The bulk of our time in Aus was spent in beautiful Melbourne in Giulian’s childhood home. We were there for nearly two weeks, with a short camping trip in Echuca in the middle. Instead of outlining every day, I’m just going to share a few moments and photos. Let’s call it a highlights reel.
This was my first full day there, I believe, standing on Princes Bridge. We had taken the tram into the CBD and spent most of the day wandering around and doing some sight-seeing. We went up the Eureka Tower, which has a fun, modern-feeling Skydeck on the 88th floor. It’s such a special way to view the city and highlights some of the city’s best qualities. You can see how strategically the city is laid out and also how incredibly green it is, for a city center. The image below shows the city grounds that house all the athletics arenas. The massive one in the upper left is the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or MCG. We actually went to the Boxing Day Test match of Australia v Pakistan, so keep an eye out for a picture from that.
It was really fun to be able to explore a place like Melbourne, which felt to me like a comfortable mix of foreign and familiar. The British influence is much more visible there than in the states, even though both countries started out as British colonies. The old Victorian architecture is subtle but stately amongst the newer buildings.
Australians abbreviate everything. Case in point? “McDonald’s” signs often just read “Macca’s.”
One of the outings Giulian’s parents were generous enough to take me on was a drive to a winery in the Yarra Valley, with a stop at a chocolaterie on the way of course. Though by no means the only winery in the valley, we stopped at Yering Station Winery. At this point, I’d only been 21 for about six months, so this was my first wine tasting! I felt very adult and many of the wines were delicious. I even picked out a bottle to bring home to my parents. After the winery, we headed for Healesville Sanctuary, home to all the Australian wildlife you can imagine. Highlights included many sleeping koalas, a dingo and her dog companion, some hungry Tasmanian devils, a few beautiful pelicans, and these kangaroos.
As promised, here’s a closer view of the MCG.
It’s absolutely huge, but our seats were fairly close to the pitch. I’ll spare you all the details of how cricket is actually played, but just know this: we only went to part of Day One of the match (there are up to 5 days), which started at 11:00am and didn’t finish until 3:30, and it was only that early because the game was called on account of rain. Let’s just say I’d never had a reason for a 10:30am beer until that day. There was one really exciting play, and while I will spare you the details of why it was exciting, I’ll show you the picture that was in the newspaper the next day. If you look at the blurry top hand of the bowler you can see Giulian and I on either side of it, cheering.
Between Christmas and New Years, before going to meet Giulian’s brother, sister, and brother-in-law who were camping in Echuca, we took a drive along the good old Great Ocean Road.
Along the drive there are quite a few points where you can pull off and walk out to the water for some striking views. The ones we stopped at were almost all quite crowded with tourists. I spent most of my time taking photos and practicing the Aussie salute, which is just the motion of constantly waving flies away from your face.
Here are some of the views.
Our last big event was New Year’s Eve, which we celebrated with Giulian’s brother-in-law’s family, who are from El Salvador. Many tequila shots were had, in addition to a delicious spit roast.
That just about rounds up our trip to Australia. It was absolutely incredible. I felt so welcomed and so cared for, and it was such a luxury to have a real, full-blown vacation.
And my biggest takeaway? Australian coffee is simply better.
Thanks for reading!