If Sydney is the New York of Australia, I’d like to think Melbourne is the Boston. It has a strong sporting backbone, a bit more of a laid back atmosphere, and tends to be overshadowed by the other city.
I wasn’t in Melbourne for too long; three days two nights to be exact. But it was just enough, I think, to get a feel for the southern Australian city. The aforementioned Jeff (see previous post if your memory’s failing you) and I decided a trip further down under was necessary during my two-week Australian adventure. We were to stay with some family friends of mine, Adrian and Julie while we were in town and didn’t really have much of a plan to start with. Fortunately Jeff had already ventured to Melbourne before and had a solid idea of what to do.
However, one mistake we did make was not flying into Melbourne International. Noticing that our bank accounts were feeling a bit ill, we wanted the cheapest flight possible to Melbourne from Sydney. Not thinking that Melbourne’s secondary airport would be much of a hassle we booked our flight into Avalon. Well, to sum it up as quickly as possible, adding the transportation costs from Avalon to Melbourne to the price of our “cheap” tickets made them not so cheap tickets. For those of you more acute to U.S. geography, it was basically like flying into Providence to get into Boston. Regardless, we made it into the city and walked around for most of the afternoon checking everything out.
We went to Federation Square, walked down little lanes between buildings covered in (nice) graffiti and lined with small shops and restaurants, stopped as quickly as possible in the rather grandiose casino on the brown Yarra river, and (as I was traveling with an architect) admired the many unique architectural quirks of the city.
Come evening, we were too pooped to poop. We called up our hosts, got public transport directions to their abode and made our way out. I still remember wafting smell of roasting lamb hitting my nostrils as I entered Adrian and Julie’s house. To say the dinner they had graciously prepared was a perfect end to a jam-packed day would be an understatement. We went to bed the right way that night; tired after a productive day but full of great food and excited for what the next day would bring.
Let me stop here and say that staying with Adrian and Julie was, if you haven’t guessed already, fantastic. Their house was beautiful and was only matched by their hospitality. So if either of them happens to read this, thanks so much! Hopefully I’ll make my way there again sometime soon.
Jeff and I got up early the next morning, took the train into the city and basically did some more walking around and discovering. One of my favorite parts of Melbourne is the sporting district they have. The area has cricket grounds, the Australian Open campus, a brand new soccer stadium that I had seen built on “Build it Bigger” on the discovery channel, and remnants of other arenas left from when Melbourne hosted the Olympics in the summer of 1956. I love how the stadiums were just one after the other, and all looked unique. You could tell, per their reputation, the people of Melbourne take their sports seriously. We had wanted to take the tour of the cricket grounds but missed the last one by about 10 min so had to settle with playing handball on one of the iconic blue practice tennis courts surrounding Rod Lever Arena with a “found” tennis ball.
That night we went out to dinner with a friend who I’m very unfortunately failing to recall the name of at a packed vegetarian restaurant in a younger part of town. Although skeptical at first, both Jeff and I were won over by the eatery’s alternative feel and food.
Our final morning in Melbourne started with goodbyes and once we made it into the city we met up with one of Jeff’s friends from the area. He took us to the south side of the river and we walked around an incredible park/botanical garden and then headed over to the Shrine of Remembrance where we, naturally, remembered soldiers lost. We quickly jumped on a trolley after this and had to literally sprint to our bus’s station (berth 66 for those interested) so we could make it to the airport on time. Apparently we had lost track of time and we barely made the bus. The bus started moving while we were still panting on our way back to our seats and, ultimately, Sydney.
(P.S. I might have had the worst burrito of my life in Melbourne. For what it’s worth, Jeff warned me it probably wasn’t going to be great but after going a few months without a burrito I was desperate. Melbourne, it’s not you’re fault. I understand. You’re really far away from Mexico. P.S.S. although the blog has been resurrected you can expect an update only once a week or so. With me working two jobs now, gone are the days of updating every other day or so.)