Arriving for the first time in Melbourne on a cold and rainy summer's morning, I was cheerfully informed by the hotel receptionist that only yesterday it had been a sweltering 32 degrees. Inconsistent as it may be the weather is one of the many things about Melbourne that I have come to regard with fond affection. This is a city that has a great deal to offer its inhabitants and it doesn't take long to find this out for yourself.
Eating and drinking is a significant element of living in Melbourne. The number of places that need to be experienced is somewhat overwhelming. Each bar seems to have an interesting twist, whether it be in an ex-shipping container (Section 8) or split into two halves of a country (Berlin Bar). The challenge of visiting these many establishments I have rather too willingly taken on, so any 'must go' suggestions are greatly appreciated.
Saturday, 4th of January @ 08:30am - $99 - 3 places left
As for restaurants, the array of different food is incredible. Like Britain, the multiculturalism of Australia means that there is practically every type of food you could wish for right on your doorstep. Walk a hundred meters down Brunswick Street and you've been through Greece, Japan and Italy in just a few strides. What's more, the Aussie breakfast is something to be proud of. Having heard little about Australian food I was not expecting to be so impressed. But the fresh and delicious brekkies usually consisting of a combination of avocado, mushrooms, spinach, poached eggs, sourdough bread and tomatoes are pretty sensational.
The Melbourne coffee is without doubt something I will also feel a loss for when I return to England. The art of making a good latté has not yet been perfected in most cafés back home and so I may have to resort to desperate measures and undertake a barista course; in case of coffee emergencies when back in the UK.
My favourite place to go so far for a tasty breakfast and coffee combo is Degraves Expresso, not far from Flinders Street Station. But there's still plenty of time to discover more.
Sport in Melbourne is clearly a big thing. If you're a visitor to the city and around during the AFL season you must go. As a Brit who hadn't even heard of the sport, it initially looked like scarcely controlled chaos on a gigantic field. If you're new to the game, maybe first time round grab an Aussie to go with. The rules get explained to you, as well as the club rivalries, which makes the matches all the more exciting. With the Australian Open, cricket, Grand Prix and other major sports events held in Melbourne there's always something to look forward to if you're a sports fan.
As a Contemporary Art graduate, the thriving Art scene was one of the main attractions in coming to Melbourne, and it has not let me down. The National Gallery of Victoria is home to an extensive collection of works and the many smaller commercial galleries certainly hold their own too. Brunswick Street Gallery, found in Fitzroy is a prime example of the wealth of opportunity available to artists in the city. With exhibitions changing every two weeks and regular competitions to discover new and exciting pieces, the BSG attracts a wide variety of artwork meaning there's usually something for everyone's individual taste.
The variety of museums in the city is also impressive. Learning about Ned Kelly and his gang at Old Melbourne Gaol is something everyone should try and fit in while they're here. Enter the prison cells and learn about the gruesome crimes of each inmate and after, play a part in re-enacting the court trial of Mr Kelly himself.
Consequently with so much to do in Melbourne rainy days are not a problem. From the innumerable bars, restaurants and galleries to the trams that whiz down the seemingly pedestrian shopping area of Bourke Street, (who doesn't like to be kept on their toes?) Melbourne is a city full of surprises, culture and beauty.