Living Down Under

Hi, everyone!! Sorry I'm so behind on new posts and keeping you all up to date with the craziness that is my life. I have a valid excuse! The last four weeks have been jammed pack with Down Under adventures from Melbourne living, Great Ocean Road driving, Great Barrier diving, wine tasting and quality time with Brandon. It feels like just yesterday I arrived in Melbourne and this week I'm getting ready to pack up my life again and take it to South America for the next and last three months of my trip. I'm going to post individual blogs talking about each of the big adventures but I wanted to share with you all what I love so much about Melbourne and Australia in general. 

I believe my general perception of Australia is probably the same as everyone else who has never been. You think of surfers, kangaroos, the outback, Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef... but I've learned a few things. DID YOU KNOW.. the entire continent of Europe and some fits inside Australia? Yes, I know.. crazy. This country is huge and there is so much to see. Traveling from one end of Australia to the other actually takes about 5 hours and isn't cheap. I had a long bucket list of things I wanted to see and do before getting here and once I realized how vast and hard it is to get around (not in Melbourne, but Australia) I had to whittle down my list. The biggest and most disappointing bucket list item I had to forgo was diving with Great Whites. Sad face. Turns out it's about $500 just for the experience and another $300 for the flight. Sigh.. a pretty big chunk of change for a 2-hour adventure that could possibly get me killed and/or starring in the next 47 Meters Down blockbuster. 

However, I have enjoyed staying in Melbourne and getting to know the city... We live in an East Melbourne, about a 30-minute walk from the downtown area also known as the CBD (central business district.) From every corner parks and green space surround us... Perfectly manicured with fountains, flowers, and acres of lush grass. I'm lucky enough to get to walk through several on a daily basis. Most evenings, once the sun goes down you can catch a movie in the Botanical Gardens. Hundreds of people bring their blankets, wine, cheese, and picnic before and during the film. It's been one my favorite night activities and the perfect 70-degree weather, and clear skies make it even better because you can star gaze, enjoy the view of the city and not freeze to death... all while watching the latest movies. So far I've knocked out I, Tonya and Game Night. This Friday I will be adding Black Panther to the list. So pumped about this one. 

Alleyways are one of Melbourne's biggest attractions. Artists from around the world put their stamp on the city with graffiti and murals that will only last a few days before they're painted over again. Wonder Woman and Biggie Smalls have been some of my favorites and the new art every week make walking to and from each local a unique experience. 

Each little neighborhood has its own unique trends and vibe. The streets are lined with cute cafes, restaurants, vintage shops, boutiques and trendy bars. The CBD is super classy, every designer store you can think of I pass on my route to the office, South Melbourne is a bit more beachy and chill, Collingwood is a bit more grungy.. there is something for everyone. I think Melbourne has a lot of depth, it's easy to get around and has made it to the top of my favorite city list. The one downfall the city...or country has is the cost of living. When you go to brunch and pay $20 bucks for AVO and Toast there is a problem. 

I've realized over the last couple months I've felt the burn in each country. Bali - physical burn.. like WEAR SUNSCREEN. The sun is intense, it's Bali. Duh. Cambodia - I'm not going into the detail about that burn.. let's just say the food and I don't agree. Australia - my pocket book.. really feeling the burn. I spent the last two months living like a queen. Going to the spa 2-3 times a week, eating out for most meals, going on many excursions, and a new Bali wardrobe. NOT so much in Australia. I limit my eating out to 2-3 times a week, knocked a few excursions off the list and walk from one end of the city to the other - most days. Take an Uber you say? Out of the question. New clothes? Forget about it. 

When I decided to limit my excursions I also decided to take advantage of free city activities or trips that didn't require a flight. Yarra Valley has been one of my favorite day trips. For $80 USD a lovely gentleman picked us up, along with a few other tourists and drove us a little over an hour to Yarra which happens to be home to lots of vineyards :-) The scenery was gorgeous and the wine didn't stop flowing. The girls and I had a great time. We went to three different vineyards, had lunch, stopped by a chocolate factory, took out some ice cream and ended at a brewery. It was a beautiful 85 degrees, the hills were rolling, and the grapes were ripe!! 

I also spent 4 hours roaming the halls of the National Gallery of Victoria. Went in with zero expectations and walked out wishing I had more time. Floors of traditional art combined with modern and high tea in between. Entire rooms were turned into dream world pieces from an apartment covered in red daisies to thousands of yards of yarn from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. I'll let the photos below do the talking. 

PS: A big thank you to Lo for taking pictures :-) She's so sweet and thoughtful. 

Living the day to day life here in Melbourne I've felt like I haven't done much but now that I'm reflecting back I believe I've accomplished an impressive amount for being here 3 1/2 weeks. Look for more posts in the upcoming weeks featuring The Great Ocean Road, Great Barrier Reef, Phillip Island, Day in the Life and one last post from my most memorable moment in Cambodia.