Declare your love – Melbourne Open House 2013

One thing I love about traveling is that feeling you get when you arrive in a new city. The feeling of wonder, excitement about all the new intrigues that the city has to offer, and the little daily wins – learning how to use the local public transit, walking around in the city and knowing exactly where you are for the first time, even the ability to give directions after only being there for a few days. It’s hard to keep that feeling once you’ve lived somewhere for a good amount of time, I’ve found that I’ve lost it a bit since acclimating to my life in Melbourne.

However, I’ve recently found myself feeling that brand new wonder in Melbourne again. One of the reasons why I love giving travel recommendations to people going to the places that I’ve already been, is because it allows me to see certain cities in a different way, with a new perspective. One of my close friends from California, Kelsey, is currently visiting me in Melbourne, and it has been the perfect way to rediscover the city I’ve grown to love through a new set of eyes.

She asks me questions I remember thinking when I first arrived, she points out the differences between the States and Australia, a comparison that has slowly faded from my mindset. She reminds me of me four months ago. It’s refreshing, it’s a way for me to start anew in Melbourne and to appreciate the city before I leave it in a couple weeks.

One of the ways we appreciated the city recently was through the Melbourne Open House. On the first weekend Kelsey was here, we found out about the Open House located all over the city in interesting and historical buildings. 111 buildings opened their doors to the public, some even offering free tours, all to showcase the architecture and history these hidden or not so hidden gems have to offer. Best of all it’s FREE! We only had one day, and we took our time with each place we went, so we were only able to visit a few places around the CBD, but even still it was a great day to rediscover your love for Melbourne.

Here are the places we went:

Council House 2 – CH2

Kelsey, a structural engineer from San Diego, was of course interested in seeing some of the sustainability buildings the city had to offer, I happily agreed to check out the Council House 2 when I found out it had a rooftop terrace overlooking the city. It ended up being the most informative and organized building we went to of the day, there was even a short presentation on the specific inner workings of the place and how exactly the building stays sustainable. It definitely makes you respect the thought that goes into engineering these types of buildings.

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St. Michael’s Church

One of my favorite aspects about the architecture around the city of Melbourne is the combination of old and new buildings usually right alongside each other. Some of my favorite building are the incredible Victorian churches, they’re a beauty to look at. So when I saw that St. Michael’s Church was opening its doors and offering a free organ recital, I knew that I wanted to check it out. While there, I even had an enlightening conversation with an 80 year old man who has lived in Melbourne his whole life, and who explained the detailed history of the church. One thing I like about St. Michael’s is that you can practice your faith in the church regardless of what religion you belong to, they accept everybody and respect whatever beliefs you may hold. Also, I haven’t come across many churches that have their own meditation room, pretty cool.

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Melbourne Town Hall and Offices

The Melbourne Town Hall, one of the first historic buildings that catches your eye when you’re in the CBD. I always wanted to go into this building and stand on the 2nd floor balcony overlooking the main street in the city, Swanston St., and I did just that at the Open House. We explored the Council Chamber where you could even sit behind the judge’s bench and hold the official gavel, the Portico room, and my personal favorite (because of the view, of course), the balcony.

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131-141 Buddhist Temple

Being into yoga and meditation, I was excited that there was a Buddhist Temple on show for the Open House, and it had a rooftop garden! Although the garden left a lot to be desired, besides providing some good views of the city, the actual temple was so peaceful and heartwarming. I loved walking in, going up to the Buddha on display, and taking a moment to silence my mind for the day.

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Overall, the Melbourne Open House was a great way to spend the day, and to declare your love for the city – both, for someone completely new to the city and also for someone who has been here for almost half a year now.

Have you ever been to the Melbourne Open House? Have you ever been to a city that offers a similar event?

Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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