I have fallen truly, madly, deeply in love. Not with a man; the year long break from romance continues. I’ve fallen in love with a city. I never thought I’d go anywhere that would actually make me want to give up my British roots (roast dinners, Tetley tea and moaning about the weather is basically life), but then I met Melbourne. Or bae, as I should refer to her as.
But Melbourne is just the best place I’ve ever been. A city where flip flops (or thongs, as our friends down under call them) are the most popular form of shoe, where beaches chill alongside big buildings, and where being just a bit hipster is actively encouraged. It’s not just a latte in Melbourne, it’s a Vanilla Bon Bon (espresso with chocolate cream, frothy milk and vanilla syrup) with a salted caramel and cinnamon doughnut from the hip new Doughnut Time shop.
The old blurs with the new in Melbourne to create a chilled out vibe, with the ultra modern Federation Square sitting next to the ultra old Flinders Street Station and St. Patrick’s Chapel. It feels like the whole city is all about just chillaxing and being you in a way that Sydney wasn’t, with it’s modern structures and bustling business centre. I mean, Federation Square offers free meditation sessions every Monday ‘to set you up for the working week’, on a Tuesday you can learn to knit, embroider or make a basket, again for free, on Friday there are silent disco tours of the city, and the weekends are full of free entertainment and festivals in the main square, from comedy to food. Not that I actually got round to doing any of this, but still…
Art is everywhere in Melbourne, but luckily not the arty-farty stuff that no one actually enjoys. Don’t get me wrong, I did the necessary traipse around the National Gallery and pretended I knew things about the art on display from centuries gone, but what got me was the street art that is like an actual thing here. Hosier Lane, just opposite Fed square is basically a big sketchpad for graffiti lovers everywhere, and walking through it was a pretty colourful experience that kinda made me want to grab a can and join in. But then I knew I’d only embarrass myself… Or if you’re a bit of a foodie, Victoria Market’s evening food market is literally mouthwatering, with the many cultures who found their home in Melbourne providing every sort of food imaginable, from pineapple rice and pad Thai served in a carved out pineapple, to cheese fondue boxes, to pavlovas of every style imaginable. Admittedly, I put on about a million stone from that one night alone, but y’know… worth it.
And then there was Canberra, where I stopped off en route to Melbourne. Anyone you ask about Canberra will tell you there’s nothing there, and I can confirm that, yep, there’s nothing there. Walking around the Parliament House felt a bit like being on some kind of alien film set… it was all a bit too clean, with the grass too neatly cut, and too few people about. If someone told me the apocalypse had taken place in the few hours I spent in Canberra, I can’t say I’d have been surprised. There was no one to be seen. Like, literally. On the upside, great lasagne in the cafe by the (deserted) war memorial. #silverlinings
So, for me there’s only one true capital of Australia, and that’s Melbourne. The founder of the city, James Cook, shipped his British cottage over brick by painstaking brick and rebuilt it in Fitzroy Park. As you do when you’re a touch homesick.. Not gonna lie, kinda feeling like that’s a good plan right now. Preferably in the area of St. Kilda, with its beaches, cute coffee shops and most importantly, 24 hour McDonalds, but I’ll settle for Fitzroy Park, if I must 😉
P.S. I also went to jail. Sorry mum 😉