Working at Base Backpackers Hostels

12 07 2011

“What is it about this job…?

I work at Base Backpackers hostel in Stkilda Melbourne, and I LOVE MY JOB!!

I’m pretty sure that most people have had those same aspirations in life.  Finish school, get a job, meet that girl, ‘settle down’, grow a beer belly and spend every second day talking about how next week you plan on going for a jog, spending more time with the dog …lest you actually enjoy that 35 hour a week job.

Somewhere along the way though you took a few months off and went to a South East Asian temple, you sun-baked on a tropical North Queensland beach, went an impossibly long time without showering in India, climbed a Mexican pyramid…and just generally basked in life. You lament….those really were the days.

No suits, No ties, no responsibilities, and just the promise of waking up and actually enjoying yourself, each and every day!

I have now worked at Base Hostel for over a year and reflecting back…I don’t really know exactly what makes this place so special.  Maybe its confiscating the 12 bottles of wine off of one lone Irish lad at 8am who was yet to head to bed (“sorry boss, sorry, never again boss”), or the  chirpy Dutch boys who seemed that touch queer if they weren’t so sleazy the entire time.  Maybe its  the  beautiful kiwi girl giving you that half a smile in the morning on her way to work, or the remarkably unintelligible accent of that Scottish man giving me advice on my air-conditioning at 3am in the morning??

Somewhere along the way I realised I really enjoy this life, this job. Base, and the people within it. Not buildings or facades, but the living breathing 250 beds a few metres above me. The short termers, the long termers, the friends becoming almost like family. The faces often changing, but so many staying the same. Welcoming hellos and teary good byes.

No suits, no ties, and just actually enjoying myself each and every day…

Happy Travels

Raph

Reception Pumper!

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Melbourne: See it, feel it, eat it, live it. Don’t just “do it”

3 06 2011

Base Backpackers Crew Member Simon Bond fills you in on a few of Melbourne’s secrets.

Have you ever been chatting to a fellow traveler and heard them reel off the plethora of cities/countries that they’ve ‘done.’ E.g. “Oh yeah, I’ve done New York, I’ve done France, done Rome, done done done done….I’ve never been a fan of this term as it just seems so finite. To me, it sounds like they feel they have somehow completed an entire city, that they’ve exhausted all possible sights, activities and experiences. Which is an almighty feat for even a humble city like Melbourne, let alone somewhere as a vast as New York.

Despite living in Melbourne my entire life I would never say nor think that I’ve ‘done’ Melbourne. My blog posts are going to be about a few notable places events and activities within Melbourne that I feel are definitely worth your while. I’ll try and stick to cheap-ish things to do, as I understand most reading this are on a pretty tight budget. Also, I’ll steer away from the typical travel pamphlet activities such as Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island and Wilsons Prom. Whilst definitely worth seeing, I figure most are already aware of them (**Shameless plug alert.**) If not, see Paul at the Travel desk.

Today’s post is about FOOD!

Melbourne is a city where you can eat really well, for really cheap providing you know the right places. If your willing to put your carnivorous needs aside for a meal, I highly recommend Lentil As Anything it’s a great vegetarian restaurant that is just around the corner from Base. It has a unique ‘pay what you feel it’s worth’ philosophy, serving up a variety of delicious curries and many vegetarian delights.

If you keen on the veg, then I beg you to take trip to the bohemian north side of Melbourne and check out Moroccan Soup Bar. It is genuinely some of the nicest vegetarian food you’ll ever eat. The soup is great, but if your really hungry I recommend the banquet, it’s about $17 per person and you get a plethora of incredible Moroccan style dishes.

Don’t worry meat lovers, I’m one of you, and I know you need your fix. For most people that live in Melbourne, The Queen Victoria Market is not a place we go to for fake/cheap clothes and goods, Ebay overtook that long ago. It’s a food market. Head into the meat and fish area and you will find thick, organic, locally produced, grain fed, wagyu steaks that will have any true steak lover drooling at the mouth. Instead of eating out, why not buy a really nice steak and a bottle of wine, and cook it yourself. It’s a great way to get a taste of Australia’s premium quality fresh produce at a fraction of the price you’d pay at a nice restaurant. I guarantee you, the meat you find at the market is cheaper and far better quality than what you’d buy at our local supermarkets.

 

If looking at all that meat make’s you hungry, there a two awesome cheap market stalls you should try out for hot food. Look for the crowds of people surrounding the ‘borek’ stall. A ‘borek’ is a delicious, long bready, pastry thingy with various meat, veg and cheeses inside. It hails from Turkey and at only $2.50 is a true bargain. Have your order ready before you get to the front of the line as these ladies are known for their ‘soup Nazi’ styled vending.

Near the Borek stall, is the home of Melbourne’s best bratwurst sausage. You might have to queue for a couple of minutes but its well worth your wait, I recommend the spicy sausage with cheese, onion, tommy k, and hot mustard.

China Town is full of cheap restaurants, so of which are fantastic some of which are terrible. Here are a couple of my favourites. For a mouth-watering Shanghai style dumpling house head to Shanghai Village, large plates of around 12 dumplings are a measly $7-$8 and its BYO any alcohol, I’ve actually been there before with a bottle of a Jager and a six pack of Red Bulls, pounding Jager Bombs in plain sight. Truly a great and cheap way to start out a night in the city.

 If Japanese is your thing you must go to the authentic, yet still cheap Izakaya Chuji. The lunch Bento Boxes are about $12 and you get a wide variety tasty treats. Lygon Street – The home of Melbourne’s best and worst Italian food. Just north of the city is Lygon Street, Melbourne’s Italian district. Unfortunately it’s become so well known for it’s Italian food that many not so cheap, and very average restaurants have popped up. There are still a few really ones though. ‘Tiamo’ serve up fresh simple traditional pasta that rivals the best. If you’re into pasta, you won’t be disappointed. A little bit more expensive than the other places I’ve mentioned but I’m pretty sure most of the dishes are under $20.

Victoria St, Richmond aka Little Vietnam. This is an area known for it’s delectable yet super cheap Vietnamese food, particularly the Pho. (famous Vietnamese rice noodle soup) Victoria Street is an area where restaurant competition is so fierce that you can pretty much walk into any restaurant and be sure to have a decent cheap meal. My number one spot on Victoria St for Pho is Co Do it’s about $8 for a soup that I feel is just as good if not better than something you’d actually get in Saigon.

 That’s my two cents on eating in Melbourne. If nothing appeals to you, then tell me what does and I’m sure I’ll be able to recommend a place for you. For those too lazy to google, I’ve listed the names of the restaurants and their address below, our friendly reception staff can show you the way.

Lentil As Anything 41 Blessington St, St Kilda Shanghai Village 112 Little Burke St, Melbourne Izakaya Chuji 1989 Lonsdale St, Melbourne Tiamo Coffee Restaurant 303 Lygon St, Carlton Co Do 196 Victoria St, Richmond





The Legend and Power of Seabiscuit! (The People’s Champion)

25 05 2011

It was Monday night at Base Backpackers Hostel St Kilda, and little did Base know, they were about to be graced with the legend “Seabiscuit”! (The Peoples Champion). Fresh from dominating a hectic world backpackers ping pong tour, and a cancelled Tiger Airways flight, Seabiscuit was in town!

 As the snakies and shots started to flow, the Biscuit was starting to get the famous bung eye, yes that’s right, the same bung eye that distracts even the most focused of opponents!

It was growing closer and closer to 8pm, the start of the first heats of Base Red Eye Bar Monday Night ping Pong championship. Starting out flying under the radar, Seabiscuit surely but swiftly eliminated each opponent and powered through to the final. With the Monday night Base Bingo crew keen to start pulling numbers, the final was fast tracked to an unscheduled starting time of 8.50pm.

First to step up to the table is Shane, followed by a strong posse of Base guests,  emotions were running high! Then from out of the blue Survivors 1982 classic, “eye of the tiger” pumps from the speakers.  With hood over head The Biscuit enters, does a couple of laps of the table the whole time never loosing eye contact with Shane.   

It didn’t take long for Shane to realize he was out of his depth, but bloody hell he wasn’t going down without a fight! The famous powerhouse backhand shot of The Biscuit proved to be too strong for Shane and his beloved Base guests to handle. After losing graciously and exchanging a well-earned handshake with Shane, Seabiscuit claimed his $50 Bar Tab from Base Red Eye Bar Staff and kindly donated Shots and Snakies to Base Guests!!

I guess that’s why they call him “The Peoples Champion!”

By Paul Byrne.

Base Travel Desk – Stkilda





Around the world in one city! – Melbourne

24 05 2011

“Melbourne has everything you could possibly desire and more. So come find out why we currently rank second most liveable city in the world, and I’m sure you’ll even find a piece of your own home here too” –Tom Cooney  Base Backpackers Stkilda, Melbourne

I’ve done a fair amount of travelling in my time, but it’s always an interesting feat moving back home at the end of yet another round world trip.

I arrived in Melbourne in the middle of summer, scorching sun with a sweet springtime breeze; the weather alone is something that makes Melbourne a special city, but already I could tell there was something else, something I hadn’t noticed about the place before…

It was the first time I have really taken any notice of the cities skyline. The comforting glow of afternoon sun reflecting off the highest windowed peaks of the skyscrapers, it gave me a glimmer of a memory from watching the sun do the same thing off the Himalayan giants when I was trekking in Nepal. The car carried on down roads I had almost forgotten till we drove back through my old stomping ground. St Kilda; tree lined streets jut like octopus arms in every which direction, sprawled with great restaurants, bars and clubs, a tourist Mecca. We hit beach road when I realised this mental imagery conjured another great trip of mine, driving down the Costa Del Sol to a place called Neuva Andalucia.

Could it be then, that if I’ve discovered a place in Melbourne that reminds me of beautiful Sandy Mediterranean shores of southern Spain, and a place that reminded me of the highest parts of earth in the world, that I could also find places in Melbourne that remind the rest of my trips??

Is it possible to go around the world in one city?

I have since been back in Melbourne for nearly 4 months now and I’ve been putting this question to the test, I actually ran into my first comparison after only a couple of days. Unpacking my bags, I realised I’d came back with about 10% of the clothes I’d left with, but I’d also come back with about 10% of the money I’d left with. Where do I get cheap clothes?? The Queen Vic Market, Melbourne’s hidden gem for the thriftily incline. It was still the end of summer; the sun was still beaming down on the city and walking through rows and rows of fresh produce while hawkers contested at every corner. I was instantly transported back to the Shuks of the Middle East, crammed market places where you can buy everything from wedding dresses to fresh paprika.

Recently i walked  from Arthur’s Seat to Cape Schanck, on the way passing a limestone hot springs ($25 entry), sitting in the steamy pools watching vines drape loosely from the surrounding foliage my week in Semuc Champay, Guatemala was on repeat before my very eyes. Later the same day rounding the first bend of coast before making it to the lighthouse at Cape Schanck the rocky out crop of land leading into the azure lull of pristine ocean was nothing if not the mirror image of the Isle of Capri, Italy.

From the old school tennis courts out at Kooyong with their similarities to those at Wimbledon, to the goliath resemblance the MCG holds to its almost prehistoric cousin the Colosseum. Walking Burke Street Mall with its buskers and street performers flanking you at every corner it’s hard not to think you’ve just landed on La Rambla, Barcelona. Of course our casino can easily compare with those gracing gambling’s hometown Las Vegas. The Westgate Bridge of similar construction to the Sutong Bridge spanning the Yangste River in northern Shanghai, China. St Paul’s gothic cathedral in Melbourne’s centre had me sitting back atop the steps of Prague’s Church Castle. Melbourne’s botanic gardens can easily have you lost, imagining you will fall out of Central Park, NY on to the avenue at any minute and our sun blessed beaches in the summertime rival the best in the world, from Fiji, to Indonesia and Hawaii.

Have you also noticed that other than the hot springs, every thing I’ve mentioned is free?

There is veritable plethora of global destinations you can attack all in this one little city, maybe that was what I noticed this time around that I hadn’t noticed before, Melbourne has everything you could possibly desire and more. So come find out why we currently rank second most liveable city in the world, and I’m sure you’ll even find a piece of your own home here too.

Tom Cooney Bar Duty Manager Base Backpackers Stkilda, Melbourne





2 Dutchies and a Campervan

11 05 2011

There is no better way to Experience Australia than in a Campervan, and nothing more rewarding than building it yourself.

Floris Jan Willem and Cas Klverland from Holland lost their $7000 campervan in Melbourne’s Flash flooding in February. The pair only had 3rd party insurance, so the boys have wiped their tears away and started a rebuild!!

Out of pity, Base Melbourne Stkilda Management offered the boys the basement car park as a work shop.  For the past 2 months, they have been transforming there 1991 Mitsubishi Express  wagon into the ultimate backpacker Campervan.

We asked the guys what they thought were the most important things in building your own Campervan:

“Building your own camper van can be a hugely rewarding project, and it can also be a lot cheaper than buying a campervan.  If you build your own campervan, you can have a vehicle that exactly meets your needs”

SMELL:  Make sure to check the oil. Pull out the dipstick and have a good smell.  If it smells burnt, then it could be that the engine is burning oil – NOT GOOD!

 PUSH: Make sure to check the Shock Absorbers.  Get 2 hands and push down on one corner of the van.  The van should come back up without bouncing.  

TAP: Check for previous damage and rust.  Using your knuckles, go around to each panel and knock with the back of your knuckles.  It should be a Hollow tin sound, if not it could be a sign of previous damage or rust.

TYRES: You will be travelling thousands of miles, check that all tyres are the same, and are showing no signs of balding.

POWER: You will need to install a second battery into your campervan to run key electrical items; otherwise you will run the risk of having to push your van to the nearest garage.

FRIDGE: Very importantDon’t ever leave a major city without Beer…  Installing a fridge lets you travel while eating fresh food.

STORAGE: We have loads of stuff, so we think it’s important to use every little nook and cranny that’s available.  Creating storage boxes under your Bed is a great place.

INSULATION:  Make sure to insulate your van, it’s one of the most important steps to making it a comfortable place to sleep.  It makes an enormous difference not only to how warm the van stays, but also to how damp everything gets due to condensation.

EXTRA SEAT: Try and keep an extra Seat, you never know when you want to pick up a good looking hitch hiker 😉

They are both extremely excited to start on their journey, and show off their DIY Master Piece. Watch this space for an Update on the journey.

By Mathew Holman (Bar Manager, Base StKilda)








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