Melbourne is the kind of city that feels a lot older than it actually is. You get the sense that it holds a great many secrets and memories in the bones of all that red brick and rusty iron. At the same time it welcomes you in a big, warm embrace and makes you feel like you never want to leave again. This town really stole our hearts and by day two we were scheming about how we could pack our lives into a suitcase and move in!
We hadn't actually set out to go to Melbourne. For a long time all we had talked about was exploring our way through Sri Lanka. We wanted a real adventure in a far away land, a place with a colourful culture, exotic food and a challenge to our creature comforts. We imagined an intrepid journey through paradise. Sometimes we're a little removed from reality like that because what we hadn't really taken into consideration is that we would have a toddler in tow. So after re-thinking our plans, we decided to test the waters first and find out what traveling with a small child would really be like. Hence how operation Melbourne came into action.
The transition between home and Melbourne was a funny one. We only had to fly a short 3.5 hours across the ditch and they spoke the same language with basically the same accent but nonetheless it felt foreign. The heavy air, the smell of eucalyptus, the black crows always watching, the currency that I never quite figured out, the caution of snakes and trying to order 'babycinnos' with a straight face. We were up early (too early most days) every morning, had breakfast, and headed down to our favourite local cafe for a coffee hit and to shake our heads in pity at all those poor souls drudging off for another day at work. Over coffee we planned our days which usually consisted of exploring a new suburb, trying to fit a nap in for Ayana and figuring out what eatery was next on our huge list of recommendations. Somehow even after two weeks we still felt like we had only touched the tip of the iceberg.
More than anything Melbourne gave us perspective. As is often the case when you step outside of your everyday life, we began to discuss and re-evaluate where we were at. We opened up about what we loved and what we didn't. We talked about the future, about our dreams and goals. We found new energy, new motivation and a new appreciation for this little family of ours. I think we both very much agreed that we need to embark on more adventures!
A LITTLE FOOD GUIDE
We do pretty well on the food front here in New Zealand these days but Melbourne really blew us away. Not only were the flavours incredible, but they also put huge efforts into using local produce, supporting communities, helping the homeless, encouraging community gardens and organic food etc. In that regard New Zealand could learn a lot from them! There were many places that we still wanted to try out but alas we were out of time and out of pocket. I thought I would at least jot down some of our favourites though, just in case you're headed that way and so we don't forget in case we return!
Lentils as Anything - An incredible non-profit, vegan restaurant chain run by community volunteers where you pay for your meal via donation box. And if you're really out of pocket you can always donate some time in return for a hot meal instead.
Tiivoli Road Bakery - This bakery was a two minute walk from our house, and once we discovered that they sold fresh, organic, spelt sourdough bread we were there every morning. They also make great coffee and I may have had one of their delicious chocolate croissants almost everyday (oops, bye bye no sugar diet).
Yong Green Food - Another really great vegan restaurant with a heavy emphasis on raw food. Nic's raw pad thai was so good that I had some pretty serious food envy.
Bimbo Deluxe - An awesome roof top garden, $5.00 pizza's and a very good house beer on tap... need I say more??
Vege Bar - This is the place where everybody will probably tell you to go if you ask about a vegetarian eatery in Melbourne, and with good reason! You only have to see how packed it always is to know that the food is great.
Sister of Soul - I just can't say enough good things about this place! We only discovered it on our last night there and WOW it was fantastic. These guys really know how to cook up a vegetarian feast. Every single thing we ordered was amazing, in fact it was so good that I really couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the evening.