We scored a housesitting gig through TrustedHousesitters for sixteen days in Melbourne to watch a couple fish, a cat, and two dogs. The timing was perfect because Alex has always wanted to go to the Australian Open, and surprise, the Australian Open is in January in Melbourne! Yay!
It’s amazing how easy it is to drop back into a routine. We spent our days in Melbourne much like we did in Austin, working, doing household chores, and taking breaks in the evening to grab dinner and watch something on Netflix. It felt familiar and was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of our time in Thailand.
Since our housesitting gig was in the suburbs and we actually had to, you know, take care of the pets, it was a few days before we finally made it into Melbourne proper.
The day of our first adventure we stumbled upon a fast food vegetarian place called Lord of the Fries. We were hungry so we thought, why not? It wasn’t phenomenal, but it was good enough for fast food and I appreciated that it was vegetarian. If I go again I’ll ask for the sauce on the side — they douce your fries in your sauce and it’s a bit much.
After dinner we went up to Eureka Skydeck to have a look at the city from the tallest viewpoint. It was pretty sweet —360° views of Melbourne and it happened to be clear and sunny when we went. The glass reflected something awful so I wish I had been able to take better pictures, but it was still a stellar experience.
From Eureka Skydeck we could see the ocean. It was so close! Naturally, we decided to take an impromtu trip to the beach so we could touch the water. On the tram to the beach we made a friend named Sawyer. He’s Canadian and plans to stay in Australia for a year on the working holiday visa. I’d always planned to do that too. I still have a few years before I turn thirty and lose the opportunity, so here’s hoping. Though I’d like to go somewhere further north, Melbourne is surprisingly cold in the summer.
Our next day out we stopped to check out Queen Victoria Market. Lots of shops and stalls that reminded me of the night markets in Thailand, but more expensive and expansive. We had breakfast/lunch at Q75 and I have to say their vegetarian roti is FANTASTIC! Roasted eggplant, peppers, tomato, and fresh lettuce, with whatever that sauce was…yum! I’m salivating just thinking about it.
We spent the rest of the day having a proper beach day. St. Kilda Beach was quite popular, even on a Thursday. I guess since it’s summer in Melbourne and everyone is on Christmas Holiday (the equivalent of summer break in the states) the beach is the place to be. At 92°F the direct sun was a bit much, but when there was cloud cover it was absolutely perfect. The water was chilly, much colder than I expected the ocean to be, though it wasn’t as cold as Barton Springs in Austin, TX so there’s that. I later learned the cold water comes up from Antartica. I’d never really thought about how close Australia is to Antartica, but that makes sense.
Early the next week we made it to the Australian Open! Everything I know about tennis, aside from the basics of yellow fuzzy ball, racquet and two to four players, I learned from Alex in the last two-ish years. I won’t lie, I wasn’t really looking forward to spending the whole day watching tennis, but I was excited to see Alex geek out.
Imagine my surprise then, when I actually had a really good time spending the whole day watching tennis. Apparently I’ve learned a lot in the last couple years. I was actually able to follow pretty much everything that happened.
We had seats in the main stadium during the day and again at night. We started in the stadium, moved down to open seats closer to the court and then decided to go watch some of the other games on the smaller courts outside. There were SO MANY PEOPLE at the Australian Open. It was insane! Outside every court was packed with people and had a mob of people waiting at the entrances/exits to get into any and all of the smaller matches for most of the day. That was a little bit of a bummer, because it would have been cool to see a bunch of different players. Alex was fine with it because we got to see the players he really wanted to see and as this was his day, if he was happy I was happy.
We spent ten hours at the Australian Open and by the end of the day I was exhausted. The following day I woke up feeling a little nauseous and spent most of the day napping and cuddling with the dogs.
Our final Melbourne adventure included a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria where I made a friend at one of my favorite exhibits: SmellScape Melbourne_PastPresentPast by Sissel Tolass — it had these curvy organically shaped bricks of concrete that smelled! Some were foul. Some were lovely. Some reminded me of Harry Potter (freshly mown lawn). Manure, farm animals, cotton candy, cedar, pine, smoke, fires, you name it, I probably smelled it. Scent as art what a unique and fascinating concept.
Another exhibit I loved was Flower Obsession by Yayoi Kusama it was based on a dream she had:
‘One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows, and the columns seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern. I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant my soul was obliterated … This was not an illusion but reality itself’.
This one was also an interactive exhibit. Upon entering the space, they gave you a red flower sticker which you were encouraged to paste somewhere in the room to help bring Kusama’s dream to life. It was surreal. So many stickers all over the room, in every imaginable place. I couldn’t help but think about all the people who had been there before me and wonder what the room looked like when they were there. Awe-inspiring.
After the National Gallery Victoria we wandered around Melbourne passing by St. Paul’s Cathedral and Block Arcade. I sampled some chocolate from Haigh’s Chocolates. We discovered Grill’d Healthy Burgers for dinner which was a solid choice as the food was quite tasty. Extra shout-out to Grill’d Healthy Burgers for giving back to their community and supporting different charities every month.
The next morning we said goodbye to our pet friends and headed to Canberra to meet up with an old friend of Alex’s.