I recently returned from a last minute trip to Melbourne, Australia. I went to visit my grandfather, who is very ill – to say hello and good-bye to him for the last time. As I’m typing this, we don’t know how much longer he has to live. Although the circumstances of me going to Melbourne is not the best, I tried to make the most of the situation. It’s not often that we get to say good bye to someone knowing that we will never see them again but it’s not often that I get to reunite with my mom’s family, especially my cousins, in real life either. Sometimes it takes something life changing to bring family together. It was a bittersweet trip but one I will cherish for the rest of my life.
While in Melbourne, I spent a lot of time with my younger cousins (who are half my age). They wanted to show me their Melbourne. I wanted to make sure that this trip was not a vacation but as a way to bond and spend time with family that I hardly get to see. We found that the best way to bond was through a few colorful adventures and our love of eating.
I’ve been to Melbourne on vacation a few times before but never saw the city quite the same way I did this last time. Maybe because it’s my love of photography, street art, and bright colors that changed my outlook of Melbourne or maybe it was just the circumstances that I had to be there that opened my eyes even wider to this wonderful city. Whatever the case, I can honestly say that Melbourne is one of my favorite cities to explore. A week is not enough.
Although I didn’t spend the whole week exploring or being out and about, I managed to see some places that I highly recommend to anyone visiting this wonderful city. And might I add, the weather in January was just perfect. A total 180 from the weather in Chicago right now.
BRIGHTON BEACH BATHING BOXES
My cousins thought I was crazy to want to go to Brighton Beach to take pictures instead of swimming in the ocean. The main reason I wanted to go was to take pictures and see these bathing boxes in real life. There is so much historical significance to these boxes as they are almost 100 years old. I was filled with excitement when we got there. I mean, how could you not? Each box was unique with its color and charm. I took so many pictures that I didn’t want to leave. I think I got my cousins excited and happy to snap photos with me. Brighton Beach is not far from central Melbourne. The best time to go for pictures is before noon as it does get crowded. If it is crowded, I would recommend taking pictures of the back of the boxes. They are just as colorful. Be sure to wear sunscreen. I made the mistake of not doing so and got badly burned. But…it was worth it!
STREET ART – HOSIER LANE
It is graffiti or is it street art? It depends on how much you appreciate it. I call it street art. And Melbourne is full of it. In almost every neighborhood. I almost couldn’t focus. You can walk down alleys and streets in certain neighborhoods and the street art would not end. I finally had to put the camera down to just admire the street art everywhere. If you’re in the central business district of Melbourne, be sure to visit Hosier Lane. Trust me, the alley does not smell like trash. It was actually pleasant. I happened to wander here after dinner one night. It was getting dark but I managed to capture a few pictures.
ICE CREAM – N2 EXTREME GELATO
My cousins took me to N2 Extreme Gelato to experience and taste ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. I was told ice cream is the rage in Melbourne right now. Maybe because it’s summertime? Or maybe the people of Melbourne are just all smart because I love ice cream! It was very crowded in the shop when we got there so I wasn’t able to take a lot of photos. But we did manage to order a few items. I got the “Kat on Krack” which has the crunchiness of Kit Kat and comes with a syringe of chocolate that you can infuse into it. I’m terrible at describing things but I hope the picture below helps.
Another ice cream place that we visited in evening was Gelato Messina. Oh boy, I wanted to order all the flavor combinations there but my two favorites were coconut lychee and salted caramel mango coconut. Messina has three locations in Melbourne so hopefully you will be able to stop by one and taste the deliciousness.
OUTDOOR EATING – WELCOME TO THORNBURY
Knowing locals wherever you go is a huge bonus. I’m not sure I would have ever known about this place if it wasn’t for my cousin. I’m a sucker for outdoor dining of any sort because it’s so limited in Chicago with the short summers. If I lived in Melbourne, I am pretty sure I would be a regular at Welcome to Thornbury. Located in the Thornbury neighborhood (or suburb?) of Melbourne, it felt somewhat like Logan Square and Wicker Park of Chicago. It’s like an outdoor bar with food trucks (on rotation) serving food. How perfect is that? Needless to say, I went here twice when I was in Melbourne because I enjoyed the laid back atmosphere.
ARCHITECTURE – STATE LIBRARY VICTORIA
I must admit, I’ve walked by the State Library Victoria several times during my past visits to Melbourne but it wasn’t until I discovered it on a few Instagram photos that I wanted to see it in person. The interior of this library is simply amazing! The library is open to everyone and doesn’t cost anything! It has several different rooms but the dome room is my favorite. There are parts of the library that are like a museum with so much to see like very, very old books. It’s a definite must when you are in Melbourne!
Last but not least, I would have to say seeing all the different neighborhoods was such a fun highlight. I cannot name them all and honestly, I didn’t know the names of the neighborhoods when I was actually there. But Melbourne reminds me of Chicago in a sense because as you enter a neighborhood, there is so much to explore from architecture to street art to the diverse ethnic restaurants from all over the world.