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Melbourne: Who knew?

Melbourne: Who knew?

Melbourne was our favorite. It's funky, down to earth, and ultimately just a genuinely cool city. Known for the art scene and undeniable cafe culture, Melbourne far exceeded expectations. It was one city where--if not so far--we would undoubtedly choose to live.

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We were lucky enough to experience Melbourne through Ash and her sister, who lives in a suburb just outside. The neighborhoods surrounding the inner city were quite diverse and so charming. But the main attraction was definitely central Melbourne.

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We spent our first full day with Ash. I absolutely love waking up in a new city, with everything to explore. We started by discovering a few laneways, the first was Degraves Street. We grabbed a coffee at the popular Degraves Espresso.

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The ambiance felt Parisian, due to the close knit seating and umbrellas.

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We carried on to the Fitzroy area and walked along Brunswick Street. It had a bohemian vibe, with an abundance of cafes and second hand stores.

 Will waiting outside of the many stores we popped into

Will waiting outside of the many stores we popped into

We grabbed a drink at Naked for Satan, a fantastic cocktail bar with tapas. 

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Notably, the rooftop had a stellar view of the city.

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The following day, Will and I were on our own and chose to stay local to explore Ash's sister's neighborhood. We were completely surprised by it's cute Main Street and proximity to the Darebin Parklands. We spent the day meandering around the sizable park with walking tracks along a stream. 

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The fresh air helped us hash out some of our upcoming travel plans. We have an extremely vague itinerary, knowing after Southeast Asia we'd like to head to Europe, at large, by the summer. We listed priorities of places we'd regret not seeing. Although a year sounds like eternity, we're finding the time is seemingly disappearing. We're happy to slow play our travels, rather than racing around to hit all of the hot spots. We concluded we'd much prefer to really get to know an area. That being said, we didn't anticipate it taking until April for us to reach Southeast Asia. 

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In the spirit of not rushing, we decided to stay in Melbourne for a few more days in a private room in hostel downtown, Flinders Backpackers. It was a nice dichotomy from staying in a quieter area bordering the city. Although the evenings were rowdy, the hostel could not be more centrally located. As we tend to do, we discovered Melbourne's culture by foot.

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We found some of Melbourne's architecture had strong European resemblances. Unlike Sydney, Melbourne is setup in a logical grid, comparable to New York City, and thus easier to navigate. Art deco buildings were intertwined with sky rises. 

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One morning we took a walking tour which helped clarify some of Melbourne's history--all new to us. I seriously hadn't a clue of Australian history before arriving. We learned Melbourne, home to roughly 4 million people, is the capital of Victoria. It's a relatively new city, founded in 1835. The gold rush in the north by 1850 fostered a tremendous economic boom, and put Melbourne on the map as one of the wealthiest cities at the time.

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In a more contemporary history, other highlights of the tour included discovering hidden street art along the laneways.

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There was beauty in the ordinary. Trash receptacles were transformed into art fixtures.

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The spray painted murals in the laneways varied from graffiti to government ordained art, such as on Duckboard Place.

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We spent our days finding quiet niches all over the city. We camped out at wonderful cafes, such as Alimentari on Brunswick. Due to the mass amount of cafes and eateries, the competition is extreme, so a cafe must be top notch to survive. 

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Mostly we enjoyed the immense greenery throughout the city. 

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There was typically a place to enjoy live music and it was nice to stop to actually listen. I feel like we're usually racing by, but in this case we could really sit and appreciate it.

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Melbourne is wonderful. It's a city I certainly had no intention to visit, but feel so grateful we did. For me, it ranks as one of the most livable cities.

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