Australia 2010 – Melbourne

Saturday

A travel day. The morning was spend relaxing and writing blog posts, then a leisurely trip to the airport. Apparently buses are more expensive on weekends, as this time it cost me $4.60 instead of $2,80, anyway it’s still cheaper than a taxi πŸ˜‰ A quick checkin, with the bag being labelled as Fragile as it carried my purchases from the Barossa and then more waiting. The flight’s only just over an hour, so they only had time to serve a drink before we were making our way down again.

Landing in Melbourne, the plan was to picked by my cousin, but circumstances changed (impending labour can do that), so instead to the Traveller’s Shuttle, which for $15 dropped my right at the hostel. There are at least a couple of companies that do this, seems a pretty good service as long as you’re not in a rush to get to your hotel.

The chosen accommodation in Melbourne was Nomads Industry, a very different experience from Adelaide. This is a lot more corporate, or so it seems. There’s a lively bar instead of a common room, which can be dark and noisy. As far as I could see there was nowhere to go if you wanted some quiet time in the evening, although in the mornings it was fine. It’s a bar open to anyone, so can get pretty busy; as a consequence it also gets very noisy – earplugs are a must! For a hostel that can accommodate a few hundred people, the kitchen is TINY! there were 5 of us in there on the morning and it was crowded. Otherwise, ther facilities are good, there’s plenty of laundry services and the staff are efficient.

Once checked in, all I did on Saturday was take a walk around the centre of town. There was a general Melbourne festival taking place, so there were quite a few bands playing in the streets.

Australia 2010

Sunday

Sunday was another walkaround day, it was bright and sunny, apparently one of the best for a while. It started with brunch overlooking the Yarra river, down in Southgate, at Blue Train Cafe, along with plenty of the marathon runners who had just finished up their race.

Australia 2010

Also, Melbourne has Boris Bikes. I wonder what they are called there? After brunch I went to the Immigration Museum, a really nice museum tracing the different waves of immigration with lots of personal stories being told. For the rest of the afternoon, all I did was wander in the many gardens and parks the city has, with a quick walk round Victoria Market, where I worked out you could buy almost anything.

Australia 2010

The end of the day was spent with Christy Dena, a twitter friend I’d never managed to meet up with, despite us getting close a few times in London. She’d kindly offered to host me and watch the Japanese Grand Prix, so we settled down with a couple of bottles of fizzy stuff and I did my best to provide a decent commentary. I was really surprised to see they used the BBC commentators; when they cut to an ad break, there was an Australian guy summarising anything you missed and then back to the BBC.

Monday

On Monday, I’d booked a day trip out with a company called Down Under Travel. Unfortunately, it was not obvious that this was really just a part of a far larger company called APT, so I managed to miss completely the pick up as I was not looking for an APT coach – it wasn’t all my fault, as the drivers did not ask the one and only person waiting outside the pickup place if I were waiting for them! Eventually, I caught up with the coach; the pick up was only to take people to the central departure point. First of all we went on a steam train called Puffing Billy; I loved this, i have a soft spot for steam trains.

Australia 2010

Then lunch at a winery and then we were supposed to go to Healesville Sanctury. But the bus broke down., so we were all stuck at the winery for another hour. Eventually another turned up and took us to the Sanctury so we did get an abreviated tour, allowing me to see platypuses/platypi (whatever your preferred plural), my favourite monotremes πŸ˜‰

Australia 2010

My final event in Melbourne was dinner with Amy and Pamela, more Twitter friends and fellow F1 fans I’d met very briefly in London and Spa; we were planning on brunch on Sunday before the race but the delayed qualifying meant that was cancelled.. A great dinner and chat was followed by a spin round most of the Albert Park track – far narrower than I expected.

Overall, I loved Melbourne, a great little city that I could spend a lot more time in. Next up, a 3 day bus trip to Sydney.

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