“It was Tolarno. You know that hotel on Fitzroy Street.”
– The Secret Life of Us
I went to Melbourne for two reasons: to see Jess again and to check out locations from “The Secret Life of Us“.
I found a Base Backpacker in St. Kilda that didn’t cost an arm and a leg so I booked it for three nights. It wasn’t too good to be honest. I got a room that was clearly remodelled after having been a private room for a single or a couple. They’d just shoved two bunk beds in there and called it a night. The beds were rickety, one of the lockers under the bed was missing the door (you know, the part that actually -locks-) and in general the hygiene was a little sub par. The people working there were brilliant though, very friendly and helpful, but after three nights I was fed up and booked a hotel. The duration of the trip was weighing on me at this point. I had already noticed a steep increase in hotel use vs hostels as the months and years on the road went on and even after having my own private room in China for six months I wasn’t back to baseline tolerance for roomies.
I ended up with three guys and they were nice enough. One of them slept for 28 hours after I arrived, so I didn’t really get an impression of him, the other kept droning on about how much weed he smoked and how much he enjoyed smoking weed and how weed was solving pretty much every problem the world has ever had, and the third guy (my bunk mate) was normal until he launched into a monologue about how Australia was going to the sh*ts because the government “had decided they were going to increase the population by 25 million, effectively doubling it, by the year 2040” and “he hadn’t voted for that” and “this would be with the “help” of immigrants, of course!”. He then went on to explain how he couldn’t find a place to live so he had to live in hostels. I’m still not sure how that is immediately cheaper than renting a room somewhere, but it turned out money wasn’t the only issue. He also wanted a contract where he was liable only for his part of the space, so that if he roomed with two others and they moved out, he’d still only have to pay his share, cause he couldn’t afford being stuck with all the bills. He then promptly went online for the next few hours to check his heritage because he had paid $60 to have his DNA checked and he suspected he was very Irish.
The people… That’s why I travel.
Anyways, I roamed around St. Kilda and stumbled upon weekend markets and several TSLoU-locations. I even tried to find the rooftop where the gang hang out “after work”, but it was a bit hard to pinpoint. The only solution for that is crepe. Luckily they weren’t hard to come by. I managed to score two photos of St. Kilda by a local photographer at the market, another souvenir I was a bit unsure I would need, but then when I got home and unpacked it I was super glad I’d gotten them.
St. Kilda is a vibrant place with tons of places to eat, little bakeries, markets and cute buildings. The beach is right there too, although I don’t really know when it’s ok for swimming and also it’s Australia so if you swim you’re gonna get eaten by a shark. It is known.
While I stayed in Melbourne I managed to squeeze in some time with my old roommate from Beijing (from the Teaching English program), Jess (the first of her name, not the second Jess from the Teaching English program who came with me to Hohhot). Jess Campbell who got up early in the mornings and was happy to shower in the cold water they provided us because she likes getting up early and she is therefore the opposite of me. In most other respects we were similar though, so I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate.
I also met up with Julian who was on my tour group in Tanzania waaaay back in 2017. I had some beers and was treated to a perfect sushi dinner by him and his girlfriend, Natalie. Didn’t take a single picture of them. Not one. But I managed to snag some of the food. Priorities.
It was lovely seeing Julian again, we have so many similar thoughts on the world order in general and it didn’t really feel like the first time I met Natalie either. A completely effortless evening with awesome people. I wish they didn’t live half a world away.
THE SECRET LIFE OF US
I watched this series way back in the day – I’ve seen it back again and it’s slightly more annoying and less cool than I remember, but the affection value is still there. I googled where the apartment building Alex, Evan, Kelly, Gabrielle, Will et al lived in is and I found it. It’s just a house, I literally walked around to find a house. But it’s a perfectly good excuse to see more of St. Kilda.
Prepare yourselves. To see The House:
Incredible isn’t it?
Yeah… Maybe not. But it was cool for a fan to see 😉
Jess came to see me, the Hohhot-Jess, not the Beijing-Jess, and she took me to see Hosier Lane, a Melbourne landmark that I had on my list of stuff to see. It’s also considered a bit of a “tourist trap”, but after all this blog content you should know how little I give a guff about whether or not something is popular to others. I love street art and Hosier Lane is a must see if you’re into graffiti art. Much of Hosier Lane in central Melbourne is painted regularly without the permission of the building’s owners regardless of the content of the work, but the locals see it as a resource and an art space, so the permission is a bit of a technicality at this point.
“Hosier lane is a much celebrated landmark mainly due to its sophisticated Urban art. Hosier Lane lies opposite the entrance to the Atrium at Federation Square on Flinders St, a prominent position in the city. The lane has been noted for the quality and the often political nature of its art.”
At the end of the day we went to get some food, Jess found a box of dried apricots she wanted and bought it. Then we both forgot where the car was parked so we had to go looking for it. When we found it we quickly realized Jess’ exemplary parking skillz
Driving out from the parking lot the guy behind us was honking and blinking his lights and it took us a good while o realize Jess had left the apricots on the roof of her car when we drove off. So… Still the same old Jess ❤