Ah Melbourne, a hub of sport, style and culture or, how it will be remembered in my brain – the city that got away.
I’d been so looking forward to spending some time in this buzzing metropolis with my backpacker friend Laura and was buoyed up by the many tips on places to go and things to see that I’d been given. It had started so well, too.
We’d met up at Southern Cross bus station as I’d taken a short flight from Sydney to Melbourne (I travelled with JetStar who offer a small discount on shuttle bus tickets from Melbs to the city centre, FYI). Laura was stood waiting for me with a hand-made welcome sign that was just too cute and a big grin that mirrored my own. After a long squishy hug, I pulled back and looked her up and down, ‘Why are you dressed for Winter?’ I asked.
‘You’ll see,’ she said.
I soon realised that her many layers, padded gilet and knitted scarf weren’t some joke that I didn’t quite get. As the UK baked in a sudden heatwave I was on the other side of the world freezing. The weather was so miserable I actually had to go and buy a woolly bobble hat, yup buying thermals in Australia wasn’t something I’d ever imagined doing.
Instead of that famous Auzzie sun or at least cool but bright Autumnal days that I’d expected, we were greeted with grey heavy clouds, drizzling rain and a biting wind that blew you down the street. As we huddled to stay warm and braved the elements it was clear to see that apparently I was the only one who’d not paid any attention to the weather reports, as everyone else was wrapped up in their winter coats. Lucky snuggly sods.
The first night in Melbourne we’d wandered down the Southbank area and I felt like I could have been strolling along the South Bank in London, as fancy brasseries lined wide clean pavements hugging the swollen grey river. We settled down with a large pizza served with a good dollop of people watching as stylish runners, dog-walkers, and well-dressed business people made their way past, and a side order of long lost friends catching up.
The following morning when we should have been out in the city, riding the free trams and making our way to St Kilda ( a place that lots of lovely twitter folk had recommended to me), I was instead tucked up and feeling very sorry for myself because of this.
I eventually managed to drag my weary bones off the hostel sofa and back out into the city to taste my first Pie Face. Being a northern lass pie, mash, mushy peas and gravy was right up my street and actually with this serving of comfort food (perfect for the cold weather) I did perk up a little. By a little, I mean I managed to stay awake until 10pm, before I worried that if I blinked for too long I’d drop to the pavement and start ugly snoring.
Apart from getting to hang out with Laura and some cool backpackers, the other highlight of our short stay had to be the YHA hostel we’d booked into. The staff were the friendliest that I’d ever met in a city hostel, the place itself was modern, clean and amazingly the welcoming atmosphere managed to take my mind off me feeling sorry for myself, well. slightly at least.
The next morning we were up and thankfully feeling tons better, ready to hit the road and began our Great Ocean Road trip. I don’t know if it was the cold shoulder welcome I’d received by the Weather Gods or the nauseous brain zapping fug of jet lag but Melbourne and I just didn’t get off on the right foot. As Laura pulled out of the car hire place in our snazzy red Nissan Micra, I said goodbye to the city that I didn’t get to properly meet and silently promised that I’d be back to try again one day.
This just goes to show that (even for a travel blogger) things don’t always work out the way you’d hope. Travel is sometimes like this. You may expect sunny skies, to feel 100% fighting fit ready to explore and have luck on your side but other times you just want to curl up with a stodgy pie and ride it out. I am sad I didn’t get to fully discover this city but then I also knew that I had to listen to my body and know when to take it easy. Travelling is meant to be fun after all, and forcing myself to traipse around when I felt so bleurgh would have made my opinion of Melbourne a million times worse.
I know it’s not the city’s fault, or anyone’s really, instead it’s just one of those annoying things. But, in the style of Arnie, I’ll be back. I feel like Melbourne and I have unfinished business.