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August 12th 2010
Published: October 26th 2010
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Meandering in Melbourne

I took a four day trip from Sydney down to cooler climates in Melbourne only an hour and a half's' flight away. I found my hostel in the St.Kildas area of town - more like a suburb of Melbourne, and once I had checked in, I quickly turned around and took a tram into the centre of Melbourne about fifteen minutes away. I started to explore in my favourite manner, on foot. I always think it is the best way to explore a new place. It gives you the freedom to go at your own pace and take any little twist or turn you like with no restrictions. It’s easier to stop and observe, and you’re more likely to notice little quirky habits or similarities among places. Admittedly it can also mean you walk around in a slight state of bewilderment and walk into things/undesirable places, but that’s all part of the experience!

I found some old shopping arcades and cute pedestrian streets and lanes. With no real direction I found myself at the parliament buildings and then I was walking through china town. I found old churches and cobbled streets, and managed to do some shopping on the way! It’s a good city for shopping. I had prepared myself for arctic weather on the advice of Sydney-siders, but thankfully it wasn’t that bad! It was nice and crisp with those blue skies that I love so much!

In the evening, the city turned into an atmospheric gathering of outdoor diners sitting by candlelight being warmed by outdoor heaters, down little lanes lined with restaurants that echoed with the chatter of the patrons.

I had to be a classic UK tourist in Melbourne and visit the home of popular Australian soap Neighbours. Possibly the cheesiest tour I have ever been on, I entered into the spirit of it and reminisced over the years of post-school neighbours watching, as we drove to the set. We went to the outdoor sets and then on to the real Ramsay street where they film the outdoor shots of the street. Afterwards we met up with an old actor from the soap for more cheesy photographs and a chance to ask questions.

After the tour I explored St.Kildas on foot, enjoying the shops of Acland street and looking in on the cute cafes. There is very much a café culture in Melbourne. Luckily the downfall of rain coincided with lunchtime so I stopped for a nice rest. I also quickly learned that my warm woolly boots were not waterproof, but luckily I was not far from my hostel so I could pop back to change into something more suitable! Back on the streets of Melbourne, umbrella in hand I walked to Chapel street, another one known for it’s shopping. I spent the last few hours of daylight walking and walking and shopping and shopping!

My last day in the city once again involved a lot of walking as I headed up to Brunswick street and back down Smith street. I made my way back to the Queen Victoria markets just in time for a late lunch before they were closing for the day. They were full of fresh cheese and meats and dips and seafood, with an outdoor area for clothing, fruit and veg and other random market goods. It was very attractive inside, dating back to 1849.

On a later coffee shop break, it was funny to see snowflakes and snowmen and general winter decorations around in August, which are things that I would usually associate with Christmas, yet it makes perfect sense in a wintery Melbourne (though thankfully a snowless Melbourne). The weather was a nice break from the humidity of Hong Kong.

The botanical gardens in Melbourne were beautiful, but very big and I didn’t get a chance to go exploring much. It was getting dark and the gates shut at sunset, so instead I walked back towards the city along the “tan” a popular running track circulating the gardens. I ended my day with a walk along the Yarra river looking at the pink sky behind the city buildings, and finishing up on the Southbank, lined with trendy bars for city types to enjoy a post work drink.

On my last day in Victoria before heading back to New South Wales, I took a trip on the great ocean road which will be the next blog entry. Three days in Melbourne was a good length of time for wandering around and shopping! I was travelling alone, but it would be a fun city break with friends!

J x

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