To say I’ve rewritten this narrative a couple times is an understatement. Some days I sit and hope the words come to me. Some days I forget this space exists. Some days I close my eyes and try to squeeze ten inconsequential sentences out and they end up sitting in my drafts for the next 2 eternities.
Turning on flight mode and a good glass of red helps with the words, and at this point, I am not opposed to trying anything to make the alphabets line up. So many things to say yet so little words make sense. That’s the essence of how being in Melbourne, Australia feels like to me. I’ve been in love for ten years, with this city. And to say good bye to this teenage dream, is almost bittersweet.
I could have planned every detail of my goodbye, but that’s not really my style. I left it open, with some part of me wanting to be surprisingly swayed. As the story goes, I gave the object city of my affection, one last hurrah.
Smells of the grass in spring, with a tinge of pollen and the potential of one too many sneezes welcomed me. I chose to take the bus /train, in favor of the long scenic route. I will always choose that, predictably, and when I can’t possibly be late.
Stepping through the airport and on board a plane feels weirdly like a homecoming. Equal parts comforting and strangely tingly – I have missed this feeling. As you merely become the name on your ticket, whoever that might be. Thousands of metres between you and the ground, food tastes weird, people are even weirder. And at any one moment in time, nobody but the plane staff knows exactly where you are (or maybe not)…and that is almost oddly comforting
A bus and a train ride (I love train rides!) later, central Melbourne awaits. The city where I’ve sought to live in and out of for the last decade felt different. Wait, what? Is this the epitome of expectations only breeds’ disappointments? The eternally positive side of my psyche chose not to let five seconds of feelings set the stage for the next week.
The air wafts of familiarity, my feet take me in directions I already know, but my heart in on a whole new feeling train I did not understand. I could not pinpoint what, but the city felt different.
When was I here last – 2013? 2014? I can’t remember. Unlike the first time, in 2009, that memory was clear as day. But now, 10 years later, 10 years wiser? Was this the proverbial essence of time? Was it someone else’s dream city now instead of mine?
Determined not to pass any judgement before the week was up, there was plenty of time to do that with the hours of anonymity I had awaiting me on the flight back.
If you came here for a list of Melbourne recommendations, the next three paragraphs are for you. If you’re here for a list of other reasons why there hasn’t seem to be updates on this enviable travel life around the world, they will be just a second behind.
I don’t plan for much on my travels, but when in Melbourne, I will plan on brunch (and coffee). Not so much as an afterthought but rather as an intended mission. With a week’s allowance, and 2 hits of caffeine a day, there wasn’t time to consider any potential caffeine intolerance. From long standing favorites and perpetual wait lines at Hardware Societe, to the unequivocal forever favourite of a Brother Baba Budan coffee, to which I will say yes to even after the proverbial 2 coffees a day rule I have here. Or the slightly-out-of-the-way-but-can’t-be-considered-hidden-gem-anymore – Seven Seeds. Then there are newer haunts like fancy-schmancy bagels from Manchester Press or the ridiculously fragrant (and often sold out) croissants from Lune Croissanterie, the long snaking lines of Pidapipo ice cream. Not forgetting those cafes which just trigger yesteryear memories for me. Operator 25’s steel metal benches and close proximity to Carlton gardens or the lemon tart and milkshake bomb from Babka cafe on Fitzroy. I can’t mention these places without a hint of a curling grin forming.
Smashed avocadoes with runny eggs on toast – now if that is not the foodie signature of this city, I don’t know what is. Followed by the constant chatter about the weather, which is second to none. I guess Melbourne is just one of those places where weather chatter isn’t just a mundane muscle memory conversation opener.
Then there are perennial favourites that I never seem to tire of, like DOC, with their amazing pizza. The countless takeaway sushi rolls that I’ve inhaled over my many visits to the city. The endless parks and lawns I’ve spent time on. The graffiti (and now selfie stick/tripod) filled Hosier lane and ever busy iconic Flinders street station. From Luna Park to the banks of the Yarra River, to the once eclectic Fitzroy and my favourite craft store Zetta Florence, to Brunswick and all the cafes that will come with it. I’ve walked, biked, bus-sed, tram-ed, driven through it all. And while I know I’ve harbored a ten year love affair with the city, I’m finally ready to let it go. Maybe in another life, another time, another place, we will be reacquainted. But for now, I’m ready to find a new love.
Perhaps this is the closing chapter of just another wandering heart, searching for the next grand love that will make me drop everything for.
Far out, Melbourne, far out..
Special thanks to Team Leasany for the Insta360 Onetravel rental camera attachment which allowed me to not pull out my camera on the street every ten minutes like another tourist for the pictures in this post. I also love supporting local start ups like them, trying to make the travel industry cooler with every . Renting photography gear without dropping hundreds to get a cool shot on this one holiday. Maybe I’ll try out a drone next (;