Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Melbourne, Australia July 21st-24th, 2010

Culture: It was a smaller type city than I am used to in the United States, and just seemed like a fun, relaxed environment. The crowd here seemed significantly younger, and it seemed like the main business districts were in Sydney. Melbourne is also home to the Crown Casino which was nothing but a big disappointment to me. It is nice and large, but the blackjack rules are terrible since there are no competing casinos nearby, dropping a basic strategy players disadvantage for about 0.5-1.0% to around 3%!

Language: English w/ a funny accent, gooo dayyy maaate.

Population: 4,000,000

Transportation: It is more like the states again, mainly cars with your other modes of transportation as well.

Beer: Carlton is the new beer here I was not used to. The Australians would joke about how bad it is and that we should give it one try and then drink our normal American beers. And, they were right, it was terrible.
Currency: Australian Dollar, it is almost identical to the USD, however we only got about 91% due to awful exchange rates. I advise using a checking card that has no atm fees and no foreign conversion fees such as a Charles Schwab Investors Account.

Nightlife: The nightlife is odd in Melbourne and Australia in general. The majority of their bars are cafes during the day, and then turn in to bars at night time. Due to this, most of them are sit around places to drink w/ no dance floors or anything. Yes, you can go to some clubs, but they are not in abundance there. Pitchers are about $10-15, which is somewhat costly. A random story from the trip, I looked outside of the bar and a kid was getting kicked in the head, and so I asked my new Melbourne friends why no one was stopping it. He said that the cafes have no security and you have to wait for the cops to get there. I went outside and pulled the guy back and we waited until the police got there, it was the closest I’ve been to ever being in a real fight.

Internet: It is reliable since Australia is a nice developed country.
Shopping: The stores were rather expensive compared to the US, so I’d recommend not getting much more than small souvenirs here.

Place Stayed At: Victoria Hall, 380 Russell Street - It was an awesome hostel, it was the same as living in a nice and updated dorm building. Shared bathrooms, not huge rooms, a workout room, and a decent kitchen. It was also within walking distance to Crown Casino and all of the city. Great location and price for the hostel, it fills up fast though so certainly book ahead of time. We booked late and paid about $80-90/night, but right now it is only $30 so I assume we booked late so the price was high due to the hostels all filling up with demand in the summer when I went. So far this has been the nicest hostel I’ve been to. It is also right across the street from RMIT University. This is a neat story, a student named Andre dropped a pack of cigarettes in front of us at about noon when we were walking to go to the city. I picked it up and told him. He then invited us to a day social that the Student Union throws on a Thursday! Yes, the Student Union offers wine and has kegs at noon on a Thursday, and all the students there were skipping class. The kids also took us to the Crown Casino, and showed us around down town.

The only shot of the hostel that I got from inside, just our hallway.

The social at the end finishing up, it was busy but I only got videos during it.

Sites to See:

1) Crown Casino - The casino does not have flashy neon lights like in the US, the drinks were not free as I played I believe. The house rules were also very poor for the player due to no competition in the area. They had a few clubs which were decent there on the upper floor. I only have one picture since you are not allowed to take pictures inside of casinos due to security purposes.

2) The City itself -

Coffee before we started the day. They looked at me weird when I asked for creamer and put in this thick stuff. Laurie explained they don’t have creamer like we do.

In the middle of a shopping area, this picture sums up how sharp and clean cut everything was. The city was extremely clean, and nothing like the US cities I am used to.

Our friends also took us to Hungry Jacks, aka Burger King. It is the same owners and food, but a different name to cater to Australians, pretty neat marketing ploy by them.

A very artsy building, could not find out the name of it, if anyone knows let me know.

They happened to be shooting a scene for a movie or television show outside of it. Unfortunately, I was not asked to appear as an extra.

There was also a scavenger hunt going on which was hysterical. The guy featured here showed a funny dance for a minute, which I captured on the flip.

Many people bike around the city, and so they have bikes to rent that you can drop off at a bike rack near your ending location. This was neat and something I’d really like to see in US cities so people get in shape.

The city during the day

The city and I at night time.

Likes: The city was very clean, our hostel was well kept and nice, and the people were very friendly. The city was nice and easy to see in a few days time. It also was a younger crowd in Melbourne than Sydney, and really appealed to me.

Dislikes: The hyped Crown Casino which is supposed to be the pride and joy is comparable to a middle level Atlantic City casino. Also, the bars are not my scene as far as sitting around tables at cafes. As well as the drink prices being a little steep.

Overall: 8/10, A great city and somewhere I could definitely see myself living. A random side observation was that everyone seemed much taller than they were in the US, could have just been my sample size though.

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