3. Things I love about Melbourne

This post could in theory be applied to whole of Australia, since my experiences so far are limited to good ol’ Melbs. Not for long, though! From Vappu onwards I shall be traveling up north, to escape the cold a bit and see what Byron Bay has to offer. I don’t know how long I will be away, which is good: I can come back when I feel like it; I do have to start from scratch but it is not the same as the first time around. Melbourne, I will be back.

1.1 The people, friends.
I have managed to make pretty good friends in the past 3 months. Australians sure are a friendly bunch of people, and I have managed to spend time with some amazing individuals.

Best trips are shared ones. Says the girl traveling solo. Oops.
Best trips are shared ones. Says the girl traveling solo. Oops.

1.2. The people, random.
From the vegetable delivery guy (the dry goods delivery guy is an exception to this rule) to the guy in the sneaker store, everyone is generally friendly and in a good mood. Train creeps aside, people will smile, say ‘hey how ya goin’ and even have a small conversation without a fuss. It feels damn good!

2.1 The coffee.
Yes. The daily brew is something to be taken seriously. And this is seen everywhere with coffee shops, restaurants and cafes all selling at least decent coffee. Even the worst brew here is better than the average elsewhere.

Long black and one of the aforementioned friends. Loving it.
Long black, Scandinavian minimalist design and one of the aforementioned friends. Loving it.

2.2 The food.
You can find almost any kind of cuisine, in several price ranges. Some neighborhoods have large ethnical minorities, and therefore they host a variety of special cuisines around the world. As an example: Richmond is also known as Little Vietnam, and few streets make Chinatown in the city. This food-loving includes the option of all-popular paleo restaurants, gluten free foods and the mighty Smashed Avo, that can be found in any self respecting food joint. High respects also to ethnic Prahran Convenience store that sells 12 pack of Questbars for $36!

I could have an overdosa of this.
I could have an overdosa of this.

2.2.1 The markets.
Victoria market being the best, largest and cheapest, there is also South Melbourne market where I buy my hummus, and Prahran which I frequent most often just for the atmosphere since it’s the closest to me. Also farmers’ markets make my favorite list, but they’re more scattered and I have only managed to visit one since I don’t own a car. Anyhow, good stuff! Fresh veggies and fruit and seafood, can’t say no to that!

St. Andrew's market, I guess technically in melbourne (almost 1hr drive from the city).
St. Andrew’s market, I guess technically in Melbourne (almost 1hr drive from the city).

3.1. The culture.
From comedy festival to Food and Wine festival, there’s always something going on. After studying Urbanlist and Broadsheet, the hardest part is to actually do and see everything you want to. My cultural highlight so far was probably seeing Adam Hill at the comedy festival, or CJ Hendricks’ 50 Foods in 50 Days.

modest Comedy Festival decorations.
Modest Comedy Festival decorations.

3.2. The exercise.
I think I am pretty good at optimizing the cost of expensive workouts: living in posh South Yarra has allowed me to test different yoga and pilates studios around the hoods for affordable prices: I’ve been to Core Candy (HIIT, Pilates and Barre 1 class per day for 2 weeks $50), Rise Yoga in Richmond (2 weeks of flow yoga, hot and yin yoga $25) and most recently One Hot Yoga&Pilates just around the corner from home (unlimited reformer pilates and slow hot flow and yin yoga $50). I have been more than happy with the trials, especially One Hot. Damn their playlist is like straight from my Spotify!

Damn hot yoga studio. I'll miss you.
Damn hot yoga studio. I’ll miss you.

Also as a bonus to this 3 part list is the architecture and neighborhood vibes. Places look cool.

True dat, Einstein.
True dat, Einstein.
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Anzac day

It has been all over the place for a few weeks now: Anzac day. I figured out that the A stands for Australia, N Z New Zealand and then had to google the last 2: Army Corps. Today is the centenary of Australian (and New Zealand) army corps landing to Gallipoli, Turkey, where they apparently got slaughtered during World War II. This event had the most casualties and all in all it was a shitty situation – and I don’t remember ever studying about this in school! Perhaps I’ve just forgotten it, or then it is not considered as one of the highlights of WWII in Europe.

Nowadays Anzac day is huge: there’s a special footy match with tons of footy fans, parade, memorial ceremonies at dawn, just to name a few. I spent this special day at work: our anzac biscuits sold well, and people were out and about enjoying the gloomy rainy day. Today Anzac represents all the AUstralians who have died in war, and it is carried even through the younger generations.

I find this kind of national event rather interesting: especially when I found out that it is not a religious festival at all (besides a little praying in the memorial, maybe?). If April 25th falls on a weekday, Anzac day is a public holiday. Today, it being a Saturday, some shops had special opening hours (mostly open from afternoon onwards, instead of opening in the morning), but I haven’t really been out enough to figure out if most places are closed or not. I guess I’ll figure it out when dinner time comes.

PS: this is my 200th post on this blog, wohoo! Time for commemorating of my adventures and encounters of the past 3 years.

White pepsi in Tokyo, 2012. Eww.
White pepsi in Tokyo, 2012. Eww.

Stralian, mate!

Before coming to Australia, I thought I understood English; I have been studying the language since pretty much forever, goddammit! The past 2 months have taught me a lot about this beautiful language, however, and I think it is important that I spread what I’ve learned to others, too. Here are some Australianisms that might be more or less useful, or not.

Arvo – Afternoon. (Are you free this arvo to catch up?)
Barbie – The grill. (Chuck some shrimp on the barbie, willya!)
Bathers – Swimsuit.
Bloody oath – Bloody hell.
Bogan – Redneck, someone simple an uneducated individual who enjoys tons of beer and such.
Bush – The outback.
Bushdoof – Party in the outback.
Chook – Chicken. (One chook wrap to go, cheers!)
Cunt – Either a close friend or the opposite. (Hey you cunt, get us a round!)
Docket – bill, receipt.

Dry as a dead dingo’s donger – Dry.
Eskie – cooler for beer and other things important to be kept cold.
Heaps – a lot. (Thanks heaps, mate)
Hey – To ask something. (Hey? “Please repeat”)
Hey – To confirm and emphasize something. (Your mate is such a sheepshagger, hey)
Fair suck on the sav – Disbelief.
Footy – Football. Aussie rules football.
Good onya mate – Good for you, well done.
It’s gone walkabout – It’s lost, can’t be found.

mackas (‘mackers’) – mcDonalds.
mad as a cut snake – Very angry.
mate – anyone from your closest friends to strangers and acquaintances. (Oi mate! Kick the ball!)
No worries – no problem, it’s ok. (Thanks! No worries!)
Reckon – to think (Whadya reckon? I reckon it’s as dry as a nun’s nasty)
Ripper – Great.
Runners – Sneakers.
Shit for brains – not that smart.
Struth (‘str-ewth’) – Expression of surprise.
Sheepshagger – New Zealander.
Whinge – to complain. (Stop whinging you twat)

These and quite a few other expressions and words have bedazzled me, and I a sure I will encounter many more. Perhaps enough to write another post!
 

Down Under Easter

When I started this blog, one of my first posts was about Easter in Finland. I have come a long way since then (pun intended), and this Easter I spent surprisingly in Down Under, the land of hot cross buns and Easter Egg Hunt a week later than ours. To be honest my Easter was very un-Eastery, although I did organize a bit of a hunt for my housemates, and did nibble on a bit of chocolate as well. No massive feasts (besides Grill’d mushroom burger), sugar comas (caffeine hits don’t count) or that sort of traditional things, and above all: no spring time. The leaves are falling off trees, and when it is +25 and sunny one day, the next it feels like I’m back in Finland. When it’s October.

Apparently there's no Easter without these: Hot cross buns with fruit, chocolate or who knows what else.
Apparently there’s no Easter without these: Hot cross buns with fruit, chocolate or who knows what else.

This past week has been rather good: I managed to fit in 3 (small) road trips! First of them was ex-tempore bathing session in mornington Peninsula Hot Springs. If you ever come to these hoods, I highly recommend taking a good soak. Good Japan memories, though this place had few hundred people, most of them either Brits or Americans. I suggest going towards the closing time during a weekday, so you have more private bathing session.

So called Beach Bush.
So called Beach Bush.

Besides hot springs, we went on a day cruise along the peninsula east of melbourne, all the way to the tip. Lovely small beach towns dot the coast, and despite it being Good Friday, cafes and restaurants seemed to be somewhat open. Later on that night I locked myself into a bathroom and poured a decent amount of sand into the bed, but that’s another story.

On Saturday I had a proper sleep-in for the first time since I came to Australia (!!), brunch in the city and some me-time shopping. Caught up with a friend from Bali who I randomly ran into in H&m (God bless!), and ended up eating ramen in the street waiting for the epic lunar eclipse. I kinda missed the whole red moon part, but it was fun nevertheless!

Feeding Joe. Not scared at all.
Feeding Joe. Not scared at all.

I also ventured to fulfill one of my lifetime goals: to see a koala and penguins. In maru koalapark did I not only see a koala (awake!), but also got to feed kangaroos. It might seem a bit dumb to pay to see kangaroos when apparently they’re everywhere and koalas are not that rare, either, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Now I’ve seen the real-life difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby, and I might enlighten you some day as well. Still to remain to be seen: wombats and pandas (latter not found here, though). The penguins hang out in Philip Island, few hours away from melbourne, but since we were early birds and too impatient to hang around until sunset, we only saw them chilling in their little box houses. Cute lil’ fellas, I must say. Luckily I can go to St. Kilda beach to see penguins, apparently they live there too!

Waves!
Waves!

That’s it for my Easter. It didn’t even really feel like one, though I did Skype with good ol’ grandparents back home (grandpa still thinks it costs millions to call overseas). It was a good long weekend with a special feeling. Hopefully there’s more similar to come, public holidays or not.

Day Off

What does one do when they get a day (or two) off in the middle of the week when everyone else is working (thanks, hospitality job). In melbourne there is always something going on: a proof of this is that I stumbled onto a free lunch time meditation in Fed Square on my walk.

Day off, sleep-in. To me this means waking up at 9 the latest. Since I had the time and the weather was gorgeous +26 degrees (hello, Autumn!) yesterday, I decided to walk to the city along Yarra River. I was listening to an audio book for the first time in a while, which was relaxing.

Leaves getting brown before falling off.
Leaves getting brown before falling off.

Sidenote: Even though Australia is considered as somewhat efficient country, their services such as teleoperators and bank services have not been that great in my experience. I could easily add to this list ticket services, because of a hassle I went through to get certain tickets refunded. Note to customer services in no matter what field: if you refund a customer, please let them know so they won’t have the hassle of going to your office to make sure you have done your job. Cheers.

I had read earlier about an exhibition by CJ Hendry presented by The Cool Hunter. Luckily enough, as I was walking around in Fitzroy I randomly found the exhibition. CJ Hendry’s 50 Foods in 50 Days consists of, yeah you guessed it, 50 dishes, meticulously hand-drawn on French designer plates in 50 days. The dream meals of death-row inmates include whole squid, fries, m&m’s and cocaine. All of the ‘photo realism’ pieces were sold even before opening the exhibition, which is easy to believe having seen them live. If it were for me, I’d probably take the one with macarones on it, or the giant snow crab.

Last temptation: a lollypop.
Last temptation: a lollypop.
mmmmmmmm.
mmmmmmmm beans.

It’s been a (way long) while since I’ve been to any gallery or exhibition, and I definitely should go more. This particular one was interesting not only because of the art pieces, but the pieces of great product design that were sold in the venue. From luxury single origin chocolate (hello, mast Brothers) to caramel butter popcorn to art books and Greek honey, all the products screamed premium branding.

Yes this is coffee.
Yes this is coffee.

From Fitzroy I ventured to Abbotsford Convent, popular especially amongst poor travelers and hippies because of their nice grass lawn and pay what you want vegetarian restaurant Lentils As Anything. I’ve been to lentils once before, but that time it was a la carte instead of their normal buffet-style dining. I highly appreciate the idea of paying what you can for your meal, and having the place run by volunteers, but unfortunately some people take advantage of the freedom of not paying for their food. The meal was actually a bit disappointing, to be honest, since two of the dishes were mainly potatoes. In addition there was rice, tossed salad with dressing, and some soupy thing with a few beans and oil. Suggested donation for food: 12 dollars. We didn’t get to dessert because we didn’t realize to get that on the first round, and the queue to the restaurant was probably at least few hundred meters. Popular as anything! Good thing about exploring with time is you never know what you might find; a cute coffee shop, 2 dollar sushi rolls, an interesting exhibition or just cool looking random buildings.

This is a bottle shop (and who knows what else). And there's a skeleton climbing in or out of the window.
This is a bottle shop (and who knows what else). And there’s a skeleton climbing in or out of the window.