the city center and famous square – home to the Finder’s Street Station and river walk where we took in the views of the unique skyline dotted with edifices both old and new.
We slugged down some crisp pear cider beers on the river, ate at
the chic restaurant where Alli worked, and spontaneously decided to take advantage of a deal at a training beauty salon – getting our hair done for just twenty bucks a piece. Score!
Brooke, Meg, and I left undoubtedly jealous of Alli’s perfectly curled tresses.
The drinking festivities began early with a get together at
Alli’s house where Americans joined Aussies in a traditional pre-game party complete with card games and chugging contests. We wearily tasted the Australian staple “Vegemite” to our surprising delight, then hit the streets for some local hotspots. Most memorable was a hidden club in an alleyway which used to be an insane asylum. Good times. We went bar hopping, made our way through Chinatown, and ended the night at a London-style pub.
The following day we rallied to explore more of this vivacious metropolis. After indulging at a Pancake Parlor and watching some live street performers, we ventured a bit outside the city to one of the weekend markets, where among the maxi dresses and wax candles we were suddenly met with a deathly hailstorm. The tin roofs of the market shook as the clouds chucked golf ball-sized hail at to the earth. Water rushed through the ground causing mini rivers standing as obstacles in our way to find Alli and Josh who we, of course, had lost. Among the chaos and frenzied shop owners, we managed to score a few free candles out of the ordeal– and ultimately found our lost twosome after about an hour of absurdity. Now there’s an adventure…
After drying off back at the house, we enjoyed pregame party number two with new Aussie pals Leon, Ned, Ben, Alex, and Nick, and Josh. Our last night in Australia was spent bar hopping, watching a live band, and downing greasy fast food in the middle of the night. The next rainy morning we took the train around town for the last time and I tried a traditional Australian meat pie before packing up and heading to the airport.
We said our goodbyes to Alli and nearly missed our flight to Sydney which would have meant no USA for us. Thank goodness Meg had her running shoes on as she sprinted to the foreign terminal to beg for a last-minute flight change – which the airline graciously granted after seeing her distraught American frown. We cozily settled in for our 20-plus hour flight to Chicago, exhausted from our jam-packed journey. It had been the trip of a lifetime indeed. Maybe someday I will return to this world away from home, but for now, “Good day, Mate”.
For Photos from Australia, visit the Photos Page or click here!