In honour of my last few days in Melbourne, I'm sharing my favourite things and my must dos in this amazing city. My seven months in Australia have been nothing short of amazing and living and working with a local family paired with my Aussie boyfriend gave me the perfect combination. I was really able to experience Melbourne from a local perspective and learned about all the hidden gems that many tourists miss out on. If you're someone with Australia in your upcoming travel plans, I highly recommend you include a stop in Melbourne on your itinerary.
As expected, first up on my list is the food. Checking out new restaurants and bars has to be my favourite thing about visiting a new place. Ant and I take our food seriously and spend just as much time researching what cafe we're going to eat breakfast at as what hotspot we're going to visit that day when we're on holiday. Enjoying local cuisine is one of the best ways to experience a new culture and Melbourne will not disappoint. It really is a food and drink lover of any level's paradise.
Fonda Windsor- Mexican has to be my all time favourite dish and Fonda's relaxed and contemporary spin on authentic Mexican has made it a regular on my local eateries list. Try the Mex-Bim-Bap bowl for a fresh and yummy meal. Want to heat things up? The “F*** You” sauce will leave your mouth burning for the next three hours (I now go for the Jane Fonda sauce to be safe).
Naughty boy- Melbourne takes breakfast to the next level and I've shamelessly gone for brunch pretty much every Saturday and Sunday since I've arrived. Naughty Boy is the first brekky spot Ant took me to and it didn't take long for me to realize why. My "InstaShake" was more than Instagram worthy and my "Eve's Garden" is still the best breakfast I've ever had.
Chin Chin is a South East Asian fusion spot in the city centre based around the concept of sharing dishes. Be prepared to wait for 2 plus hours as they only take one 10 person table reservation a night. It's more than worth the wait though and you can pass the time with a few drinks in the GoGo bar downstairs. Go stress free and just order the "Feed Me" option. You can relax while you're served the restaurant's best and favourite dishes.
The Swan- one of my favourite bars may come as a surprise to the Melboure Locals but I haven't had a bad night at The Swan. I love great cover bands more than concerts and The Dirty Bird (as its referred to by locals) has an awesome one. They play the best singalong throwbacks mixed in with Australian pub songs that I never know the words to but trust they're classics by how loud everyone else is singing them.
If you're in Melbourne between the months of April and September, be prepared for Footy Season. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to the way Canadians live for the NHL Playoffs. Australian Rules Football is played across Australia but the biggest following is in Melbourne. 10 of the 18 professional AFL teams are based here so attending a footy game at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground is a must. While you're at the game, make sure you enjoy a meat (or vegetarian) pie and a hot jam donut!
The Great Ocean Road is a can't miss spectacular coastal drive and well worth renting a car for if you're just visiting. Make sure you plan to spend about 8 hours cruising along, because between traffic and pulling over to take in the incredible views, you'll need every minute of it! The road pretty much wraps up with the 12 Apostles but I recommend continuing on to Warrnambool or Port Fairy for the night to take in a few extra beautiful coastal views. The inland drive back to Melbourne the next day is only about 3 hours.
**Full disclosure** I am a non-coffee drinker and amongst the very small percentage of people who have made it through a thesis without a cup of coffee. However, I swear Melbourne coffee comes from a different planet. There’s none of the instant or drip coffee that North Americans are accustomed to. It’s all expresso and lattes and coming from someone who doesn’t even like coffee flavoured ice-cream or chocolate, I actually really enjoy my soy lattes at brunch on the weekends.
The Mornington Peninsula is only a bit over an hour drive from Melbourne and well worth the drive. I’ve done four or five day trips to different areas there and still feel like there’s more to see and do. Check out the Peninsula Hot Springs for a relaxing soak, Portsea Pub for a yummy lunch with a view, and Sorrento Back Beach for some incredible running trails. You can also spend the day winery touring around Red Hill. There really is something for everyone!
As we're always saying, our 20s are for exploring, seeing the world, making memories, and enjoying as many different experiences as we can and that’s exactly what I’ve spent the past seven months doing. After taking a mini “time-out” from reality, I really feel as though I’ve found myself here. I’m leaving motivated, inspired, and ready to continue making the most out of every day so that I can build the best life possible for myself. Travel truly is the only thing we can buy that makes us richer and you never know what you may discover about yourself once you’re out of your comfort zone.
Lots of love,
Hannah: the girl with an exuberance like no other, she's been there done that! Mad and Teal have both been involved in so many memories with Hannah there's really no place to start! She can adapt to anything thrown her way and brings only positivity to a group. Hannah inspires us both to travel as much as possible, experience everything we can, and to always be up for an adventure! We were so honoured when she agreed to write a guest post for bronze & gold and we couldn't be more excited to share!
For anyone who knows me, the appropriate question to ask is usually “where are you now?” or “where are you off to next?”. For the majority of my very young adult hood I’ve been on the move…nomadic you might say. I realized recently that I have not lived in once place continuously for more than 8 months in seven years. And baby, did I love it. My resume reads like a weird travel guide, probably titled something along the lines of “ beautiful places, crappy wages and housing that is usually subsidized.”
Here’s something I have come to terms with recently though; staying put, snuggling in, and coming home has become one of the greatest adventures I have ever had. I moved home to Ottawa a little over a year ago; freshly graduated, single, and bored to tears with the thought of living in the capital. Despite my outlook, I knew I was so fortunate to work for a company that allowed me to transfer seamlessly, that a room had become available in my sister’s apartment, and that Friends was finally available on Netflix. My main motivation for moving back after spending 8 months in Vancouver & Whistler was because my sister was getting married and I was a big part of the party.
But let me take a time out and confess, I knew it was time to come home. You know that little voice, that teeny tiny one that always knows exactly what’s right- it had been screaming at me for a while. Because I’ll tell you something, seven years on the go takes its toll. It forces one to buy more clothes hangers than a sane personal can handle. Seriously, it is a pain in the butt to move them and even worse to have to shell out cash for new ones. Ok, I won’t get too hung up on my pet peeve. Suffice it to say, I needed to touch my feet down here for a hot minute.
And guess what, Ottawa is actually awesome. See my hashtag #ottawaisactuallyawesome on instagram for proof. Ottawa and my job here have challenged me to get real uncomfortable with not having an escape plan. I’ve invested in things like a relationship, a job and a city that have helped me grow as a person beyond my wildest dreams. These are things I never put too much stock in while galavanting; it’s easy to ignore the places you need to work on within yourself when you’re constantly viewing the world through a kaleidoscope of fun. Sidebar: please do not get me wrong; I still have all the fun all the time and I do not intend to spend the rest of my waking days in Ottawa. I needed to get real with myself & what I want in life though and a little stability helps that cause.
So here I am, content to be sitting pretty in the capital city for a little while longer. I’ve got goals though, big ones to travel and explore. There’s no way I’ll reach 30 countries until the age of 30 by sitting on my behind. But what I know now is that my future travels will be different. I’m more conscious and aware of why I’m going where I’m going, and not just for the cheap rent. I’m still flying by the seat of my pants but this time with a compass in hand. And I have accepted that it’s ok to sit still for a second. That it’s ok to want to stay if it means where I go next will be rad because I wholeheartedly chose my next adventure. Basically, that it’s ok to be the first one asleep at a sleepover because you never know what kind of sunrise you’re going to wake up early for.
Preface: to set up the way I think, this post is coming from a stereotypical Dutch girl who gets a rush of excitement when she drives in the rain. Why? It’s a free carwash. I like a good bargain.
I first met Lesley-Anne Scorgie when I was in 2nd year university. I was a delegate in the Queen’s Canadian Leadership Conference and she was a keynote speaker. At that point she was the author of two books, Rich by Thirty and Well-Heeled - books geared at helping people make the most of their dollars. I’m sad to report, though, that my immaturity didn’t take advantage of the ideas she presented and I spent the next 4 years of my life continuing to do what I did best…. Spending every penny my parents dished out, taking train trips like they were no big deal, procrasti-perusing Urban Outfitters more often than I should, and treating myself to celebratory Lululemon on the reg.
Looking back, my older and wiser self now sees that blowing all my (albeit minimal) money on these things didn’t make or break my university years, but I’m sure glad I got it out of my system. Fast forward to spring 2016, a Facebook friend of mine booked Lesley-Anne as the keynote for her sweatworking event. While I was unable to attend, my now grownup interest was piqued when I saw her name come across my social media feeds and I followed her instantly. Lesley-Anne was running a promo: ask her a financial question and I could win a copy of her newest book, Modern Couples Money Guide [click to be linked to where to buy].
Money questions, I had plenty. Don’t we all? But what I wondered most as I am about to embark on my journey as a career woman is what percent of my income I should tuck away. I wanted to start from my very first big girl paycheque.
Getting a tweet back from someone famous is a thrill. It’s only happened to me a couple of times and has always had to do with the hockey sportscasters I bother. This time, I not only got a tweet back but my question was the first one chosen and I would now receive my very own copy of Modern Couples which from that moment forward I held closely and referred to as “My Finance Book”. This book and Lesley-Anne’s wisdom came into my life at such an opportune time what with my new employment adventure coming up. Appointments with my RBC Advisor, pre-empted by readings about saving and investing saw me inspired and excited about my frugality. Her response? Smart savers tuck away between 15 and 20% of their income.
A lot of us dream about buying something wild with our first paycheque. Before my brother spoiled me with a fancy shmancy designer bag for my birthday, that had always been my goal. But now I see myself inspired to save from my very first paycheque, knowing what it could turn into and knowing that the old soul in me is after the comfort of a little security.
I’ve already posted about ways to save when it comes to food (read: Chapter 35 - Waste Not Want Not). But there are a number of other things you can do to avoid frivolous spending that really isn’t adding value to you or your life. I’m not talking about being a fun sucker… if going to a concert or buying that pair of jeans will genuinely make you happy then do it! I try my best not to get sucked into the FOMO social media generates. Instead of feeling like I’m missing out by not going to EVERY SINGLE country concert, I choose one a year to treat myself. Last year it was Shania, and this year I’m hoping it will be the Dixie Chicks… two very epic, once in a lifetime experiences. Similarly, when it comes to shopping I’ve learned to do a couple things: there comes a time when we need certain items (a good pair of jeans, a suit for interviews). Other than those times, when it’s something tempting and unnecessary in the grand scheme, I calculate how many hours I have to work for it and then reconsider how badly I really need it.
I’ve also taken advantage of the sharing society we millennials embrace. I drive a lot, as my mom would tell you my car is always tearing one way or another up and down the 401. In a long distance relationship Joey and I quickly learned the benefits of subsidizing our weekend visits by offering rides on Rideshare. In doing this we made our gas money back (usually in full, sometimes with enough of a profit to cover the weekend’s spending money) and we enjoyed meeting new people to chat with for the long ride. Something we’d be doing anyway, but covering the money it costs and having company for the trip.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that as 20-somethings in an image driven culture it seems that getting your hair, nails, waxing, and tanning done is a necessary monthly expense. But me being me, I get my hair cut twice a year. I get more of a thrill of posting up on the side of the tub and doing my own pedicure for free. Tanning… I’m a redhead so that’s virtually out of the question. And waxing, okay here I admit… your eyebrows and your bikini will thank you for dishing out the moola, there are some things you just can’t do yourself!
Again, these are all just things that I’ve evaluated as fitting for what it is I want to achieve financially and what I prioritize. Having just moved to California I’ve embraced the fitness culture by enrolling in a gym that I would have seen as way more than my frugal self wanted to spend. But for where I’m at right now, not knowing anybody and having lots of time to devote to my wellbeing, I put it at the top of my list of priorities and splurged. When it comes to money everybody is different and that is what makes the world go around. I think that is what’s great about Lesley-Anne’s books… they appeal to whatever kind of spender or saver you may be with tips and tricks for everyone. If you’re looking for a kickstart I highly suggest giving one a read because even those of us with engrained-Dutchness can use some updated, tried and true methods for saving yet having what it is you need/want.