Thanks to a sabbatical perk courtesy of the company I work for, the boys and I were able to spend a wonderfully long six weeks in Australia this time around with Kei joining us for the last 2.5 week. This is the longest period of time that I’ve spent at home since we moved to the states almost 10 years ago. It also marks the first time in a long time that we’ve traveled there for no reason other than to relax and have a good old Aussie holiday – a holiday without the need to nurse children or change diapers. In a word, AMAZING!
One of the best parts of this vacation (besides the lack of diapers) was the amount of time we had to really take a good look around Melbourne. In the past we had a day or two here and there to check out the Zoo or maybe go out for a meal in the city, but this time we had an opportunity to really explore the city. The boys and I spent a week at the beginning of the trip visiting museums and the zoo and then Kei and I were blessed with three child free days in the city immediately after he arrived. I’ll go into more detail about some of the adventures we had in future posts but for now I just want to reflect and share a few things I love about my home city in no particular order.
TEN THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MELBOURNE
Although the city was a little dreary when we arrived, the sun came out for us on multiple occasions. High temperatures hovered around 10 Celsius (50 F) most of the time we were there. Although locals complained about the bitter cold, I found it an easy transition from a still-dreary Portland. Besides, with so many things to do indoors in Melbourne, we were easily able to plan our activities based on the weather. The only downside was the thousands of kids that joined us thanks to an unfortunate alignment with the Victorian school holiday period.
Street art, galleries, modern, classic, sculptures – everywhere you go there is something beautiful to look at in Melbourne. Sure, some of it will make you scratch your head but that’s what makes it so interesting.
3. Streets that look like they belong in a Harry Potter novel
I love Melbourne alleys and arcades. Many of them contain hidden treasures like tiny little Parisian-inspired cafes or an entire store dedicated to Babushka dolls.
4. Coffee art
Portland has great coffee and, every now and then I’ll get a cup with a beautiful heart or fern leaf adorning the froth. I can safely say, however, that this trip to Melbourne raised the bar just a little bit in the coffee art department.
5. Modern Architecture
I love how modern architecture exists beside classic buildings. The colorful box is part of the Melbourne Museum while the glass stained door below is a new addition to St. Patrick’s cathedral.
6. Classic Architecture
As much as I love the city I live in, there’s something to be said for classic Victorian architecture, with a little Art Deco thrown in for good measure.
7. The FOOD
I pretty much ate my way around Melbourne – which is why I need to get back to the gym stat! The diversity of people living in the city means a wonderful diversity of food and, I can honestly say, that I had only one bad meal during my entire trip (it was Pizza and I think we made a poor restaurant choice). Here’s an incomplete list of the food I enjoyed in and around the city:
- Fish and Chips from local shop in Brunswick (usually the first thing I eat after my flight lands)
- Indian on Sydney Road, Brunswick
- Thai food at Longgrain, Little Bourne Street
- Greek food at Tsindos, Little Lonsdale Street
- Yum Cha (aka Dim Sum) at Westlake in Chinatown
- Amazing hot chips from Lord of the Fries (more than once)
- Eggs Benedict at a little place just outside the Block Arcade
8. Public Transport and Pedestrian Friendly Streets
We’re lucky that my brother and sister-in-law live just outside the city center but, even if they didn’t, getting around Melbourne would be easy thanks to the multitude of trains, trams and buses available. Once you’re in the city, the best way to see everything is to walk. You never know what you might come across – Rhinos on skateboards perhaps?
9. Museums and Galleries (a lot of them are free!)
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Melbourne if you’re short of cash. While a few museums charge for adults, kids can enjoy free entry, while others require that you pay only for special exhibitions. Here’s what we managed to see during a very busy couple of weeks – I’ll share highlights of some of these adventures in future posts.
- Scienceworks – free entry for kids to the regular part of the museum but we paid a little extra to see the special Wallace & Gromit exhibition.
- Melbourne Museum – free entry for kids
- Australian Center for the Moving Image – free.
- National Gallery of Victoria – free
- State Library of Victoria – not officially a museum but I was surprised to discover that it has a wonderful exhibition on the history of Victoria that even includes Ned Kelly’s armor. Free.
10. Plenty of things to do with kids
Now the boys are a little older, I was excited to take them out and about during our visit. In addition to Scienceworks and the Melbourne Museums mentioned above, we also managed trips to the Melbourne Zoo, The Aquarium and Healesville Sanctuary (about 45 minutes outside the city). While these activities proved a little more expensive, we covered the need to see some Aussie wildlife and spend some fun time outdoors.
The boys weren’t with us when we visited the center for the moving image but they would have loved it so it’s definitely something we plan to take them to on our next trip.
So, there you have it. Just ten things I love about my home city – I’m sure there are many more that I could come up with given more time to reflect on our fabulous fun-filled vacation. As much as it feels good to be back in Portland, this list made me a little homesick.