Melbourne is right off of the ocean, and there is one main beach where people get into the water or stroll on the boardwalk – St. Kilda. I took the tram down there, and a market was going on with lots of booths filled with handmade items for sale. I browsed around but didn’t purchase anything. The area was beautiful and reminded me of Huntington Beach, California, with giant palm trees and clear water.
It was 62 °F (16 °C), but with the wind, the “real feel” was 53 °F (11 °C). It was a beautiful clear day, so I walked along the boardwalk. There weren’t many people outside, most likely because of how cold it was. I stopped at a restaurant and enjoyed a yummy pizza while watching the palm trees blow in the wind.
I continued walking along the beach as the sun was setting. The clouds made for a spectacular sight! I walked towards Melbourne, so the high-rise buildings were in the background. The water was clear, making it all look like a postcard.
I found myself at the penguin pier. Each evening at sunset, small penguins swim up to the rocks that are at the base of the dock. People started to gather along the sidewalk and stood against the rails where viewing is best. A woman was working as she instructed people not to get too close or shine a light on them. The penguins found spots in the rocks to mate and rest. They made lots of noise as they called out for a partner.
It was so cute to watch the little animals jump from the ocean onto the rocks. They’d often disappear into crevasses, but some stood on display. They don’t like the light because it confuses them into thinking it’s daylight. As it got darker, the woman shined a red light to point out where some of them were.
It was getting too dark and cold, so I left the pier. I took the tram to Chapel Street, where there are lots of bars and restaurants. The tour guide that I met days earlier told me about Boston Sub, which is a sandwich shop that also has a hidden bar. I walked past the counter where sandwiches are ordered and hesitantly stood near the refrigerator door. I paused and asked the employee, “I can go inside?” He assured me that it was ok, so I opened the door.
It opened up to a small, dark bar. Most of the cocktail tables were full, so I took a seat at the bar. I ordered a drink, which was a whole performance. The bartender put the ingredients inside of a tiki cup and then lit half a lemon on fire as it sat on top of the glass. It was amusing and entertaining to be in a secret bar – it’s an excellent concept. The only drawback was the price for cocktails, which ranged between $23-$25 each.
I decided to walk around a bit, but most restaurants and bars were closed or were mostly empty. It was a Sunday evening, and I would discover that many places are closed on Sunday. I was told by a tour guide in Sydney months later that the reason places close early and often aren’t open on the weekend is because of the rate of pay. Australia has the highest minimum wage in the world ($19.49/hour), and employers often have to pay employees overtime pay on the weekend. It’s not worth it for them to stay open for a handful of customers, so they close.
When I got back to my hotel, I finally figured out how to watch Game of Thrones. After researching multiple options, I signed up for ExpressVPN. Then I changed my location to the U.S. and used a friend’s login information to watch it on HBO GO. It was the episode, A Long Night, which was extremely difficult to see because they filmed it with basically no lights, and I had to watch on my Ipad mini. But at least I was able to finally figure out how to watch movies and play the music that is only available in the U.S.
The next morning at 6:30 am, my parents and sister Facetimed me about a house in Missouri. They had been looking at some homes for me and finally found one that seemed like a good fit. I agreed, but it was a seller’s market. My realtor told me to record a video of myself, showing the sellers why I wanted the house. It took me hours to do all of this, and in the end, the house had 13 offers, and mine was not accepted.
Once all of that was done, I ate at Kettle Black again (where I had those mouth-watering pancakes). This time I ordered a waffle, and while it was tasty, it was too sweet. I suppose it was the ice cream on top.
The National Gallery of Victoria (an art museum) was nearby, and I walked there after lunch. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed that the admission was free. I wandered the halls, seeing some magnificent pieces of art. My favorite section had old dresses on display, as they outlined a whole history of fashion.
Next, I took the tram to the Melbourne Museum. I was confused at first as to what type of museum this was because, in the U.S., we have the Science Museum, the History Museum, etc. What type of museum was this? It was huge and had it all! It was basically all of the museums in one, with different sections showcasing different themes. There was a wing for science, one for history, one about the human body, and a wing about the First Peoples.
My favorite wing was on the human body. There was a whole section devoted to mental health and talked about the science of human emotion. I think it’s important to learn about mental health as much as it is to learn about the science of our physical bodies. They ended the section talking about the experimental practice of “fecal transplants” to help with the digestive tract.
After exploring the museum, I walked around downtown and enjoyed the blue sky, green trees, and the well-maintained statues. There was a park near the museum, so I walked through it. There was the occasional person sitting on a bench or on the grass.
I took the tram to the Skydeck. It touts itself as, “The highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere.” I was thrilled when I realized it wasn’t very crowded. When I had gone up the Space Needle in Seattle, it was packed and difficult to enjoy any views. This time I was able to leisurely walk around and enjoy the sunset. I ordered a muffin and a coffee, and sat down to relax.
Once I was back at my hotel, I was exhausted. I turned on the TV, and The Bachelor (Australia) was on. It was mid-season, but I couldn’t help but get sucked in. I kept seeing it on TV when I’d get ready to leave my room. It’s trash TV, I know. But I was perplexed as to why it seemed to be on every day. In the U.S., new episodes only air once a week. In Australia, things will air for several days in the row, even a new season.
The next day, I did some laundry at the machines that were in the basement of the hotel. I spent the day working on my blog and getting some things done. I ordered Uber Eats, and my food was delivered on a bicycle. It was my last day in Melbourne, and I booked a rental car for pickup the following day. I planned on driving the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide. It would be the first time driving a vehicle on the left side of the road, so I was feeling terrified.
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