A Postcard from Melbourne

Hello from Down Under! This is your favourite daughter writing. Somehow I failed to buy a postcard during my time in Australia so I thought I’d send you an alternative: a blog-shaped postcard. Mum, I know you’ve signed up to this blog meaning you’ll get an e-mail alert, so it’s almost like it’s being delivered directly to you… it’s just the rest of the world can read it too. Please inform Dad. And feel free to print this post out and stick it on the fridge alongside Kenneth’s boring conventional postcards.

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So, how was Australia? Aw, I’m glad you asked. The night I arrived in Melbourne, I wrote that blog post about how it didn’t matter that Andy Murray had gone out of the Australian Open because there were so many other things to look forward to on my trip. I think part of me was just saying that because that was the grown-up, mature approach to take. But my mature sensibilities were right: I had such a good trip!

My Airbnb hosts were very cool. On the first day I arrived, Phil said he’d show me round the area. I envisioned a walk around the neighbourhood for like, 10 minutes. No, no. We got into his BMW and he drove me around the city centre of Melbourne, showing me where the tennis was taking place, pointing out cafés, and then he drove me across the West Gate Bridge (a sizeable bridge) so we could cross back again and I could see the cityscape of Melbourne! Almost every evening, I’d come home and watch the tennis with Phil and/or his wife Lucy. It was random in the sense that I don’t usually expect to hang out so much with my Airbnb hosts but I loved having the company, especially on the days when I wasn’t meeting up with anyone else.

Speaking of other people, I met up with my friend Beni, who worked with me at Chevening in London, and we went to the tennis on the Tuesday. Such a different experience from Wimbledon! No queuing required – we literally rocked up at 11.30am and strolled on in. We watched a number of doubles matches on the smaller courts and then other matches on the numerous screens that are dotted around the grounds. I was impressed with the Australian Open in general – the (lack of) queue, the facilities, the screenage, the additional entertainment in the grounds  – they do everything very well.

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I also met up with Mairi for an afternoon in St Kilda. Mairi’s been here on the working holiday visa for the last year and is loving life. Moving to Australia did cross my mind during my week in Melbourne – I like the idea of living abroad again and apparently I have until my 31st birthday to apply for the working holiday visa! However, you’ll be reassured to know that your favourite daughter is probably too lazy to pursue this. Also, that journey is just way too long.

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I had some of the best brunches of my life in Melbourne. Check out this smoothie bowl I had at Matcha Mylkbar, an uber hipster café in St Kilda. I copied the description from the menu because I wanted to remember it forever: Amazebowl of matcha and coconut, avocado, spinach, coconut oil, coconut mil, strawberry, banana, coconut shavings, lime and coconut granola. Delish.

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You would have both loved the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. I wandered through them to get to the Shrine of Remembrance, in the south of the city, built as a memorial to those who fought in the first world war. The weather was just perfect and I seemed to have the gardens to myself. I’ve never really been that excited about botanic gardens in cities before but this visit really sold it to me.

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I’d been told by multiple people to try to get out to the Great Ocean Road while I was in Melbourne. Always keen to get out of the city, I scoured multiple tour company websites, searching for the best deal, before bizarrely opting for the most expensive day trip on offer with tour company Go West.

The Great Ocean Road is an Australian Heritage Site, renowned for its 243km stretch of beautiful coastline, with limestone cliffs, sea stacks, beaches and gorges making for a stunning route. The day trip was a bit of a beast – I met the bus at 7am and returned home about 9pm – but it was worth the commitment. We went koala spotting, had lunch on the beach, ventured through a rainforest, took a million photos at the 12 Apostles before finishing the day at a road-side McDonalds. Don’t worry, it was my only Macca’s of the trip. I made friends with a girl from Argentina who was around my age and whose dream it had been since a child to travel around Australia. There were also two girls from Fife in my tour group who had the ultimate Scottish accents – apparently I’m never too far away from home!

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The highlight of Melbourne was undoubtedly the Australian Open final which I’d timed so it would coincide with my last night in the city. What a way to end one of my favourite-ever city breaks! As hoped, post the Murray exit, it was a Federer vs. Nadal final and the atmosphere was incredible, unsurprisingly as they are probably two of the most popular tennis players of all time. I was enjoying the trending of #fedal, demonstrating how much equal love there is in the world for the two players.

I went into the match not supporting either player but supporting the concept of a 5-set match. My wishes were granted and I felt the £300-odd financial commitment for my finals ticket paid off. The quality of tennis was insane, with lengthy rallies and points played where we were just in disbelief that either player had been able to make the shot. It was so fun to watch the match alongside such a large and enthusiastic crowd, and to not have the pressure and stress of watching my favourite player. Still, I better see Andy Murray at one of the grand slams this year!

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Now isn’t this the most informative postcard you’ve ever received?

Until next time!

Catmac X

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