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One of the my absolute favorite parts of Melbourne that I can NOT get enough of is the street art. Graffiti has such a negative connotation - unless you live in Melbourne where it is a widely accepted form of expression and one of the most popular and creative forms of art. I realized today how precious this type of art is when I walked down one of the most notorious graffiti laneways, Hosier Lane. This street is across from the Atrium entrance of Federation Square and has some of the city's best street art. 

The last time I was here was a few months ago. As I walked down the alley way, it was like it was the first time I had ever seen it - and then I realized that's because essentially, it was the first time ever seeing it. Most street art gets painted over eventually - which makes sense since it's public domain. As tragic and senseless as this concept of painting over & defacing art seemed at first, I began to realize that it was all part of this urban culture. It makes the street art of Melbourne that much more exquisite - that it is ever changing. You can essentially never walk down the same laneway twice because there is always different artwork to see. It makes the city a permanent [not-so-blank] canvas that artists can continue to create amazing things out of.

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Hosier Lane 19 March 2012
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Hosier Lane 21 September 2012
Had I known at the time that I had already photographed this laneway, I would have attempted to get the same exact angle/shot so I could compare. There's always next time:)

Some of my Favorite Street Art I've Come Across:

CBD Laneways

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This laneways is opposite of David Jones
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Hosier Lane - Mar 2012
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Hosier Lane - Sept 2012
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The Atrium from Hosier Lane
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Flinders Lane
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Centre Place

Random/Unknown Places

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If only I knew what bar this was taken at...
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Bike trail along the river between Bridge Rd and Victoria Victoria St

Brunswick Street Laneways

Chapel Street Laneways

 
Brighton Beach. Laser Tag. Healesville Sanctuary. Melbourne Zoo. Moomba Festival. Movies.

Heard about Brighton Beach and how they have all these cute little beach sheds along the beach and so Nate and I went last week. It wasn't the most amazing beach, but the sheds were super cute. It didn't even take too long to get there. We live in a super convenient location right next to a train station that goes pretty much everywhere, sometimes with a few layovers. Brighton Beach was about 40 minutes from us. It might seem long but it's not bad if you consider the lack of parking you have to do. AND it's SO cheap to get around on public transportation. I have a "MyKi" card and a concession card (student discount) and it's $4 a day, for wherever you want to go. I discovered a couple weeks ago, though, that if you pay for a few weeks in advance, it's even cheaper. So it's only like, $2 a day for me, or $50ish a month. Which isn't bad, comparing it to the $60 I spent a week on gas back home.
We also went laser tagging at DarkZone. It was definitely, by FAR, the most intense hour and a half of laser tag, or maybe just LIFE in general hah. There were maybe 35 or so people and we all were on 3 separate teams. It was pretty much all college students and the venue was HUGE. I think it was 3 stories or so and everybody had a home base that they had to protect. Definitely the best $15 I ever spent.

I've been DYING to hold a Koala Bear (& possibly kidnap it & bring it home) so Nate and I went to the Healesville Sanctuary. Unfortunately it's illegal to hold koalas in Victoria so I'm gonna have to go to Queensland to find one haha. Healesville was AWESOME though. It's not your typical zoo, though, where everything is super caged up and separated. All that separates you from most of the animal is a simple fence where they're just hanging out so you can pet them and feed them (2nd pic is me feeding a wallaby!) We visited the animal hospital right when they brought in an eagle with a broken leg and wing. We got to watch them care for it and one of the doctors showed us the eagle's x-rays. Yesterday, we also went to the Melbourne Zoo, which was more like your standard zoo but still more open than the zoos I'm used to. I've only really been to the San Diego Zoo, which is like, world famous & humungous, so these zoos are a lot different. They're just so much more open and all of the animals are way more active, which is the best part.)
The Moomba Festival is an annual Festival set right in the city on the river. They have a waterski tournament going on the entire weekend and fireworks every night. And then of course all your typical games and rides and food. We didn't go on any rides because it was like, $10 a person to go on anything, but we had fun just walking around. I saw someone with a huge. purple plush Sac Kings basketball and they told me they won it so we searched everywhere for the booth. By the time I got there, there weren't any Kings balls left :( The fireworks show was awesome - they had it synced with famous opera music and it was coming from the middle of the river.
I absolutely LOVE this city. Despite how expensive it is, there's so many things you can do, and a lot of things you can do for free. Like the Moomba Festival - you might not be able to ride any rides for free, but at least it's free to go. I feel like there's just so many hidden secrets about this city you can only find if you decide to just wander around, or get lost, like I have on a few occasions : )
I've been fortunate enough to get lost and find some AMAZING graffiti, a beautiful bike trail along the river and the random [not-on-purpose] humor these crazy Aussie's have everywhere.
God i LOVE this city.
 
When I first came here, I tried really hard to save money and not splurge on unnecessary things, especially since the price of everything is pretty much double. I was literally eating a piece of fruit for breakfast and lunch and then maybe eating something decent for dinner. But then Nate came and we fell into the habit of cooking nice meals, because we always did back home. I think we've gone to the grocery store about every other day.

But I decided last week that I wanted to go out and eat as much as possible because isn't that the point of why I'm here? I mean, I'm obviously not here for the sole purpose of eating, but I mean going out and exploring the city and trying new places and eating new things. Granted I probably haven't tried that many NEW things, but we've gone to plenty of restaurants and bars. I've been saving up for this trip for quite some time so I may as well spend the money I have:)

A few people have told me to check out a few places so we've been trying to go to as many of them as possible, while of course, finding some hidden places on our own. We live right down the street from Camberwell where's a TON of little cafes and restaurants and bars and so we've been trying to go to as many as possible.
There's a TON of cute little Italian restaurants on all these little side streets in the city. We found one a week or so ago and ordered this Antipasto plate (1st pic) that was AMAZING - it had EVERYTHING on it; chicken, sausage, calamari, salmon, cheeses, bread, etc. There's also a ton of Asian restaurants of course too that are pretty cheap. We looked for a place on Yelp to celebrate Nate getting a job (a banking job with NAB - National Australian Bank - soo proud of him!!) and Movida got really good reviews and it was in the $$ range ($ being cheap, $$$$ being the most expensive) so we went. It was a little Spanish Tapas Bar and it was AMAZING. Unfortunately, every $5ish tapas plate was LITERALLY one bite. And a tiny bite at that. I guess I'm just going to have to get used to paying $20 minimum for dinner.
Alcohol here is also insanely expensive. It's depressing really. This is actually Captain on SALE here. Sooo sad. So we've basically been drinking a LOT of wine. Bowler's Run is a life saver -- $3 for a bottle! We went to Costco yesterday because if there's cheap alcohol ANYWHERE in Australia, it HAS to be at Costco. Wrong. I'm pretty sure prices are the same, if not more, despite the Costco lady on the phone saying that their prices were quite a bit cheaper (liar). Costco was the ultimate FAIL, although we did come home with a delicious (& huge) jar of chocolate covered raisins : )


 
I realize I just posted a blog entry, but I'm actually writing about fun stuff now & I felt like it was appropriate to start a new entry.

So as I said in my last entry, I've finally gotten over being homesick. I suppose the combination of finally making friends & going out & finally doing stuff, did the trick. I went out to the city at night for my first time and it was BEAUTIFUL. It's like a different world at night. There are people along the streets doing artwork or throwing fire. The water reflects the lights back and illuminates the city. When I got there, I finally felt like, this is what I came here for. 
We went to a bar called "Ponyfish Island" and it was gorgeous. It was right in the middle of the water (I know, I get it, island) and was a pretty mellow bar. There are tables that line the edge of the bar so you can overlook the water. I hear that it's gorgeous during sunset so I'll definitely have to come back. All in all, there wasn't a cover charge, drinks weren't too crazy expensive & I was digging the atmosphere. Not bad for my first bar:)
This week was also O-Week (Orientation Week) at Deakin. Which is where you come on campus and go to Host Welcome Sessions, Meet the Faculty, Lab Safety Sessions & most importantly, where you get free food & other free stuff. I honestly tried to go to my Host sessions but I just couldn't get it right. I thought it was one day but it was another and I thought it was at this time but it was earlier.. But I hear I didn't miss anything too important. I think they're more aimed at first year students. Which I suppose I am, but I've been in college for 5 so I think I'll be okay. Anyway, they also have O-Week parties which sounded like they would be fun, but I went to one and I didn't think it was really worth the $30 they were charging. I went to the "Beach Party" which was held at a club in the city. I went with my friend, Kyle, & his roommate Syd. We ended up drinking a whole bottle of rum to ourselves so that may or may not have had something to do with any fun we had. 
I also went to the beach for 2 days straight. We went to St Kilda's, which was really nice. Super clear water, semi-rough sand, minimal waves. There were a TON of people there and it was blazing hot. I spent most of the first day reading at the little outdoor ice cream/sandwich shop under the shade. I just finished reading the Hunger Games series and it was AMAZING. I'm so sad it's over. Anyway, the beach was really nice. Just a little too hot for my taste. People tell me that there are multiple holes in the ozone layer over Australia and I definitely believe them now. The sun just feels sooo much hotter here.
I also went to my first soccer game! (Told you I've been quite productive). And yes, they also call it soccer here. Their team name is actually the "Socceroos". Our $10 concession (AKA Student) tickets got us on Level 1 a few rows up right by the goal. Which, I didn't mind at all. I guess it's better to have higher seats, perhaps on the sides so you can see what's going on better, but I enjoyed our seats. I really wanted to catch a ball but it only even came near us when they were warming up before the game started. Anyway, it was Australia's national team playing Saudi Arabia. I guess it was a qualifier game for the World Cup but Australia already qualified, so it would determine if Saudi Arabia would. It was definitely a lot more mellow than I thought it would be. I guess soccer isn't too crazy here in Australia. Saudi Arabia, however, were crazy. They were singing and chanting the entire time. They lost, though, which sucks because the next 2 years before the World Cup doesn't even really mean anything for them now. The end of the game was the only time the Aussie's were even loud at all. They did their "Aussie Aussie Aussi, OI OI OI!!" chant a few times and that's as crazy as they got. Anyway, it's been a GREAT week. School unfortunately starts next week, but let's be real, I'm not really here for the "studying" part, just here to be abroad:)