Falling In Love On Your Travels.

Before I moved to Australia, I can't begin to tell you how many times I heard 'Travelling eh? Mark my words - you're going to get to the other side of the world and fall in love...' I honestly think that if I had a quid for everyone who said something along those lines, I could have at least funded my flight ticket here - and probably bought a couple of new bikinis too.

Being the stubborn little sod that I am, I made the decision very early on, that under no circumstances whatsoever, would I prove anybody right in their premonitions, and I would remain firmly apathetic. 

As much as half of me is dying for everybody to be wrong, the other half of me is more than ok with everybody in fact being right - and I'm ready to accept that I've gone and fallen completely head over heels in love. Admittedly it might be with a city and not with some random stranger I met at boozy bingo, but that still counts, right?

In my defence, Melbourne is pretty damn easy to fall in love with. I've managed to find myself a nice little place right on the beach, a tram ride away from the city and a short drive away from the Dandenong Mountain Ranges. I can go from swimming in the sea, to getting lost for hours in the ridiculously huge shopping centres in the city, to climbing trees (and falling out of trees) in the mountains - all in the space of a day.  (And seriously - leave trails of breadcrumbs if you go shopping in the city. I couldn't find my way out of The Emporium for nearly an hour and have been too scared to go back in since.)

Don't go chasing waterfalls. 

Don't go chasing waterfalls. 

Melbourne is a city abundant in culture, with unbelievable food and insanely good desserts. I've indulged myself in every cuisine imaginable, and never before moving here had I found myself halfway through a meal, excited to be hungry again just so I can try something else. There's street art on every corner, and the buskers are so talented I could watch them for hours. There are hidden laneways, quirky little bars, night markets, and so many ice cream flavours that I really do fear I won't get the chance to try them all. The people here are the friendliest I have encountered - I challenge anybody to make it through an entire day without someone striking up a conversation with them in the street. Even the public transport system is cheap, runs on time and  is therefore worth a mention! (Although even the Kenyan public transport I found to be more reliable than Bristol's...) 

I'm pretty sure that Bristol is always going to be my number one. I love it with all my heart, and I can't imagine anywhere else ever getting me like Bristol does. But Melbourne has well and truly got my heart in a headlock - and something is telling me that it's going to be my first love of many on this trip.... 

Rainbow Road.

Rainbow Road.

When You're A World Away From Your Family At Christmas...

Apart from being about having a really tidy bedroom, (because if it's messy, Santa won't come) Christmas is all about family. (And actually quite a lot about food too...)

Being the other side of the world at Christmas time isn't the easiest. The really hot weather obviously helps a little bit, but it's just not the same as being at home. Plus, you're constantly aware that there's not a single chance that you'll be able to enjoy your nan's stuffing for Christmas dinner - and even the sunniest of December days spent at the beach isn't going to make you feel any better about that!

Unlike most travellers/backpackers/whatever it actually is you want to call me, I was fortunate enough to be invited to spend Christmas Day with the family friends of a friend and her family and my friends too. (How's that for a mouthful!?) Such a lovely gesture is one that I'll be endlessly grateful for - especially as it made my first Christmas away from home so much easier.

Waking up on Christmas morning was strange. For a start, I wasn't freezing cold, and second of all, the fact that I didn't want to jump out of bed straight away made me realise exactly how much I love sitting with my mum and brother (and obviously my cats too) and opening our presents together. McDonald's breakfast made me feel a little better as we started the journey to Eltham to meet everyone.

I can't begin to explain what an incredible feeling it is, to be welcomed into the house of a family you have never met, on a day as personal as Christmas is to most people I know. Made to feel instantly welcome and provided with the most amazing food - it was like having an adoptive family for the day!

Christmas adoptive family.

Christmas adoptive family.

After dinner, things escalated pretty quickly and before we knew it a slip n'slide had been set up in the garden and we'd borrowed swim suits so we could partake in the fun. I never thought I'd spend Christmas Day sliding down the garden on my stomach - but then again I've never spent a Christmas Day in the 35 degree heat before! There were lots of jokes, some fantastic dance moves and endless laughter. I had an absolutely unbelievable day - I think the only time I (just about) managed to stop laughing was whilst I was eating my dinner! 

This years Christmas attire.

This years Christmas attire.

I always knew that being away from my family at Christmas time was likely to be the hardest part of travelling, but it was made so much easier by the fact that there are such good, accommodating people in this world. I can't begin to thank everyone enough for providing us with a surrogate family, a welcoming home, an absolutely delicious meal and a phenomenal day.

 

A Dog Is For Life, Not Just Three Minutes...

I've always wanted a dog. I think they are hilarious. I love how excited they get over absolutely single aspect of life, and I often wonder what they're thinking. Are they actually really that excited? Or are they just taking the mickey? Imagine spending a day as a dog. It would be absolutely brilliant.

What's he thinking?

What's he thinking?

I'd popped to the shops in the afternoon - I was supposed to be buying some things for my new room, but before I even made it to the right shop, I'd spent most of my money on food, (shock!) so I ended up just having a browse and heading back home.

Casually strolling along, I noticed a gorgeous dog tied to a chair, outside one of the cafe/bars up ahead. I was already planning to give it a little pat on the head as I walked past it, so when the dog spotted me, and started wagging it's tail, I was secretly quite pleased as it meant the dog was up for a head pat too.

You know how sometimes you see a dog tied up outside and then it starts going mental when it sees its owner return? Well, within seconds of the dog seeing me, it had leapt up and started bounding towards me as though I was it's owner - dragging the chair it was tied to with it. Tables and chairs flying everywhere, drinks falling over, glasses smashing, people in the street tutting disapprovingly at the girl who can't control her pet - I was pretty helpless as this giant dog started jumping on me and licking my face, completely oblivious to the massive trail of destruction that it had left behind. 

The cafe manager came running out and asked me to please untie my dog from her chair and take him home. As much as I really wanted my new friend to come with me, I couldn't really steal somebody's dog, so I had to explain that it wasn't mine and quickly carry on walking. I'm pretty sure that not a single person believed me, and certainly nobody owned up to it being their dog.

I figured that it probably wasn't the best idea to get a selfie with the dog, or a photo of the mess it made/the street full of angry people with ruined drinks. I was apparently the only one who found it funny. 

In other news, ducklings are only $12.50 at the market, so I'm considering getting a pet duck and naming it Charlie.... 

 

Charlie (left) and his mate, Simon.

Charlie (left) and his mate, Simon.



Interviews and Fairy Floss.

When I got an instant callback after a sports marketing job interview, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Not only had I successfully dragged myself out of bed at 6am, (a time of day I usually only see if I'm still up from the night before) but I'd also managed to navigate my way to the interview without being late, completely blag that I know a lot more about sports than I actually do, dress smartly enough to look like I could actually fit in with their strict business attire dress code AND successfully walk in heels from the reception area to the interview room, without falling over and breaking my ankles.

I was especially pleased because pre-interview, I'd stopped in a lane to change into my heels - obviously it just so happened to be the exact same lane that the Managing Director of the company had chosen to take his cigarette break in. I'm great at first impressions. 

I had initial reservations about the job the next morning, as I was sat in the waiting area, waiting to be seen for 'round two.' I was just getting stuck into one of the sport magazines when I heard chanting...

"I FEEL GOOD. I FEEL GREAT. I FEEL GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD, GREEEEAT!"

I listened to the chanting for a little longer before I managed to convince myself that it was 'fun' and not completely ridiculous - and after a morning spent with the team, I'd persuaded myself that I really wanted the job.

Of course, in the five minute break I had before the final stage of the interview process with the Managing Director, I received a phonecall from Luna Park Amusement Park, inviting me in for an interview the following morning. Five minutes later, when I found myself the only candidate to have been offered a job on the spot, I found myself asking for 24 hours to 'think about it.'

In reality, I was ALWAYS going to take the job at Luna Park over the other one. I was never going to wear a skirt and heels to work, and I definitely wasn't going to go 'Wolf of Wall Street' on everyone's ass and start chanting along with my team before I started my day. Just over one month on, and I couldn't be happier that I did turn the other one down!

Luna Park, Melbourne.

Luna Park, Melbourne.

One of my favourite things to do is make the Fairy Floss (Candy Floss) for the kids. I actually love it. There's something so satisfying about spinning a stick round in all the sticky coloured sugar, and seeing how big you can make the floss, and watching the look of horror on the parents' face as they realise their children are going to be climbing the walls all night. A little boy the other day called me 'the greatest Fairy Floss maker in the world.' I'm dead certain that I'm by no means the greatest, but it was still nice of him to say it. 

Hostel Life.

Considering I'm yet to become a 'proper backpacker' and travel the world, I've completed a fairly decent stint of hostel stays in my time. I've always been fairly lucky, and haven't really encountered any that were too bad - until now.

It was inevitable that at some point I'd end up sleeping in a disgusting hell hole, and I'm certain it'll be the first of many more to come. Although, I do have to say, however bad it was, it did spur me on to start my blog - so a huge thanks to St Kilda Hostel for getting my ass into gear. 

When I arrived, the man at reception told me I wasn't booked in for the room which I'd paid for, which was funny for about a split second before I realised he was being serious. Luckily, (or rather, unluckily as it turned out) he managed to find me another bed. Because it was obviously hammering it down in sunny Melbourne, I practically ran to my room, put my key in the door, and was immediately shouted at. 

Now, I have absolutely nothing against tattoos - including tattoos that completely cover every single inch of somebodies face, but when I open the door to my room to be greeted with 'WHO THE HELL IS THAT!?' and a giant tattooed face in my face, I think I'm well within my rights to be slightly dubious about my new roommate.

It actually turned out that Michael, the shouty person who owned the giant tattooed face, was lovely - a classical piano player (never judge a book by it's cover) from Melbourne who lives in the hostel long term. He had the best bed in the room and instantly offered it to me if I wanted it. I didn't actually mind having a top bunk though. (Mainly because I'm a giant kid at heart.) I was the only female in a room of six, and to be quite frank the room was an absolute dump.

Despite the funny smell, it was all going fairly well until I decided to put my bag in my locker. The first problem occurred when I realised there were no lockers. Which probably partly explains why the room was such a mess, with the floor appearing to be the only place to keep my belongings. The fact that there was nowhere secure to keep my things was pretty annoying, but the main issue arose when I tried to clean my teeth in the bathroom and a sink that was so blocked with pubic hair filled up to create a frothy, minty pube filled swamp for me to heave into. 

The next three nights were pretty sleepless. On the first night I awoke to one of the guys having an extremely loud wank. I couldn't work out which one it was, but that was probably for the best. Night two consisted of me waking up to what appeared to be a drug deal taking place next to my bed, and by the third night, I wasn't surprised to wake up to find the front door wide open - though I didn't get up to close it, because it was nice to get some air in the room considering the other occupants had decided it was fine to chain smoke in there. 

On check out day, I awoke early to be out of the room at the earliest possible moment. Walking the streets of St Kilda in the rain was definitely preferable to staying there any longer. The pubic hair fountain was getting worse by the day, and although it was nice of the boys to attempt to hide the massive porn DVD collection that was originally scattered all over the floor, it still wasn't enough to make me want to extend my stay. 

The final straw came when I handed my keys in and the reception man tried to tell me that I hadn't paid for my stay and I owed him $90. There wasn't a chance in hell that I was going to pay twice, so I told him where to stick it, and walked out.

And so begins the travelling life...