Guest Post: To Melbourne, With Love

Amanda from Apples and Green is yet another lovely Aussie living abroad in London-town. I was lucky enough to steal her away for a pizza a few weeks ago, and she's just as sweet in person as she is on her blog. Plus, her crafting genius makes me want to go and learn to sew, right this very minute, ohmygoodness.

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Hello friends! Amanda from Apples and Green joining you today. I'm thrilled that Aly asked me to fill in while she's off on her epic trip. I wonder where she is this week? So while Aly is off rediscovering cities and countries she's had the chance to fall in love with before, along with some brand new ones, I thought I'd share with you the time Melbourne stole my heart.

I'm a West Australian girl. I grew up on the south coast, then spent about 7 years living in Perth for university, and later, work. We didn't travel much as kids- save one trip to the Top End and the Kimberley when I was 15, the furthest we ever got from home was Perth, or at a stretch, Cervantes. Typical holidays involved camping or staying with relatives, and while they were fun, it left much of the world to be discovered.
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When I first visited Melbourne, I'd been to London and some of the other UK cities as part of my study abroad semester in Bristol, along with a short and less than impressive trip to Sydney (sorry Aly!) in 2005. I decided to spend 4 days in Melbourne in February 2007, almost spur of the moment- I booked my ticket less than 2 weeks before the flight. By the magic of the Internet (I could wax lyrical for hours about the power of blogging), I had a friend to stay with, as well as many friends to meet for the first time. One Friday night after work, I raced to the airport and caught the first of my many flights to Melbourne.

Right from the moment I arrived, Melbourne felt right. Have you ever had that feeling that everything about a place just fits with who you are? That's how I felt in Melbourne- possibly magnified. It was like nothing else I've experienced, either before or since.
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I saw so much while I was there, but I didn't feel like I had to see it all. I knew it was the first of many visits- there would be chances to see more later on.Everything about Melbourne captures the attention- the alleys in the middle of the city, so easy to get lost in. The arts culture. The sport (as a huge AFL fan, my tour of the MCG was an almost religious experience). The food, the coffee, the shopping, the comparatively affordable real estate.
I covered a lot of ground that first trip- walking in the Dandenong Ranges, meals in St Kilda, the St Kilda festival (Regurgitator, The Audreys and Blue King Brown, free, along with killer sunburn-- reapply that sunscreen regularly, kids!), wandering around the city, rides on trams, tour of the MCG. Everyone in Melbourne (unlike my terrible time in Sydney) was friendly- and I mean everyone. It was simply the most wonderful time. Sure, in part some of that can be attributed to the hospitality of my friends while I was there. But some of it was just Melbourne.
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It's sometimes said (excuse the language) that Melbourne is the lady, while Sydney is the whore. Sydney flashes itself around- it's impressive opera house, bridge, beaches and harbour. Melbourne on the other hand is more reserved, some of it's most unique and beautiful parts are hidden away, and even once you find it, you might find it difficult to find again. Melbourne spoke to me in a way no other city had before, or since- it didn't feel like visiting a new city, it just felt like home.

There were tears when it came time to leave that Tuesday afternoon, returning to a job that bored 
me on the other side of the country. I very nearly turned around and went straight back the idea 
of moving to Melbourne was all encompassing. In the end though, I stayed in Perth, and made 
Melbourne a regular weekend trip. That year, I visited three times, and I went back again last year 
while I was in Australia. I'm already planning how to fit regular visits in once we move back to 
Australia in the next couple of years. Some of my closest friends live in Melbourne, and I couldn't 
bear to not see them more than once every couple of years. Perth and Western Australia are home, 
but Melbourne will always come in a close second- London is just borrowing me for now.

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How about you? Any cities- or countries- that grabbed you and wouldn't let go?

Pictures: 1. Flinders St Station; 2. Federation Square; 3. Melbourne Central; 4. Federation Square; 5. Max Brenner's.
Picture credit: All photos my own

3 Comments • Labels:  


Anonymous said...

You have capured the essence of Lady Melbourne well...I feel blessed to call it home! :)

Cinders said...

Well written Amanda and I'm pretty sure I can call myself one of your new friends that you met on that 2007 trip :)

Amanda said...

Cinders-- for sure!

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