Hanging out in cool Melbourne
We left Bali and south east Asia behind and flew to Melbourne as a long layover toward New Zealand. Melbourne is a place where we immediately thought we could live. We loved the vibe of the cool vibrant city with a direct access to incredible outdoors.
We felt it was like 'relaxed, warm, spacious London'. Does this resonate with anybody else?
The city's neighbourhoods are characterised by the signs of the immigrant communities that inhabited them, now mixed with hip bars and cafes. The tram line is Melbourne's pride and allows free hop-on hop-off in the centre of the city. More than any obvious landmarks, the charm of the city lies in the vibrant atmosphere, its cool side alleyways filled with street art and quirky eateries, the green parks and multicultural markets.
Following the suggestion of a friend, we got a decently priced airbnb in Carlton. It was spacious and well equipped, and for the first time in a month we had two rooms! The downside was that it was clearly a student flat (with some of the cleaning issues derived from it!). Carlton is also the historical Italian area, and it was funny to walk around old school Italian coffee and restaurants that had that immigrant of the mid-1900 feeling to it. We did have dinner at a small old school Italian place, called Gemma, and it was actually pretty good.
We didn't eat out as much as the city wants you to because a) a toddler on tow is not exactly the easiest asset for a night out and b) Melbourne is pretty expensive and to keep in budget (there might be another post about our budget travel app developed by Peter..) we had many meals at home, accompanied by some really excellent Australian wine we bought from a local bottle shop.
We had a day trip to Phillip Island (more in the next post!), which we really enjoyed, and another day we ventured to one side of the Great Ocean Road. This doesn't make a good day trip from Melbourne, it's too far away and you really need some time to enjoy this beautiful coastal road and its beaches. Nevertheless we had a great day out because we arranged to meet up with Trish, an amazing woman that hosted me together with her family when I came as an exchange student in Australia 19 years ago! We had met again couple of times during the years, and this time I could introduce her to Tommi. It was quite special and emotional. I am very grateful for how she and the rest of the family welcomed me and made me feel at home when I was 17 and by myself on the other side of the world.
Up on the top activities, we loved walking around Fitzroy, filled with cool bars and shops. The Melbourne Museum and its surrounding park were also very pleasant to hang out and we really liked the Royal park and its fantastic playground. We missed the famous Queen Victoria Market but we had delicious dumplings at Mama Tran the South Melbourne Market.
Our last day was spent hanging out at the incredible Heide Museum of Modern Art. A beautiful place, set on a hill on the boarder of the city, the entrance to the open air arts and the garden is free. We packed a picnic and enjoyed a few chill hours of chill hours among modern art and beautiful native Australian trees, peering at the cockatoos and keeping an eye out for wild snakes.
Our visit to Melbourne was also a turning point in our trip. It marked the first month since we left and it was really the moment in which our mindset had to shift. This is not a normal trip. At this point we would be all back home, back to our jobs, nursery, runs and bike rides, yoga classes, sneaky nights out, drinks at the pub, flat whites with a newspaper and listening to a podcast or an audiobook in peace while commuting. We had to find a way to re-adjust and to deal with the lack of personal space that, let's face it, comes with travelling full-time as a family. So, not without some challenges, lull moments and a few fights, our mindsets shift slightly, we relaxed and fit ourselves into the full time travellers life.