This past weekend Ashley and I made our way down to the city of Melbourne. I had a lot of expectations as it is known as the ‘Chicago of Australia’. Even though I am having an amazing time here in Australia, homesickness has definitely started to kick in. I figured that traveling to the city that resembles Chicago may help break up my weekly routine and give me a sense of home. I can’t say Melbourne did exactly that, but I can say it did exceed my expectations. From the museums to the views along the Great Ocean Road, I was blown away. With just 3 days to explore, I tried new restaurants, watched street performers, visited all the key tourist attractions and I now feel I have a good grasp on what Melbourne is all about.
For anyone who knows me, knows I am a planner. I thrive when things are organized and structured and I struggle when they’re not. Luckily, Ashley and I share this characteristic, so I knew we would be able to cram in as many activities as possible. We began our weekend on Friday afternoon by checking into our hostel and exploring the CBD (Central Business District) area of the city. Right down the street from our hostel was the Queen Victoria Market and we stopped by as it was closing. Melbourne is known as one of the most livable cities in the world because of their free public transportation, so we took advantage of it. We made our way to Hosier Lane and admired the street art that has made the Melbourne urban art scene known across the world. We were able to watch a graffiti artist in action and snap so many pictures of the cool art.
We then made our way across the Yarra River into the Southbank area and found a cute outdoor beer bar, Hopscotch. This place was so cute and a great place to see what the local nightlife was like. I ordered a ‘Boozy Iced Tea’ (I don’t even really like iced tea) and I must say it is probably one of my favorite drinks now. The bar also had free popcorn so you all know how that ended…two drinks and 13,674 bowls of popcorn later and I was satisfied. Ashley and I liked this place so much that we decided to go back Monday morning to watch the Super Bowl with other American football fans.
Saturday was filled with driving and… more driving. We booked a tour along the Great Ocean Road which is one of Australia’s most visited stretches of coastline, boasting an incredible amount of natural landmarks and magnificent sights. We stopped in a few cute little towns along the way for breakfast, lunch and of course at the major attractions. Our first stops were at Cape Patton, Otway’s Rainforest and Kennet River where we spotted a cute koala and a bunch of colorful birds along with beautiful views. We then made our way to the main attractions: The Twelve Apostles and the Loch Ard Gorge. These landscapes were unlike anything I’d ever seen and I don’t think anything can compare so I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
This day was extremely exhausting and well worth it, so by the time we got back to our hostel, Ashley and I were ready for bed. We went to a cute Italian restaurant, Vons, for dinner which was having a special if you ordered pasta, you got a free glass of wine and garlic bread. This was the perfect way to end such a long day. Even though I was so tired, I was too excited to sleep in Sunday morning because I knew we had so much more to see! We started our day at the Screen Worlds exhibition at the ACMI Museum, ate some lunch, and then went to the Triennial exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. This was by far the coolest museum I’ve ever been to. The exhibits were so uniquely designed and so visually pleasing. My favorite exhibit was Flower Obsession, where we as guests were able to contribute to the art by adding a flower to the apartment.
After the museum, I went on the Eureka Skydeck, the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere. It is very similar to the observation deck in the John Hancock or the Sears Tower skydeck. I was able to see 360 degree views of Melbourne and the Pacific Ocean. I found myself just sitting there in awe and it finally hit me that I am on the other side of the world. As I was looking at the never ending Pacific Ocean, it wasn’t until that moment that I realized how far away I am from home.
On to the next destination! Ashley and I took a tram to Brighton Beach, known for it’s cute bathing beach huts. We didn’t exactly know where we were going, but it ended up working in our favor because we came across a dog beach and it made me so happy. Once we made it the beach boxes, it was picture time. These little huts were lined up perfectly along the beach and all painted differently to create such cute photo opportunities. Here were a few of my favorite huts:
We traveled along the coastline a little more and ended up in St. Kilda. We walked down the pier to the breakwater to see a penguin colony. We only saw a few penguins, but they were so adorable and didn’t seem to mind the massive crowds of people trying to take their picture. It was too dark to get a clear photo and the penguins are stunned by flash so I wasn’t able to capture any, but honestly, it was so nice to just take it in and enjoy it without worrying about documenting everything I was doing.
Monday morning we packed up our belongings, went to Hopscotch to watch the Super Bowl and did some shopping before heading to the airport. Melbourne was the first weekend trip I’ve gone on so far and we planned it all on our own! I am so happy I got to see what it’s all about and I can now back up the statistic that it is one of the top 5 cities to live in!
I am planning on heading north to Brisbane for a night this upcoming weekend so stay tuned for my next adventure!