Monday, September 30, 2013

Melbourne: this ain't Mission Beach

[Michele]  The kids have a two week holiday between the school terms 3 and 4 and we've decided to visit Melbourne and Victoria.  This is where Gavin was born and spent his first 5 years and we've all heard lots of stories of the region and thought it would be nice to see a different part of Australia from far north Queensland.
Spring at Carlton Gardens

On arrival our first impression was SPRING!
Everything is cool and green. The trees are budding and the flowers blooming.  Ahhhh.  Now THIS is real and true Spring - not the subtle spring of the tropics.

Our second impression was was "Wow Melbourne has a lot of people!".  In addition to residents and the typical influx of tourists, our visit to Melbourne coincides not just with the Victorian school holidays but also with the Australian Rules Football (footy) grand finals in Melbourne.  Footy is really popular in Victoria and the final teams were one from Melbourne and one from Perth.  Everywhere we went in the city we saw footy fans.  We ended up spending some effort finding ways to avoid crowds in Melbourne and except for an unfortunate tram ride on the first day we managed this pretty well.

the usual fairytale elements
One highlight of our visit to Melbourne was that Robin and I went to see the Australian Ballet performance of Cinderella.  It was awesome. It has the usual fairytale elements but the show, which featured entirely new choreography by Ratmansky also had lots of quirk.  It was sort of a cross between ballet and Cirque de Soleil.  The costuming was also amazing.  In short, we and the rest of the packed audience had a fantastic time.
unexpected quirk

A little bit of tropical Queensland in a
greenhouse at the Botanical gardens
Another highlight of our time in Melbourne was some really enjoyable meals. In 2.5 months in Mission Beach we ate out at restaurants only 3 times.  OK, we did get fish and chips take-away but that doesn't count.  In Melbourne, we took advantage of being in a city reknown for its food by having wonderful sushi and greek food. Yum!

We also got to learn about Melbourne.  Traveling with a Melbourne native meant that we could pester Gavin with arcane questions about .. well everything.  "Gavin, you are from melbourne, what kind of tree is that?"  "Gavin, you are from Melbourne, what restaurant should we go to?"  Never mind that he left the city when he was 5 years old and remembers pretty much nothing.

All in all our 3 days in the city met our expectations: we enjoyed museums, good food, saw a show, walked through the Botanical gardens even some shopping. But when it comes down to it, we just aren't city-lovers.  Robin ranked Melbourne above Paris but below Townsville, QLD.  I suspect that this is purely based on population since she doesn't like crowds.  I also suspect that she is the only person in the world to rank these cities in this order.

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