I’m writing this on the first Tuesday in October. In just a few hours from the time I write this, another one of my friends is leaving Melbourne. This is a friend who was in Melbourne on the same kind of visa that I was on in Edinburgh. Now her time has run out and she flies away tonight. Seeing this scenario over and over does not make it any easier.
We saw each other at the start of the week and made plans to chat up in Europe in the future, with good intentions. My friend was full of emotions about her departure, literally all of them, and on top of all of that she was completely fatigued. She was exhausted from the running around and planning logistics of leaving a country.
At this time of departure and uprooting, your mind doesn’t rest. You’re too busy: planning what you’re going to do with the 32 pairs of shoes you acquired, the next random exotic visa you’re yet to apply for while making time to see everyone you’ve grown to love to say good bye. All of these thoughts occupy your mind and sleep often becomes a challenging and foreign pastime. But on top of all that, you start to get excited about all the things you’ll get to do that you loved back home.
For me, right about this time last year, little thoughts and daydreams of Melbourne and its glorious attractions started to flirt their way into my plans. I was very sad and incredibly angry about having to leave Edinburgh but occasionally an exciting memory would float to the surface – of something I loved to do in Melbourne. So I’ve decided to share some of those exciting attractions here.
The Moroccan Soup Bar is a tiny little Moroccan restaurant in Melbourne’s hip hood of North Fitzroy. For years this place was promoted only by word of mouth (and I’m genuinely surprised that it actually has a website now) because of its incredible food, simple menu and ace takeaway policy. To get a table you must get there right at 6 pm and line up as they don’t take bookings for less than six. Their menu is banquet or big banquet and you basically get to eat what they like to make. It’s all vegetarian and you can’t drink there, but if you missed a chance at a table and have been told to come back in 90 min, there are plenty of watering holes to get your booze on while you wait. If you decide that you simply can’t dinner without drinking (or your PJs and Netflix), you can simply bring your own containers and tell them how many people to fill them up for and you get your banquet to go!
If the Soup Bar fed my Melbournian fat guts, Chunky Move fed my spiritual hunger. While I lived in Edinburgh, I saw an incredible amount of live changing art but I always missed Chunky Move. It’s a Melbourne-based contemporary dance company and is actually my favorite dance troupe in the world. Founded in 1995 by Gideon Obarzanek, the company is renowned for its experimental choreography, challenging productions and absolute dance excellence. My personal fascination with them is how they jump past boundaries and are dedicated to pursuing their own path of creative exploration. I could actually rant about this for days (and my friends will testify to my passion for these guys) but to me, they symbolize Melbourne’s artistic identity. I first saw a video clip of their work Mortal Engine by Gideon Obarzanek (2008) in 2013 and it totally rocked my world. Since then I’ve seen a number of their productions and highly recommend seeing them if you’re in Melbourne or if they’re touring to your city.
Ahhh the place everyone loves to forget. The Retreat is not a meditation destination or a yoga sanctuary but a dirty and disgusting pub. A pub where I have spent way too much of my youth and nowhere near enough of my adult years! Located in the hipster mecca of Melbourne, Brunswick, it’s a place where almost anything goes. It’s the kind of place where you go after you’ve had two bottles of fizzy wine for pre-drinks and never before 11 pm. You can either sit and rant the night away in the beer garden, dance till you can’t feel your feet or snog a stranger in the front bar (that you may or may not have met while he was trying to stuff a full pint into his super tight black skinny jeans)! It’s all there for you at The Retreat, but a slight word of warning … you will also leave your dignity there!
If you’re lucky enough to experience all of these treasures of Melbourne in the one day, then you’re livin’ the dream (so you should come over and say hi – I’m the one in the beer garden wearing the “Steph” jacket)!