Picked the wrong airport. I noticed that only after I’d booked my flight from New Zealand to Australia. Melbourne has 2 airports, Avalon (AVV) and Melbourne airport (MEL). We did save some money on the flight, landing at the alternative Avalon airport, but there is no public transportation besides taxis available from here. My heart shed a tear cashing out $13.39 on an Uber to Werribee, which is only a halfway point from the airport to city center. That’s me splitting the fare with my travel mate! No longer in a cheap country where a half an hour ride would set me back only $3. In the end, we didn’t save much by going to the other airport and could have spent more if we had to have taken a regular taxi or needed to go all the way into the city. Luckily our last-minute Couchsurfing host lived further out of the city, closer to our landing point. So, if you’re not staying in the heart of Melbourne, avoid the Avalon airport.
Our Couchsurfing host was who warned us about the airport transportation. We had been messaging back and forth, but we didn’t see our host until the day before we left Melbourne and learned that the house we were staying in was the home she was housesitting for a family friend. We spent 4 nights there! She ended up being a cool kid, with whom I agreed with on many topics. She would have taken us to some points of interest further out of the city, but due to lack of time, we settled with a spin around the area in her jeep. Not only that, but she also insisted on cooking us a nourishing dinner. With plenty of leftovers, she went on to tell us to pack some up since we were departing the next morning to Canberra in our relocation campervan.
How a Couchsurfer in Canberra positively mind boggled me, must wait for the next post. First, I need to finish telling you about Melbourne. To get around here is rather easy with the train. To use the train, we needed to buy the Myki train card for $4.5. You can’t ride public transport in Victoria state without this card since you’ll need to tap on and off from the station. If you tap on and off before 7am on weekdays, you ride for free. On the weekend there is a $6 cap, meaning you can ride all you want in zone 1 and 2 and won’t spend more than $6. There is also the free city circle tram to help you get around without breaking your wallet nor your feet. The tourist shuttle bus, which stops at major tourist attractions costs $7.5.
Besides taking the train in and out from our accommodations, we walked. I think I can explore way better on foot than on any method of transport since I can see more details. Our first attraction was the State Library of Victoria. Besides books, they also have 2 free exhibits, which are worth a look. I was especially fascinated with the history of books and looking at the first books ever and the tiniest books. From there we made our way to the royal garden with 3 pit stops. Somehow a fountain has found itself on a tourist pamphlet. We went out of our way for this apparently gorgeous fountain, but could see from the distance that, even though not shabby, the fountain had nothing on the ones we saw in Lima, Peru. The lack of tourists confirmed that we weren’t the only ones with this opinion. We didn’t even bother walking a few meters more to see the fountain up close. For the succeeding halt, I had secret intel that on the 35th floor of the Sofitel Hotel, visitors could get a great view of Melbourne from the bathroom. All we had to do is take the elevator to the 35th floor, turn left out of the elevator, keep left again, and then head straight to find the bathroom on the right-hand side. After taking in the decent sight, I didn’t forget to use the toilet before leaving. Next stopover was at graffiti alley. The entire alley including the dumpsters have been artistically graffitied. Then alas, we eventually arrived at the royal botanical garden. I’m always in awe when I see a giant park in a city. How lucky the locals are to have vast greenery at their disposal. Actually, I was looking for the other royal garden which has red rocks. Didn’t realize that the other one was further away from the city center. Being the weekend, we could have gone there without wasting money on the train, but we would have arrived right around closing time. Instead we strolled in this other plant-rich park.
All in all, I got a great first impression of Australia. Decently priced public transportation (not cabs), awesome Couchsurfing host, free interesting sights and attractions, and reasonable grocery bills. I was scared for my credit card balance before arriving in Australia because all the rumors of this country eating cash. With such an expensive country, there are tons of ways for diligent tourists to save. I’ll be sharing more budget tips on my next post and tell you about my epic Couchsurfing encounter. So be sure to read the next post on Canberra!
Cost breakdown of Melbourne (4 days with total cost of $52.83. Average daily cost is $13.21.)
- Transportation: $30.77
- Airport shuttle: $4.51 (transport from international to domestic airport in Sydney)
- Train: $9.02
- Uber: $17.24
- Food: $22.06
- Meals: $5.98 (1 meal)
- Groceries: $16.08