Friday morning, boarding my flight to Melbourne, I had no expectations. All I knew was that Melbourne was a “must see” city in Australia. I was clueless that I was about to spend my weekend in the “Culture Capital” of this country. Riding shotgun (on the left side) from the airport to our accommodation in the central business district, I was in awe. The city seemed huge and I was scared I was going to feel so small!
We fueled up on brunch and set out on the streets to explore. We didn’t make it a block before turning on an alley that was bustling with business. People were grabbing coffees in cafes while women were sitting outside, sipping wine with their lunches. Everyone was chatting yet it didn’t seem loud. Turning the next corner, shops lined the streets. I was in love! I got lost in the most gorgeous H&M - the shop stood three stories tall with an enchanting, Victorian exterior. We shopped till we dropped and decided to have lunch where we each received a free glass of wine!
The evening was spent bouncing from bar to bar. I met locals who elaborated on the culture and customs of their city. They explained their balance between life and work and we took turns giving our best impersonations of each others accents. We snacked on scrumptious calamari and sipped cocktails from a rooftop view of the city. Saturday was a wonderful day because it was beach day! We spent the day laying out and enjoying the calm waves at Brighton Beach before exploring the Brighton Beach Bath houses. The 82 colorful bathing boxes are definitely a "must see" if you're in the area.
Sunday morning we started our thirteen hour drive down the the Great Ocean Road which began with a tasting of Vegemite - verdict: it’s GROSS! We stopped to count koalas and feed Australia’s native parrots while taking a short river walk. A quick break at Apollo Bay for lunch and the famous Dooley’s ice cream (I got a mix of chocolate and hazelnut praline, yummy!) We then wandered our way through the tallest eucalyptus trees in the Otway Rainforest before continuing through Port Campbell National Park. We heard the tragic tales of the Shipwreck Coast while walking along the beach, surrounded by towering cliffs at Lord Arch Gorge. Our trip ended at the Twelve Apostles. Seeing the great height of limestone cliffs right off the shore made me feel so small.
Not only did I need this girls trip but I needed this new perspective of the city. During my weekend spent hitting up hipster hotspots for brunch, admiring the art, architecture, and alleys lit up by late night clubs and rooftop bars, and exploring the culture and natural creations by the coast, my love for Melbourne grew stronger than the coffee they brew.