Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Melbourne on a shoestring budget

Turns out January in Australia = major down time for the catering industry...or maybe just the catering company I'm currently working for. I've only had three shifts all month, and that sure ain't gonna pay the bills. Thankfully, Tyler's work has picked up and he has been putting in the kind of hours I was working in November and December, so we're making ends meet. Barely.

I'm not complaining about not having to spend 7-8 hours on my feet every day, but I have been BORED sitting at home by myself all day. I'm trying to do my part for our bottom line by not spending oodles of money while Tyler is out of the house working. In an effort to avoid total insanity, I decided to go see what kinds of free activities this expensive city has to offer.

If you google "Melbourne on a budget" or "Free things in Melbourne," there is no shortage of results. What frustrated me with all those lists is that there was one or two truly free things and then the rest involved money somehow.

Tyler and I need literally free activities. Like, our entertainment budget is-- no exaggeration-- ZERO. So "Stroll the laneways and stop in at a cute cafe for lunch" just wasn't cutting it. One list of "free" things to do literally suggested doing a pub crawl. For those that have never been to Australia, alcohol is REALLY EXPENSIVE here! Happy hour at home means 1/2 price beer and well liquor, at minimum. Happy hour here means you get an appetizer for 1/3 off with your full price (read: $8-9 if it's cheap) drink. So a "free" pub crawl would rack up a $100 bill if two people go to 4 or 5 bars.


So I culled through several lists of suggestions, picked out the actually free activities, and am working my way through the list. My first adventure was the National Gallery of Victoria.

I didn't have high expectations for my visit since I was only going to be able to see the permanent exhibits because those are free. Outside of the Smithsonian museums, my experience with free collections has been lackluster. Usually enough to be interesting, but the really cool stuff is behind the ticket booth.

This is the first thing you see when you walk in the door. The instagrammers were having a heyday.
NOT the case with the National Gallery of Victoria! Granted, they don't have a show-stopping piece of art, but I spent about three hours looking through only half of the free collection, and only left because the museum was closing and I was getting hungry.

This gallery room was my FAVORITE! Y'all know how much a love a gallery wall. I could have spent hours in this room. 

I don't claim to be an art history nerd, but I really like going to museums and looking at art and learning about the cultures and time periods that create them. I will claim to be super nerdy because I make a game out of looking at the artwork first and trying to guess the year it was painted or in which country it was made. I've gotten really good!

The Gallery has free wifi which most of my fellow patrons were using it to post hipster shots of themselves pensively looking at a statue, but I put google to use again and learned SO MUCH about those hoity-toity art terms that I always see on the plaques and just have to pretend I know what it means.

Like this little guy. The plaque says it is a posset pot made in England...but what is a posset pot!? Thanks, google

And this one. What is a fica gesture? Turns out it's an obscene gesture in many cultures, which means this is basically a goblet flipping us the bird. So punk. So German.  
The permanent collection was divided into European and Asian collections, and I was only able to make it through the European collection. It just kept going and going! I thought for sure after I'd worked my way through the religious art, the sculptures, paintings, and decorative art galleries that I would be circling back to the exit. NO! There was a whole other collection of post modern furniture and modern art. I definitely got my money's worth that afternoon!

This is a cradle! ...I realize it's not a post mod cradle. I didn't take any photos of that collection...

The light on the righthand side of the photo above is coming from the doors to the garden behind the gallery. It's a really cool green space with various sculptures and installations. It was a really nice, quiet oasis in the middle of the busy city.

One of the installations had misters creating a sort of fog on one side of the garden, and the etherial contrast between the mist and the vibrant plants in the garden was like something out of a Neil Gaiman novel. 
This guy is called "The Noble Ape"

I wrapped up my visit to the National Gallery because I was getting hungry and the permanent exhibits were closing for the day. So I strolled across the street to the botanic gardens to enjoy some people-watching and nom on the little snack I brought to make sure I didn't splurge on a cafe treat.

I enjoyed a nice long tram ride home and ended my day with a FaceTime session with the Mister, where we made fun of how comically long his hair and beard have gotten.

Vicariously yours,

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