I returned Monday from my seventh trip to Melbourne, a visit that reaffirmed for me that it is a city that will always remain close to my heart. I will share several photos in this post, but many of the best parts of the trip were not captured with a camera. Those were the times I spent catching up with some of the friends we made during our four years in Australia. I also enjoyed wandering through my favorite haunts reminiscing. At times the remembering contained more pain than pleasure, but even so I am glad that I went back again. It helped to be thoroughly spoiled by so many dear friends--to be treated to coffees, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, to be picked up and dropped off at airports and train stations, and to be driven around from place to place. I am truly thankful.
You know that you truly love a place when you are happy to leave behind summer and spend your holiday in winter. I did not mind the cool temperatures Melbourne has to offer this time of year, and on the rain interrupted my plans only once. The sun shone brightly on my first day, and since one of the best ways to combat jet lag is to absorb sunshine while staying active, we went for a walk around the Tan, a 3.78km track that encircles Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens.
I spent most of my days getting around by train, something I have missed. From where I stayed it was a ten minute ride into the city.
On Monday I visited my writing class friend Louise in Geelong, and she gave me a tour of Geelong's brand new library, a five-story marvel shaped like an open igloo. Each floor of the library boasts a different technicolor theme, and the top level opens out onto a deck with a beautiful view (below).
On Wednesday David, Gillian and I drove into the Yarra Ranges to visit a winery. Both the scenery and the food were beautiful.
Thursday I had earmarked to spend in the city. After crossing back and forth over the Yarra River and making my way through a few favorite laneways, I met up with a friend I met through this blog. Kathy reached out to me more than a year ago when she and her husband decided to move from Pennsylvania to Melbourne with their three boys. We exchanged several emails over the the months, and more recently have been keeping up with each other through Facebook. Meeting up with an online friend was something new for me, and I think we were both unsure about how it would go, but we needn't have worried. I felt an almost instantaneous bond with her, and we had no trouble filling three hours with conversation. There have been many unexpected bonuses from blogging--new friendships certainly fall into that category.
I asked Kathy to meet me at the Switchboard Cafe, a favorite spot of mine that I wrote about in a previous post, Meandering in Melbourne. From there we followed the arcades and laneways walking tour guide that is available at the Tourist Information Center in Federation Square.
Friday was a delightful day spent with two friends I met when our youngest started prep (the Australian equivalent of kindergarten). I could almost imagine that I had never moved away as we chatted over lunch at the excellent Japanese restaurant Ichi Ni in St. Kilda.
Saturday morning got off to an excellent start with breakfast at a cafe with many memories for me: Pour Kids, located across the street from the Coles on Glenferrie Road in Malvern. It was another beautiful day, so after breakfast we drove to the spa town of Daylesford. Daylesford began as a gold-mining town in 1852, but today is better known for its restaurants, spas and galleries. We enjoyed a walk around Lake Daylesford before choosing a cafe for lunch.
We felt the countryside beckoning after lunch and headed in the direction of another gold rush town, Clunes. It was here, in 1851, that the first gold was discovered in Victoria. The visitClunes website describes the rivers of gold that one flowed through the town, and claims that stepping into this town is to step directly into the pages of a colonial history book. We walked up and down the quiet streets, admired the buildings and then turned the car back toward Melbourne.
My nine days in Melbourne sped by all too quickly. On my last full day, a Sunday, I visited the church that was very special to us during our four years in Australia. Again it felt almost as if I had never left, and it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces. After lunch Gillian and I drove up into the Dandenongs to have afternoon tea at the Kallista Tea Rooms, an Art Deco cafe that our family visited more times than we can count. The homemade scones, tea, cream and clotted cream did not disappoint, and I could not have asked for a better way to end my trip to Melbourne.