When Pokémon Go was released in 2016, everyone was hooked. At that time, it seemed so cool having cute critters to catch in augmented reality mode. It also encouraged walking—which, for gamers, was unheard of!—as players need to interact with their surroundings to see Pokémon, PokéStops, and gyms. Catching Pokémon in real-life locations even made casual gamers re-live their GMA7-Pokémon-watching days and try the game!
The game continues to keep trainers hooked by releasing new features and holding community events. True enough, I enjoy the game’s PvP feature, rare Pokémon raids, and special Pokémon community days. I practically play it every day.
So, when I had to go to Melbourne for two weeks, I was a little torn about continuing to play versus experiencing the city. I had a little problem, though: I didn’t know much about Melbourne. Luckily, a simple solution presented itself: since Pokémon Go allows me to interact with my surroundings, then problem solved!
True to being an Instinct Trainer, I followed my gut, threw caution to the wind and went wherever the PokéStops, gyms, and unknown Pokémon led me. And, fellow trainers, how eye-opening it is to experience Melbourne while playing Pokémon Go. Let me tell you why.
You get to take advantage of free tram rides.
Playing Pokémon Go requires you to move a lot. It’s a good thing that the Melbourne city center has free tram rides. Trying to catch that Alolan Raichu two kilometers away? Free tram. How about that Alolan Marowak raid that’s ending in three minutes? Free tram. Want to know what costume that Halloween-exclusive Charmander is wearing five blocks away? Free tram. Nine degrees outside? Free tram!!!
Look at this Charmander dressed as Cubone for Halloween!
You get to exercise, too.
As convenient and fun as the tram rides are, there are areas that you can only travel to on foot. Let’s face it, Pokémon Go was made for walking. Roam the city center to gain experience points and hatch those eggs while acquiring exercise points in real life.
The city center is rich with eye-candies. You get a healthy dose of old British infrastructures, a sprinkling of modern architecture, a waft of coffee here and there, and a pinch of Melbourne humor—or as they say Down Under, humour.
Google Maps Waze Pokémon Go!
You can always search for landmarks online and check your Google Maps to figure out how to get to those tourist spots, but that’s too cliché. Sometimes, you don’t have a clear destination, and that’s fine. Eventually, you’ll find yourself just enjoying the journey.
Friends, this is why you should play Pokémon Go. Just follow the PokéStops and you’re sure to find a tourist spot. Sometimes you even get a bit of information about that place—helpful when you’re on a DIY trip. Beat that, Google Maps!
Flinder’s Station. There are PokéStops around the station and a gym in front of it. Grab some snacks to-go at any station food kiosks to warm your belly as you take down that gym in 12˚ weather.
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Drop a lure at this PokéStop while sitting near the fountain at the entrance. Or, just tour around the museum for free (except for certain exhibits) while you wait to turn the PokéStop again.
Royal Arcade. I found this fancy looking building while chasing down an unknown Pokémon. That Cranidos led me to one of the historic shopping arcades in Melbourne.
The Parliament. Saw this while on a PokéStop marathon onboard the tram.
Cook’s Cottage and A Great Australian Tree at Fitzroy Gardens. I got off the free tram zone trying to hit the gym, and I landed at Fitzroy Gardens. Found this quaint, little house (that apparently was transported from England to Australia) beside a majestic tree aptly named A Great Australian Tree.
You get to discover hidden gems.
PokéStops and gyms aren’t all just tourist spots. In fact, a lot of them are local-recommended points of interests.
One time, while chasing down an unknown Pokémon, the map told me to go to a dead-end alley. It was a little sketchy, but I decided that I was a trainer more than a scaredy-cat. That interesting morning rush led me to what must have been one of Melbourne’s famous laneways—the street was lined with food stalls, graffiti, and people waiting for their morning coffee. It was then I knew to trust the Pokémon Go map.
Birrarung Mar. I would never have found this park if I had not craved to take down a gym for my morning exercise. That statue (right) is actually humongous. It’s also a Pokémon Go gym.
Eternal Flame @ The Shrine of Remembrance. Conversely, I would not have known the name of this beacon of warmth (one gray, drizzling afternoon) if not for Pokémon Go.
Art sculptures. Catchy but not touristy.
You’d think I’d have memorized the city center after a couple of days of wandering about, but no! There are too many interesting things to see that everything seems like a landmark or, more aptly, defeats the point of a landmark.
There were days when I would join the farthest raid I could see in my map, take the tram, and just hope I could get home eventually. A couple of times, I was able to do that because of one gym I unwittingly kept taking down! I knew the third time around that I was on to a good thing.
(Yeah, yeah, I raid with wounded Pokémon. Pity me I lost a lot of potions from all the raids!)
You get to enjoy street art.
Playing Pokémon Go in Melbourne will give you a glimpse in history —more particularly, graffiti history. You see, any surface in Melbourne seems to be an open canvas for artists and meme artists. But they haven’t always been meme graffiti.
Some PokéStops will tell you that one of those graffiti used to be, say, a cartoon character, or something like that.
The elephant marsupial in the room
Before I flew to Australia, friends kept telling me to take a picture of a kangaroo. Understandable. Kangaroos are only found in Australia, after all. Well, friends, here it is: Kangaskhan, the resident kangaroo of Pokémon, only found in Australia.
This region-locked marsupial is one of a handful of Pokémon that can only be found around Australia. Other Australian-locked Pokémon include Chatot, Pansage, and Heatmor.
We all live in a Pokémon World.
If I weren’t such an introvert, I probably would have even found some friends to raid the gym with. That gym I kept taking down? In two instances, another trainer joined me. In one of those instances, we almost took down that Alolan Marowak. Almost. If I had met that person in real-life, we probably would have been one person stronger to invite another trainer to help us take that Pokémon down.
Those two weeks had been very productive for me as a newbie traveler and Level 30 Pokémon Go trainer. Not only did it make me level up, but it also made me spontaneous and comfortable in a new place.
I’m sure there are other reasons to play Pokémon Go while traveling. So you’re welcome to add on to this list and tell me your Pokémon Go journey in Melbourne (or anywhere else, really)! I would love to hear your story, fellow trainer.