I arrived in Melbourne on 7 October, completely stoned by eight yours jet leg. I felt like I was living into a dream. I mean, I was coming from a quiet and always-the-same village in central-north Italy and, in order to face a one-day trip, I stopped three days in the burning Dubai, where a very friend of mine is living. So, imagine what it means to move from a place you can pass through in 30 minutes by car, where autumn is coming and people feel depressed, to the rich and ever-growing metropolis of Dubai, with its 40 and more degrees and astonishing skyscrapers, and endlessly arrive in the cloudy, green and always-on-move Melbourne.
It was 7am and I had to wait 4pm to check-in the apartment that I booked one month earlier. I was thinking about throwing my luggage away: one trolley and one backpack full of summer dresses. – Damn, what I need it for with this crazy and rough weather? Do you really wanna carry it all the day long? – I was asking and blaming myself for not having checked what the weather was like in Melbourne. Certainly, I would have learnt that there are “four season in a day”, as everyone has been telling me since I arrived!
Fortunately, I have been allowed to pass into the apartment in St. Kilda Rd and leave my heavy Italian stuff. I had my “morning” coffee (actually, my body was rather convinced it was around midnight so it would have preferred a beer…) and then I just decided to have a walk and loose myself. I wandered around Albert Park, following the lake’s rim and looking cautiously for kangaroos, koalas and all this creepy Australian animals, such as redback spiders, death adders and tiger snakes, that are reported by travellers coming back home.
Many friends who spent a working-holiday year in Australia worried me with stories about dangerous spiders hidden everywhere and huge kangaroos crossing the streets like parkour runners: they overcome every obstacles and it doesn’t matter if one of that is you! But I have seen nothing about that: there were just t-shirt dressed Aussies running and cycling around looking at that strange person wearing so many warm clothes like a Michelin Woman that was me. – Here’s another foreigner! – They should have thought.
I went on dragging myself around. I walked down Clarendon St until South Bank, and then my feet begged for pity. I got my Myki and took a bus to the city centre. When I got off I was astonished, I felt like in a silent movie where everything around passes so quickly, the signs of all that tight shops on the foot path catch the eyes, the Victorian St Paul’s Cathedral and Flinders Station compete with all the modern, colourful and mirror glass skyscrapers all around. Federation Square was so crowded and, conversely to what I expected, there were not just people with that English distinctive features. Most of them – I mean not only travellers with backpacks and camera by hand – were Asian, from China, Japan or Korea, with straight dark hair and almond eyes.
Where are Aussies? Well, it was not impossible to see or recognise them from their “crocodile-hunter” accent. Melbourne is a modern metropole, which means that one of the main features is the melting pot. However, where shall I find an Australian atmosphere, a place where I really feel to have crossed the world? Where are the Aboriginal peoples? – Ok, I will meet them I’m sure! – I heartened myself! But not that noon, when I arrived at home and found out that the owner was a Chinese woman who only knows one English word: dumplings!
I did not find it in the hostel in St Kilda where I spend the week after, neither in the gym where I slept for two nights – exactly, you read it well, I really slept into a class-busy gym! At least, keeping hanging on and on, I found Aussies and the atmosphere I was looking for. But that’s another story that I’ll tell you soon.