Stop being so secretive Melbourne! With your graffiti-laden laneways that just scream “I’m soooo cool!” Well, damnit Melbourne you are! Now stop showing off your multi-culturism, excellent public transportation, and ethnic pots melting. I get it already! I get that there are people having fun down some secret ally that I have no idea exists, at a bar behind a turn next to a statue above a lamppost. The problem is, I want to be in the know so so bad and you’re rubbing in the fact that I’m just a clueless tourist!
For years Melbourne has been on the list of must visit cities, however, I’ve always been a bit nervous that I’d fall in love with it and never want to return to where I came from. A bit of a habit of mine. So off I went, a little bit of business, and little bit of pleasure. Am I rushing to move? Not quite yet, but give me a couple more goes with some people who are actually in the know and you may be hearing more from me about the 2nd biggest city in Australia.
So obviously on the quick two-hour jaunt down south I wrote down a few things I wanted to accomplish while in Melbourne:
- Laneways (Alleyways)
- Penguin Island (Prince Phillip Island)
- Wineries (Yarra Valley)
- Wes (Friend from Splendour)
- Street art!
I did you a favor and decoded some for you. Now, I guess the only things on that list I did not accomplish were seeing the penguins (awww, I know!) and going to Yarra Valley. Don’t worry; I made up for it partying with Wes till the wee hours the night before. Figured, hang out with someone “in the know” and save the penguins for later. I’m sure they’ve been there for hundreds of years.
I also wrote down a couple of general Australian observations that have nothing whatsoever to do with Melbourne. Firstly, snakes! Yea snakes! They’re gummy candy (or what they like to call lollies here, whatever). And they’re just like everywhere. All the time people are like oh hey, do you want a snake? And I just laugh and go heck yea, throw me a snake!
Also, when was the last time you remember getting served a full course meal, with booze, on an economy domestic flight? I mean, I’m pretty sure Continental even got rid of those cute little turkey sandwiches that gave them such a competitive advantage. Gave me a reason to rack up the frequent flyer points at least. But in all seriousness, it’s been ages. But Quantas however, the official Australian airline, bangs out meals like nobody’s business. Full dinner, beer and wine, and a Cadbury thank you very much. Just saying.
And I’ll leave you with one more before heading back to Melbourne. Taxis. You sit in the front. Yea, weird right? Like, they get mad if you don’t. But what’s also really neat, is they have a system called Cab Charges. So for work, if I need to take a cab anywhere in Australia they give me these tickets that act like credit cards and it automatically bills the company. Sweet.
So I spent my first free night in Melbourne after a long day of giving presentations roaming around Degraves Street. It’s a cute laneway lined with tons of cafes, outdoor seating, and just had a vibe about it. So…everyone gets it, right, that the farther south you go the colder it is, farther north hotter etc. I live in the north, Melbourne is very far south. But! Nobody in Melb seems to care and they all just chill outside in a very European way and smoke their faces off. So, I found myself a spot in the corner of Degraves Espresso Bar, had myself a glass of Sauv Blanc from Yarra Valley and ordered the stuffed octopus. Think I surprised the cute red-haired waiter with my accent. Oops, happens sometimes.
I then wrote down another list of things to do, most likely forgetting that I had already done that the day before.
- Take pics of sweet street art
- Make local friends and learn the laneways
- Love this city!
Crossing Flinder’s Lane, Degraves turns into Centre Place and it’s even cuter! Tons of boutiques resting next to cafes. A wrong turn, some graffiti, another laneway. The following evening I tried a different route after scouting around all day, and ended up at the Crown Casino. Gorgeous interior with high-end fashion and dining. I ended up in the food court eating Mousahka (huge Greek influence in this city – second largest Greek population in the world next to real Greece) before heading off to a backpackers bar where I befriended Gabe and Sara and ended up at a bar called Trash Bar in the middle of the city with their dreadlocked friend named Rabbit. Nice to meet you, time for me to head out.
Thankfully Saturday arrived, I had a lovely sleep in, and then Wes, one of our besties from Splendour in the Grass whisked me off to St. Kilda. Now that’s where I want to live! Along the coast, streets lined with palm trees and high-rises overlooking the ocean I just thought, so California. Although it was a bit chilly out, we walked along the water, and I got so excited at the thought of spring approaching, and it has. Goodbye longest winter of my life!
We dined at the Beachcomber and again I was caught off guard with the odd coupling of seafood and Greek dishes that seem to be so apparent in this city. We munched over tapas and wine catching up about the cities of Melbourne, Brisbane and traveling. Wes and his flat mates later had me over dinner for lamb lollipops and kangaroo skewers. I didn’t even know it was kangaroo until after. And I didn’t mind. It was good! Wes then showed me his local scene out in Collingwood where we danced and laughed and mingled and danced until my cabby dropped me off in the city as the sun was rising. Needless to say, I didn’t go see the penguins on Sunday. This was also the day I found out that Beyonce was pregnant. Global news here people!
Monday through Wed back to the grind at work. After dining at the work event Tuesday a friend took me to the scariest bar in the world! For realz. So there it is, another laneway floor to ceiling in graffiti. Another turn, and then another. At this point I’m saying, “This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about! No idea, I would have had no freaking idea!”
Yea, well so Croft Bar has this whole mad-scientist/institute theme. There are test tubes and odd décor all over. No biggie. We’re pretty much the only people in the bar, and Ryan the young bartender is chatting to us about crazy cocktail mixology stuff and local beers. But then, I have to pee. HOLY SHNIKES! So, you go up these stairs and it looks like an insane asylum. In the ladies room, there is even like a hospital bed and stuff. I’m getting the heck out of here! Like seriously, I need to be accompanied to the bathroom the next time around. And even better, apparently there are multiple floors in this place with different themes. Not super cheesy like Jekyll and Hyde in NYC, but just super scary.
So I guess the best part was, aside from me being totally freaked out, was when we asked Ryan if we could take a pic of him he posed with his to wrists out in front of him, facing down and said “I pose like this because I have a baby roo at home.” I gave a Whhhhattttt! And he responded, “yea, I’m way Aussie mate!” and I think that is the best quote I’ve ever heard.
So I just flipped my head over, took a pair of scissors, and straight up just cut my hair. Just like that. Pause. It sounds way more dramatic than it actually was. It was like an inch. Not Brittany style or anything. I could feel myself starting to get scissor happy so I scooped the contents up from my bathroom sink, and moved on to dinner. I don’t think anyone will even notice. But that’s okay, they aren’t supposed to. Shhh.
Note to self: don’t eat fish curry while sipping pink grapefruit juice.