27. Miracle Aligner

It was time for Melbourne. Thanks to a lot of backpacker recommendations, this city had become the most hyped place of them all – a sort of Australian city based Garden of Eden with amazing public transport, culture spilling off the pavements and a unique feel about the whole place. 

We landed at midday to all the typical city chaos you come to expect at major city airports, our lungs already missing the fresh air of Perth and Adelaide. Our first actions in Melbourne, however, were to play some games! (Stick with me here people.) 

The first was called Hide and Seek (a Bus), and for those of you who have never played this before here’s a quick rundown:

Melbourne Airport is a long way from the city, so there is something called a SkyBus which can take you to the city. If you’re wondering what the name SkyBus means, it turns out it loosely translates to English as ‘Absoloute Flamin’ Rip Off’. At $19 per person one way, it makes sense. So, in typical OCD Al fashion I found we could get a public transport bus to a nearby train station and catch the train into town for $4 per person (plus the initial cost of $6 for the Myki card – like an Oyster for Melbourne, but we needed one of these anyway). This may sound like a hell of a lot of effort with two 23kg backpacks on, and that’s because it is. However, given that this option is immeasurably cheaper I was determined to go for it, especially as we’d need to go to and from the airport 4 times over the coming days. Unfortunately, to force people into using the *RipOffMobile* SkyBus they’ve cunningly hidden the public bus terminal at Melbourne airport – leading to around an hour of us walking around every external acre of Melbourne Tullamarine airport, cursing Public Transport Victoria. It’s not the best game, nor the most fun, I’ll admit. But it was our game. 

The second game was called Musical Buses. Obviously to play this we already had to be on a bus and we eventually managed to locate it after much grumbling. At the first stop we pulled over for a bus driver change. It became apparent 5 minutes later the driver was held up. Half an hour later the next bus on our route turned up. This was getting interesting. Now we had to choose a bus. We went with the second one, with no sign of any recovery for the first. Then, this bus decided it also had a driver change. So we waited. Then a new driver arrived. Suddenly we were back on the first bus. We sat for 5 minutes, then set off. There you have the game. That one’s rubbish to be honest.

Public Transport Victoria were fast becoming my least favourite transport authority in the world, and I’ve been travelling on Manchester’s Metrolink for 11 years.

We awoke the next day in Melbourne feeling unsure about the city. It reminded us of Manchester in a lot of ways, which would be fine, apart from the fact that if we wanted to see a city like Manchester we wouldn’t have to fly 24 hours to see it. Our plans for the day were to try and explore as much as possible, as we only had today and some of tomorrow before we flew to Hobart.

We went downstairs for breakfast and due to a combination of a free tasty breakfast and low number of seats, ended up sat in the hostel’s attached bar to eat. It was 10am. Then, something happened which made me believe in miracles.

The man from the bar approached. His face looked mischievous. He looked at me. I looked at him. 

“Would you guys like 2 free jugs of beer? I know it’s early, but it’s Christmas and they’re going to go to waste otherwise”

At this point I was pretty convinced that this man was an angel from heaven. 5 minutes later, when he came back and gave us 2 more, I was sure he was the good lord himself, come down to Earth to bestow gifts. I’m not kidding, it really felt like a miracle. He was our very own Miracle Aligner. 

(How to shoehorn a title into a blog – The Alex Odlin Guide, is available in all good bookstores now) 

Anyway, we cleared the breakfast stuff to one side and cracked on with it. I’m not kidding. 

Yes of course that’s chocolate spread on the right. I am nothing if not predictable. Anyway, we now hand over to my Twitter for the rest of the story;

Next thing we knew, it was 1pm, I was showering for the first time in the day and I was a bit giddy. Melbourne was getting better.

In the afternoon I, somewhat reluctantly, set out to explore the city. I was only reluctant because I wanted to stay in the bar drinking all day now. Thankfully Katie has a head on her shoulders and we spent the afternoon wandering round Melbourne city feeling what I can only describe as a little bit pisshed.

*EDITORS NOTE: Katie would like to clarify she isn’t boring and that in her opinion this has been exaggerated for comic effect. However, given the editor is the writer and thinks that this is exactly how it happened, we shall carry on*

We didn’t do much, but we did discover a little slice of home:

Arty. Prints available for £5 – call me

It was very nice, but then at 5pm I started getting a hangover. 

Now, I’ve never got a hangover at 5pm before. I’ve been hungover at 5pm. Hell, I’ve been hungover 5pm the day after the day after the night before. (University was a special time). But actually getting your hangover at 5pm is one of the most confusing experiences ever. You feel like you should be in bed, hazy from the experiences, checking your phone for fear of embarrassing drunk texts and unable to move to get water you desperately need. I was walking round coffee shops. 

With me flagging the night drew to probably the tamest close that a day which began with 4 jugs of beer at 10am has ever seen. We had one last pint in the bar before collapsing.

The morning brought check out and all the fun bag lugging that entails, before a trip to the greener side of Melbourne to fill the day. We were planning on heading to the botanic gardens, but stopped at the way for what we thought would be a quick visit to the Shrine of Remembrance. This is a massive temple which was built to honour Melbourne’s and Australia’s fallen soldiers from WW1.

We had no expectations of this but we’re pleasantly surprised to find a museum, incredibly friendly guides who were also veterans, and a stunning view of Melbourne. Naturally, our inner history nerds came out to play and we ended up whiling away a good few hours here. We also managed to get a very arty photo of Melbourne’s skyline.

As a result our visit to the Botanic Gardens was slightly shorter than anticipated, which turned out to be no great loss. We’d seen Sydney, Adelaide and Perth’s efforts and with all due respect to the horticulturalists of Melbourne – Botanic Gardens are like Shopping Centres. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen a mall.

And on that high quality humour, that’s Melbourne Part 1 complete. Next came Tasmania, devils and a whole bunch of surprises. 

Alex Odlin would like to reassure readers that despite tales told above and his christening of the barman as a Miracle Aligner, he doesn’t have a drinking problem. In fact, his drinking capability is well above average. 

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