When checking in with one of my favorite bloggers, the Young Adventuress, I realized that the blogging conference she hosts (along with two others) was happening in a matter of weeks. Not only that, but it was just a quick flight away.
Always one striving to better myself, I hopped at the chance for such a great learning opportunity… as well as a long weekend in my favorite Australian city. Since Jason had never been to Australia, he came along, too. Mini break!
Melbourne oozes cool. There is no other way to describe the vibe its got going on. Its just really freaking cool! It’s this mixture of really beautiful Victorian architecture and some really stark, modern buildings. Great museums, amazing food and chilled out neighborhoods are just a few other things that add to this general aura of awesomeness.
With an insanely early flight on Jetstar, the budget airline of choice in the South Pacific, we landed in Melbourne exhausted. Ever the optimist, I booked that 5am flight thinking, “Yeah, we’ll get there and have a whole extra day to explore!” Wrong.
We were so tired, we ended up crashing at the hotel until the early afternoon. Still, we did get an extra handful of hours over the other flight choice, which would have had us landing at 11 at night.
We used that time to wander around and found a little Greek tavern down an alleyway. Unfortunately not one of the famed laneways, but an idyllic tree-lined, cobblestoned street. Surprisingly quiet for the CBD. We had a pitcher, or as they call it, “jug” of Stella before heading off to find a bite to eat.
As I’ve mentioned before, New Zealand’s food scene is a bit lacking. Being in Melbourne it was so nice to walk around and pick a place to eat at random without the fear of utter disaster. My time in Australia, previously, was filled with delicious food. Not a meal stands out in my mind as really bad. This little trip proved the same. We picked up a couple of burgers at a little stand and people watched.
We ended the evening with several rounds of Super Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing at Bartronica. Yet another New York establishment reimagined in this part of the world.
Our second day in Melbourne happened to coincide with a major exhibition opening at the National Gallery Victoria. I cannot remember the last time I had to wait in such a long line to get into an art museum, but Van Gogh draws a crowd.
It was an incredible exhibit of nearly 50 works by the artist and presented in a very fresh way. I’ll be covering it in depth in an upcoming post, so keep an eye out for updates.
We followed our foreign art masterpieces with some local color. Wandering around the CBD we found a delicious tapas restaurant (sorry, no photos) hiding in a laneway. Melbourne has such amazing street art, and this spot was no exception. We got our snaps before heading into eat lunch, and throughout our entire meal hoards of people were taking photos with the murals. I love the appreciation street art receives here and in New Zealand. I feel it is much more progressive than in the United States.
That evening we took advantage of a special nighttime experience at the Old Melbourne Gaol’s watch house. Similar to my fascination with cemeteries, I love to be scared. Scary movies? Yes, please. Ghost tours? Of course! This wasn’t quite a ghost tour, even though thats what we were expecting. However, it turned out much better. The website is purposefully vague, so you aren’t too sure what you’re getting into, which definitely enriches the experience. It was the best way to end the day.
Travel Bootcamp & Ginger Pride.
I spent the entire Saturday in Melbourne in a conference room. I learned a ton and met a bunch of fantastic people in the industry. Woo!
J had an awesome day out on his own. After sleeping in, he headed out to see a couple of photography exhibits. After the first and on his way to the second, he stumbled upon the Ginger Pride Rally. For serious. Jason has a lot of ginger pride.
They were having a festival right in Federation Square, so J hung around and jammed out to some free music. It reminds me of how amazing travel can be. Its one of those beautiful moments when you’re in a strange place and discover something, like it was meant just for you.
Our Last (long) Day.
Our final day in Melbourne we had to get up and get out of our hotel, the Crown Promenade. I had planned for us to spend the day in St. Kilda, a neighborhood I remembered fondly from my time in Australia six years ago. As our departing flight wasn’t till midnight, we had quite a bit of time to kill. Luckily the hotel we stayed at held our luggage for free.
Sunday is brunch day, and while I don’t get my brunch on that often, the mood struck me quite ferociously this morning. We ended up at the St. Kilda Dispensary, a pharma-themed restaurant right off the main drag in St. Kilda. And the brunch was delicious.
We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging around this fun, beachside hood, before heading to the airport fairly early to make use of the excellent Melbourne Airport free wi-fi.
Tips for Flying Jetstar.
Yes, it is a budget airline. And like all budget airlines, luggage is the enemy. One reason they can offer “cheap” fares is because you have to pay ridiculous fees for any checked baggage. We made it through the Christchurch airport without any issue, but ran into a baggage blocker at Tullamarine. The check-in kiosk did not like Jason’s passport, so we were forced to deal with an actual person. Ugh.
This Jetstar employee weighed our 3 carryon bags and told us they were too heavy and that we would have to check one. One of these bags was Jason’s camera gear, and when this happens, as it frequently does, he simply explains what it is, and they agree that he can board with it. She was not having any of it. After trying to discuss the situation with her and getting nowhere, we agreed to “shuffle” around some of the weight, and then return to check our 3rd bag (as all three together waaaay exceeded the weight limit).
We skulked off to a table at the side of the check-in area and proceeded to each put on our midweight jackets and our rain jackets. Then, we stuffed all the heavy items we could into our many pockets. Sweltering under all the layers, we proceeded to a different check-in kiosk. Thankfully, this one accepted J’s passport, and we sneaked off to hide behind the security line while we transferred all our stuff back to where it belonged.
We made it through and didn’t have any more problems. Bottom line, avoid human interaction at airports at all costs. Unless they’re giving you an upgrade.
Anyone have tips on how to sweet talk a gate agent into letting you get through with overweight baggage? Let me know in the comments.