A Quickie in Melbourne

Or: Should I stay or should I go..?

 

In only one short three hour train ride I have made it to Melbourne. Figured, I’d check out the city for a few days while I wait for my next farmjob to start (because it was so much fun the first time..)
When I arrive, I feel lost. I didn’t book a room, I have no address, and no idea where to go. So naturally I walk up and down the same street for a while and wait for someone to solve my problems for me – aka, someone to stop and ask me if I need any help and provide me with all the information that I need.

Even though on “Hostelbooker” – an app that is, as I have been told, a must for all backpackers because of its supposed ‘usefulness’ – all the hostels in Melbourne seem to be booked out, I still get a room at Discovery. A huge hostel that offers an extremely nice free breakfast including three types of different cereal and bread. But all that doesn’t help against the emptiness inside. Boo Hoo..
Not only am I completely alone once again, but also it’s Valentine’s Day. I keep thinking of Gustav and if I should try and call or text him, but I decide against it. I suppose underneath all the insanity I still have a bit of rationality left.

 

Image
A monkey contemplating life.

The loneliness is making me feel really depressed. Don’t know how other travelers cope with it, if I’m just really terrible at making friends (I know I am) or if I am the only one traveling alone. So since no one in the hostel is talking to me at all, I decide to pamper myself a bit to cheer me up, and not even worry about money too much for the moment. I think I deserve it.
This includes a food coma day. Oh, what am I saying. Every day in Melbourne is food coma day for me. After an elaborate free breakfast at the hostel (1 large bowl of cereal, 2 wholegrain toasts with peanut butter, 2 glasses of milk), a homemade lunch consisting of ramen noodles, German cocktail sausages, carrots and zucchini, I take myself to Southbank for afternoon coffee and subway cookies. When the magician I’ve been watching for half an hour asks for a donation, I steal off to Maccas for a chicken burger meal. On the way back to the hostel, I see a sign that advertises $2 pizza slices – and I have been craving pizza for weeks. To round this off, I am getting a $2 Hungry Jacks caramel sundae for desert. The only thing I need now is a comfortable bed and I’m good.

Next morning, I am walking the 4 km to Melbourne Zoo, because I am too cheap to buy a ticket for the tram and because I am also feeling guilty about my fast food splurge.
I do love zoos. I can’t exactly explain why, but after a day at a zoo I always feel calm and relaxed. I do not like the hordes of babies because, in my opinion, it’s pointless to bring a child younger than 6 years old because they don’t really understand what they’re looking at. But for some reason, humanity seems to think that zoos and babies go together like fish and chips.
Reptiles are my least favorite zoo animals. They just hardly move. And if they do, they’re slow. Ya know, like politics. Ha Ha. Bad joke.
Monkeys, on the other hand.. oh I love them. I find it highly amusing how they are like people. I could just stay and watch them for hours.

It’s the middle of February, but I haven’t seen the second part of The Hobbit yet. A quick internet search shows that in one of the adjacent suburbs the movie is still running. At 9 o’clock in the morning as their only show, but at least still running. I book a ticket in advance to secure myself a seat. Don’t wanna take any risks.
But when I get to the cinema two days later (after much ado about getting there by tram.. I knew I should have just walked!!) I am literally the only person there. So I stretch myself over 3 seats and enjoy the private presentation.

Melbourne is beautiful. It’s artsy, and vibrant, and.. yes, hipster-ish, but I think the city makes it work. It doesn’t make me sweat like a pig, so that’s a big plus.
Some criticize the city for being “too European” – quite frankly, I have no idea what they mean by that. I really don’t. No, I mean – I don’t know what makes a city “European”.

 

Image
Cologne Cathedral. Errr…

The city is littered with street artists. Whether it be musicians, magicians, dancers or chalk-art on the pavement – lovers of the bohemian will definitely get their money’s worth. Personally, I like to sit on one of the hundreds of benches and enjoy some acoustic guitar with a frozen yogurt.
There is always something going on, so even for loners like me it’s hard to get bored.
Furthermore, it’s such an active city. Going for a walk down on Southbank, by the Yarra River (hope I got that right), you’ll always run into joggers, cyclists and rowers. The tennis and cricket stadiums are right nearby, and it’s nice to see German Vettel look stoically at you from one of the many formula 1 posters. I usually don’t care about formula 1, but Patriotism, fuck yea!!

Melbourne seems very young and hip. Seriously, I hardly see people over 50. Or maybe they all just look so young because of their annoyingly healthy lifestyles (I’m sure the at least 7 Maccas’ in the heart of the city are purely used by tourists).
Where in Sydney there are convenient stores next to convenient stores, here it’s souvenir shops. I am seriously tempted to buy some of this crap that wouldn’t survive a week. Fortunately, reminding myself that I don’t have any more room in my backpack keeps me from doing something stupid.

No, I don’t want to go home – not just yet. I get depressed at times, that’s true. And I find being here very hard more often than not, just wishing I was back in the comfort of my own home with everything that makes it so. It’s not Australia of 2007 – this is 2014. Jobs aren’t lying around on the streets anymore free for anyone to pick up. Backpackers can’t find employment because of their horrible reputation. And to be honest, a lot of them do deserve it. The cities are crowded with travelers. Everyone does it. Most of the things I was told about Australia didn’t happen. Time’s a-changing, babes.

But I also enjoy the feeling of being half-way around the world, experiencing these cities, people, and this culture. If I left now, I’d kick my ass wishing I was back in Hyde Park stalking amazing skaters.
Or is it just that I don’t want to admit failure? I told everyone I’d try to stay away as long as possible, but if it’s just to “be away” without really enjoying it, where’s the sense in that?