august in melbourne - day one

circle line trambe free splash
I'm sitting here in my hotel room in Melbourne... and I'm not completely sure how I feel about it.

When my friend Owlgirl got back from her first trip to Sydney recently she'd come up with a theory about the differences between Melbourne and Sydney. If the two cities were people, you would date Melbourne for its quirky personality whereas you would date Sydney because it was just so incredibly beautiful.

I don't disagree with this, but I did add the caveat that if you were dating Sydney you'd discover as time went on that the anthropomorphic personification of the city did all of these cool activities that you never knew about and that it would regularly surprise you.

And now, being back in Melbourne for the first time in about 18 months I do wonder if after a while of dating Melbourne you'd start to wonder if he ever actually took a bath... you'd also start to realise that he had some really ugly tattoos.

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This is kind of my way of saying that I feel like I've fallen out of love with Melbourne. To take the dating analogy all the way to the nth degree... I feel like Melbourne is a guy I used to date, and now that I've been in having an on again off again relationship with Sydney, it feels like I ran into Melbourne on the street and said some polite hellos and then after he walked away I found myself having difficulty remembering exactly what I liked about him in the first place beyond the fact he had some killer tattoos and was a little bit alternative and seemed the fun kind of quirky, maybe even a little bit of a hipster.

Yeah... I think I've pretty much beaten that analogy to death...

In case it wasn't completely obvious, I'm a little bit ambivalent about being in Melbourne. Yes, it's nice to get away from Adelaide and do some things that we can't do back at home, but this isn't a trip I've been excited about.

Part of that was because of all the job application stuff before I left which I think has been weighing on my mind even though my application is submitted and it's in the lap of the gods now, but I wasn't excited at all this week... not even yesterday when I had the day off work... I wasn't excited when I was packing my bag, I wasn't excited when I got up at the crack of sparrow's fart this morning, I wasn't excited at the airport...

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Although, seriously, the worst part of any trip for me is the part between getting up in the morning on the day of departure and setting foot in the hotel for the first time.

Generally the trip to the airport wasn't too bad... it did start raining about halfway there, but rain definitely seems to have been the order of the day today. And the flight, while a little bumpier than I would normally like (especially as we came in to land at Melbourne Airport, I swear we were going a little too fast as we touched down, and it was all a bit rocky before that), is a mercifully short flight overall.

When we got to Melbourne airport, the nice man from the chauffer car company was waiting for us... and really, I never get tired of seeing someone holding a sign with my name on it... although these days it's normally an iPad.

It seemed to take forever for my bag to come out... but I get the feeling that my suitcase may have been one of the first ones to make it on the plane. And it's always good to have a distinctive bag... whether it's Ma's virulently pink case or the fact I have Gary Seaman flying pod stickers on mine.

The chauffer guy was really nice, and brought us into the city a different way, via Grattan and, I think, Rathdowne Streeets, rather than the way we've come in previously. He also dropped us right at the door of the hotel, even though it's down a little one way paved lane thing. I'm guessing it was probably around 10am or so by that stage... although possibly a little later.

chinese museum guardiandoctor sun stands just outside the hotel
The hotel itself isn't bad... it's right in the heart of Chinatown, and the Kiwi lady who was working the front desk when we got here was really sweet... a little crazy maybe, but sweet. It turned out that one of our rooms was ready, which is always a nice surprise, so we dumped all our stuff in that room (which later became Ma's room) and headed out to have a wander around.

As with what usually happens when we wander around on our first day in any city, I'm not completely sure where the hell we went... I know it will come back to me as I type, but right now I'm having trouble remembering the order of anything.

I know we ended up at Bourke Street to have a bit of a poke around at the shops (which, to be honest, we really didn't do) and check out the street art in Union Lane (which we did... as per some of the photos in this post... and I released a few eyeBirds into the wild).

Then, because it's only around the corner we ended up at Minotaur. I was partially tempted by their vinyl toy offerings, but resisted, because I wanted to see what Villain had first.

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It was about 11:30 by this stage so we went looking for somewhere to grab a drink and maybe a little something to eat... we were going to try the place with all the cakes in the window, the Hopetoun Tearooms... but as always it looked packed and there were a bunch of people outside waiting to go in, so we wandered down the laneways around Little Collins and found Caffe e Torta which, like most of the places around there is horrendously small and completely crammed with teeny tiny tables.

They do make a decent ham, cheese and tomato toasty though... but their minestrone soup is so so... and their mocha is pretty much just a coffee. A decent coffee though.

After that we wandered back down Elizabeth Street, stopped off at Outré Gallery to look at their art and things... I was very tempted by a couple of their pieces but while I liked them, I didn't LIKE THEM like them... so I passed.

It was around that time that it started to rain a little bit... so we mostly stuck to what cover we could find and headed over to QV to check out Villain.

old man tweeterpunk rock eggs
I'll admit I got completely lost once we got into the main courtyard of QV... I knew that one of the little laneways leading off from the main square took us to Villain, except I think we've always come at it from the outside... technically I think it's kind of on the second level, or at least between the main area and level 2, so we ended up going out to the street and back in again.

I didn't go completely crazy with vinyl this time around, and as always with blindboxes, you picks your box and takes your chances... in a couple of cases, this was good, in a couple of cases it was just okay.

I ended up being glad that I hadn't bought any artwork from Outré since they actually had some stuff in Villain that was completely awesome AND original artwork. I ended up buying a piece by Luke Feldman (aka Skaffs) which was pretty damn awesome! And which also fits nicely into my ever growing collection of monochrome artwork.

After Villain we decided to head back to the hotel to drop off my purchases (paper artwork plus paper bag plus rain is just asking for trouble) and to see if my room was ready.

punthill bedroompunthill sofapunthill bathroom
It was, and although it's a different arrangement to Ma's room (and, to be honest, slightly smaller), it has 33% more window than Ma's room and a slightly bigger bathroom, so I'm happy with that.

We spent about quarter of an hour or so unpacking and sorting ourselves out in our separate rooms before I traipsed down the hall with my vinyl purchases so I could unbox them and show Ma.

Then we headed back out again with the intention of hitting the Queen Victoria Markets. I'm somewhat in the market for a leather jacket... something not overly heavy, probably with those fetching arm stripes, etc. I knew that it was unlikely that I would find one that I actually liked and that was in my size, but I figured, what the hell.

We decided to jump on the free Circle Tram which is usually a good idea, except for the fact that it's often completely packed... which it wasn't when we got on, but was not long after. That was fine, although the annoying small child across from us who wouldn't shut up was a little draining. I'm still not sure if we jumped off the tram at the optimal stop for the markets or whether we could have stayed on for another stop, but a bunch of other people were jumping off, and I'd had enough of the small child, so we jumped off too and wandered up to the markets.

eyebird line upqueen victoria markets
It turned out to be the right move, because on the way we found a pretty awesome street art laneway, so we spent some time wandering up and down taking photos and I left a bunch of eyeBirds around the place (as always, you get additional points if you tell me you've found any). There was also another street/laneway that we went past on the tram that looked fairly promising, but I don't know if we'll get the opportunity to head back that way.

I'm guessing that the markets are either better in the morning, or just generally better on weekends, because when we got there half of the stalls were empty and the other half seemed to be packing up their stuff.

The one thing I noticed about the Markets last time we went (which was a while ago now with Princess T), is that there are a number of stalls that all seem to be selling the exact same merchandise. It was slightly more obvious on a day when all the stalls were full, but even just as far as men's leather jackets go, there were two stalls that I'm pretty sure had exactly the same stuff... or at the very least they had the same jacket that I was interested in in exactly the same place.

Essentially if there had been a tiny bit less me or a tiny bit more jacket, I would now be the proud owner of a leather jacket. Alas, neither of these things is the case, and, as usual, the jackets that they did have that possibly would have fitted me were more than a little bit ugly.

burgerboyfat david
So we wandered around a bit, not really looking at very much of anything (I was also somewhat looking for a longer scarf, but mostly they just had short, cheap looking ones). I'm sure people go to the markets and buy all sorts of wonderfully interesting things at low low prices, but I always feel like it's just a lot of stalls that are full of cheap-ass crap that you'd find in any discount/bargain type store. It doesn't feel, or look, like quality merchandise.

Anyway, we called it a day, wandered down Queen Street until we got to Lonsdale Street then had a poke around Hardware Lane just in case anything looked like it could be amazing for breakfast tomorrow (nothing jumped out at us), then headed, somewhat randomly in the general direction of the river/Flinders Street.

On the way we made a stop off at Haighs (gotta support the SA brand!) and we were also kind of looking for one of those juice places... you know, with the freshly squeezed juices in the bottles with coloured lids and no labels we've found in every major capital city we've been to. I swear that there used to be one downstairs in the Collins Street arcade place, but, alas, no luck.

Just as we got to the end of the arcade it started to bucket down with rain. So that put an end to the "heading towards Flinders Street" plan and we kind of started heading back in the generally non-specific direction of the hotel.

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The rain started to ease up so we decided to stop off at Starbucks on Swanston Street for a warming beverage.

The weather had very much taken a turn for the worse but the time we'd finished, so we figured we'd head back to the hotel since it was around 4:30 or so by that stage and we could have our general pre-dinner rest and travel journal writing.

We'd already made the decision before we even hit the ground in Melbourne that our first dinner would be at Wagamama... I've been craving it ever since Owlgirl went to the one in Sydney in the middle of July, so just after 6 we rugged up nice and warm and headed down the hill (more or less) to the one on Flinders Lane.

So much food. Such tasty food!

skelly kissblack picket dog
As usual we hit the Tori Kara Age and Edamame... mmmmm... and rounded out the starters with Yasai Gyoza. Then Ma had Cha Han and I went with my perennial favourite, Chicken Ramen. And while we ate I told Ma the long and needlessly complicated story of the job application saga.

Thankfully the food was outstanding as always. Although I feel like the place in Melbourne does their Tori Kara Age differently to the one in Sydney... but I think I'm just misremembering it.

To finish up we shared a Banana Katsu as always... so good!

And now I'm a very full, very satisfied little piggy.

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The walk back to the hotel seemed longer than the walk to the restaurant to be honest, and it was certainly chillier... the wind is definitely coming all the way up from the Antarctic and it didn't seem to matter whether we were on north-south or east-west streets, it was still whipping up around us. Brrrr.

And thus, pretty much, endeth the first day. With a full Wagamama-filled belly I kind of feel better about Melbourne than I did when I sat down to write the beginning of this post this afternoon... but I still feel a little bit like "It's not you, Melbourne, it's me"...

But to be honest, like anyone who says that, I think it pretty much is Melbourne, not me.

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