The Gypsy with the red notebook

How to discover yourself and the world with inspirational journeys

Melbourne, Days 7 and 8: Food, culture, music (and more food!)

Melbourne street art

Culture…

I am more than 15 thousand kilometers from home, but I’m familiar with this place. Maybe the arches, the windows of the ceiling, the fashion shops… ok, no! The reason is that the “Block Arcade” in Melbourne, shopping centre among the main attractions in the city, built at the end of the 19th century, has been inspired by Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, in Milan! In the evening, men and women were used to stroll here, following opposite directions… who liked each other, married a few days later. No waste of time!

After the night “transhumance” by bus from Sydney, I leave my luggage at the hostel and I start a free tour. Melbourne is very different from Sydney (see here and here): colder, “European”, no wonderful bay here, but a very lively cultural scene. Melbourne is more to live than to see. Ok, for the moment I live it… doing the laundry at the hostel 🙂

On Friday I jump on 35, the free circle tram going around the centre, and I get off at the Royal Victoria Library. Built in 1854, it is the oldest Aussie library, has more than 2 million books and it’s famous for LaTrobe Reading Room, with its huge amazing octagonal dome, where you can read, study and play chess.
There is also an interesting exhibition on several floors. Here you get to know Ned Kelly, Austro-Irish debated bandit, cattle thief first and then banks robber, known as the “Down / under Robin Hood”, and John Batman, the Machiavellian explorer who bought 600.000 acres of land from Aboriginal elders, by deception. He made them sign an authentic deed of sale, obviously meaningless for their culture.

… Urban Life …

Japanese picnic on the grass outside the library, among tourists and students who tell each other their love dramas (yes, even the Aussie sporty boy seems to have a heart). I jump back on 35 and I get to Federation Square, Melbourne cultural heart: my love! I visit ACMI, Cinema and digital animation Museum, hosting the immersive exhibition “Alice in Wonderland”, and I buy a ticket for “My Best Dead Friend”, a show at Fringe Theatre, that will turn out to be an amazing experience.

Melbourne has one the largest collections of street art in the world, created since Keith Haring in 80’s painted the first wall: along the streets in the centre you can enjoy dozens of colourful graffiti. Here you can find a map of the most famous places you don’t have to miss: my best, and you will understand soon why, is AC/DC Lane…

Melbourne, view from the river
Melbourne, view from the river
Melbourne, Block Archade
Melbourne, Block Archade
Royal Victoria Library
Royal Victoria Library
Street art in Melbourne
Street art in Melbourne

… and Food!

My travel buddy in Melbourne will be FOOD 🙂. I’m always hungry, maybe because around you can find hundreds of restaurants of any ethnicity, starting from Chinatown. With respect to Sydney, here you can see many more oriental faces, often with perfect English, now second if not third generation. For dinner I choose a Vietnamese restaurant and go to Hochi Mama, one of the best reviewed, where I eat an excellent spicy stir-fried chicken with vegetables. At the counter – ironically – I get to know such Thad Dal Santo, an American guy from San Francisco. Understanding I’m Italian, he tells me immediately that he knows Milan and… San Giuliano d’Abruzzo, a hamlet in L’Aquila. More or less, emphasis is the same! Of course he is not a fool – ok not too much – his grandparents were Italians, from Abruzzo, who fled to follow their Aussie dream.

Fringe theatre is in the north of Melbourne, I get there by tram. The show, a comedy acted as a monologue, tells between jokes and sad moments the story of 5 New Zealand friends, who live in a village where nothing ever happens. Here, you can only dream Tuwhare poems and sing Backstreet Boys songs, while you focus on changing your life and the world. Only after the death of one of the 5 friends, the others will understand that they have lived together the best years of their lives, in that house in the hills.

I celebrate the end of the day with a beer at Cherry Bar, a well-known speak-easy bar on AC/DC Lane where you can listen come nice live rock music: tomorrow, Great Ocean Road is waiting for me…

AC/DC Lane, Cherry Bar, Melbourne
AC/DC Lane, Cherry Bar, Melbourne

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