I know it’s been a few days since I last wrote, but like I mentioned earlier, I’m in a land where my 24 hours remain oblivious – only because of the array of thrilling activities that keep me occupied. I’m in the city of Melbourne, a city known for its vibrant energy and an unparalleled history.
I have tried to distill all the things that I love about Melbourne into a little list– not to remind myself about the things I did, but mainly to convince you that these are the reasons why I can never look at the world through the same lens again.
1. Browse the City, its Alleyways and Cafes
To know a city in and out, do what the locals do. With this thought, I slipped into my sneakers and set off on a morning promenade along the little streets. While I was not particularly in search of the spots where all the tourists headed, my interests lie in the lovely hidden alleyways that are yet to be discovered. From the Flinders Street Railway Station to the Central Business District to Degraves Street–café tables are spilling out while the alleys are towered by buildings, especially the Majorca building and 19th century Block Arcade are the ones with prominence. While I’m attracted to cozy little cafes tucked away in the corner, I usually end my day on the Collins Street or Centre Place.
2. Farmers Market
The Queen Victoria Market, operating since 1878, is brimming with locals as the market is a great place to find fresh fruits and vegetables. Half the fun is talking to the stall holders–I question them while each had different perspectives to share. They had questions too, about my city back home.
The buzz you get from spending time on the street is warm and inviting. You’ll realise that Melburnians have a natural acquaintance with the world. Unlike other cities, it pays to leisurely stroll along the streets even after 9 p.m. to experience a dazzling nightlife– after all you’re safe in this friendly city.
3. Discover the Art Scene
I spent an afternoon feasting my eyes on the artworks manifested on the walls along the laneways. Although, I have been to cities that exhibit graffiti on the walls, little did I expect such an overwhelming art culture in Melbourne– difference is that– here it’s a source of cultural pride. Most of the street art is commissioned work, while some are thoroughly inspirational. A unique piece is the Empty Nursery Blue, in the Rutledge Lane, just off the Hosier lane, which is completely painted in blue adorned with humorous and contrasting graffiti.
4. Meet the Aboriginal Natives
Once known as the land of the Kulin Nation– Melbourne preserves the culture and heritage of its indigenous people. You’ll be amazed to see the artifacts, photographs and artworks about the Koorie people dating back to almost 60,000 years, at the Koorie Heritage Trust. But the more I saw, the more I grew curious. A morning walk around the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens is now a part of my routine, but my main reason for promenading there is to take the Aboriginal Heritage walk featuring the smoking ceremony and discussion on the traditional uses of food, tools and medicine.
‘Wominjeka! Wominjeka!’ a Koorie visitor said to me with a broad smile and then points towards the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum. The Bunjilaka Centre is a great meet up place for Koorie people as well as visitors interested in the Aboriginal culture.
5. Weekend Escapes
With plenty of trails for quick escapes, Melbourne understands my love for nature. One morning I took the most exhilarating decision to drive the spectacular Great Ocean Road. While I stopped along the way to soak up the atmosphere; I spotted a few koalas and Kangaroos. Good times.
Philip Island, particularly impressed me. It’s a pastoral paradise with animal sanctuaries, historic farms and beautiful ocean views. Each night as the sun fades in the sky, Penguins waddle up the Summerland beach. Being able to witness the Penguin Parade is such a magical experience, you’ll want to return again and again.
Melbourne’s most famous beach St. Kilda is only 6 km from the City Center and a walking distance to the Brighton Beach from the Brighton station – although cycling would be more fun had I known how to ride. In Brighton, the 82 colorful bathing boxes featuring classic Victorian architecture make a picturesque scene for the eyes, especially on a bright and sunny day.
6. Tour in the City Circle Tram
The City Circle Tram offers an excellent commute to all the major landmarks for FREE. The city pampers me even on a day my feet need a rest. Hopping onto the burgundy tram is an experience in itself. The train takes a complete loop of the city for about 45 minutes. The first stop is the Old Melbourne Gaol, an old prison where you’ll find information about inmates and the prison life. Just a few blocks from here, is the State Library of Victoria, an active library famous for its 19th century art and architecture. Within a few minutes Melbourne takes me to another country – China. Chinatown, on the little Bourke Street, is a strong and vibrant community that arose during the gold-rush days in the 1850s. Melbourne’s well-connected transport system makes it extremely convenient to get around the city, even for visitors without a car.
7. Coffee and Cuisine
Melbourne is a paradise for coffee lovers, like me. A great way to indulge in the city’s coffee culture and its secret is to start an intellectual conversation (about the beans, brewing process and machines) with the caffeine gurus. It really involves a careful step-by-step preparation to make a delicious cup of coffee. One of my local favorites is the Market Lane Café (Prahran), just opposite the Queen Victoria Market. As usual, I like the skinny latte with four sugars.
From Italian to Mexican to Indian, it’s hard to miss home when you’re in a city that offers exceptional cuisine. For an Indian, spicy food is all it takes to enjoy a satisfied meal, but MoVida Next Door’s prawns curry is to die for – semi spicy but the taste takes you all the way to Spain.
There are still so many other beautiful things I’m yet to experience in Melbourne; the roaring applause and the crowd cheering during a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, watch a moonlight cinema under the stars in Royal Botanical Gardens, hot air ballooning over the Yarra Valley, ride on the city’s narrow gauge railway through the Dandenong Ranges, cityscape view from atop Eureka deck; everyday the list only gets longer.
Oh Diary! There was a time I carried you everywhere to document each experience of mine in every city, but I wouldn’t lie that the beauteous city of Melbourne has managed to take away my intimate focus from you.
Enough Said. Melbourne is the best thing that has happened to me and it’s no surprise that everyone who spends time with the city eventually finds a secret favorite, but to me Melbourne, as a whole, is my dream city and the most livable city in the world.
Note: I have never been to Australia; the article is purely based on my imagination with instances that make Melbourne; the most livable city in the world.
The post is published for the ‘Fly to Melbourne‘ contest on Indiblogger.
Answer the question: “Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why”?
Write your best answer on the comment box below and win an exciting prize courtesy Tourism Victoria. Hurry! Last Date is Jan, 4th, 2015. The winner for this contest is Abhishek Agrawal. Thanks to all who participated in my contest.
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Update for the contest held by Tourism Victoria: I have been chosen as one of the runner’s up with some exciting goodies. Thanks for all your support folks:)