Wednesday – September 7th
After getting breakfast at my hostel, I made my way into the CBD to check out the Royal Arcade. To be honest I was a little disappointed. Though it was featured in the guidebook I’d browsed shortly after booking the trip, there wasn’t much to see.
I then made my way down to Centre Place. This is one of many laneways in Melbourne. However, what makes this one special are the tiny restaurants that line both sides. It’s hard to capture in photos but it feel very packed and crowded in a good way. It reminded me of the scene in Blade Runner when Deckard is getting food at an Asian restaurant. That whole movie feels like the city is filled with activity and people. All I’m getting at is that this felt the same way. Looking at the restaurants and what people were eating, I made the decision that I would go there for breakfast the next day.
After I finished exploring, I made my way to the Arts Centre Melbourne. There I had an 11am tour booked the day previous. The group met in the lobby, a young (probably my age) couple and three older women. The tour essentially took us through the three theatre’s housed there, the State, the Playhouse, and the Fairfax.
Arts Centre Melbourne
The tour told us about the types of shows that they host there, the history of the architecture and interior design and told us some the back end mechanics of how the shows are put on.
After the tour was over, we were able to use our ticket to get a free (we had essentially already paid for it buy buying a ticket) muffin and either coffee or tea. When we got there, the young couple bailed so it was just me that the three older ladies.
Two of them were there together and got a seat at the cafe. The third, the oldest was there on her own and asked if she could join them. They obliged without hesitation. I however, held back, deciding what to do. As they sat, three people at a four person table, I asked if they wouldn’t mind me joining them (what else was I gonna do, eat alone). They quickly waved me over and pulled out a chair for me.
They were all lovely and we chatted about where we were from (they were all Aussies) and they were asking me about my trip. They asked about work and I found myself being an off duty Product Specialist. Then they gave me recommendations of things to do and see. When we were finishing up, I started wrapping up my muffin and putting it in my backpack. They quickly went into mom mode and offered me their leftovers as well.
Sidenote: talk about fitting in as an old lady, they all got cafe olé and I was the one who got tea… not them! Also, there was this cool domino video playing in the lobby.
NGV as see from the Arts Centre Melbourne
Afterwards we parted ways and I made my way over to the National Gallery of Victoria which is literally next door. In the lobby there were two cool displays, a crushed VW Beetle (pictured below) and this weird interactive mirror installation.
For the most part however, the rest of the exhibits weren’t that interesting to me. The museum was quite nice and an art piece in itself, but the subject matter and era of the artworks and artifacts were just not of my interest.
The first piece you see upon entering the NGV, a crushed VW Beetle
There were two other things that stood out. One was the room called Everyday Devine by Subodh Gupta who took everyday objects and bronzed or metal-ized them to turn them into shrines. He also did things like simply displaying them is ways that are different from how they are usually presented. That was cool and that I really liked.
The other thing I enjoyed was the room that had artwork from maybe the 20s to the 40s. I’m not 100% sure but it was modern enough that I was able to find it interesting. There were also these DaDa-ist [may be wrong art style] films that were really interesting and so far ahead of their time which I enjoyed.
A piece from the Everyday Devine exhibit
Following the NGV, I crossed the street to the center to wait for a train to take me to my next stop. Unfortunately, because most of the trains are light rail, the street stops rarely if ever have Myki (tap card) dispensers. This meant I had to walk back to the Flinders Street Station to get one.
Upon getting there, however, I was unable to figure out how to use the ticket vending machine. Meanwhile, people who knew what they were doing kept queuing up behind me. Eventually one, who could see I was struggling, pointed me in the direction of customer service so I could a) get a card (the machines don’t actually vend them like in Boston, you have to buy them separately) and b) to not only put money on it, but figure out how much was appropriate.
Luna Park – Melbourne
The woman who helped me was very knowledgable and from there I was finally ready to embark on my trip. I crossed to the center and seven minutes later my 67 train arrived. It took me south all the way down to the beach, and to Luna Park.
St Kilda Beach
I knew the park would be closed, but it is essentially the Coney Island of Australia so I needed to at least “pay my respects.” I then made my way down to the beach where I put my hands in the water (I only had shoes so I didn’t want to get my feet wet) just to say I did it. Then, after hanging around for a bit, I walked back to the train stop.
The 16 train I was waiting for seemed to take forever (at least 20 minutes) but eventually it did come and it brought me back to Queen Victoria Gardens where I took a pleasant stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens. There were a handful of things I wanted to specially see but two that stood out.
The first one I went to was the Fern Gully. Being a fan of the cartoon as a kid, I had to know what it was like to actually walk through a real one. It was actually really cool. There was this metal elevated foot path that carved through this little forrest and over small streams. It felt like you were in the jungle; very peaceful, very beautiful.
Next, with time running out (the park closed at 6 and it was 5:30-ish), I made my way to Guilfoyle’s Volcano. With a name like this, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it wouldn’t be an actual volcano but what would it be. As it turned out, it was this hill that had all of these flowers and plants on it. There was a wooden spiral footpath that led to the top at which there was a pond in lieu of lava.
The top of Guilfoyle’s Volcano
After that I exited the garden and started to make my way back to the city. I was going to walk and normally could have but my feet were so tired that I had to take the train. I got off a few stops later at Fed Sq. There, under the advice of the three older women, I visited the tourist centre which had tons of brochures for tours and sites in the city.
After grabbing a few things, I walked over to the bar where I was set to meet up with Tom (whom you may remember from MttS). On the way over, I saw this group of four girls standing and watching a vid that was playing in the square. It was of a bunch of hi wheelers and so I told them I that I actually owned a penny farthing myself. In hindsight I should have invited them for drinks, but I was there to see Tom so I didn’t want to fuck with that.
I arrived a little early but after ordering and sitting for a bit, he showed up. It was great to see him. He’d been living in Australia for almost a year and it was great to catch up. After a bit of chatter and finishing our respective drinks we grabbed the train and headed north to Fitzroy.
He had a bar he wanted to show me and I had one I wanted to show him. Along the way we walked through the Carlton Gardens and past the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum.
Our first stop was a dive bar called Catfish where we had drinks and wings and sat on the patio out back. After finishing all that, we went to our next and final bar, my choice, Naked for Satan. (Sidenote: on the way out there was a band playing in the main bar area. It was pretty cool and normally I might have stayed but I wanted to hit the next spot and so we both silently agreed to just leave).
Tom and I on the rooftop of Naked for Satan
While heading to the next bar, we stopped at a Korean market so Tom could buy a bottle of this Korean booze he likes. Eventually we got to NFS. The bar was really cool, dark red vibes with a hipster-y/dive-y feel. However, the reason I wanted to check it out was because it had a rooftop deck.
We found a seat sort of far from the edge but shortly a better location opened up and we swooped in to grab it. We chatted and drank and enjoyed the skyline. Before leaving we had a fellow patron take a pic of us.
Afterwards we made our way back to the train and took it through the “Free Tram Zone” to Southern Cross station where we parted ways. Tom took a train back to West Melbourne and I walked back to my hostel and went to bed.