While visiting Melbourne over Christmas break I have often found myself lost. As a Christmas present I was given a fabric map of the city, which was very useful in finding big streets but failed to help me identify smaller landmarks. Therefore, asking for directions came in handy.
One of the landmarks that were worth seeing according to a lady in a tourist information office were the Melbourne arcades. After a visit in a natural history museum I was determined to see the arcades. However, the arcades were missing from my fabric map! Therefore, in the gardens surrounding the museum I have attempted to approach people to ask for directions. The first few people I ended up talking to were tourists like me. Instead of information, I got a few awkward smiles and an opportunity to pet a fluffy golden retriever. Finally I approached a woman sunbathing on a park bench. She has also turned out to be a tourist. However, having just come from the city center she offered me little paper map. Instead of arcades, the map features several street art locations. The woman told me she didn’t know where the arcades where, but she went to several of the spots marked on the map and they were very interesting to see.
Excited about the map I got distracted from looking for my original destination and I have set off on a completely different adventure. I have found it fairly difficult to follow the schematic map, since street art turned out to be hidden in back alleys and dark gates. To reach my first destination I have got off the busy main street. I walked through Chinatown, between little Asian grocery shops and food places. The spot marked on the map turned out to be a narrow dead-end street surrounded by the tall back walls of the Asian restaurants, completely covered in graffiti. The variety of colours, themes and styles was overwhelming. After than I have visited all the locations on the map, from single wall painting on the garage door to entire intersection covered in paint.
When I have finally found the last location it was late afternoon and my feet were sore. I have failed to see this time, and perhaps never will see, the famous Melbourne arcades. However, I greatly enjoyed the street art treasure hunt with the map that I got from a random stranger met in a park. Somehow until I got the map I have managed to miss this entirely different side of Melbourne – the little back alleys, picturesque narrow streets, dark gates and dodgy corners timing with colour. It’s amazing what you find when you are looking for something entirely different.