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This week’s guest post for the ‘Day-to-Day’ series comes from Naomi at Anywhere but Home who’s currently working and living in Melbourne Australia. Are you an expat? I’m always looking for more ‘day-to-day’ stories to share – shoot me a message at paperplanesblog @ gmail . com.
One thing, in particular, drew me to Melbourne: its creativity. The art scene in this city was something I’d heard of long before I arrived, in the anecdotes of other travellers who had already had their Australian working holiday visa adventure. ‘There’s street art on every corner,’ they’d say, ‘and impromptu shows in abandoned factories. Local artist markets. Community gardens. And skillshares, like every day.’ It sounded like the type of city where community and creativity reigned supreme, and as it’s often touted as one of the most ‘Liveable Cities in the World’ – what more was there to say? Ticket, booked.
Nearly six months in, my daily life in Melbourne might not always involve yarnbombings and visits to the full-organic-local-sustainable farmers’ market, but its crazy creative and conscious scene does infiltrate my daily life. I’ve had a range of jobs since being here, which means that I haven’t always had a strict schedule, but my days usually go something like this:
The first thing I do when I wake up is hit the mat and yoga my grogginess away. I’m no super dedicated practitioner – my morning routine is rarely more than 20 minutes – but there’s real pleasure in taking the first minutes of the day to get centred and soak up the bright Aussie sun coming through my bedroom window. That sun inevitably reminds me to liberally apply sunscreen later before going out, because the sun in Australia is so intense that even school kids aren’t allowed to play outside without hats. Seriously, you will be forced to stay inside while your friends hit the monkey bars if you dare arrive to school with a bare head.
Breakfast is inevitably accompanied by tea from local vendors, as there are heaps of small enterprises selling their creations in Melbourne. Right now, I’m a fan of a French Breakfast that I got from a vendor at the Victoria Market Night Market, and Nosh by Scullery Maid, a rooibos tea from the Yarra Valley. Seeing how local Melbourne tea-fanatics get inventive with their flavours is a small way that I can tap into the new and strange things coming out of this part of the world.
After breakfast comes my daily commute, which now as a freelancer means walking from the kitchen to my bedroom. Easy stuff! However, when I was working an office and retail job, I got to take advantage both of Melbourne’s public transportation system and its epic bike path network. One of my first jobs in Melbourne was working as a social media marketer and content creator for a small company in the office park of Port Melbourne. Though the scenery around our building wasn’t anything to write home about, I absolutely adored the commute. Almost directly from my front door to my office ran a continuous bike path, 7 km long, first passing along the banks of a stream leading into the Yarra River (along which I typically saw the same commuters at the same time each day, decked in dedicated breathable bike gear), then ducking through the sleek, modern Docklands. Passing the Dockland’s bright new city parks, and then the marina with yachts glinting in the morning sunlight, I’d soak up Melbourne’s crisp air and arresting modern scenery before heading into the office.
For my retail job, I’d walk through my neighbourhood of funky sharehouses and one-family homes, with rose gardens and latticed fences clustered around fruiting fig and olive trees, past my favourite bit of street art – a beautifully detailed mural of a geisha on a neighbour’s brick wall – to my local train station, nothing more than two platforms and a ticket machine. A quick 10 minute ride got me into Flinders Street Station, one of Melbourne’s biggest and most iconic train stations with preserved turn-of-the-20th-century architecture, where I would dodge shuffling morning commuters and transfer to a tram. Melbourne has had a tram network since the early 1900s, and though almost all of the cute antiquated trams have been replaced by sleeker, modern versions, they’re still my favourite of its public transportation options. Much smoother than buses, and entirely overground unlike trains, I would spend my commutes staring out the windows at modern businesses in old Victorian buildings, cafes open for the morning rush and the myriad of Melbourne’s city parks passing by. The only downside to public transport is (don’t judge me) the constant reminder of how irritating children can be, as Melbourne is a massively family-friendly city and there is always a screaming toddler on your tram. Sorry, parents.
One aspect of my routine that has significantly changed since arriving to Melbourne is the creeping addiction to coffee. In my past life, I was strictly a tea drinker, reveling in the different varieties of blacks and greens and reds and whites, but ever since arriving to Melbourne I’ve taken up the dark stuff. Melbourne is a massive coffee city, and awash in adorable local cafes with expertly-brewed offerings and inventive daily menus, and rarely a day goes by that I don’t take a work break to go somewhere for a cappuccino or a macchiato. In my neighbourhood alone, which only has two shopping streets, there are at least 8 cafes (and none of them chains). Now that I largely freelance, a typical day includes a lunch break at one of my local stops – Luncheonette to soak up the retro atmosphere, The Premises to relax with Melburnian hipsters and their pugs on a patio outside, or Fifty-Six Threads to get in a working lunch with their free WIFI.
Once work wraps up for the day, I like to step away from the computer and chill in our back garden with wine and a book if I have the evening free. Many sharehouses in Melbourne have patios or gardens behind the house, and my roomates set up a table and a few old chairs to unwind in. There are fewer pleasures in life than sinking your bare toes into cool grass, a pet rabbit nuzzling your feet, and watching flocks of Australia’s insanely colourful, almost tropical-looking (and yet as normal as pigeons), rosellas go flapping overhead right at sunset. Oz is also home to some really good magazine publishers, so sometimes I’ll pick up the latest Frankie or Yen to take with me. My roommates and I all have pretty different schedules, but on the evenings that we’re all home the house will be filled with the smell of curry on the stove, music of all genres emanating from our most talented resident’s room, and the irritated shouts or sudden laughs when one roommate starts teasing another. With 6 of us, it’s inevitable.
As for the weekends – well, that’s an entirely different matter. It’s always something new. That creative scene that first drew me here? At any moment, Melbourne has something happening, whether it’s a city-wide festival, a magazine launch party, a burlesque evening, a no-lights no-lycra dance party, a skillshare day at the sustainability model gardens…there’s always something going on, and never a chance to be bored. I like to push myself to try something new every weekend, because there’s no end of it, and I’m lucky enough to have friends in the most random of places, so they usually know what craziness is happening when.
Without a doubt, though, you can guarantee there’s coffee in that weekend somewhere.
Naomi is an occasional expat and permanent nomad celebrating an infatuation with the whole wide world. In 2010, she left home to pursue travel as a full-time lifestyle…and haven’t looked back since. Read more of her stories on Anywhere but Home, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.