On my third day in Victoria, the girls and I decided to get an early start and head off to the city of Melbourne, where we spent the entire day sightseeing. We had a long list of things that we wanted to see and ended up walking almost the entire day.
I recently stumbled upon the term “urban hiking”. Everyone knows what hiking in the wild is, but I was completely clueless to the fact that one could actually hike in a city. But it actually makes sense. Have you ever tried walking about all day looking at sights and getting back to your accommodation several hours later with wrecked feet and tired legs? Well, THAT is urban hiking! More often than not, you’ll end up walking 20-30 km. in one day – in a city! I always try to skip public transport as much as possible to keep travel costs down, so I must’ve done my fair share of urban hiking in my life!
So that day in Melbourne, Katrine, Annemie and I went urban hiking. Since we had already visited the Queen Victoria Market and St. Kilda Beach, we decided to concentrate on a city walk that Katrine had found in her Australia book as well as a few other places that we wanted to explore.
The city walk took us through the big main streets, smaller and more quaint streets, past buildings of great importance, walls full of graffiti and ended up by the Yarra River. The route showed us a diverse Melbourne, a city that is forever evolving while still holding onto its roots.
The city walk started at the Federation Square on Flinders Street, which is one of the main streets in Melbourne and home to the central train station. We turned onto Hosier Lane, where we made our first stop to admire the walls that were all covered in graffiti. Actually, everything here was covered in graffiti, even the rubbish bins. We even watched some of the artists in action. Hosier Lane is a very different street and definitely something that you won’t see anywhere else. I also think it helps to keep the graffiti away from other areas in the city and it makes the whole street look like one big artwork.
We then walked onwards to Collins St., where we saw Scots Church and St Michael’s Uniting Church. On Collins St. we witnessed a rather dramatic event, where a little girl had accidentally locked herself inside a car, so the window had to be smashed in order to get her out. We felt bad for looking, but were relieved when she was finally rescued and with her mum again.
The next stop was the Parliament House, which has been the seat of the Parliament of Victoria since 1855. The building looks like most parliament buildings in big cities, so it was nothing special, but still nice to see. We sat on the steps for a while and had our lunch.
When we were finished eating our lunch, we decided to walk away from the route and head to Brunswick Street, which is the hip street of Melbourne with all the great coffee shops and bars. This was my favourite place in all of Melbourne! It’s a great contrast to the otherwise glamourous Melbourne with the many retro shops and hippie-like atmosphere. At the beginning of Brunswick Street there are some old houses that are simply adorable, and the further up you go, the more hip and modern it becomes. This is definitely a place to see if an insight of the real Melbourne is what you want.
My mum had asked me to bring back some coffee from Melbourne, as they’re supposed to have the best coffee in the world. We found a store on Brunswick Street that sold us some Ethiopian coffee, which smelt lovely. I don’t drink coffee myself, but Katrine tried it and said it was delicious.
I had originally wanted to walk all the way up to the Brunswick suburb, but Brunswick Street was so interesting in itself that we didn’t have much time left afterwards. Instead, we headed back to the route and continued on to our next stop: Chinatown!
I absolutely love Chinatowns for their special atmosphere and I always try to see the Chinatown in each city I go to in order to compare them. The Chinatown in Sydney was quite small, but the atmosphere and the decorations were spot on. We decided to stay there for a bit and try some of the delicious Chinese dishes.
After Chinatown, we went away from the route again and headed to the State Library of Victoria, which was built in 19th century. The building is very charming, but my favourite thing about it was the green areas just outside the library, where people where chilling in the sun. It’s the perfect place to hang out after school!
While walking back to the route, we came past the St. Patricks Cathedral from the 19th century, which is an absolutely stunning building that I can’t believe isn’t represented in the travel books! The cathedral was open, so we went in to light a candle before going on with our route.
The route took us to Bourke Street Mall, where all the major shopping and entertainment happens in Melbourne. We didn’t have any money to spend though, so we quickly went on to our next two stops: The old Royal Arcade and the modern Block Arcade. Both arcades are very charming in their own way, but they couldn’t be more different. One thing they did have in common though, was the level of Christmas decorations – they were everywhere! And I mean, it’s only November, right?
After the arcades, the route had come to an end and led us down to the Yarra River, where we ended up spending quite a while soaking up the sun and chatting away.
I enjoyed the day of urban hiking and sightseeing very much and I know that I’ll need to come back to Melbourne someday. There’s so much I want to see there and when my friend Bethann eventually returns home after her travels in Europe – and I have some more money – I’ll come to visit her in her beautiful hometown!