While studying abroad there is an extreme amount of pressure to do everything and see everything because “you’re only here once.” I got swept up into that pressure but my experience in Melbourne was the best time of my life. However, I’ve always tried to be transparent about the true costs of seeing the world. Getting to Melbourne alone required catching an 11 p.m. train from Newcastle to Sydney. There was a two hour train layover at 2 a.m. in Tuggerah. We got to Sydney Domestic Airport at 5 a.m. and slept three hours in the airport before boarding our 8:50 a.m. flight. The flight was a few hours and the bus to Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) was another hour. I am either a traveling ninja or the queen of poor planning, but I’ll let you decide.
I made the poor decision of traveling with someone who had a completely different traveling style to my own. He was more eager to go to bars and clubs and I wanted to see as much of Melbourne as four days would allow. This resulted in me feeling like I was dragging someone around with me. If you’re going to travel with someone make sure that their interests, hobbies, and personality align well. As a female traveler going with only one friend, and that friend being a male, was like social repellent because nearly everyone assumed we were a couple. This worked with me, for safety reasons, but against me for actually enjoying the sights I was experiencing.
Day 1: Getting settled in and figuring out the city!
Must Do: Hosier Lane
Melbourne is COVERED in street art. Hosier Lane is one of the better known streets where artists create murals, this is a side street from the main lane. It can be hard to squeeze through all of the people and selfie sticks, but this street is worth slowly walking through and finding your own favorite pieces. It’s also constantly changing which makes it my favorite Modern Art Museum ever!
Highlight: Penguins at St. Kilda Beach!
I didn’t realize that the further south I would travel the colder it would get. So I saw this penguin at sundown, wearing a tank top and shorts and a spare over sized shirt. I was freezing and I should have been wearing a winter coat and pants like everyone else, but seeing wild penguins was incredible! I also navigated us an hour into the opposite direction of the beach and had to walk a mile to get to the dock where the penguins are, but enjoying Melbourne’s longest beach and the views wasn’t too bad.
This market was filled with restaurant stalls that had some of the best food I have ever eaten! I ate chicken satay, dumplings, and treated myself to crème brûlée for dessert. Each thing I ate came from a different restaurant! It was also a lot of fun to meet local people who enjoy eating as much as I do!
Day 3: Great Ocean Road!
Getting this photograph was a feat in itself because my phone died and I befriended a lovely Italian couple and asked to have my photo taken and emailed to me. The mission of the day was to rent a car, due to car rental complications Forrest and I had to wait until 1 p.m. to hit the road. The Great Ocean Road DESERVES to be experienced in at least three days, but due to a lack of time and money I had a determination to make it to the Twelve Apostles by sundown. We did it! It meant me learning to drive stick shift on the left side of the road, carefully selecting our stops, and looking around as much as possible. Driving this road gave me an immense sense of peace and it’s impossible to hate the views. It is a must see for anyone traveling to Melbourne. Rent a car and just drive it! See what you can, do what you can afford, but just remember to breathe and take in the views.
Day 4: UFC 193
I saw Ronda Rousey get knocked out by Holly Holm live. Could there be a better moment to be proud of being New Mexican? I think not!
Getting home was equally as chaotic as getting to Melbourne, but in reverse. I loved the city, but seeing it at such an insanely fast rate had it’s highs and lows. I will always love Melbourne, but the cost of living in Australia does make traveling for longer periods of time that much harder.