Melbourne CBD…..Dream City-From Wikipedia
When I dream about Melbourne the first structure which comes to my mind, of course is the MCG,the Melborune Cricket Ground.Being an Indian you can forgive me for being so passionate about cricket!What a beautiful space for playing cricket.The lovely outfield and the magnificient turf have witnessed quite a phenomenal amount of breathtaking cricket over the years.Certainly Iam not going into all those runs and wickets in this particular blog.
Once Iam at the ground the one thing I want to do is to invite Mr.Ricky Ponting,a wonderful Australian batsman, who is for the time being,trying to get that ball on to the bat.I would like to fire(Remember that Iam not a bad bowler at all!)a red cherry at 150km/hour,or less,and prepare him for the 2013 ashes series.But I realise that the most difficult thing in Melbourne is to get Rickey Ponting to the MCG from Tasmania!
A very happy news to begin with.Melbourne has been declared as the most liveable city for the second year running by the Economist Intelligents Units Global Liveability Survey.Well thats not bad, considering that there are several other cities in the world which would compete for that coveted prize.As I imagine, landing at the Tullamarine airport;which came into operation in 1970(replacing the erstwhile Essendon airport),on board a Qantas airplane. I could see the colorful skyline of Melbourne Metropolitan city.The bird’s eye view of this most famous Victorian city was brethtaking.
An ideal spot to watch sunrise;Hot air balloon-From Wikipedia
Melbourne airport is accessible from the city centre(23 kms)by raod,the Tullemarine Freeway and Citylink can be used(The Skybus Super shutttle service is Govt.operated).I would have preferred a train journey to the city.But the proposed rail track to the airport under the “Linking Victoria” programme was shelved after market research proved that most passengers preferred a car to come to the airport.
Approximately 4.1 million Melbournians live in the city.Melbourne is located on the Port Philip Bay and the Yarra river adds beauty to the buzzling modern city centre.Melbourne was founded in 1835 and is known as the cultural capital of Australia.
La Trobe Reading room at the State Library-From Wikipedia
After checking into the hotel,the first thing I want to do was to visit the State Library of Victoria.Sitting in the sprawling La Trobe reading room,I was transported into another world.I quickly scrolled thru the pages of the “Herald Sun” and “The Age”.The sports pages in both news papers were testament to the highest levels of sports enthusiasm in the country.
Then I got into a tram,the backbone of Melbourne, and a big tourist attraction,and arrived at St.Pauls Anglican Cathedral,a colossal and iconic structure which has a special eerie charm.Melbourne has about 59% Christian believers and all other religions of the world are represented here.It has also the highest number of holocaust survivors for any Australian city.
Amicable and admired….the Koala-From Wikipedia
Melbourne has a moderate oceanic climate and at times is unpredictable.Melbourne is situated at the confluence of the hot inland areas and the cold southern ocean.Melbourne experiences heavy rains and extreme colds because of this peculiar geographic locaion.
After seeing the St.Anglican cathedral it was time for me to get to Melborne CBD’s(Central Business District) other attractions.Melbourne is known for its lanes and arcades,from time immemorial,and the Block Place and the Royal Arcades epitomises this histotical aristocracy.The Central Place is a good avenue with magnificient shops and eateries and one can spend some good dollars here!
The MCG,Splendid-From Wikipedia
I Stepped into the “Eclipse” a very popular coffee drinking place and fortunately got a good vantage point to sit and have a sip of the famous coffee of Melbourne,that too without spending much time standing in the queue.I ordered a “ristretto” which was spicy but to my liking.The coffee break itself was an amazing experience.
Then I decided to visit the National Gallery of Victoria or popularily NGV,located at Southbank.The collections at this art gallery,which was started in 1861, was amazing to say the least.The stained glass ceiling of the Great Hall was simply outstanding.
The Eureka builiding(a residential property) is the tallest structure in Melbourne and after getting a glimpse of it from a distance, I headed straight to Vermont South and to Pink Oaks,a typical suburban Melbourne area.This place featured as the fictional “Ramsay street” in the soap opera;Neighbours.
Melbourne Tram….Ubiquitous-From Wikipedia
Melbourne is culturally very vibrant and it was time for me to go to the Princess Theatre.The sprawling precincts of the theatre complex takes quite sometime to see around.But it was worth the effort.But no show was going on;fortunately or unfortunately!
The city of Melborune offers best of transport facilities in the world but if you ask me the quickest way of getting from one end to the other, then the vehicle to look forward may be the bicycle!The Government encourages people to use more of the bicycle,to get to work or for recreation,there by reducing the already overrflowing motor vehicle traffic.More over you get more fitter and energetic!At “Bike Park” one can lock up their cycles,get a shower,and head straight to their offices for the day’s work.For registered members its open 24×7.
Aboriginal Heritage;Rock Carvings-From Wikipedia
Autralians love their sports and Melbournites are no different.Cricket is definitely popular,if not a passion like in India,the “Australians rules football” is another version of football which is played with frenzy here.This footabll game is also known as footy or simply “Aussie rules”.This is a 18 member, full body contact ,outdoor game.During the 1956 Melbourne summer Olympics the sport was showcased as a demonstration event.
Then it was time to take a cruise on the Yarra river.The Melba Star is one boat which gives you luxury par excellence.The liner cruised past Docklands,several parks and magnificient buildings and the port of Melbourne.Then excitement was in store,if not started already,as I was looking forward to the night life in Melbourne.In other words I wanted to go underground!
The Bolte Bridge at dusk-From Wikipedia
Melbourne offers innumerable restaurants and bars where one can spend an entire night.There are many underground get aways as well.I chose to step into the Element Lounge at Queen Street.I was not disappointed with the place I chose to spend the night(Not all of the night,of course).There are five separate sections,water,wood,fire,metal and earth.All of them,I was pretty sure,would offer best of luxury and entertainment.But I had to make a choice and I chose “Water”.Iam not a keen dancer but doesn’t mind watching others do it.So I sat in a corner and enjoyed some sips of some efferevescent liquid and tried to figure out what an exciting first day I had at Melbourne!
I kept the alarm at 8am and wanted to start my exploration of Melbourne in right earnest the next day.The view from my room at the hotel offered a good view of Melbourne.The tall buildings and lanes and roads looked wondefully modern and clean.Being a vegetarian is not a big deal in Australia and of course in Melbourne most of the restaurants offer veg stuff.After a breakfast consisting of orange juice,breads,cakes and the aromatic Melbourne coffee I set out for the day out.
Immediately after that I set out to the University of Melbourne,Ormond College in Parkville.One might think whats there to see in a University.But this more than 100 years old estemend institution have produced a plethora of high standing students.There is a beautiful Cricket ground and a Hockey ground within the prcincts of the college.
Then I visited an unusual place,at least for a tourist like me,the Elvis Presley Memorial at the General Cemetery near the University.It was built by the Elvis Presley fan club immediately after his death at considerable expenses.
I love wildlife and prefer to observe them in their own natural habitat.But that doesn’t mean I totally disregard the wonderful zoos around the world.One such zoo exists in Melbourrne and I boarded a tram and got down at the zoo entrance.After getting my tickets I entered the animal kingdom expecting to get some wild acventure.
Water supply to Melbourne;Sugarloaf reservoir-From Wikipedia
I was not disappointed as the Melbourne zoo has much to offer.The animals I wanted to see was the Platypus,Koala,Kangaroo and the Wombat.I straight went to the enclosure where they have kept the platypusses.It was my first experience standing face to face with a platypus.Then moved over to see the most famous animal in Australia,the red Kangaroo.The snow leopard was something which I was not expecting to see,and that experience was wonderful.It was time for me to get out of the zoo and I walked my way to the Royal Park railway station
I boarded a train and got down at Federation Square.This place is a city in itself and offers all that you want when you are in Melbourne.I first entered the Australian Centre for Moving Image(ACMI).I had alrady visited the NGV,yesterday.At ACMI one can see the moving image in all its splendour whether it is television,movie or digital culture.
Then it was time to get into the “Time out” restaurant at Flinders street.They offer the best of Mediterranean stuff.It seemed the restaurant is always crowded.But the menu was exciting and it was a nice experience at the end.
I decided to be in Federation Square for the rest of the evening and night as it offeres all the excitement needed when you are in Melbourne.I had already decided on what to do on the 3rd day at Melbourne and that required a before dawn start!
Which is the best place to see sun rise in Melbourne?Don’t stress your mind too much,as obviously it would be best viewed a few meters aboove the ground.A hot air balloon sounds exciting and adventurous.I had booked “ChauffeurDrive” to pick me up early in the morning and drop me at the take-off point.It was an exhilerating experience,as the balloon flew over Melbourne CBD,nearby hills and the Port Philip Bay.The photographs I took from above Melbourne are the best among the lot.
Melbourne Docklands-From Wikipedia
After getting down fron the balloon,I moved straight for an Aboriginal rendevous.I visited the Koorie Heritage Trust with an Aboriginal person as guide.When you visit Australia one should not miss out to meet the original inhabitants of the continent.
My short stay at Melbourne was coming to an end I had time till midnight,when the flight to Mumbai would take off.I decided to spend some quite time getting to South Melbourne’s famous place,the Albert Park.You would witness the old world charm of Austrlaia here.The heritage buildings are wonderul even after standing tall all these decades.A short sailing trip on the Albert Lake was wonderful.
I was coming pretty close to my stay at Melbourne.I thought one might need weeks if not months to fully enjoy and grasp the variety offered by Melbourne.But I was not disappointed as this short trip made me understand and experience this Victorian city,in a satisfying manner.
Melbourne airport-From Wikipedia
I got into a taxi and proceeded to the Tullamarine Airport to catch my flight back home.I enjoyed Melbourne one last time sitting in the cab.The beautiful buildings and roads are something which would always linger in your mind.The Bolte Bridge looked bautiful at night.It seemed Melbourne would never disappoint you till the very end.I boarded my flight and sat on a window seat and looked out thru the glass pane.
The man in my neighbouring seat was busy browsing using his laptop.I could read
‘…it’s your time to visit Melbourne NOW!
As I reminisced my encouter with one of the most beautiful cities of the world,I heared the flight attendant announcing the departure of the flight.I slowly closed my eyes and dived into a deep slumber.Suddently I heard the flight attendant’s voice again…..”Welcome to Chatrapathi Shivaji International Airport,Mumbai”………