In Which Melbourne Sweeps Me Off My Feet

Tomorrow morning I head off for the Great Ocean Road, leaving Melbourne, I fear, far too soon. At the outset, the Great Ocean Road(trip) had been the main attraction for me on our Australia itinerary; Sydney and Melbourne and Perth were just fun, must-do stops along the way to Asia. And, to an extent, that ended up being true for Sydney. The city was absolutely stunning, and I spent my final day there wandering the streets by myself, reading in the Royal Botanical Gardens and forcing my blistered feet across the Harbour Bridge, ambling around the business district and following the office workers to the kind of lunch spots I still miss from my days of 9-5 in Midtown East.

Typical Sydney streetscape

When we left Sydney, I knew I’d be back, but I couldn’t say exactly why. Maybe because it felt as vibrant as New York but somehow shiny and new, or because I knew there were still outlying little beach towns and hidden alleyways I had yet to discover. Or perhaps just because Sydney felt so untamed and unrelentingly Aussie below the surface, all manner of hockey-stick-necked birds and crazy-huge spiders popping up just as I was settling in to eat a salad amid the skyscrapers.

The head of a turkey, the body of a duck, and a name I won’t even try to guess.

The picture of this spider is about 1/3 actual size. This thing’s web was probably 4 feet tall. It was just hanging out in the Royal Botanical Gardens. You know, no big.

Whatever the reasons, it felt purely matter-of-fact that I’d like to go to Sydney again – it was almost just a logical conclusion.

Federation Square, Melbourne

But Melbourne – Melbourne seems to have gotten its claws in me in a different way, and one that it’s hard to explain. As soon as we started off from our hostel Wednesday afternoon (in search of, not so poetically, a travel clinic where I could continue the Hep B shots I’m getting for Asia), I felt there was something special about this place. It didn’t take me long to realize the city’s almost an amalgam of so many other cities I love; really it’s no wonder I was instantly and almost achingly smitten from the moment we got here.

I felt as if I could love this city one day; as if I wanted to walk its streets every morning and know its tramway system by heart, and fill my wardrobe with the chic little wool coats and slouchy scarves the women here wear because they think 65 degrees is cold. I wanted to conclude, after painstaking nights of research, which of the two competing French fry shops next door to each other was better, and learn what the big deal was about cricket, anyway. I wanted to have a favorite bar and a favorite café and a knowing rapport with the cashiers at the foreign-language bookstore.

Let’s just say, I’d wanted see again Sydney after a few days because it’s attractive, amusing, and good on paper. But I wanted to elope with Melbourne after our first date and have about 15 of its well-dressed, artistically inclined babies.

After all, this city is one part Paris…

True story: the girl on the right? We met her traveling in New Zealand. She lives in Melbourne and I just ran into her on the street half an hour after arriving here. Backpackers are a smaller community than you’d think.

OK, maybe two parts Paris…

Sorta like the Seine… n’est-ce pas?

one part New York…

Turns out I do miss skyscrapers… in moderation.

and ever so slightly San Francisco…

I mean, come on.

when it’s not busy being Seattle…

Like Seattle’s EMP – without the light shows. As far as I know.

or London…

It took me a minute to realize I was not about to hop on the chunnel here.

or even Wellington.

Some sculpture making silver figures for bridges must be making a killing in Oceania.

While remaining, at the end of the day, a great place to just relax and have a drink…

Ponyfish island, an actual floating bar beneath a bridge on the Yarra River.

often in the sunshine. Because, though it’s incredibly easy to forget here, you’re still in Australia.

Yes, there is another version of this picture in which I’m posed like a kangaroo. And a third version in which I’m hopping like a kangaroo. Obviously.

The rest of which, I’m sad but still excited to remind myself now, I’m off to explore tomorrow.

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8 thoughts on “In Which Melbourne Sweeps Me Off My Feet

  1. Melbourne looks glorious. I believe the name of the turkey/duck bird is ibis; there are lots of them in Sydney as well.

  2. what a great post!!! it looks gorgeous there! I can see why you are in love. miss you lots! safe and happy travels! xo

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