This post is about a blast from the past, a city that is. Recently I visited Melbourne with some of my favourite Sydneysiders. We had a truly fabulous time enjoying all that Melbourne has to offer which included cute little cafes, fascinating walks and a dazzling musical. I’ll come back to the details, including my personal recommendations. First, I’d like to reflect on what a trip to Melbourne means for me. Visiting Melbourne always brings on a flood of memories and what ifs. I lived in Melbourne for a short 6 months after my arrival in Australia, before moving to Adelaide. I sometimes wonder what if I stayed, what would my life be like? Well, I sure wouldn’t have my amazing Sydney friends!
I landed in Melbourne on 11 May 2005. Young and innocent with not much of a care in the world. I was excited to be overseas for my first working abroad experience. The memories of my first sights and sounds of this city are still vivid in my mind. It helps that I wrote these thoughts in my diary at that the time. Here is a taste of my thoughts of this super cool city 12 years ago….. (with my thoughts now in brackets)
- Immediately realise that I need to go shopping as I didn’t pack enough warm clothes and am very untrendy. (umm….this is still true!)
- Tried my first Australian beer from the mini bar in my hotel – Victoria Bitter, very good (this just makes me laugh, anyone who has ever tasted VB knows it’s average at best, reminds me of Miller Light, apologies if I offend anyone)
- Bought my first bottle of Australian wine at the bottle shop, told the clerk that he better pick me a good one as this is my first bottle of Australian Wine. It was a Yalumba Barossa Valley Shiraz (I sound so American, haha! But I was not let down, Yalumba is still one of my favourite South Australian wineries)
Life has certainly moved quite fast since those early days. But it is these early experiences which led me to fall for this country and crave more of what it has to offer. Reflecting on my first month in another country is always quite fascinating. Before my arrival, I remember thinking how easy the transition would be. Well, not everything is as it seems. I was alone in another country without family and friends, but I had a desire to make things work. The best part is that I did learn, I learnt how to transfer money from one country to another, open a bank account, lease an apartment when I had no credit history. Stuff that seems so simple and ordinary, but was a big deal for me at the time. And this is how we grow, by pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone little by little.
Back to my recent trip to Melbourne. I find when exploring a city whether you have explored it many times or for the first time, you need to break it down into components. Yes, I like to categorise my adventures, but it makes it more manageable and means I don’t miss out on something of interest. A city needs to have three items for me to enjoy it, walk-ability, good cafes and fascinating entertainment. And Melbourne sure does deliver on all these aspects, actually it exceeds expectations.
Here are my highlights of the categories that must tick my list:
I find the best way to see a city is simply by going for a walk and taking in the sights and sounds. This also helps to get familiar with the geography of a new place, as you can read a map and walk at the same time. The first morning of my trip was spent wondering through the botanical gardens. The fresh brisk air always wakes me up and gets me going for the day. At this time of year, the crisp air definitely helps to speed up the walking pace to stay warm. Every city should have a botanical garden within walking distance from the city centre, in my opinion. The lush, diverse flowers and trees are so inviting and relaxing. They can be enjoyed even if you don’t know much about gardening or horticulture. It is something pretty and inspiring to be enjoyed by all.
Another highlight from walking around the city was seeing the architecture. I wish I knew more about the history of the architecture, but I know enough to realise it’s beauty. I set out to see the building where my alma matter work place is moving into on Collins Street (once the redevelopment/refurbishment/revitalisation of a building from the 1880s is finished) and the building didn’t disappoint. Almost makes me want to go back and work for the company, ok maybe that’s a stretch. But check out this amazing building.
Melbourne is known for its cafes and foody lifestyle. Fortunately, I was on a paleo holiday. Meaning, that I didn’t have to be so strict on my paleo diet. This served two purposes, I could enjoy lots of yummy food and not be that fussy difficult friend. Oh wait, I probably still was! Melbourne is known for its coffee, while I have recently tried to cut down on my coffee addiction, there was no way I wasn’t going to fuel it at a cafe. The highlight for me was a couple of cute little cafes on Bourke Street, The Mess Hall and Self Preservation. Besides both having cool café names, they were both small and quaint. I love cafes that are unique with a small detailed well thought out menus. I’m a foodie who simply likes my food amazing and simple.
The whole point of going to Melbourne was to see the Book of Mormon. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years, or in case you aren’t familiar with Broadway shows, it is the hit musical comedy about two young Mormon missionaries who travel to Africa to preach the Mormon religion and satarises various Mormon beliefs and practices. Actually, it pretty much pokes fun of everyone and everything. It’s so wrong that it’s right. Go see it if you can, you won’t regret it. After seeing a show with all the whistles and bells, it’s hard for any other activity to top this event. But we did make our way to an English style pub. Which really means a pub that was grungy with a live band playing too loud for the space. Ok, I’m really no expert on English pubs, I think I’ve been to a whole one in my life! But it did have Kilkenny beer on tap, so I was happy.
And of course, any trip that involves a trip to the Emergency Room is always a sign of a good time, especially when the emergency is rectified just after you check and you are waiting around in the waiting room. It wasn’t me in the ER this time, I’ve had a recent trip to the ER, so I think I’m good for a few years before another visit. Let’s just say if there are hanging plants in a Conservatory, they are not to be used to make yourself look like a scary monster, as something could fall into your eye!