Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria state in Australia, and is the second largest of this huge (albeit empty) country. Melbourne is known for its European flavour, changing weather, growing industry and laid back atmosphere despite its economic importance. It is the city where visiting bars is a must, horse racing is the most important event in town (and all the atire that goes with it), Formula 1 and motorcycle world tours have a stop and the Australian Open is held. Not bad huh?
I used to call Melbourne home back in 2003-04 during grad school but had not been back since, and thus was looking forward to comming again for two reasons: one, showing Liza where I had lived during our dating days, and two catching up with friends, some of which I had not seen since I left. The city hadn’t changed much, and was happy to see that some things were still as convenient as they used to be , like the Merlbourne Skybus and the city trams.
This time we would not need to find a hostel or couchsurf as we were going to stay with Itzel , my friend from Mexico who had recently visited us in Spain and has chosen to call Melbourne home ever since finishing grad school. It was good to see her, having time to catch up with our lives and tell her about our travels while calling common friends for a rendezvous soon. Staying at her place also gave us the opportunity to recover our health because I was having a strong case of hay fever while Liza was just beginning to leave a flu behind.
A few days later we visited the city starting with Flinders Station, probably the most emblematic building of the city with Federation Square and the CBD and shopping area nearby. It is here that Base hostel is located, probably your best accommodation choice in Melbourne because of facilities and location. The beach at St Kilda is a great place to chill out when the weather is good, and the botanical gardens will keep you in the shade during the unusual extremely hot days Melbourne has been suffering in the past few summers. If it is clothes you are after find your way to Bridge road and Smith street where many outlets are located, and finally, no trip to Melbourne is complete without hitting the bar scene, perhaps the city’s greatest attraction- we obliged by checking out a few.
While doing the tourist thing we caught up with Cong, my good friend from Vietnam who would shortly prove how much of a riot he is.
We began with an awesome lunch at a Thai restaurant he knew of, where the flavours were as good as they are back in Thailand and quantity a challenge for all. Once done we went to his place where we were supposed to have a coffee, but as soon as we got there a few of his friends showed up as well as his wife, having picked up his daughters earlier on. All I can say is that we ate for four more hours and had an excellent time, with plenty of stories and life anecdotes that kept us laughing all evening.
Some days later we would repeat the party, only that this time most of the eating was done in his place and Vietnamese food was the call of the day. This was superb because I had discovered during our recent trip to Vietnam that their cuisine is among the finest in South East Asia, only that this time a different dish was in the menu: duck fetus eaten straight from the egg. To know what it is check out the video, but make sure your stomach is not too sensible!
I must admit that the best part of visiting Melbourne again was seeing my friends who live there. The city itself is one that still doesn’t attract me too much, and perhaps now even less than what it did in 2004. Only the CBD is nice and trendy, St Kilda is OK and sure, there are many bars, but just like in any other big city. Outside the CBD Melbourne doesn’t have many atractions for the tourists, houses are plain and simple and getting anywhere is very time consuming. Melbourne can be extremely hot in summer (watch out if you have any allergies) and chilly in winter. However many people (residents and visitors alike) consider it the best city in Australia, so only you can decide if it is your cup of tea or not. My take? Melbourne is overrated, as simple as that. This said at the end of the day I cannot deny that I had fun while there, so who knows when I’ll be back?
Have you been in Melbourne? Do you like it? Why or why not? Please share this post if you enjoyed reading it!