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O.M.G!!! In the cheesiest, squeakiest Californian accent ever!!! … I LOVE Melbourne. I thought I might. It would have been on my vote for ‘if you could only go to one place in Oz’. But then I’ve thought that before. I always thought I would love San Francisco but despite loving certain aspects and places (Tonga Rooms, Redwood Room and Lori’s Diner to name but a few), despite a couple of attempts it’s never quite done it for me.
We didn’t get off to a great start here in Melbourne. First night was booked in a cheap hotel in the city centre – the room was basic and did the job but the down side was the huge thunder and lightning, armageddonesque storm which descended on us not long after heading out to explore. We managed, eventually to find some interesting drinking spots and some yummy dumplings.
I think you become fairly quickly aware that Melbourne has an arty and interesting vibe, but it’s still tricky to find cool things in a downpour without having done much research, so Mark was fairly unimpressed. But regular reader may have noticed there is a bit of a recurrent theme with Mark. He often hates first few days of a new place but by the time we leave he wants to stay forever. I don’t think it’ll happen quite like that in melbourne, but I now know enough to ignore his first few days of lacking enthusiasm.
Our second day we had to catch a tram up to our next place to stay, north of the city centre. Another airbnb venture, it’s a mini flat in the city suburb of Carlton. This is prob first time we had to travel a proper distance with our rucksacks. Actually it was much better than the carrying by the handle we had been doing for so long. I’m too freaking short to carry a heavy rucksack half my height by the top.
But it was still back ache inducing. At least the tram system in Melbourne is actually fantastic and simple and our 7 day, go everywhere ticket was definitely a step forward in our haphazard travelling style. It’s nice we can just jump on a tram and go for a stop or two if we’re getting tired walking around (especially in the heat).
The owner of our property was leaving us a key so we located that and let ourselves in via the back gate. The property is at the back of a house and contains only 3 rooms – a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen diner. There is also a very private little garden to sit in. It is a small and simple but perfect for us and the first place we have had to ourselves since we left for the trip.
She’s got lots of arty and vintage things and the place has a quirky and calm feel to it. It is also immensely private and not overlooked anywhere. Lack of privacy has been something we have struggled to deal with so hiding away here is a real treat.
Going out to explore our surroundings, I soon realised I’d hit bullseye with this location. Fitzroy is one of those areas that years ago was lowdown and grimy. It was full of vice and every space was covered in graffitti and tags. The vice moved out but the graffitti and tagging stayed. The artsy people who moved into the area embraced it and although the area has been gentrified to a certain degree, the look of many stores and bars is to leave things with a worn, grungey outside. The place is just jam packed with cool stores, vintage and new stuff and amazing bars and restaurants. The other, odd thing I noticed is that everywhere we went on the main street seemed to smell really lovely – like a lovely, natural, expensive aromatherapy oil. I’ve noticed this walking down streets as well as in restaurants. It’s very subtle and I’m yet to get to the bottom of it. But having fallen in love with the area I found it mind blowing that everywhere I walked smelt to good too!!
We’ve done some exploring further afield to some of the other areas in north Melbourne. More food, more great bars and interesting shops.
We hung out in this area for a day or so, having a lovely time. Mark got a tattoo of stick men down his leg, in a very amazing tattoo place who do some amazing work. We ate well, we drank well. Even when we tried to go home one night, we came across an open door with a light flashing the word ‘bar’. It could have gone horribly wrong, but we had discovered a bar called ‘I know a place’ which had it’s own massive courtyard with a huge, painted wall overlooking the proceedings.
We popped back into the city for a visit to the city’s contemporary gallery, ACCA, which was a hot walk, south of the (oddly brown) river Yarrah. It was this huge, stunning building but inside it for some reason only had art it two rooms. The main room had these two layered carpets which you laid back on and then look up to the ceiling where they showed a film with ethereal soundtrack and images.
I then took Mark to a bar I warned him might be a bit ‘girly’. ‘Madame Brussels’ was accessed through a nondescript entrance to what looked like a normal working 70s office block. Up in a grim Otis lift to the third floor. The lift then opens up to a floor which has pastel green and pink chairs and tables on astroturf carpet, opening out onto a terrace overlooking the city. Flower displays and people dressed in white 50s style short dresses or shorts with white ankle socks. Mark clarified that this was not just a BIT girly. Fair point. The terrace was jam packed so we had to
sit in a cute little two-seater trelissed booth. They sold garden party style snacks like sandwiches, sausage rolls and cakes. It was definitely hen-party heaven. I liked the sweet touch of supplying pretty parasoles to the people sitting outside. I didn’t keep Mark there long and promised that we would find a nice manly pub for him to go to next (but I’m pretty sure he rather enjoyed Madame Brussels anyhow).
We went back to Fitzroy after and found some cool and suitably grungey and muso to balance out the girliness.
In just a few days I have to rate Melbourne possibly knocking New York off the top place for my favourite places. Time will tell if anything puts me off.