|Since work was not paying for the Sheraton Southbank hotel, Tara decided that we'd stay at the YWCA. She'd read in many guidebooks that it was one of the best budget accomodations in Melbourne. Seth had a bit of a scary impression of YMCA's from the Village People's YMCA song, but he was brave enough to try the YWCA. It turned out to be a good place to settle into for five nights.|
|Seth had a little desk where he could connect the computer to the internet, Tara had a nice sunny bed to lay on. We had a refridgerator to store all the food we kept buying at the Victoria Market. We even had air conditioning since we were in a deluxe room. Good thing too that we had aircon since we were in Melbourne at a hot time! Tara did not want to miss summer in Australia and luckily she got a good taste of it in Melbourne in early March. We also had a net view out our window of Victoria Market and even hot air balloons one morning.|
We very much enjoyed visiting the City Baths daily to go for a swim. One of the reasons Tara had picked the YWCA was because it had free access to the swimming pool. We were a bit put off by the fact that the swimming pool was two block away, but that didn't stop us from trying out the pool. It was great to actually exercise - especially after being in America and eating American food for three months!
We were excited to see that the Cirque du Solei was in town and just
opening their Allegria show days after we arrived. We easily obtained good
seats at a ticket outlet and had an enjoyable evening seeing Allegria again.
This show was different from London in that it was staged in a true big
top tent. It was also a much smaller venue than the Royal Albert Hall in
London, so it had a neat atmosphere. Just like before, we really enjoyed
the men running and criss-crossing each other as they flipped and flopped
on long trampolenes. It was a very enjoyable night out on the town.
timing to Melbourne was excellent even though it was totally unplanned.
We were in town for the final day of the Grand Prix - and even though we
didn't buy a ticket to go inside, we drove past in our Sunday
drive around town in our Seva's hosts' Rolls Royce. We were also in
town for the Moomba festival activities. These included various performances
Friday night, Fireworks along the river Saturday night and a tram parade
on Monday. The performances Friday night were OK - but started much later
than scheduled and were a bit too artsy for our tastes.
The first show was called Herbert's Dream and consisted of people walking on stilts and "praying" to a large illuminated white sphere that symbolized the moon. These people were "moon-beings" since they had large illuminated white spheres for heads. It was sortof neat and OK to watch. The second show was so bizarre that Seth at one point commented that to enjoy it you either needed to be extremely new-age artsy or on drugs! We left halfway through the 45-minute show that featured people bobbing around on the top of flexible sticks waving their arms slowly back and forth.
The fireworks along the River Yarra in the center of town were fun. Seth picked a terriffic vantage point in the middle of a bridge and we had a nice view of the river bend where fireworks both on the ground and in the air were visible. There were even some boats shooting off fireworks and large flames. The final Moomba event that we saw was the tram parade in the afternoon on Monday. The tram parade was fun. There were a wide array of trams. We especially remember the Indian tram, the Buddah tram and the bubble containing a naked man and woman!
Alan and Lorraine invited us to accompany them to the Dandenong Hills for afternoon tea on Sunday. We readily accepted. The start of the hills was approximately an hours drive out of the city center and Alan drove on on a sightseeing tour through a few fun neighborhoods we hadn't seen before including a bohemian/artistic town and the Vietnamese part of town. We also took a long highway straight West after leaving the city. We enoyed getting back to nature and driving by tall ash trees. The place we stopped for lunch was nestled alone in an area where we couldn't hear traffic noise. We passed many cute little touristy towns and stopped once to see a restaurant where people were feeding wild kookaburas by hand out the restaurant windows. We saw numerous kookaburas arriving for the free food! It was an enjoyable day out and Tara got her hairbrush back. It's amazing how well you can comb your hair with only your fingers for five nights!
Places & things we like in Melbourne include:
The Southbank - This is where we stayed on our first trip to Melbourne. Since the company was paying, we stayed in the Sheraton. This trip, we simply walked along the Southbank and enjoyed the city views.
Numerous live bands - We do not know if the large number of bands were
only because of Moomba, but we don't think so. We ducked into a shopping
mall on our way home Friday night headed to the food court for dinner.
We were surprised to find a live band playing in the food court seating
area. And this was only one example of many live musicians we heard.
Street - On our first trip to Melbourne, we ate dinner at one of the many
restaurants lining Lygon street. We definitely wanted to head back this
trip and we did twice - once for dinner and once for lunch.
|Eating outside - The majority of our meals were eaten outside at tables set up on the wide sidewalk in front of the restaurant we'd chosen. Typically a restaurant will have a glass screen separating diners from the traffic and it was very pleasant to eat outside.|
The friendly people - We ran into a lot of friendly people who would swap pleasantries while we were waiting in line in a store,riding a train or walking down a street. It was nice to be in a city where the population is friendly,
For all these reasons and more, we like Melbourne. We have been told that Melbourne is the most European city in Australia - so maybe that is one of the reasons it appeals to us. We just wish Star Trekkie transporters were here today so that we could move to Melbouren without considering the 24-hour travel time between here and Chicago!
|Ease of Journey|
|Accommodation||We liked staying at the YWCA.|
YWCA superior room with air-conditioning for AUD 115 per night
4 March: Sydney to Melbourne on Qantas 427 at 11am - economy. Red Hot E-Deal purchased on www.qantas.com.au for AUD 66 per person one way. The Qantas Club lounge at Sydney's domestic terminal is excellent!
13 March: Melbourne to Sydney on Qantas 422 at 10am - economy seats 46A and 46B. Red Hot E-Deal purchased on www.qantas.com.au for AUD 69.74 per person one way.
13 March: Sydney to Nadi on Qantas 391 (Operated by Air Pacific 910) at 1pm - seats 34J and 34K. British Airways award ticket.