Melbourne: Living the dream

We were of course a little sad to say goodbye to Perth but both of us needed a change, our visa wouldn’t last forever and we wanted to see why Melbourne was awarded the name of the world’s most livable city. Every good thing we heard was true, in fact it exceeded every expectation I had. Melbourne is in my book, the best city in the world to live in.

It wasn’t exactly the best entrance though, leaving behind fresh sunny weather, we entered into a cauldron of wind, rain and hail. Neither of us had brought any warm clothes leaving Ireland, one of the major ideas of the trip was to avoid any kind of Irish like weather. Unfortunately Melbourne gave us months of it and I will be returning home with a winter jacket. So Diarmo arrived a couple weeks before me and moved into our good friend from Asia Byron’s house. Rent free and living the dream in the suburbs, he never left. I arrived from France with Ela and we camped in Byron’s palace for a day or two before we found what was supposed to be a short term accomodation at the time, the Oslo hotel in the brilliant seaside suburb of St.Kilda.

St.Kilda is one of the most unique places you could come across. It’s on the beach and just 15 mins from the city on the tram, it is home to beautiful restaurants, bars and boardwalks but also hookers, heroin addicts and revolting houses and units. It really depends on what street you are on or even what section of a street you are on. Ste and Mar were already set up with a nice house in the area, well what would have been nice if not for two pitbulls seemingly on acid all the time. The rest of Europe lived there too, French, Germans, Irish, English, the place is infested.

Our first trip out of the city was to Byron’s beach house. Diarmo, By, Greg, Ste, Mar, Ela and I headed down and enjoyed the sea view in pretty poor weather, nonetheless it’s a beach house, it was a novelty in any case. That was actually the first time I realised ‘footy’ isn’t actually so bad and I became a West Coast Eagles fan (my home town Perth of course). So Diarmo had started a job in sales (the fecken egit) and left it fairly swiftly after a questionable dismissal. And for some reason once again we ended up in a strange line of work, him setting up marquees at events and me in furniture removals. The work was very tough for both of us but soon enough the money started to roll in. Diarmo hit the jackpot when his work sent him to Philip island for 6 weeks which counted as regional work towards his 2nd year visa.

So in October Kylo arrived and moved in with us at the Oslo where our short term accommodation was turning into long term. The place was quiet enough at first but a great group of French arrived and Ela loved that, god at one stage I think 80% of the place was French. I hate to say but after Ireland’s exit from the rugby world cup, I was cheering on the French in the pub dancing around with the rest of them. Anyway a good group of Irish arrived at the same time as Kylo, we had haggled the owner down to $100 a week rent and Ela just said to me ‘why don’t we just stay here?’

The night of the joint birthday of Romain and I there was about 50 of us there  turning the hostel into a casino/bar. And Ela and I had a room on the top floor with a balcony overlooking the beach so no, we didn’t leave. And neither did Diarmo. Byron had the coolest man room I’ve ever seen and a swimming pool. Diarmo had a bedroom to himself, we were both delighted with it all.

Melbourne is a city that never gets old because there is literally so much to do and see. As Diarmo would say ‘So many activities!’ The first major one was the Melbourne cup; the Grand National of the Southern Hemisphere, so the suits and dresses were out and many a dollar was blown on some great racing action. Just like our last visit to the races in Hong Kong, I left somewhat smiling, Diarmo not so much. We went to the Aussie rules in the Etihad stadium which was the biggest pile of shit ever. Half-filled stadium, no atmosphere, no passion on the pitch, no effort from the Aussies whatsoever. Great stadium though and we returned a few weeks for Eminem – also a bit of a let down. My hero when I was 15 played a bland 75 minute set and the dreadful sound didn’t help. On a brighter note, we went to Stereosonic 2 days later, one of Australia’s biggest festivals, LMFAO, Bloody beetroots, Avicii, Afrojack, a great sunny day out. Unfortunately Diarmo didn’t quite make it.. For his sake I wont go into the details but this picture tells a pretty good story.

The lucky fecker left soon after to go home for Christmas. Ela, Diarmo and I were putting togther plans for our trip in February and I went into workaholic mode. I needed about $7000 and needed it in
2.5 months. Kylo had joined me at Fragile and pre-Christmas we were working 50-60 hour weeks. By the time our Christmas break arrived, I was shattered, rich but shattered. Now when you think of Christmas in Australia you think BBQ on the beach yeh? What do you do when it rains non-stop for the entire day? That was Melbourne on December 25th. I couldn’t have been more jealous with Diarmo at home with a big fat turkey and his family around him. Cha’s arrival got us all excited, the group was almost complete again only that Diarmo had left. Ela and I went to see the Arctic Monkeys and Justice in the first week of the new year and we were really starting to realise how much we would miss Melbourne.

Ste and Mar returned from a very bad experience doing farm work and Diarmo came back from Ireland in early January. All 3 pretty broke and jobless. I got Diarmo and Ste into Fragile and it was great having the 4 of us all there. Gabi returned to the group after a couple months home in Ireland and she moved into the palace of Oslo with Kylo, Ela and I. Now as for going out, it wasn’t until January that we actually ventured out of St.Kilda. I mean St.Kilda was fine to go out in, close by, no big cover charges, cheap drinks. But not amazing clubs and bars, full of backpackers, not really an Australian experience. I pushed us into a couple of nights out in Chapel street in Prahran which is where the cool kids of Melbourne hang out, by day beautiful girls saunter around drinking coffee and shopping, by night its a buzzing area full of cool bars and clubs. On our last night in Melbourne we actually hit the city centre to a club called Red Violet. By 3 am we were back in one of our locals Cushion in St.Kilda, it was a hole, but it was our hole. We were just in time to catch the Australian open at the end of January, we got tickets for the Hisense arena on a roasting hot Sunday afternoon. I was devastated that my hero Federer wasnt playing in that arena that day, Diarmo proved thy Nadal is a goon when he tried to take a picture with him and Rafa ignored him.

We really had a great life in Melbourne, I guess the major down side in Perth was that our money was so tight that we couldn’t enjoy ourselves properly. In Melbourne, Ela and I would go for dinner in St.Kilda once or twice a week, always a big breakfast in a city cafe on Sunday mornings and when something came up like concerts or sports events we could easily afford them. Even though our Perth group was a bit scattered, we stuck together like a family and every Saturday night we spent together. Our last few days in Melbourne were just brilliant, By and Andy were over for the weekend and we even managed to convince them to join us in Thailand – we are going to finish our journey in serious style. And even Cha couldn’t resist the offer.

Kylo, Mar, Ste and Gabi were very sad to see us go and Melbourne had become a 2nd home to us. In our jobs we got to see a lot of the surrounding areas of the city, the little seaside towns of the peninsula, the rolling forests east of the city and the endless areas of farmland to the north. The city itself is similar to Sydney or Seattle in stature but without the ‘rat race’ feeling. People don’t seem to rush in Melbourne, they don’t look stressed, everyone just seems happy. And living in Melbourne, you cannot help but feel it too.

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