Having been made to watch Formula 1 races many, many times over the last few years, I can safely say that it is about level with golf in terms of most boring ‘sports’ (which I’m sorry but neither of those are) to watch. But with the Grand Prix taking place in Melbourne this weekend and the whole city seeming pretty pumped about it I was willing to get at least a little bit involved, and when the offer of a free ticket came my way I figured why not. Which is how I found myself at the Albert Park race track on Thursday for what turned out to be a surprisingly fun day.
Admittedly I think we all enjoyed it because it didn’t really involved much of watching car races. As it was the first day of the four day event it was just qualifying and practice sessions, with the actual race on Sunday. But that meant it was less busy and we were able to see and do a lot more of the fun stuff like taking part in challenges and exploring behind the scenes. The free tickets came through Newbies International, a group which runs meetups for people who are new to cities, so as well as learning how to ride a Segway and change a race car tyre I also met some really cool people and will hopefully go along to some more of their events.
Saturday’s weather forecast promised a beautiful 30°c and sunshine filled day, so a few of us au pairs decided to make the most of what could be one of the last days of Summer and went to Brighton Beach. Famous for its multicoloured, artfully decorated beach boxes, Brighton Beach is actually really close to where I’m living (well an hour walk, but close by Melbourne standards) but I had yet to visit. After some initial complications which are inevitable when trying to organise a group of around 20 people, we finally made it and were not disappointed. My only regret is that I only had my phone rather than my real camera so couldn’t get many decent photos, but that just means I’ll have to go back soon! It was even warm enough to swim in the sea, possibly for the last time before Autumn really sets in.
After a long day at the beach we stopped by a little family run restaurant where I had a truly delicious vegetable pizza – and I’m not even the biggest fan of pizza in the first place. This is one of the things I’m learning to love about Melbourne; everywhere you go, you are surrounded by delicious smells and amazing food, and it’s all from small, independent places. Everywhere I’ve tried so far has had its own unique vibe and I’m yet to be disappointed. Which is great, although slightly bad news for my waistline and my wallet.
On Sunday I headed in to Melbourne to do some exploring by myself. Apparently this is strange and antisocial and I should always be hanging out with my new BFFs (say the kids), but part of me loves getting to know new places on my own sometimes. I started with Fitzroy Gardens and East Melbourne, a gorgeous residential area just to the East of the city centre full of stunning Victorian houses. A lot of these houses were also home to many famous writers, actors and artists, so I spent a good hour or so wandering around soaking up the architecture and the culture of the area.
From there I headed through China Town back into the city centre for some lunch (delicious of course) and some shopping (natch) before heading North to Carlton and Fitzroy. On my way I passed through Carlton Gardens, home to the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibiton Building, two very contrasting but equally stunning buildings. From there I headed up Brunswick Street, which might just be my new favourite place. As I turned the corner onto the main road, the sound of a rocky jazz band filled my ears from inside a pub on the corner with all the doors and windows open onto the street, and that just seemed to set the atmosphere of the whole area. I didn’t even take any photos because I was so engrossed in all the little shops, cafes, bars, street art, markets and everything that was going on. Definitely a place I need to go back to! Eventually I stumbled upon a little Irish Festival going on in Edinburgh Gardens for St Patrick’s Day, which reiterated how multicultural this city is and which is one of the reasons I love it so much.