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Monday 3 Mar 2014
Melbourne, Australia

Catching up

After a brilliant couple of days with my cousin, I was sad to say goodbye.  Jill had to catch an early flight home, so I saw her off and then crept back into bed.  I slept in and enjoyed the hotel for as long as possible.  When you're staying in hostels and sleeping in bunkbeds, a proper hotel bed is a luxury not to be wasted!

I had lunch in another Vietnamese place and read my book for a couple of hours before taking my bags over to the Nunnery, my latest hostel in the Fitzroy area of Melbourne.  The Nunnery was a huge old mansion house full of slightly off-kilter stairwells and stained glass light fittings.  Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the reception staff, I found it to be quite an unfriendly hostel full of long-term residents.  One thing I have found with hostels in both New Zealand and Australia is that the longer-term residents, especially those backpackers on working holiday visas, tend to set up camp in hostel dorms while they work a 2-3 month placement.  The accommodation is cheap and they don’t have to sign up for a lease, but they can then get very territorial over the space and treat other dorm guests like intruders.  Being the only temporary guest in a dorm full of longer term residents doesn’t always make for a welcoming stay. I’m sure it’s no fun if the other guests come in drunk at all hours when you have to get up for work, (which is inconsiderate behaviour regardless of how long you’re staying) but the long-term residents can be just as bad.

So, without meeting any friendly new dorm buddies, I wandered up the road towards Brunswick Street, an area well known for its hipster shops and cafes by day and bars and restaurants in the evening.  I seemed to have hit the in-between time when shops were closed but the nightlife hadn’t yet got going.  Maybe I was just put off by the hostel atmosphere, but Brunswick Street didn’t seem that nice either, despite having been told about it by various people.  In the end, I found a great little Mexican place and enjoyed some delicious pulled beef quesadillas in a nod to my favourite Taco bar in Costa Rica.  I got an early night and finished off my book.

Monday 3rd March

For the last two years at work, I worked with an Australian lady named Deb, who had been over in Ireland and the UK for about 10 years.  We had lost touch after I left work, but I had heard she was now back in Australia.  While chatting online to another ex-colleague a month ago, I had mentioned I was off to Melbourne next and he told me Deb was now living there.  A few minutes later, another message popped up saying ‘here’s her number, she’d love to see you!’  A great example of the speed and power of social media while travelling. 

As a result, I caught a tram across to the Albert Park area, south of Melbourne city centre, and met up with a very relaxed, happy Deb.  It was very strange to meet her in such a different context, so far removed from the stress of the jobs we had been doing 15 month earlier.  We sat in a café on the seafront, basking in the sunshine and catching up, both gainfully unemployed and both loving the freedom it offered.  I’m glad I got a chance to know this side of Deb, back in her home country after so many years abroad and loving her new life.  I don’t know what I will end up doing for a job when I get home again, but this trip has really taught me the value of keeping time for myself and not falling back into a job which will take over again.  There are more important things in life than work and I’m not prepared to compromise on that anymore.

I spent the rest of the day pottering around town, hunting out a hostel with decent unlimited wifi so Ali and I could stream the Six Nations rugby when she comes down to see me next week. We ended up booking back into the Radisson and they were happy to store my rucksack for a couple of days while I went to Adelaide.

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #4 New Zealand and Australia

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I had so much fun in New Zealand and Australia that I'm going back around again! This time I'll see more of the North Island and catch up with friends and family in Melbourne

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