Why you should act like a tourist every single day?
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
One of my favourite coffees in Melbourne is Cheeky Monkey in Richmond. It has the nicest staff, the best poached eggs in all of Melbourne and a really, really good long black. I am a bit ashamed to say but we brunch there almost every other week.
As much as I can talk about food all day, this is not a blog about ‘the best brunch places in Melbourne’… What I actually want to talk about is the Coles supermarket building just in front of my Cheeky;
I must have eaten there hundred times by now. I must have shopped at Coles at least half of those times. There is not a single time I am there and do not wonder about this impressive building with its clock tower. The fact that it inhabits a simple supermarket makes no sense either.
Despite my curiosity I never really looked for an answer. Where do you actually start looking? Also, for some reason, is seems out of context; Of course I am right in front of it, and I do wonder but why stop whatever I am doing and start challenging the web?
Few weeks ago I couldn't resist it anymore and looked for the answer; the building was constructed in 1853 during the gold rush and was the home of an iconic department store - Dimmey's. The clock tower was an addition to the original building in 1910. The research took me down a rabbit hole - exciting stories about the Britten family (Joseph Britten was the owner of Dimmey’s) and interesting information about Melbourne's history in general; and the importance of Swan street in particular.
Why would I be more eager to find-out more about the building if it was let's say, in Paris? Why would I join a free walking tour during my next-city-weekend-get-away to hear more about places like this but would be a complete ignorant in my own city, with things I am exposed to every single day?
We are so absorbed by our daily routine that we become blind to the little details and wonders that are right in front of our eyes.
There are so many advantages for traveling in your own area, even if it's just being conscious about the things you see from the train while commuting to work;
1. Knowing your own history and heritage gives you perspective and deeper understanding when you go abroad. This is not someone else’s story. Everything fits in the bigger picture. The same way your history is connected to your present, so is your history to others.
2. Enrich other travellers you run into. Be an ambassador of your local town. Fascinate people with its amazing stories - big as well as small ones. How many times have you met people who asked you about your origin or wanted to verify something with you ("is Melbourne really the coffee capital of the world?") and you couldn’t come up with a decent answer? (Of course it is! People are drinking coffee here since 1830 and it was considered “a better option than the demon drink, alcohol” (museum Victoria))
3. It is cheap and yet, rewarding
4. You don’t need to plan ahead or waste time traveling. You will never be stuck in a too-bright airport just to be able to explore and be exposed to new ideas
5. Any travel is inspiration for your next travel. Just as reading about the Dimmey’s department store made me go and look for other buildings of this era, taking me to neighbourhoods I have never visited before it also gave me an appetite to know more about the gold rush and maybe visit other places and dig deeper.
“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things they’re transformed” Thich Nhat Hanh
Be curious, inspire others to know more, share the knowledge, share the love and never stop asking questions.