Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia

skyline 2 melB

I (Athena) went into Australia paranoid, because 2 days prior to departure, my dad decided to send us 23 reasons not to visit the country. This list contained every single ferocious and poisonous creature that lurked around Australia’s terrain. This list of course did not even phase Rob, but I had my guard up before we even got off the plane. We arrived in Melbourne city and immediately that list went out of my head. It was unlikely that I would find a killer croc in city center and the city had such a good vibe, I got sucked in and was anxious to explore. It was Christmas time and incredibly warm, something neither Rob nor I had ever experienced in tandem. Rob specifically since he is always in snowy Pittsburgh for the holidays. It was a big task to get Rob into the Christmas spirit, but I had a list of Christmas activities for us to do. I had my heart set on getting a place to ourselves for the holiday since this was our first Christmas together and our first away from our families. It took us a while to find a place that was affordable and also not shared, but we did and it was in a great location. Upon arrival, we received updated information on the house that it was actually a college dorm during the year and is usually vacant during the holidays but not this time. We would be sharing the house with 2 college kids staying in Melbourne for Christmas. WTF. We got to our “Victorian House” as it was labeled and it was a mess – boxes everywhere from kids moving in and out, both the kitchen and bathroom were dirty. It just looked like college kids lived there. Our bedroom upstairs thankfully was clean and one of the guys staying with us was pretty cool and the other moved out after our second day. This was our nice quiet house for Christmas. We had surely stayed in worse conditions during our trip so we made the best of it and started seeing the city as soon as possible.

We started with a $5 visitor shuttle which takes you on a mini hop on/hop off tour of the city. This allowed us to get our bearings a little and see what we might want to go back to. The city was filled with AMAZING architecture. Each building was cooler than the last and gave off a very hip vibe (for those of you in ATL – it is like being in a whole city of O4W with even cooler buildings). {*Note from Rob: I must have told Athena all about the shuttle because she was napping HARD throughout, haha. Carry on now honey…}

That night we headed into town for the first of our many Christmas themed activities. We started with a light show on town hall. They had Christmas music blaring and an amazing array of lights streaming across the front of the building. Each street had a different Christmas theme so we just worked our way down each road enjoying the Christmas spirit. Our last Christmas activity in town was carols in the square, where we watched and listened as people sang some classic Christmas tunes.

One of the great things about Melbourne is that they have city bikes every few blocks. You can rent a bike for free under 30 minutes and return it to the next bike station, so Rob and I would get the bikes out every morning and head to town and return them before our 30 minutes were up. We rode to the Royal Botanic Gardens on a few different occasions. It is free to visit and a beautiful place for a picnic midday. Another common stop we made was at the library. The library was center town with a bike station right next door. There was always live music on the street in front of the library (as well as along all the other major streets) and all of the entertainment was AWESOME, plus free wifi for planning our day.

One evening we met up with Jess, a girl who we had met in Rome a few months prior. Rob had mailed her his speargun from Cambodia because we were not allowed to fly with it through our 2hour layover in Singapore. Jess was kind enough to hold onto it for us until we arrived nearly a month later. We went out to a rooftop bar that Rob and I had read about – Naked for Satan. There was a pretty lengthy line to get to the upper floor, but we stuck it out, being rewarded with a great view of the city once we sat down and had a few drinks. It was really great to catch up with a friend we had made along the way.

Just as I do every year since childhood, I woke up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning. It was strange waking up into a bed that wasn’t mine, in the middle of the summertime in a country I hadn’t ever been to before this. After I hung up the minimal Christmas decorations Rob and I had brought from Asia, I wrapped the Christmas lights around Rob as he slept, waking him when I tried to sneak a Santa hat on his head. We had already exchanged Christmas gifts in Vietnam, or so I thought. Rob surprised me with holiday suspenders! Sadly they were child sized so I just clipped them onto my shorts and let them hang gangsta style. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather, packed up a picnic and a kite and rode bikes down to the beach. We spent our day flying kites, drinking wine and enjoying the warmth. It was a strange way to spend our holiday, but we made sure to watch a few Christmas movies (such as A Christmas Story) in the evening to keep us in the spirit.

The day after Christmas, we got to meet up with my cousin and his girlfriend – Dimitri and Jade – for the 2nd time on the trip. (We stayed with them for a few days when we were in London a few months back). We spent the evening walking around town until we found a cozy bar with pool tables. We approached the bar to order a round of drinks and our bartender, David, made some small talk – asking where we were from, etc. Turns out, he was from Atlanta, Buckhead to be exact and used to live 5 minutes from Rob and I. We hung around and played pool for a while, more accurately Rob and Dimitri played pool while Jade and I just moved the balls around the table. Rob and David made plans to watch the falcons lose to the Panthers in the morning as Dimitri and Jade were off on a mini trip down the great ocean road for the next day. A route we would follow for our first day of our 7 day road trip. Rob and David watched the game and David was kind enough to bring us an unlocked phone to use on our trip as our phone had taken a swim in a river and was no longer working. His phone helped us so much while we were in Australia since we didn’t have GPS or any way to look up information about our stops, so a special shoutout to him for being a major help. Our last night in Melbourne we met up with David and Dimitri for a few drinks at a local pub, it was a pretty chill night but it was great to hang out with my cousin again on our trip and to get to know our new friend.

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