Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The great city of the south

Australian mens doubles.  The atmosphere was incredible. 
I have never been a massive tennis fan.  I've never played a sport to the extent that it's part of my psyche, like Mike has with rugby.

If there was a game that kind of interested me to the extent that I get quite into it, it would be tennis.  But I am not hard core.  I don't stay up late to watch Wimbledon or anything.  I have friends who do, who played tennis to a high level and still enjoy playing socially.

We have always enjoyed the Australian Open on TV.  Mike has gone with a mate once and we spoke of doing it one day.  Then this December, he got invited to a corporate day during the Australian Open.  Now we had just celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary (12th December is a stupid day to get married), and not really done much, so in a sudden burst of energy he booked us plane tickets to Melbourne.

But first he rang his folks and asked them if they would come and take care of the kids.

Suddenly a weekend in Melbourne was beginning to seem extremely attractive.

We have very close friends in Melbourne and we asked to stay with them one night.  They have just built a gorgeous house in an awesome suburb close to the city and we were very keen to see it and them.  In order to really relish the child freeness of our time away, we wanted to spend two of the nights in a hotel.  So I asked my mate (as a Melbourne native) where to go.

She said the Windsor.  She was right.  Talk about your comfy bed.

As the day of our departure approached it became clear that we would be arriving in Melbourne in the middle of the hottest and longest heatwave the city has ever experienced.  And the hottest night was the one we were spending at our friends house, not at the air conditioned hotel.

Our timing was abysmal.  Our friend's beautiful new home was designed by an architect whose very philosophy is founded on green principles.  There was no air-conditioning in sight.  Just concrete floors and clever window positioning.  Which is awesome when it's 25, even 30.  Not 40.

So after meeting my beloved at the airport and enjoying a drink and a meal and a very nice (child free) flight to Melbourne we emerged into the real world.

Still in an air-conditioned bubble of happiness.
Hot doesn't really begin to cover it.  It was like being in an oven.

We arrived at their house at 10pm and the entire family (2x 10 yo, 1 x 7yo) were still awake. It was well beyond too hot to sleep.  We had a drink, ate ice cubes and eventually the children sort of collapsed onto mattresses on the floor.  The upper floor was about 5 degrees warmer than downstairs so we were all camping out together.  We lay on the concrete floor and hoped for the best.

I dreamed of this.  Mainly the controlled climate interiors.  
I dreamed of the Windsor and the air con.  The next morning Mike headed off (sweltering in biz casual long pants and long sleeve business shirt) to what he dearly hoped was an air-conditioned function.  We sweltered in the house for a few hours, and my mate and I had a good catch up, and then we made the move to a most excellent restauranty, cafe, dessert bar in Lygon St called Brunetti's.

Air conditioned.

Thank goodness.

Finally it was check in time at the Windsor.  I hot (no pun intended) footed it there and immediately lay myself down on the bed in the air conditioning.  There I lay for several hours watching the tennis and feeling my core temperature return to normal.

Reducing my core temperature. 
The cool change was expected any minute for about 5 hours but had made no appearance by the time my poor husband returned to me at 5pm.  Luckily he had spent most of the day in aircon and had watched some awesome tennis too.

It did arrive eventually and by the time we returned from dinner with our mates, it felt normal again.  And the next day at the tennis (Roger Federer!!!!!!) was the perfect temperature for everyone.

Mr Federer serving.

That evening we went straight from the tennis to Movida Next Door and actually got a table.

Eating here was a massive highlight.  Yes I know how lucky I am. 
The next morning we found excellent coffee and breakfast in Degraves lane.  We caught a tram and shopped on Brunswick Street.  Everything went so well and so smoothly the entire weekend.  It was a wonderful anniversary present.
A cheeky trio of tacos. 
And to be helpful to anyone wanting to visit Melbourne I have analysed it's strengths and weaknesses for you, so you know what to expect.

Melbourne completely knows how to do:

Large sporting events
Inner city public transport (I've heard it's a bit patchy further out)
Cool bars behind mysterious doors
Excellent Euro style breakfast cafes
Alleyways full of funky shops
Streets full of funky shops
Tiny bars that barely fit anyone and are always heaving
Large bars that fit loads of people and are also heaving
Excellent restaurants

Melbourne struggles with

Hot weather in general
What to wear in hot weather

Now this last point is interesting because I've been to Melbourne quite a few times but only in the cooler months and their dress sense is normally simply spot on.  But for a population so used to wearing black, long, heavy clothes and looking awesome and understated and 'just right' almost all the time, a hot day sends them all a bit off centre. I saw a lot of strange sundresses and very white skin.

And after all that, we returned home and hugged our babies, and Mike's parents.  Who hugged us back.