The holidays are a weird time for me in Melbourne. Even though I’ve lived here for two years, I’m not sure if I will ever acclimate to the opposite seasons. I am certainly not opposed to a hot Christmas, but it just makes it harder for me to get into the holiday spirit. This year, Anthony and I made an advent calendar and we counted down the days by drinking craft beer and sprinkled in evenings where we would work on our “Christmas bucket list” with things like going to see various light displays around the city. Despite the number of things going on, we took it relatively easy this December enjoying our first Christmas together. (Our koala tree topper might be my new favorite Christmas decoration!)
Friday, December 1
Nocturnal transformed the Melbourne Museum into an adults only night at the museum. A group of us enjoyed cocktails while roaming the museum and dancing to live music. We definitely enjoyed checking out the exhibits sans children, and a few of us actually learned a few things. Are you surprised that the dinosaur skeletons were our favorite?
Sunday at the Markets
Sunday, December 10
If we don’t have much on for the day, a leisurely Sunday for me and Anthony includes going to the markets, followed by a cheeky bevy at one of our favorite local pubs. We take advantage of living such a short walk from the largest open air markets in the Southern Hemisphere and grocery shop at the Queen Victoria Markets on a weekly basis. The selections and variety at the markets can feel overwhelming, but we finally know where we prefer to shop. We’ll load up our Tracey trolley at our favorite produce stand, say hello to our chicken man and finish with our cheese people at Curds & Whey.
Tuesday, December 12
A lobster and champagne food truck popped up next to the Melbourne Arts Centre for a brief 10 days. Their one item menu served lobster rolls with a side of truffle parmesan fries. Of course, we opted to upgrade and added a glass of Veuve Clicquot on the side. It was the classiest of ways to up our game for a Tuesday evening! I couldn’t believe how succulent everything was. Those lobster rolls could rival anything I tasted in Maine.
Beyond Blue End of the Year Run
Wednesday, December 13
Beyond Blue is a not-for profit organization that focuses on awareness and support for those in the Australian community who suffer from depression and anxiety. Since this is a cause that is very personal to me, I jumped on the opportunity to volunteer with them. We spent the evening working a water station for the End of the Year run on a blazing hot day. It was such a scorcher that they had to push the event back 30 minutes. Even then, I couldn’t believe the amount of people who turned up to run around Albert Park Lake in 36°C (well over the mid 90s F) heat.
Saturday, December 16
SantaCon returned to Melbourne this year and it was fun to catch up with friends while dressed in festive Christmas outfits. Traditionally, this beloved annual bar crawl takes place in several large cities around the world and involves hundreds of people dressed as Santa. The Melbourne SantaCon enjoys singing in the streets and parading through the CBD while spreading Christmas cheer. You see all types of Santas: surfing Santa, Santa in braids and even Nightmare Before Christmas Santa. My favorite part is always watching the public’s unsuspecting reaction when they notice masses of people wearing Santa Clause outfits walking from one bar to the next.
Monday, December 18
Anthony and I had the pleasure of seeing Muse at Rod Laver. I found it a bit ironic that an arena that is home to silent tennis matches and the Australia Open hosted such a loud rock concert. One of my favorite bands, Nothing but Thieves, opened which was a very pleasant surprise. Muse put on an excellent show and the lead singer’s range is absolutely incredible. Even if you’re not a fan, I highly recommend seeing them live if only for the theatrics of their lights show.
Flinders Street Incident
Thursday, December 21
Melbourne made international headlines when a car drove into a crowd of pedestrians, sending 19 people to the hospital. This is the second attack of its kind in less than one year, the first being in January 2017. At the time of the attack, I was Christmas shopping in the CBD when Anthony suddenly texted asking if I was alright. I would have never known there was an incident just blocks away from where I was standing. Everything around me seemed normal, nobody was panicking and I didn’t even overhear one person talking about it. I am not going to downplay how horrific it must have been to witness a SUV plow down dozens of innocent bystanders at the city’s busiest pedestrian intersection, but everyone highly applauded the Police for arriving at the scene and arresting the driver in just a matter of minutes. While the Police presence in the CBD is evident, it does not feel overwhelming. It is the proactive measures of Melbourne that make me feel much safer here. While we currently have temporary cinderblock bollocks around the CBD, permanent ones will be installed soon and council is drafting new ideas to help prevent another attack on pedestrians while they cross a busy intersection.
Monday, December 25
I loved spending Christmas with Anthony and his extended family. Their generous hospitality made me feel at home and a part of a big family. On Christmas Eve, I got to meet Anthony’s dad’s side of the family who migrated to Australia from Poland after the War. It was very special for me to share their traditions, like serving sauerkraut and pierogis for dinner. While very different from the lasagna dinner my Italian grandmother always cooks for Christmas, I enjoyed trying something new!
Next up: blogs from our visit to Grampians National Park