Some time mid year 2014, armed with a special task, I headed down under. It was unexpected, I could even say I wasn't well prepared. We did our lay over in Hongkong and I must admit, I was again impressed by the vastness of the super busy airport. Arrived Melbourne almost midnight. Amidst a very tough challenge, we got to our hotel safely and warm. Winter was starting.
Most of the waking days and hours of the trip were spent on non-personal agenda because of course, that was what we were sent to do. I didn't care to answer my curiosity of the structures and scenes we passed by everyday. Some just revealed by itself, some remained interesting.
|some interesting structure sightings|
|Beautiful facade of the Etihad Stadium|
|no idea what is this|
Yet I think the universe conspired and showed a little mercy for a gazer like me to take a closer look, experience first hand, and soak in a little bit what the city kept showing off since we arrived.
So, yeah, I ditched shopping night because 1. I do not have $$$ anyway and 2. it's not really my game. Followed the signs and off I went.
Locals were early riser I guess because they close shops early too. So journeying around at 7PM would mean taking selfies at the front door of a closed ACMI building or just gazing into the glass walls of the Melbourne Visitor Center in Federation Square which by the way has free wifi and is just beside the iconic Flinders Street Station. A few walk across is a passage way underneath a bridge with stunning view of the Yarra river illuminating the city lights even in a chilly night. On the other side of the square is another prominent structure you couldn't possibly miss - the St Paul's Cathedral. Walking around Federation Square area was worthwhile. I wanted to trace through Rod Laver arena but I thought there was nothing much to see/do there at those "wee" hours. I did a couple more stops before heading back to hotel. One was at the State Library which, also has free wifi and again could only enjoy it's beauty from the outside with its tall pillars and statues.
|St Paul & the City Circle in sight|
No taxi cab took me to do these last-minute stroll, they were pricey. It was the Free City Circle tram that brought me around. Yes, it is for free. It runs through both directions of the main streets of Melbourne where the landmarks are and the loop reaches all the way to Docklands. It may just take some minutes to wait for one and sometimes you would get into a short halt because of engine failures or that sort.
|the inside of the City Cycle tram|
Yarra River & the Cityscape:
We were particularly fortunate to have stayed at a hotel just stones-throw away from Queen Victoria Market so at least I had several occasions of going back and forth for a leisurely hunt for food and local stuff.
Three things I find odd/new though with Melbourne (or Australis maybe) - (1) after going through immigration, there is another line of airport personnel who will approach you and ask either same or more detailed information about your trip in their country; (2) unexpectedly, there is very limited or pay-wifi access in a hotel with international chains; (3) a processing fee when exchanging USD to AUD (giving you less AUD to a dollar) at any forex facilities. Well, they say Melbourne, rather Australia is one expensive country. And Melbourne, despite being rustic is definitely vibrant and despite my quick visit, I felt that great things has only begun.
|One of the major city transport - Yarra Tram|
Visited: June 2014