A few days late*, but here's my catch-up on Melbourne... In the end, I hadn't been to Melbs in about four years. A few of us did a weekend for Tola's birthday back when we were twenty-somethings, and since then it's jut been overseas or home to Adelaide for me. I love Melbourne, love the epic bit of culture and amazingness it cultivates so naturally and easily. It feels to me halfway between Adelaide and Sydney in every sense of the description - geographically of course, but it has some of the authentic, relaxed charm of Adelaide (by which I mean girls wearing woolly knits and Birkenstocks because it is warm and comfortable, not because it is fashionable), with all the big city-ness of Sydney (one round of drinks at uber-hip Go Go bar was enough to see that). There is an enormously strong sense of community and making stuff happen in Melbourne, which I sometimes find too far between in Sydney, with all the Westfields and Merivales. The weather is nothing special, but the bike lanes and wide streets and tram lines make the town comforting and wholly liveable. It feels like people know what is important - being good coffee, good food, good drinks, and good stuff.
My time there kind of flew, just a day or two really, and I'd love to get back again soon to explore a little deeper. But I managed a pretty wonderful time of it, landing early Friday and flying home mid-Sunday. My sister didn't arrive till late Friday night, so I spent my day in and around town - shopping a little, but mostly reading. I got a hot tip from the girls at Incu to try Manchester Press for lunch which was perfect for a crispy bagel with pulled-pork and slaw and a honey cola in a quiet corner from the lunchtime rush. And because my book was so damn good and it was a day off, I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking lattes and sampling the baked goods at Brothers (see above), and when it got all too much, walked myself up to the highly recommended City Wine Shop. If there's a nicer place to sit at the bar and taste riesling and chardonnay and read your book in that town, I wouldn't believe you. You know that feeling when you are travelling and you think you're in the exact right place, that you're not settling and getting-by, but just where you'd like to be even if you knew all of the places? My Friday in Melbourne was just like that. I can get moody when I'm out of town and can't get a good latte, or suspect there's a better bar a few streets away if only I'd done better research (which is why I'm always writing notes to myself in my phone when I come across something - like, 'x is a really great Vietnamese restaurant in Austin, Texas', or 'so and so is a bar in Shoreditch that would be good for a night out'). But sitting at the City Wine Shop last Friday, just after five, eating a big bowl of gnocchi (the perfect eating by yourself and casually reading / still drinking because I-only-need-a-fork kind of meal) was all that I needed in the world. By the time I wandered back to our hotel, had a shower, ate some biscuits and watched a little Miss Marple on telly in crisp hotel sheets, my sister arrived and we laughed a lot then fell right asleep. A perfect day in all.
Saturday we had breakfast at Cumulus, which I'd been wanting to try (lovely windows, lovely crumpets), then headed out to Fitzroy to explore and browse and all the usual things. My friend Ree was driving up from the coast with her hubby, and we met them and their kiddos Finn and Evie for lunch at the Little Creatures Dining Hall. It had just started raining and they had comfortable booth tables and it was all too easy and, again, just right. I had two pots of IPA and a big bowl of mussels and then ate most of Finn's hot chips with all of the mayo and still managed to charm his socks off (he's a shy 4 year old, so this was quite the victory). After Ben headed home with the smalls, I talked Kate and Ree into running up to Brunswick to All Day Donuts before they closed (so, you know, not quite all day). If the pictures below haven't made it clear, this place was heaven to me. I was so in love with what they do - simple, amazingly good donuts and a little coffee and no need for much else. This place was unpretentious and totally killing it, which is everything I like about Melbourne - well done, friends.There were other things, drinks and dinner and lots of giggles, but the highlight was really the catch-ups. It's wonderful to spend time with my sister without her smalls (who I obsess over and dote on and usually ignore her for). Nice to see her have five minutes to herself, a new Gorman skirt and a good night's sleep too.
* Not as late as my lighthouse catch-up post will likely be, if I even ever get to finding my camera and sorting through the hundred-odd pictures of grey sunsets - all of them moody and under-exposed.