While you all back home were celebrating Super Bowl 50, Helen and I were saying goodbye to Sydney for the last time. Before our trip I'd been worried we'd budgeted too much time in the biggest city, but by the time we left it felt all too short. I loved every minute we'd spent between the mountains with Reece and the beaches with Kristen, and even though we'd seen at least a little of everything, I still felt like I wanted more; the city had captured my heart.
Saying goodbye to Kristen that Monday morning was heartbreaking - not knowing the next time I'd be able to enjoy her company. We both agreed that six years was far too long, and hopefully these next few years will allow us more adventures across the globe together.
We returned to Sydney International Airport at 9am Monday morning, and checked in for our flight to Melbourne easily. Both Helen and I were worried my bag would be a bit heavy, but the JetStar staff checked it without saying anything (success!), so we boarded our flight without much issue other than it being crazy delayed. That flight was easily the most annoying flight I've ever been on: crying babies, a miscommunication about two Chinese customers with nearly identical names who were assigned the same seat, rigid chairs with flimsy backs, and even more delays on the Tarmac. Once we got going, takeoff and touchdown went off easily, and the Broncos were up at halftime when we landed in Victoria, so I quickly got over it. We took the skybus from the airport into the CBD ("central business district" - the preferred local term for a city's downtown) and by the time we arrived at our hostel the Broncos had won, and I was somewhere new to explore - I couldn't stop smiling ear to ear.
I'd never stayed at a hostel before, and our experience at Green Backpackers Melbourne was a great first time. Check-in was easy and our roommates were kind and quiet. Upon arrival we dropped off our luggage, changed clothes, grabbed sushi from a place on the corner that completely satisfied my week-long sushi cravings, and began to explore the city and some of its famous street art laneways. We wandered for a few hours and got lost in an AWESOME Target (now proven to be my favorite place in the world) before heading back to the hostel, dropping off gear, and heading for dinner at Mrs. Parma's - a place Reece had recommended. On our way we stumbled across some amazing Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations including lion dancers being filmed for Master Chef Australia, and watched for a bit before dinner. The food was awesome and Helen tried a super yummy local cider alongside our parmesans for dinner. We tried to watch "The Blues Brothers" on the hostels rooftop, but I kept falling asleep the entire time and couldn't wait to get to bed.
Day two, we made friends with one of our South Korean roommates named Seong Hun and he joined us for our adventures around the city. We started the day in the Fitzroy neighborhood looking for more street art, and stopped for lunch a quiet local cafe on the Main Street. After lunch, we walked back to the Old Melbourne Gaol (Irish spelling for "jail") and did "The Watchmen Experience" where a guard processes you as though you've been arrested. I was assigned the character Sammi Sun who'd been arrested for "resisting arrest", and was shown the padded cell among other features of the 100+ year old jail by our hilarious and snarky Sergeant. We kept exploring for a bit, learned about some crazy criminals from the 20th century, and then headed back to the hostel for some down time before our evening adventures.
We started our evening wandering the beautiful city gardens alongside the river for awhile, and then headed to a bar recommended by Kristen and her friend Katheriene Nelson called The Ponyfish, which was built under one of the river's bridges and is actually set down right atop the water. We got some nice drinks as the sun set, and then headed a block over to The Edge - the Melbourne city skydeck. I spent an hour or so drooling over the beautiful cityscapes (my favorites) and took insane amounts of photos during the golden hour and sunset while Helen patiently waited for me to get my fill.
Once we were done there, we stopped at a restaurant on the river and ate a variety of appetizers for dinner before heading home and packing for our bus trip from Melbourne down along The Great Ocean road through the Grampian Mountain Range, with a final destination of Adelaide. While it felt super speedy, I think 2 days in Melbourne was the perfect amount of time for the city. We saw the basics, and were able fill our days, but not so much that we couldn't enjoy the moment. The city was much more "metropolis" feeling than Sydney in my opinion, but it's architecture and hidden alleyways filled with restaurants looked more like Europe than Australia. A neat change of pace, I'm happy to have seen another one of Oz's major cities, feeling the differences from state to state across the country.
Check out a few more photos from our time in Melbourne below: