I’m returning to Vegas this weekend to take pictures of the finished master bathroom and kitchen in the flip house. Both are finally finished, and I can’t wait to show them to you once I edit the photos, which should be next week.
I was looking through my phone’s memory images when I noticed that I had been visiting my cousin in Melbourne, Australia, at this very moment the year before. Then I realized that I had completely forgotten to tell anyone about my experience there. Stupid blogger
Melbourne, which I had yet to see despite having been to Australia before, was at the top of my list. I had imagined it to be sunny and nice like Gold Coast, but Melbourne is much farther south and has more extreme seasons, particularly harsh winters. Since I visited in February 2017, the height of summer, I was fortunate to enjoy clear sky.
Melbourne first struck me as a really sophisticated, culturally rich city. With its mixture of traditional architecture and contemporary high rise buildings in a bustling downtown, it brought to mind San Francisco so much.
Here are some of the highlights from my trip as seen by both my cousin, the knowledgeable local, and myself, the eager and cheerful tourist:
THE QUEEN VICTORIA MALL Our first visit was the renowned Queen Victoria Market , Melbourne’s most popular landmark, and my cousin Andrew was a great tour guide. Outdoor vendors selling Australian-made goods and produce may be found every Tuesday, as well as Thursday through Sunday. The area is bustling with locals who are tasting, shopping, and having a good time, and there are weekly cultural festivals.
My cousin suggested that we stop for coffee and donuts first. (No opposition) Before proceeding to the market stalls, we briefly waited in line at the donut truck to fill a paper bag with treats.
Image above from queen victoria market
Although I had a belt created, I do regret not getting real Uggs. Oh well, another reason to return:)
Numerous suppliers of gourmet dishes may be found within in the interior’s light-filled brass-trimmed space. We looked through the booths so I could get a sense of it.
I took it all in because markets are one of my favorite places to spend time. There are a ton of savory foods, cheese, and spice businesses. Although there was a very lengthy queue when we arrived for lunch at The Bratwurst Shop, my cousin assured me it was worth the wait, so I decided to have a spicy one with mustard, which was really delicious.
THE KING IS COFFEE Melbourne has a thriving coffee culture, and my cousin is an expert. To demonstrate how passionate about coffee people in that town are and how many different ways they make it, he took me on a sampling tour of many coffee shops.
There are micro roasters offering their own blends on every corner. I consumed so much caffeine from all of my attempts. Like we do in wine country, people in Melbourne describe the flavors of coffee in a similar (obsessive) manner. hints of fruit, caramel, spice, etc. This article explains how seriously Australians take their coffee.
MONUMENTS IN DOWNTOWN I traveled across Melbourne on foot for an entire day by myself, beginning in Flagstaff Gardens, then through Fitzroy Gardens to Southbank, then returning to the central area via Flagstaff Gardens and back through Carlton and East Melbourne. Although it was only a total of ten miles, I spread it out and took the entire day to complete it because it was the ideal day to wander.
For those who are less ambitious, Melbourne offers a first-rate public transit system. There is an Free Tram Zone that will take you everywhere in the inner city, which is fantastic for visitors who are staying in the city center and don’t want to travel far to see everything. Simply board and depart!
The State Library was a stunning structure both inside and out, and it was a well-liked location with many of people relaxing on the front lawn. The men chess-playing outside the front doors delighted me. The interior is cold and peaceful, with a magnificent staircase, marble hallways with changing displays, and a sizable chamber where a few hundred individuals are working intently on their studies.
I took a short stroll across to Carlton Gardens, where I observed a bride having her picture shot in front of the stunning Exhibition building.
Then, I continued down Spring Street past Parliament, a magnificent structure whose incredible architecture demands that you pause and appreciate it for a while.
The nearby Fitzroy Gardens is a sizable, gorgeous park that’s great for strolling in. Additionally, it has a flower conservatory, where I was surrounded by the most exquisite begonias I’ve ever seen.
Maybe I was just mesmerized by my surroundings, or maybe it was the contrasting liner around the petals’ edges that I found so alluring. I only recall thinking at the time that these were the most exquisite flowers I had ever seen.
My next journey brought me to a location that everyone should go to: Flinders Street Station, one of Melbourne’s most recognized structures. It is located next to Federation Square, a modern abstract structure that stands in stark contrast to the train station’s old-world appearance.
My feet started to hurt by the afternoon, but I crossed the Yarra River to Southbank, where there was a festival going on along the promenade.
The bartender always has the finest advice on things to see, so I retreated into a restaurant because it was hot and busy. While we talked, I ordered a local beer. The label on the bottle made me laugh and I had to take a picture of it.
I was given a single seat near the window at Shanghai Street, which my cousin had suggested for dinner. I ordered the kung pao chicken and a side of dumplings, and they were fantastic—possibly the finest I’ve ever had.
A local businessman who was seated next to me during dinner and had previously traveled to San Francisco on business and I had a 20-minute conversation about the parallels and differences between our cities.
One of my favorite things about traveling is that almost every time I go out, I end up chatting with the person sitting next to me. By the end of our conversation, I’m reminded that we’re all just people, and we really just want the same things: to connect, to share good food and a few stories, and to be surrounded by kind people.
PUBLIC ART You can find streets in Melbourne where artists have painted murals, caricatures, and graffiti on the walls. Keep an eye out for it—Melbourne is known for it—or refer to this list , which identifies the streets where it might be viewed.
There is a shopping area downtown if you enjoy it. Melbourne also has a Chinatown, which is another similarity to San Francisco that I noticed.
If you enjoy Italian cuisine, Hardware Lane’s cafe scene is worth checking out. We had dinner at the fantastic Mamasita restaurant one evening. Berlin Bar, where you can experience the Cold War inside, is another undiscovered gem that I adored. The most inventive cocktails are served in Berlin Bar, and as we waited for our drinks, a magician delighted us at our table. Definitely worth the trip if you’re looking for a hip and varied location to stay.
I don’t hesitate to travel alone, but I was fortunate to run into my cousin, who is Australian but was born in America and whom I see very infrequently because we are on different continents. He invited me into his home, shared all of his local expertise with me, and we spent hours laughing and talking about countless childhood experiences. How enjoyable it was to reflect on it twoo years afterwards. It served as a reminder of the value of connecting and being in the moment, as well as the necessity of cherishing the moments spent with the unique people you are fortunate to have in your life.
In the United States, Pabst is the cheapest beer ever, but in a café in his suburb of Geelong, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is a big thing, and he has to pay extra for it, which is why this picture makes me smile so much. We both found that to be incredibly humorous! Another thing I enjoy about travel is the unexpected nuances you discover when you go out to see the world.
I was fortunate to get to hang out with my cousin for an entire day at the coast. He drove me to the ocean while strapping three bikes to the back of his car, where he and his wife showed me some of the surf areas in Jan Juc and Torquay. From Winkipop and Bells Beach, we had a lengthy bike ride along this stunning coastline. What a vista, and what a day it was!
(I should point out that although the photos in this post were taken with my iPhone, I now take better pictures with my Canon Powershot camera. I adore using the camera while traveling to capture breathtaking images and videos.
When I left Melbourne, I had enjoyed wonderful company, cuisine, and scenery in addition to falling in love with yet another incredible city. Do you reside in Melbourne or have you ever been there? In order to visit Tasmania and explore that island, I’m considering going back at the end of the year. What did I overlook? Which locations are your favorites?