Shrimps on the Barbie and new Year Cheer!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, January 4, 2008

We arrived in Melbourne to cold and wet weather and grey skies all day - Charlie was not happy and was immediately missing Fiji, going around in her fleece (pulled out from the bottom of her bag and dusted down after Nepal) and saying how 'freezing' it was... it was 20 degrees plus for god's sake!!
It was obvious from the first couple of days here that Melbourne is a very laid-back and relaxed city with a lot of charm: trams rattling past, cake shops, little side lanes lined with coffee shops and restaurants and a general 'cool' vibe. This had lead to the people here becoming a very 'cosmopolitan' bunch... some of the dress senses are terrible and the haircuts make mine look trendy! It is also home to its fair share of camp Aussies and loud shouty butch women - the great myth back home that everyone here is beautiful, blonde and tanned obviously doesn't come from Melbourne. Unfortunately for us, most of them seemed to be staying at our hostel, and those that weren't were scary old men who looked far too old to be in a backpacker hostel and spent the days drinking beer or telling us about the 'friends' they were finally meeting up with after years of chatting online. The leader of the Fruity Bunch in the hostel was Wayne, a "40-year-old gay guy" (as he felt the need to remind us at every opportunity) and it all made for some great people-watching as each tried to 'out-camp' the other at meal times whilst the internet perverts looked on!

Our first night in the hostel we decorated our room to make ourselves feel more festive (and to stay away from the communal area!), sticking up our beautiful decorations - all bought within our $5 budget - and eating them pretzel snacks you only get at Christmas.
We also met up with Karl out here, one of the 'Goa Gang' we'd traveled with at the start of our trip, and he was delighted to be introduced to all the 'colourful characters' at our place. Christmas Eve we headed out into St Kilda where we managed to find a 'half-half' pub: one side a standard saloon bar like the White Hart,
the other a full-on gay bar complete with rubbing, grinding and tongue-flicking - the conversations in the toilets must've been mixed... Drink up, we're leaving!
We ended our night watching a band whose finale was that traditional Christmas hit, 'Fuck you I won't do what you tell me' by Rage Against the Machine... how festive. Craig and Moon you were missed!

Christmas Day morning saw mince pies, Baileys (well the affordable version!), satsumas, peanuts and selection packs to aid our hangovers before we set off for St Kilda beach for an 'Aussie Christmas Dinner'. After a few hours of chat, guitar and some terrible rose wine we hit the barbecues and I cooked up some delightful traditional sausages!

We made our way down to the MCG the next day for the Boxing Day Test match between Australia and India. There were over 70,000 people in the ground, although by the end of the day it was nowhere near that as the Aussies got more and more drunk throughout the day and were quite literally thrown out of the ground by police. It was difficult to see exactly how they could get so drunk - most of them either spill, dribble or chuck their beers around and don't actually seem to drink much. There were also 2 streakers (2? We had 4 at Aldershot-Accrington a few years back, amateurs!) who were beaten up on the pitch, dragged off and then fined $6,000 - Merry Christmas! The police were brutal at times although the guy in front of us throwing grapes over the edge of the top tier seemed to get away with it...

We decided to 'rough it' and spent New Year's Eve in the hostel communal area with Karl and Chris, and of course our residential circus. A good time was had as we recovered from the 42 degree heat earlier in the day (a bit warmer than back home, and now a little hot for the 'freezing' Charlie!). We saw in midnight at Federation Square which was filled with people as the fireworks went off over our heads. We spent the next hour or so high-fiving people happy new year and trying to not have our beers confiscated by the police.
We're off to Singapore tonight - Australia will have to wait until we have work visas and a driving licence as it's too expensive and too dam big for us.

Back to Asia, yes please!
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