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Cosmopolitan Melbourne

Posted by on January 17, 2013

I’m not a fan of big cities, since they tend to have too many people, too much concrete, and not enough grass, water, and sky for my liking. All that said, Melbourne is a very likeable city, for reasons I had forgotten since my previous trip over a decade ago.

The winding Yarra River, the numerous parks, nearby beaches, and the wide main streets that accommodate the many tram lines, all allow for views of the sky and a multitude of opportunities to interact with nature. It is also wonderfully easy for a newcomer to get around, whether by tram, bus, foot, taxi, or car, an added bonus. And of course, it has the benefits of a cosmopolitan city….theatres, museums, diversity.  You can find whatever, or whomever, you are looking for in Melbourne. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here.

While most of our time was spent watching tennis, we tried to get around enough to get a feel for the CBD (central business district). It became immediately obvious that Melbourne is heaven for foodies. With its café culture and the availability of most international foods (eg, Italian, Greek, Japanese, French, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Turkish [and that’s just what we can see from our hotel!]), it would take years to get through all of the restaurants and cafes in Melbourne! We did our best, and everything we ate and every coffee we drank was delicious.

Second to food, Melbourne seemed to excel at shopping. Everything from designer clothing to modern home décor, shopping was readily available along the main streets or in many malls or arcades tucked amongst small side streets. Sometimes they were in new, modern buildings and other times in antiquated buildings reinvented for new. The architecture in Melbourne transitioned easily between old and new, which always fascinates me.

Last but not least, the people in Melbourne were just lovely. Remarkably friendly, laid back, and helpful. This is in line with my stereotype of Aussies (right or wrong), that they are…healthy, laid back, and fit. That said, there were a couple of things that surprised me. First, was the rampant presence of cigarette smoke. Because of how clean Melbourne is and the healthy stereotype I apply to Aussies, this seemed noticeably out of place. But notably, we never saw cigarette butts on the ground. It really is a remarkably clean city! Second, while watching the morning news (and noting how very similar it is to ours), there was a report on how over 60% of Australians are overweight or obese. This surprised and saddened me. I look forward to the day when these statistics will no longer be true. In the US, Australia, and beyond.

Sorry for this quick post, but we’re between flights on our way back to the US of A! These are certainly our quick impressions of Melbourne. We hope you enjoy some pix.

Melbourne

[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_aimg_0171.jpg]1240Coffee, coffee, coffee!
Both Oz and NZ do coffee really well. And I'm happy to report that there are very few Starbucks in these countries (ie, not one on every corner). Why would they need it since their own coffee is so good???? We visited many cafes while in Melbourne!
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_bimg_0165.jpg]320Little Italy, Lygon Street
Italian restaurants line Lygon Street. We partook of dinner, gelato, and coffee one evening. Delightful!
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_cimg_0163.jpg]310Chinatown
One block up from our hotel, Chinatown provided us with some lovely Thai food!
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_dimg_0170.jpg]300Royal Arcade
One of the shopping arcades in Melbourne.
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_eimg_0164.jpg]310A
It took Jeff and I awhile to realize that fairly unassuming storefronts led to such decadent (and huge) malls inside. Tricky!
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_gimg_0169.jpg]270Melbourne skyline from the Yarra River
A view of Melbourne's skyline from our waterfront restaurant (in the foreground).
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_himg_0167.jpg]250Money, money, money!
Jeff and I are jealous of the yachts moored in the Docklands area of Melbourne. Mmmmm, maybe someday!
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_iimg_0173.jpg]240One of the many parks in Melbourne
Honestly, I'm not sure which one this is. But the lovely Melbourne weather (75-85degF) was certainly great for enjoying a day in the park! [Well, except for the last day when 100+ degF temps made only the swimming pool a desired choice!]
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_jimg_0168.jpg]230Floral Clock at the Botanical Gardens
I love cities with gardens. These were quite expansive and were a delightful break from the buildings amidst the CBD.
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_kimg_0174.jpg]230The Shrine of Remembrance
A shrine to Australians lost in war, this shrine seemed enormous amongst the botanical gardens, giving the appropriate solemnity to its reason for existence.
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_limg_0166.jpg]240Rod Laver Arena
What can I say, I couldn't resist adding a picture of our new favorite tennis venue! (wink, wink)
[img src=http://thecurioustravelers.com/wp-content/flagallery/melbourne/thumbs/thumbs_fimg_0172.jpg]210The old and the new
The modern National Gallery of Victoria in Federation Square (foreground) adjacent to the older Flinders Street Station.

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