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Melbourne

“Have you seen my passport?”

sunny 27 °C

Is what I head from James just as we were picking our bags up to walk out the door and drive to the airport this morning. In spite of the fact that we are travelling on domestic flights and don’t really need them, we brought our passports anyway just in case we needed extra ID. He was quite unconcerned in telling me that he hadn’t seen his since Perth, and wasn’t sure where it was. His approach of assuming that it must be packed somewhere was worrying, but he assured me that it would be fine so I reluctantly went out the door and spent the next couple of hours wondering what he’d done with it. Upon taking our travel documents out of his bag at the other end to check the hotel details, his passport was quite clearly in the plastic wallet that he had ‘looked through 20 times’.

Passport troubles aside, we had a great trip from Sydney- the flight was only an hour and the shuttle bus brought us right to the hotel door. After dropping the suitcases off we headed into Victoria Markets to have a look around and find some lunch. The markets are huge, and very busy- it’s possible to buy just about anything there, but there are particularly good fruits and vegetables- very cheap and really good quality. Melbourne has a reputation for some of the best food in Australia, and it’s easy to see why with the range of different foods available. A couple of hours of happy wandering led us to the best burgers we’ve had in a long time, bought from a Winnebago caravan parked in an alleyway- the menu consisted of 2 choices of burger, both of which got enthusiastic thumbs up from us and neither of which, I was pleased to note, contained egg. Australians have peculiar ideas about burgers, and seem convinced that a burger is not complete without the additions of egg and beetroot. Luckily the owners of Mr Burger seemed to have come to their senses and left them off the menu.

After lunch we dropped by the hotel to check into our room and decide what to do with the rest of our day. We decided on heading out to wander around the shopping area of the CBD, which is filled with boutique shops and independent cafes. The whole of Melbourne feels a lot busier than Sydney did, perhaps because the streets are older and there are also trams competing for road space alongside the usual traffic. After browsing for an hour, we walked down to the river and followed the riverside walk along to the aquarium, for the sole purpose of visiting Batman Park- no superheroes in sight, sadly. We also scouted out the Crown Entertainment Complex, which we’ve earmarked to visit tomorrow night. After that we hopped onto the City Circle Tram- a free tram which also has a commentary guide running which allowed us to learn a bit about some of the different places along the route and to get more of a feel for the city.

So far, Melbourne seems more like a British city than either Perth or Sydney- both of those have had more of a deliberately designed feel to them, with more modern buildings split into clearly defined blocks. Melbourne on the other hand has a much more eclectic mix of buildings, with old and new right next to each other. The alleyways and small side streets make the city harder to navigate but much more interesting- we’ve already stumbled across a number of streets that we want to investigate further to see what they have to offer.

Venturing out for dinner was quite an experience. We'd had a taste of pushy restaurant owners in Sydney's Chinatown, where there are staff out the front of the restaurant trying to talk you into choosing their restaurant to eat at- it's impossible to just stand and read a menu without being accosted by somebody wanting to read it for you and list all of the specials. But the street we found in Melbourne was on a whole other level! It was a narrow street with most of the space taken up by tables and chairs, almost all of which were packed with people. There were live bands at either end of the street and the noise of the music and chatter made for a great atmosphere- more like a street party. Eventually we found somewhere a little further up the street which did incredible Greek food. Melbourne has something like the third largest Greek population in the world, and we'd found the Greek area of the city. It certainly had a more Mediterranean feel than anywhere we've been so far, which made it feel more familiar than the other cities we've visited- much more like holidays I've had in the past!

Wandering back to the hotel, the streets were busy but not manic- the lack of a central area for bars and clubs meant that people were spread out in the various areas of the city rather than concentrated in one place. We made our way back, wondering what tomorrow would bring.

Posted by AngelaO'Donnell 07.12.2012 14:05 Archived in Australia Tagged people melbourne markets restaurants

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