Friday, 20 November 2015

City tour: Visitas Guiadas Melbourne

Time for my very last post in my Melbourne-series. It's been too long and I have decided to not write about two other performances I've seen during the Melbourne Fringe Festival, but I felt like I should definitely highlight this walking tour, or as I like to call it, the graffiti tour. Actually it could've been a regular city tour as well, but Pete (our tour guide) actually let us choose what we wanted to see. Meeting him meant looking for a funny grandpa-kinda man with a coloured cap. We were met immediately with a big warm hug and I could tell that this would be no regular walking tour.

Some surprises a la Pete: going to a 5-star hotel for a pee (and sneakily enjoying the view), going into a car park to get a better view of graffiti, and finding some random pop-up pub full of graffiti as well.
Indeed, Pete had some surprises for us in store. We asked for some graffiti and a bit of history, but after seeing one lane full of graffiti, we were suddenly going into a car park. I was certainly confused, but then he showed us the bat on the upper-left corner of the above image, which could only be seen from our particular spot. We'd look down on some other tourists who were wandering around in the lane, but the best view was certainly where we were. Then we took the elevator and went up in the same garage, where we got a different view of an aboriginal person clad against a big wall. There was a fence because we were at the top level of the garage, but it's still a better view than when you look up at that big painting from a narrow lane. The artist, called Adnate , has also left its mark on other places in Melbourne:

More work by Adnate. Pete was actually kind enough to include the lanes in which his work could be found, but I think I will keep that for myself and let you find them by yourself if you decide to follow his tour. ;)
We also went into a 5-star hotel just to take a look at ... the loo. I am serious, this was our genuine intention. Apparently the women's washroom at a certain level would be beautiful, and would have a great view of Melbourne as well. Quite sadly, they were rebuilding this particular washroom, so instead we snuck into a fancy-looking lounge, walking as if we belonged with those people eating way too expensive cheese from a platter, just to enjoy the view of Melbourne. I'm not sure about you but I don't think I've ever met a tour guide who would do that with me, or who took me to a place where I'd take a picture of myself which I actually wouldn't dislike:
Just me playing an Angel in Disguise.
Pete seems to know all the small secrets within the lanes. From good spots to the stories behind paintings. This is probably what made this tour so worthwhile: it was not simply walking, staring and drooling. It was full of surprises. For example, I had walked through a lane of graffiti the day before doing this tour, yet Pete pointed something out which I didn't notice before: some tiny, amusing sculptures of every-day objects by Will Coles
Keep your eyes open for these random objects by Will Coles, scattered everywhere throughout Melbourne.
During my first day in Melbourne, I was so disappointed because I had only found one lane full of graffiti. I had high expectations of Melbourne, and those weren't met. Yet when I followed Pete around I could see the beauty of Melbourne flourish in front of me. It wasn't a static tour, with some monotonous guide walking the same route for years and repeating his story as he has always learnt. I believe that Pete just makes up the tour as he walks, which he is perfectly capable of because he seems to know Melbourne like the back of his hand. Otherwise, these beauties wouldn't be discovered:

All crown the piggy as he is being created by his owners.
Or this two-faced, multiple-legged horse-dog kinda thing which is carrying a pyramid for you simpletons.
I'll be honest and say that this tour was actually fun and it wasn't awkward to talk with the tour guide. I only did this tour with one other friend, it's a private tour, which allowed for quite some conversation. Even though the website stated that the walk would take 2 hours, I think we ended up with 4 hours instead because Pete was simply too passionate about showing us around. He was open for any questions, and it sometimes felt like he himself discovered new things as he walked with us, such as the pun in the image on the left:

This small private tour allowed us to share giggles and poke fun at each other.

And just when you think you've seen all the secret places, we end up in a lane with a peculiar door that leads us into the rabbit whole of the graffiti world: a studio where artists worked and stashed their work. It's astonishing to see art being so alive, and it almost makes me want to explore Amsterdam/Delft one day just to see if there are any secret lanes as well.

Diving right into the rabbit hole of the graffiti world.

Where Sydney has Newtown, Melbourne has places such as AC/DC lane. Just its name makes you want to take a look there. At first I thought the street name was just plastered on the wall, but after checking a map of Melbourne, this name actually exists. I don't really remember if I had written this before but Melbourne's map is quite easy to read as it's divided into squares. Pete told us that this infrastructure has made many things much easier for Melbourne, while the small lanes keep the city structure interesting to wander through. Indeed, while walking around Melbourne, you don't feel like you're walking in squares at all.

Look at that jazzy gorilla.
So much rock 'n roll for this tiny little soul ...

Storm Trooper with a guitar, why not?
I actually forgot whether this was in AC/DC lane too but I like it too much to not post it. Macabre art ftw!

Overall, I was very pleased with this tour. It just costs 5 dollars, though Pete does ask for some donations to help out the Spanish community in Melbourne. This is probably the reason why he promotes himself as a Spanish-speaking tour guide, but do not fret, as he's perfectly capable of giving tours in English as well. In the end I was more than willing to donate money to the Spanish community, especially because Pete was being so patient with us and showed us much more than we asked for. This post is full of so many pictures thanks to him:

Yup, that's an actual bicycle chained to the wall.

Anyone into futuristic women with neon hair?
Or perhaps something more traditional? Imagine what could become if you mix them! How I wish I could paint...
No statement complete without the roaring of a lion and some extraordinary skull art.

I must state, however, that even though my post focusses on the graffiti, this is certainly not the only thing that Pete is capable of showing. Throughout the tour he suggested many back-alley restaurants, shared some fun facts about Melbourne and some of its buildings, and also made some suggestions about places to go in the following days. Without him, for example, I would never have known that the parliament building has free tours each day. It's just that me and my friend did this walking tour after two days of already exploring Melbourne, that's why we especially requested for something we hadn't seen yet: the graffiti.

So whether you're interested in the more traditional aspects of Melbourne or its sneaky alternative side, I'd highly suggest you doing the Visitas Guiadas Melbourne tour. You can follow the tour in both Spanish and English, so don't be confused when you visit the website. And c'mon, it's 5 bucks, I've seen folders for graffiti tours that asked 60 dollars. It is obvious that Pete does this out of passion in his spare time and to help the Spanish community out. You can book through the website, then you will receive a mail which asks you when you would like to do the tour. Be sure to check it out if you ever head over to Melbourne, as you can tell I was certainly pleased even though it took so long for me to write it all down.

See: Visitas Guiadas TripAdvisor Page.
Also: the Visitas Guiadas website.

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