Putanga – Life on the Road

Stories from my journeys around the world…

Two weeks in Melbourne

Posted by Monica Johansen on April 21, 2010

I arrived in Melbourne on Sunday evening April 11, and I have been working here for the last 1.5 weeks now. It has been a while since the last time I was here, and this is the very first time I have been here on a weekend and had time to take a look around the city.

Yarra River

Melbourne is quite an interesting city. In fact, it is more European than any other city I have visited in this region, and the first time I was here it felt a little bit like walking around in Stockholm or Copenhagen. Maybe that is why I enjoy being here so much, since it reminds me of my old “home”. The city is famous for all its narrow alleys with bars and restaurants that you simply need to know about or have someone take you there in order to find them. In these alleys you will also find some amazing pieces of graffiti on the walls, which is something else Melbourne is rather famous for. A third reason why many Australians love this place is that it is probably the best place for shopping in the country. I am not a big shopper, but I find that Melbourne is perfect for shoe shopping since they have closed shoes that look good to my suit pants. In Singapore they primarily sell sandals because of the very hot climate, but even when working in South East Asia I prefer to use proper footwear in the office.

I would be lying if I told you it has been a relaxing time here. I have been very busy at work, both on customer site and catching up with tasks and responsibilities after work, and at the same time I have tried my very best to utilize the time to see my friends here. The funny thing is that although I have never actually lived in Melbourne I have more friends here than I have in Sydney and Singapore, and I suppose it says something about how open and social the Melbournians are. Don’t get me wrong, I know many lovely people in both Sydney and Singapore, but for some reason I find it easier to meet new people in Melbourne.

Shopping arcade

I have been catching up with a bunch of different people over the last 1.5 weeks. The first Monday I was here I had dinner with one of my former colleagues from Singapore who moved here just before Christmas last year. Another Singaporean colleague of mine was here all of last week, so he came with us on Monday and I also met up with him later the same week. The best thing about traveling with colleagues is that they for once have time for you after work, while in Singapore all my colleagues prefer to rush home when the business day is over. Last week I also had dinner another colleague here in Melbourne who is originally from South Africa, and he took me to one of these local pubs that can be hard to find on your own.

The weekend was great. The weather was really good and I had an opportunity to walk around in the city and take a look at places I haven’t seen before. I went down to Southbank, which is a popular area of bars, restaurants and shops built by the Yarra River riverside. On Sunday I was invited to spend the afternoon and evening at my friend Sean’s place. He and his fiancé invited me for dinner, and I had a great evening with good food and interesting conversations.

Yesterday I met up with an Australian friend that I met on holiday in Darwin and Kakadu in 2008. We haven’t seen each other since the holiday, but we have kept in touch and he and his girlfriend have asked me to come by their house when I visit Melbourne. Unfortunately, his girlfriend has temporarily moved to Alice Springs, so I didn’t get a chance to meet her, but maybe next time we will be in the same city at the same time.

I am very exited about tonight, because one of my former colleagues from London will fly in from Sydney today, and we will meet up after work. He was a very good friend of mine when I was working in the UK a few years back, and I have asked him to come and see me in Asia several times. Unfortunately, he is a very busy man, and when I was in the UK in January he was working in the US so we didn’t get a chance to meet. But tonight I am finally going to see him again, and right now I am counting the hours until the end of the business day… 🙂


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