I love Melbourne. It grew on me immensely throughout my stay.
There is a big Sydney vs Melbourne rivalry in Australia, and they are so very different – I was surprised at how different. I honestly loved both but if I had to pick…Melbourne wins by a narrow margin. 🙂 The energy, the architecture, and the cafes – it feels so cozy and fun.
Day 1: Fitzroy
I arrived in Melbourne in late afternoon and my first thought was – it’s cold!! I checked into my airbnb and immediately went off shopping for a new coat. The airbnb was insanely unique. It was in the most perfect location right in front of a tram stop on Brunswick street, which is in the heart of Fitzroy, a super hip neighborhood. The airbnb is owned by 2 artists and the front room (and every single room) is totally decked out in art – a lot of which was created by them. I had a cozy room in the back that I accessed by walking through the garden – a bit chilly to walk through so often, but no big deal. Anyway, I found a basic pea coat at a cool thrift shop nearby and walked through Fitzroy – there are so many cafes, coffee shops, boutiques, & bars, and some cool Victorian architecture, too. I got excited when I found some okonomiyaki, then I had literally the best gelato of my life (white chocolate hazelnut!) at Messina Gelato. For once I had an early night since I had to get up early for my tour the next day!
Day 2: Great Ocean Road
I did a 1 day Great Ocean Road tour, and it was jam packed! Here are some things we covered…
- Aireys inlet
- Memorial arch
- Apollo bay
- Great Otway national park rainforest walk
- Eucalyptus trees & koalas
- 12 apostles
- Loch ard gorge
- Gibson steps
The scenery on the coast is just so immense. Especially at our last few stops – I was just overwhelmed by the vastness and the beauty 🙂 It was a bit rushed of a tour but worth it for someone like me who is short on time! Also funnily enough I had laksa (Malaysian food) on this tour…there is so much Asian food in Australia, another reason I need to move there 🙂
After returning I still had some energy, so I went out for a beer in Fitzroy (thanks tinder!), where I was shocked by the price for a pint – $12! Then I walked around the nearby park at night and saw the Royal Exhibition building lit up.
Day 3: National Gallery of Victoria
The next day I went on quick walk around the CBD of Melbourne. I had heard that Melbourne is pretty ‘European,’ and I definitely understood why – alleyways, historic buildings, trams, people relaxing by the river…really nice 🙂 I walked along the Yarra river and in the botanic garden briefly too, then headed to the National Gallery of Victoria. I saw the Van Gogh exhibit there, which was really amazing. They set it up like a narrative: you learn about Van Gogh’s life and the prints and Japanese art that inspired him. Next, they organized a ton of his works by the four seasons. It was great to see them in that context and to see his range. The rest of the museum is great, too (and free!) – I saw some interesting photography, a small gallery dedicated to love in art, and other small exhibits.
After that I grabbed some amazing risotto on Degraves St, one of the famous alleyways. It was cozy and great for people watching. Later that night I went on a pub crawl in Fitzroy through the hostel that was just nearby. We got some happy hours deals (only $7 beers, thankfully), checked out the beer garden where I met some quirky people (to fit this quirky city, I guess), and finally to a place with multiple dance floors called Yah Yahs, where it was ‘Thursgay’! What a night, lol. 🙂
Day 4: Walking Tour
The next day my friend Heather arrived from Sydney, yay! We did the ‘imfree’ walking tour, which was really informative. Another jam packed tour, so here are the bullet points:
- Federation square
- Flidners St Station
- Eureka tour
- Street art & laneways
- State Parliament
- State library of Victoria
- Carlton Gardens
- Royal exhibition center
Afterwards, on the rec of our tour guide, we went to Hutong dumpling…super delicious! Next we headed back to Fitzroy and got gelato (again), and picked up some groceries and beer (a regular occurrence to save money!). Then it was time for beer pong, and eventually our night out! We started in Fitzroy (with a brief stop to push Heather around in a grocery cart). First we went to Naked for Satan, which had a very cool rooftop bar. Waiting for the elevator up, I chatted with a fellow American who worked there – and she got us a round of drinks! I do love meeting Americans abroad. We bummed around there for a bit then headed to another bar nearby, where we talked with some locals. After that we were going to head somewhere for dancing, but met some people on the street who suggested somewhere else – and impulsively we went with them! They drove us somewhere further south called Pawn club. It had really cool house music and plenty of people. Definitely a night out to remember, hahaaaa. Melbourne nightlife lives up to the hype.
Day 5: Shrine of Remembrance & St Kilda
Next morning was brunch with my buddy in Ftizroy! I had a pretty interesting dish – kind of crazy looking, really. And of course, a cappuccino – I think I had one every day while in Australia; so many good coffee shops ❤ After that we went to the war memorial called the Shrine of Remembrance. It had good views of the CBD, really nice architecture, and some educational galleries.
Then we headed to a south suburb, St Kilda. Side note, what we call ‘neighborhoods’ of cities in the US are called ‘suburbs’ in Australia. Anyway, we were tired from the previous night, so we napped in a park near the beach. Then we got some quick snacks at a cafe on the pier and went out to see the penguins! There are a ton of fairy penguins living under the rocks at the pier at St Kilda. After dark they gradually hop out – so super adorable!! There was no flash allowed as it can blind them, so my pics are bad – but trust me, they are adorable 🙂 We got to see some penguin fornication, hahaaa, and them hopping from rock to rock. They were so cute (and loud) and it seemed like there were tons 😀
That night we went to a bar in the CBD called Section 8 that I had kept hearing about. The bar basically felt like an extension of the street – it had everyday objects reused for furniture, and street art on the walls. The beer was cheap and the music was good, and it seemed like there were people from all over the world there! After, we got Korean food at the cafe next door – probably the best I’ve had, funnily enough!
Day 6: Queen Victoria Market, State Library, & Beer!
After 1 more cappuccino, we went to the Queen Victoria market. This market is huge and has absolutely anything you could want in terms of souvenirs, fresh produce, etc., and it all seemed to be reasonably priced. We grabbed some food next to a fun live band and wandered around.
Next we walked to the State Library for Victoria. This is where the walking tour began, but this time we went inside. It was very pretty and had some nice exhibits inside too – we got to see a replica of the famous Ned Kelly armor.
To round off our trip, we went to an event for Good Beer week at the Mt View hotel. There were 6 breweries competing – which meant free beer from all of them! It was really delicious (and so were the nachos there we got).
I had to say goodbye to Heather, which was really sad – making such close but temporary friendships traveling is extremely bittersweet! After a nice dinner with my airbnb hosts, I caught my redeye back to KL and was back to my sweaty reality. :p
Impressions of Melbourne: I can definitely understand why people love it. It is vibrant, livable, quirky, and diverse. It has skyrocketed to somewhere I want to try to live someday (soon!).