If there was ever an opportunity for harmonising roots and wings in a single blog post – well, this is it.
Dating can be difficult at the best of times – a “roots” endeavour, for most of us it’s essentially about finding a life partner. So, for a wanderlust-infected traveller – a lover of “wings”, so to speak – it can be difficult to stay anywhere long enough to really lay the foundations of a relationship. There needs to be a compromise – a middle ground between roots and wings – but who says you can’t stay put and still get that travel buzz?
Enter, the “staycation”. We’ve all heard of it – the seemingly-less fun, holiday at home – and I realise that the suggestion that it somehow rivals an actual away holiday sounds a bit naff. Yes, it’s often considered the cheap or lazy alternative to an overseas gallivant but, for the constant traveller, there’s actually some novelty in exploring your home city. And when combined with dating, it can actually be heaps of fun.
I’m not going to suggest you check out Melbourne’s best art galleries, museums or landmarks – if that’s your thing, head here.
This is a list of 5 of my tried-and-tested dates (or staycation activities), guaranteed to make you forget you’re at home in Melbourne. You could be in just about any US state actually…
1. A teen’s dream date night in Louisville or Chicago: Ice skating and Soda Rock Diner
Enjoy a Friday-night-date-night at the Medibank Icehouse Skating Rink at Docklands. There’s Top 40 music and disco lights and plenty of opportunities to flirt, fall, hold hands and show off – it’ll take you back to your teenage years, whether you like it or not. If you’re lucky, you might get to see the Melbourne Mustangs training at the ice hockey rink next door. Tickets are $26 (including skate hire) and can easily be purchased on the night.
Afterwards, check out Soda Rock Diner on the corner of Chapel Street and Toorak Road in South Yarra. This is a typical American diner, complete with waiters on roller-skates and a juke box on every table. You can share a hot fudge sundae and some curly fries whilst listening to classics like “California Girls”, “My Sharona” and “My Girl” – request “Shake It” and the staff have to come out and dance and sing.
2. An afternoon of belaying, carabineers and figure-8 knots in Colorado, Nevada or Cali: Indoor rock climbing
Hidden away in the middle of the Melbourne CBD is a rocky, desert-like escape – with air conditioning and access to drinks and snacks, that is. Go and check out the views at Hardrock. There’s a climb for every level and, if it wasn’t for the glass walls overlooking the Melbourne CBD, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were doing a climb in Nevada or Cali. General entry is $30 including harness and shoe hire.
3. Get back to nature with sun, surf and stars in Hawaii: Camping
The sand is reminiscent of beaches in Hawaii or Mexico – soft, white and so fine that it squeaks when you walk on it (hence the name, Squeaky Beach). As you swim in water so clear you can see the ocean floor, you are surrounded by views of mountains and greenery. Now, beaches and camping are arguably quintessentially Australian, but the scenery down at Wilsons Prom genuinely reminded me of the The Big Island and Maui in Hawaii.
The campsite at Tidal River is the perfect place to pitch a tent and relax for the night. The 3.5 hour road trip will make you feel like you’ve travelled far and the fresh air, open landscape and beauty of the Wilsons Prom National Park will transport you far away from the drudgery of daily life in city.
4. A romantic afternoon in the deep south: Row boating at boathouse
What girl hasn’t dreamt of being Rachel McAdams in that pivotal Notebook scene? So grab a beau and head to Studley Park Boathouse in Kew. You can hire an old-style wooden row boat for $36 per hour and cruise down the river at your leisure – I recommend playing some tunes via Pandora or Spotify and bringing a few picnic snacks. After 5 – 10 minutes of rowing, it’s just you and the scenery (apart from the odd kayaker or fisherman). Best thing is, even if it does rain, it just makes it more Notebook-worthy. Afterwards, you can enjoy some tea and scones – or a hearty lunch – at the restaurant, café or kiosk.
5. A NYC-esque solution to modern city living: Outdoor balcony movie
Love an outdoor movie but consider Melbourne weather too unreliable? Even if all you have is an apartment balcony, there’s potential for a great outdoor cinematic experience. Get your hands on a projector – the IT department at work is a good start, but otherwise check out some online – then, all you need is a white wall and a balcony (or any other room really). You can project movies onto the wall and set up the balcony with pillows, blankets, wine and nibbles for your own private, romantic screening.