From chatting with friends in SF to those we met along the trip, the bar was pretty high for Melbourne and we had high expectations especially as it was on the list of potential places to move to.
We’d booked an airbnb in the Brunswick area of the city which was the cool hipster zone next to Fitzroy and about 30mins on the local tram from the CBD (For Melbourne this is “close”). Nice modern place with views of the skyline and plenty of space to spread out our luggage.
Many of the recommendations for the city were food and drink based so we’d planned to explore different neighborhoods, eating and drinking our way around.
One thing that we realized during our stay is that the city is really sprawling. There is public transport (buses, trains and a tram system) but it tends to run north/south in and out of the CBD so if you want to cross town, you need to either get a ride share or drive your car. You can walk, as in there are pavements, but the distances are pretty big so it’s a commitment. You can cycle, there are designated lanes and there is also a shared bike scheme but it’s mostly in the CBD. Additionally, you can’t take bikes on most public transport (fail).
Anyway – We hit several of the districts on the list (Brunswick, Carleton, Fitzroy, CBD and South Yarra) during our stay and got a good feel for the city and for each unique neighborhood. We tackled the Botanical Gardens, the ACMI (Australia Centre for the Moving Image) as well as NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) which had a National and International location. We hit both and saw some great exhibitions. The stand out was one by Julian Opie, British visual artist who used LED lights in his work. We spent some time in the Kids interactive area and created our own versions.
Two of the standout restaurants we visited were Transformer and Smith and Daughters. Both essentially vegan/vegetarian and both outstanding.
After a solid four days of exploring and eating, we made our way to the mountain town of Bright to spend some time with Matt and Britt our Aussie/SF friends. A 5 hour bus journey which was infinitely nicer than any we had experienced previously on the trip.
With only two full days in Paris we chose to spend it visiting with our friends D, A and R, eating good food and searching for space invader mosaics that are dotted around this and other international cities (ok, so that wasn’t originally on the list but as a fan of urban art I was overly excited to hear that there is an app that allocates you points for each mosaic spotted as long as it is authentic – determined by a verification following snapping a pic in the app).
The app is called FlashInvaders and it tracks these pesky creatures all over the world, including Kathmandu and Tokyo.. stay tuned. Thanks for the tip Ced!
We stayed close to the Marais district which allowed us to saunter around the narrow streets grabbing lunch and snacks when required. After living so close to this city for many years, its familiarity was welcoming but as per the usual there is always something new to see or eat.
Making use of the hotel WiFi we researched the arrival and visa process for Nepal. After both of us had experienced complex visa applications for India and Nepal through previous travel we expected a possibly unclear and perhaps duplicative process so having some insight ahead of the next days travel set our expections. We were armed with passport photos, contact addresses and USD: we were ready.
Heading to the airport on the Sunday night, we had consolidated our 4 bags to 3 and were ready for the 6 hour flight to Dubai and then an onward 4 hours to Kathmandu.
The flights were fairly uneventful – not much to report apart from the ‘WOW-FI’ at Dubai airport wasn’t the slightest bit ‘WOW’
After bracing ourselves for a chaotic immigration and visa process at Nepal (sorry to be so negative) it was actually very straight forward and pretty slick. I have to say I’ve spent much more time waiting to get into the US than we did here and all 3 bags arrived quickly and without damage. Yay!
Through the arrival gate and our contact BJ was there to meet us and whisked us back to our home stay in the city where we would stay for a couple of days.
It was nice to get to bed.