After five glorious days, our road trip had come to an end and we had arrived in Australia's second largest city, Melbourne.
Melbourne has a lot of character. It's undeniable. You see it in the many public art installations, the eye-catching architecture, and the diverse group of people walking the streets.
An experienced people-watcher, I noted the businesswomen in power suits paired with metallic loafers, chefs with bags of bread and flour on their black pants, nannies with toddlers, heavily pierced girls working in vintage stores, older couples strolling slowly hand in hand, and plenty of teenagers whizzing by on skateboards.
Although Melbourne overall seemed more relaxed than the worker beehive we witnessed in Sydney, there were still a fair share of commuters walking the streets. I watched them and realized that I was slightly envious that they lived in such an interesting place.
Melbourne's famed laneways are a world of their own. Getting lost in the narrow, colorful alleys (as we'd call them in the U.S.) is delicious, both literally and figuratively. Many laneways contain small restaurants and shops. Some are simply packed full, with tiny tables set out on their cobblestone streets, emanating a very European vibe. Others contain no storefronts at all, only layers of street art on every paintable inch, including the ground and any litter on it.
Each laneway had its own bit of mystery to offer. From awesome art to funky nightclubs, they're all unique, so you never know what you’re going to find. I strongly recommend spending a day exploring as many as you can.
The entire city is very walkable, but if your feet get sore (or you're STILL wearing a moon boot), there's a convenient free tram route within the central business district (CBD).
In the CBD, we enjoyed the laneways, great shopping and even better Greek food. We found ourselves at the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel and couldn't resist taking a ride. Charming Carlton was the perfect neighborhood to grab a cheap dinner and browse through bookstores. St Kilda offered a magical few hours with teeny, tiny penguins.
The National Gallery Victoria deserves a special shout out. It was truly one of the best museums I've ever visited. We went to see the Warhol // Wei Wei exhibit, which we were lucky enough to catch in its final days. It was a very cool exhibit, perfectly at home within the very cool, lofty, inspiring space.
Overall, we'd consider Melbourne is a definite highlight in Australia. It's home to an eclectic group of people, delicious restaurants, entrancing galleries, shops, events and more... you never know what you'll find, but I bet you you'll leave with a story or two.