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Sydney - Melbourne (881km)
The first day of my big travel around Australia was actually not very encouraging. Okay, knowing you're going to spend the next 13 h squeezed in a way too tiny bus seat is not a fact likely to lift your spirits anyway, but realising it would be with a bunch of very annoying German people sitting all around me can make the whole thing become sort of a nightmare. Well, the best thing you can do is to smile friendly, look out of the window while listening to music and - in an emergency - deny your nationality and pretend to be Dutch. Another option is of course to enjoy the beautiful landscape outside...but yeah, there's a catch. The countryside along the road from Sydney to Melbourne is not exactly known for its diversity. The only things that vary are the road signs, patiently reminding drivers and their passengers of wearing seat belts ("Please mind your seat belt", "DO it or DIE" (uh..ok, yeah, that's also a way of getting the message across..)). In addition to that my limbs were aching all over, not because of my huge backpack or the uncomfortable seats, but because I had picked up a very nasty cold from one of the driving fridges (=air conditioned buses) in Sydney. Why are Australians so obsessed with air conditioning? They don't seem to care whether it's actually hot outside or not! I regularly lose my voice because of that. Well, at least our bus driver was determined to make our journey as comfortable as possible, mainly by torturing us with a one and a half hour promotion video about the amazing outback of Queensland. Since we had started our trip in New South Wales and were heading to Victoria, his reason for doing so will forever stay his secret. My personal assumption is he got paid.
Now, after having been in Melbourne for 5 days, I can tell for sure that this city was definitely worth every single second I spent in that bloody bus!!
It really is a fantastic place and much more different from Sydney than I expected. As everyone says, it is just more European (or less American, it sometimes even reminds me of my hometown..!), which can definitely be regarded as a bonus. In my opinion it lacks however the natural beauty (which is perfectly embodied by Sydney) and there might also not be these totally overwhelming or stunning spots comparable with the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House. (Yeah, the river is nice and so are all the parks, but after reading my travel guide I had expected a little bit more of them..). But still, there is something special about Melbourne, in particular a very cultural and inspirational air. I probably liked Fitzroy most, the creative and artistic heart of the city. It is crammed with so many beautiful and individual stores, shops, cafes, restaurants etc. that you could spend the whole day and all your money there (I'd use it for the fantastic vintage stuff they got). Luckily, my hostel was located in the heart of Fitzroy so I had the chance to check out some nice venues as well as catching a few really good live bands and a brilliant theatre piece during my time there. (And I was also lucky to spend a couple of nights at a friend's place - thank you Francine!!) Anyway, feel free to check out some of the pics I took during my walk through the city (including Fitzroy, Swanston St, Yarra River, parks etc...), during the day tour along the Great Ocean Road (which was absolutely fantastic!!!.., including Bell's Beach, Apollo Bay, 12 Apostels, London Bridge, Otway Rainforest National Park, Koalas and pics from the Helicopter flight) and of course the ones from the day at the beach in St Kilda!
Oh, a few comments on the weather. If you prefer it stable, don't go to Melbourne. You can spend the whole day there taking your jacket on and off - or you simply accept that you're either sweating or freezing in this city!
So, hope it will be nice and sunny in Adelaide which is my next destination. How I get there? By bus of course!!