Mel and I reunited beside the luggage carrousel at the Melbourne Airport. Mel and her Mum went out of their way to make me feel welcome, they’d turned their office/spare bedroom into my Australian home and it was so nice to enjoy clean towels, laundry and the company of my best friend in person! I had a pretty awful cough (Contiki Cough: very contagious, spread by sharing drinks and making bad decisions) when I landed in Melbourne but I didn’t let it run one moment of time with my ‘sister’.
Mel and Mum were terrific hosts. On our first night Mel and I went into the city for dinner at a lovely exclusive restaurant, where we once again, we dug into the Champagne. It was the perfect way to kick off our time together – a throwback to the good old days of Paris. It was racing season in Melbourne, and the stores were full of fascinators and the fashionista inside me LOVED it. Mel will tell you that I behaved like a tourist, I bought a fascinator and wore it everywhere (city tour, tour of Parliament, trip to the zoo, penguin bus tour, lunch with friends), to this day, I still wear them as often as possible, and not always at the most appropriate times. Thanks to my Melbourne experience I believe that “Every day is a fascinator day”.
My favourite part of visiting with Mel and Mum was a terrific drive into the country to stay at a lovely cottage and see some great scenery. It was so nice to enjoy the non-tourist road trip and the company of my Aussie Family. We settled into our cottage and went for a hike into some beautiful wilderness and had a real Australian BBQ (honey, sesame, lamb) that was the most delicious thing I ate the entire time I was there. Thanks ladies! Our road trip was so special. Mel and Mum obviously know me, because they surprised me with something I didn’t even know existed – a drive to The Twelve Apostles. Are you noticing a theme? I really do LOVE big rocks. The Twelve Apostles are really cool and I remember spending two hours starring out the car window loving every minute of the Great Ocean Road and the coast. It really is beautiful.
One of the last things Mel and I enjoyed together while I was in Victoria was a trip to the Phillip Island Nature Park to see the Penguin March. It was COLD, but we braved the elements (and the poorly behaved, rule-breaking tourists) to witness hundreds of penguins parading from the sea and burring themselves in the brush and sand. Such a neat thing to watch.
Part of what made my visit to Melbourne so special was how much I felt like family. Mel, Mum and their friends were all excited to see me and in a strange way, it felt like coming home after a long Contiki trek up the coast and into the Outback. Canadians and Australians are quite similar creatures. I hope Mel enjoyed being a “tourist” in Victoria as much as I enjoyed doing it when she came to Canada!