Learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road was like reprogramming my brian to do the exact opposite of what I have done for the last 14 years of my life. We ventured out into the city in Gerardo’s manual car (thanks G!) to survive the dreaded apartment inspections around the city. Something everyone moving to Melbourne should be prepared for is that apartment/house hunting is different here. Unlike other places where buildings have leasing offices open during business hours, or a private landlord who will meet you at a mutually convenient time to let you check out a property, here in Melbourne the renter is at the mercy of the real estate management companies. Agents schedule 15 minute windows for the inspection of their properties. Meaning, that you have to run from house to apartment to apartment within a matter of minutes, sometimes across the city only to find that the inspection was canceled with no previous notice. You can imagine how having a car might facilitate this process!
So back to the left side of the road. This might seem obvious, but the stick shift doesn’t move, you do! So now, not only do you have to concentrate all your energy on not hitting the curb on a left hand turn, hook turning right (this challenge unique to Melbourne streets), changing gears with your left hand, turning the blinker (not the wipers) on with your right, but you also have to figure out where in the world to go! Feel free to take pleasure in my inability to turn the blinker on (yes, it happened many times). Check out the video of my first time driving in Melbourne!
I think I got the hang of it by the end of the day (although it was mentally exhausting!). After 7 or 8 house and apartment inspections there were still no promising housing prospects. But how bad can it be when this is the potential backyard:
Taken at St. Kilda Beach, Victoria, Australia
A day full of apartment inspections and driving (with no incidences) on the left side of the road deserved some celebration, so Gerardo and Diana (not pictured) came to the rescue again. Pop the bubbly! We’re in Melbourne!