Friday, July 20, 2012

Flinders Street Station & Melbourne Central

I departed San Francisco on July 9 and arrived in Melbourne, Australia two days later.  Flying with Air New Zealand was a very pleasant experience though, so given the choice, I would highly recommend them.  They also forgot to charge me for my bags.  Ha.  Don't count on that happening though :P

I finally ventured into the city despite it being a rainy day.  I was going to meet a professor at Victoria University in hopes that he'll give me some leads for possible employment, so that was a good motivation to venture out that way.  We called after getting into Flinders Station, and since it was only a two minute walk to his office, he asked for some time, so we walked around the block to soak up the city.
Source: Public Transport Victoria
We wandered into Degraves Street, an alley way with restaurants.  These tables fill the alleyway, so no cars allowed.  I appreciated that aspect of the alleyway.  The first thing that struck me was a store called Pie Face.  What a cute name.  We didn't get anything from there, but they also have an adorable logo.  Some things you should know about Australia, ha, this is coming from someone who's been here a week and a half?  Well prior to arriving, I did some light research, as in I read The Age as a news source for six months.  Australia has a strong coffee culture and they pride themselves for the taste and quality of their coffee.  Starbucks is for tourists.  Needless to say, there are plenty of coffeeshops all over, many of them independent coffeeshops.  As for food, meat pie is one that Aussies claim as their own.  So a store called Pie Face might conjure up images of apple pie, strawberry pie, key lime pie or the like for Americans, but in Australia, pie can mean rosemary lamb pie, beef curry pie, or things along those lines.  (Yes, Americans have chicken pot pie but it's hard to find that in a restaurant, unless you're at Marie Callendar's, in my experience anyway)

Souce: Degraves Street
After a brief meeting, we went out to eat the food we had feasted our eyes on earlier.  We got Lord of the Fries, bubble tea, and Taiwanese shaved ice.  We wandered around the streets, and through Myers, a department store.  I mean, I did the wandering, my tour guide (read: boyfriend) knew where we were going.  Next thing I knew, (See?  Absolutely no awareness of surroundings...) I was in this building, distracted by cute and cheap vintage clothes.  I was so focused on delivering myself from temptation that I didn't notice the shot tower (see picture below).  It's like the highlight of Melbourne Central, and all I knew it for was the cool shops.  Yeah, wonderful tourist I am.  I was later quizzed on what I saw by my boyfriend's parents and when they asked what I thought about the shot tower I responded with a blank look.  Well, there it is, below.  I'll keep an eye out for it next time.  As for the cool shops, this area reminded me a lot of parts of Taipei.  Sophisticated shops, busy streets and sharply dressed pedestrians.  

Source: Melbourne Central
So I was trying this new thing called "not looking like a tourist" and thought I would just use pictures online instead of taking pictures with my own camera.  Eh, the next time I went into the city (a few days ago, I'm a week behind) I brought my own and snapped away.  The other reason, besides not wanting to scream, "Mug me I'm a tourist" was because I thought by putting away the camera, I could soak in more of the city.  After giving that a shot, I think that for me, snapping pictures is part of the experience where I fit the scenery into a frame.

A note on costs: Prior to arrival I heard over and over and over and over again that Australia is an expensive place.  A good part of the reason is because they have a strong economy and their dollar got really strong against the American currency.  That means that while a decade ago, when the Australian currency was something like 50% of the American currency, a $20 Australian Dollar meal was actually $10 US dollars.  Now the $20 AUD is something like $20 USD.  The other reason is that Australians pay their labor well, none of that cheap labor we have in the US that deflates the price of goods and services.  SO, how do you enjoy Australia on the cheap?  That's what I'm supposed to be learning this year.  A train ride into the city is about $11 roundtrip.  Pretty steep, but more convenient than driving & parking.  I kinda turn a blind eye to the price of food.  Except I still remember it well enough to catalog my spending a few days later :P  What I need is to find the balance between reasonable spending while still enjoying my time here.  One of the ways that I'm trying is sharing food so that I can try more varieties which is supposed to give you more enjoyment than a large quantity of one item.  We'll see.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck finding inexpensive things to do! Sounds like you guys had fun downtown, though, and the food (I saw it on facebook) looked really good :) Can't wait to see more!