Monday, March 7, 2011

Melbourne, We Have Arrived!

So many olives!
Although we had to get up at an ungodly hour of the morning to get to Melbourne, the 3 hour, 40 minute flight and 2 hour time difference meant we arrived at a comfortable 8.45am. The others were on a different flight (because we booked at different times and took the best deals available), but conveniently arrived only 10 minutes after I did. After a few hiccups trying to find each other (FYI there are two SkyBus ticket booths at Melbourne Airport!) we took advantage of the $AUD26-return SkyBus airport shuttle and headed into the city. SkyBus is great, it's the second time I've used the service and I highly recommend it - very easy to figure out and great value for money.

We walked the five minutes from the SkyBus departure point at Spencer St Station to King Street Backpackers and checked in. We (which means Squish) booked us in via I've stayed there once before and I'm pretty sure I used the same site, but I've heard a few travellers say they have issues with the bookings getting through to the hostels in one piece, or at all. In our case, they had bookings for five of us, not four - at least it was one too many and not too few!

At the time of check in they were still cleaning our room so we took advantage of their free locker storage and headed on out to explore the city. Our major goal for the day was to conquer the Queen Victoria Markets, and we did so with vigour. I have been to the markets once before, about five years ago, and I had completely forgotten how huge they are! We were blown away by the sheer size and amazing quality, especially of the fresh produce.

My worries of how on earth I was going to stay on my miniscule budget and remain sugar-free were blown out of the water. I ate constantly, munching on fresh plums, nectarines, green beans, strawberries, and grapes. All so full of flavour and high in quality. We sat down for lunch with freshly baked ciabatta, sliced ham from the bone, and our discovery of the day - 'Garlic Gold'. I suppose you would call it a dip, one that we discovered via one of many free samples throughout the day. Made from only garlic, lemon, oil and salt, it has a full yet not overwhelming flavour and the texture of softened butter - and it tastes divine. By the time we left the market - with several purchases in tow from the retail section as well - we were contently overflowing with food and yet each of us had spent around $AUD10.

State Library
From the market, we walked down Swanston Street, the main road through the city, marvelling at the beautiful architecture of buildings like the State Library and Flinders Street Station. Melbourne is so clean and not just because there is little grafitti and even the alleyways are tidy, if not completely rubbish free. The architecture is beautiful, and in itself just looks 'clean'. It feels good to walk through the city, and the walking is very easy.

Once we reached the bottom of Swanston Street we crossed the river to Southgate, where we sat down for the first time in a long time at a bar floating under one of the bridges, in the river. In place of seats were tall crates and each table had freshly picked garden flowers in a jam jar. The service left a lot to be desired but the atmosphere was just what we needed.

Back to the hostel for a nap and some blogging and then we headed out to Brinner - Breakfast for Dinner - at Pancake Parlour. My favourite!

What inspires you about the cities you have visited? How do they compare to your own?


Remy said...

Oh man those pictures! So awesome! I hope you enjoy Melbourne. It's on my bucket list to visit Australia.

Penny said...

You've got to do it! And if you need any tips on where to go, you know where to find me! :)

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