My phone buzzed twice and when I saw the name of the caller I was happy and jealous at the same time.
It was my friend AS. He had just returned from melbourne last week after completing his MBA and we were to meet today for all the catching up to do.
I was jealous because I knew my foreign returned friend would go on and on about Australia, melbourne and I would have to listen to him in amazement like an eager child.
Being a fan of Masterchef Australia series, Australia was in my mind for quite some time now. And I was eager to know all about it from the eyes of someone who has been there already.
I was waiting for him in the cafe when he arrived waving from the entrance as I saw him.
“Hey m-ayee-t” he said teasing me with his newly acquired Aussie accent.
“So Mr. Melbourne!! How have you been?” I asked
“Sweety you have to go to melbourne at least once in your lifetime. It’s fabulous!
I have fallen in love with the people, place, the environment. Do you believe I really wanted to fail my last exams so I could stay one more year there?”
“Okay I am exaggerating” he said looking at my questioning look. “But you have to see the place girl!!
“Okay okay calm down AS and tell me all about it. What is in this place that other metropolis haven’t?”
It is a city that is cosmopolitan, modern and has its good old english charm alive at the same time. It has not gotten its name “the most livable city” for nothing.
Sports, culture, art, dining or just people watching it has something in store for everyone.
I loved to sit down on a roadside cafe and immerse myself in the rich cream aroma watch various street plays and dance while enjoying your coffee. There is always a laid back corner on every street where one can take a break and unwind. ”
“That sounds interesting… ” I would totally love to read a book and have a coffee while people watching all at the sametime!!
“So how was it when you first stepped into the city of Melbourne?”
“Okay let me answer that with a question. Generally what do you see when you step out of a railway station in any city?”
“Unwanted crowd… Bevy of small restaurants and street vendors? Mostly a lot of hustle bustle .. “I answered with disgust.
“But not in melbourne.” I was surprised.
“When you step out of the Flinder’s station, opposite to it you see a tall building, standing with pride.
That’s the Eureka sky deck. The tower gives the 360 degree awe inspiring view of magnificent Melbourne skyline. And it is the only observation deck that gives you an experience of standing on the edge!! I mean literally. There is a glass cube on level 88 that sticks out of the building with you inside!!
Just imagine you standing on glass viewing the teeny tiny city sprawled under you. It’s like flying in the sky…
That’s really something… I got goose pumps by just listening to that.
So there is a tourist attraction near a railway station!! That’s weird and interesting at the same time..
Of course the station itself with its old clock tower is a sight so interesting.
The street is buzz with amazing local food.
My favourite was a small joint named ‘The Lord of the fries’ where you get the best burgers and fries in the whole world. I made it a point to grab a bite every time I went to any place nearby. You are sure to fall in love with those burgers being the foodie that you are!!
“This reminds me I am famished.” I called the waiter and ordered sandwiches and coffee for us.
I had started enjoying the conversation by now, feeling less jealous and more intrigued. His excitement was contagious and I started to feel I was right there breathing the Melbourne air.
Tell me all about it..
I want to know all about Melbourne. The inside story if you know what I mean…
At first the city seemed historic. Trams still run there. In fact it has the largest tram network in the whole world. The museums and art galleries of Carlton showcases Australia’s indigenous culture. The diverse collection and exhibits takes one into a completely different era.
There was a laid back atmosphere in the city that exuded peace and serenity.
But do you remember I always told you how the best way to visit a city and know its soul is take a walk across its lane?
I did that later on the second week of my sojourn. And it amazed me!
The streets and lane ways are inundated with some awe inspiring art I have ever seen.
Exactly. Now tell me where can you find a city’s streets as a means of attraction?
See I clicked some pictures to make you jealous..
“Wow!! Isn’t this amazing… I can spend a whole day out on the streets like wanderer..”I said, obviously feeling jealous.
The city itself is an epitome of art and culture by day and it goes crazy by night. People party hard here. And it is one of the city that has invented its own dance style!! If I am not wrong you love dancing right? You won every dance competition you ever participated in school?
“Oh well yes!!” I fluttered my eyes and tried being modest.
“But I haven’t invented any dance style for sure.”
“Melbourne has its very own dance form THE MELBOURNE SHUFFLE. It is a rave and club dance style that found in late 1850s..”
“Wow!! Melbourians are indeed talented people!!” I said all excited to know about the people there.
“They are they are!!” He said again teasing me with his Aussie accent.
“They are sports buff too. The horse race in flemington, melbourne popuralary known as The Melbourne Cup is a race that literally stops the nation! It is declared a national holiday.
But being an indian I was more into cricket than horse racing. I watched an IndiaVs Aus at MCG. The thrill of watching a match up close, the roar in the crowd, the madness in the people there for sports is out of the world.
Then there is Rod laver arena for the tennis lovers as well. But the stadium opens itself to other sports like basketball and also becomes a stage for live concerts or musical performances on some days.”
I was already imagining myself on the front row in the audience watching Federer play…
“Do you know one weekend I was really homesick” He continued obviously pulling me from the Rod laver Arena to our local cafe. Ah if only dreams were true…
“My local friends took me out on a drive at the Great ocean road. I tell you nothing beats the experience of driving with the windows down along the sandy beaches. The incredible panorama of blue ocean waters and the smell of crisp salty air is invigorating.
Nature at its best.”
“We stayed in the Port Campbell on our way. Surrounded with a horseshoe shaped bay this seashore village is in itself a tourist attraction. I was in awe when I saw some lovely accomodation, adventure sports and other entertainments this small place had to offer. It had everything one seeks in a fun filled holiday trip.
Even the local food was delicious. It was so fresh, I could smell the sea in their fishes.
Next day we reached the 12 apostles and took a helicopter ride. The scene of the beautiful landscape from up above was breathtaking.
It is the one place where the journey and destination both are equally beautiful and worth each second spent.
By the time I was back to my apartment I was feeling energised and blissful by all of Melbourne’s beauty”
I could just smile at the way he got all nostalgic and went back in time…
And suddenly he fished out a packet from his jacket’s inside pocket. “Hey I brought these for you all the way from Melbourne!!” He said, handing me a jar of strawberry sauce.
I love strawberries and I just couldn’t resist it. I opened it immediately and licked it. Yummm…
“It is handmade from Kookaberry strawberry farm in Yarra valley.
Yarra valley has some fresh fruits and berries farm and wine yard. We hand picked some berries, tasted wine and even went for a hot air ballon ride there. Rising slowly away from the ground, your spirit soars with the balloon. I just can not decribe that feeling of flying on the sky at sunrise, golden rays illumination your whole experience. It was serene, beautiful. You have to have that experience once in your lifetime.”
“Hmmm… Sounds great… and tastes heaven too..” I said licking the sauce again.
“But seriously you and berry picking? Doesn’t sound like you at all.”
“I told you just went there for a visit. But I had my fare share of entertainment you know.”
“There is this Philip island, a couple of hours from melbourne. the penguins, whales, koalas and other wild life was a treat to watch.
For shopping and fine dining, the Chapel street was our go to place. From upmarket designer boutiques to street style fashion store, one would be spoilt for choices here.
They have some fine restaurants that serve authentic Italian food. My favourite Italian restaurant was Amigos. The best I have ever had.
Then on weekend we would head to Crown casino, one of the largest complex in Southern Hemisphere for full on entertainment. Do you know it is the first which introduced rapid roulette? An electronic version of the classic one?
Even the entertainment section has some superb shopping malls and food joints.
The night life is so active and lively there. I loved each bit of it.”
“But hello? Is it safe? Like how did you usually drive back?” The caring friend in me asked with concern.
“You know melbourne has night rider buses especially for late night travels. The transportation facilities is so good you can find your way out to and from any place anywhere anytime in the city.
It has a world class infrastructure. The road, rail, tram and marine networks are well integrated and major infrastructures are connected to freeways for easy access.
The city is so well connected that even a newcomer like me never had a problem ever.”
“I don’t think you missed a single street of Melbourne. You went there to study or for a vacation there?”
“Kind of both” he said mischievously and winked.
“But what could I do? I was bowled over with Melbourne’s charm. It’s culture, art, history, chic everything made me fall in love with it.”
“I am sure you must be convinced by now that Melbourne is above any other metropolis, you have ever been to or should I go on and on about my Melbourne praises.”
“I am totally convinced AS. And by the way you described the city I have fallen in love with it.
I cant wait to pack my bags and explore the city myself. Have high expectations the way it sounds. Lets see if Melbourne lives upto them.”
We hugged and left the cafe. He with a smile on his face. A smile of nostalgia.
Me with dreams of future. Future in which I was in the world’s most livable city!!
Now comes the twist and fun part.
I am sure by now you must be as eager as me to visit this AMAZING city of Melbourne.
Now here is a little surprise for you. You can win a Rs.500 shopping voucher for free!!
All you have to do is answer this simple question in the comments below. ” Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?” The best answer wins a shopping voucher worth Rs.500.
Visit Tourism Victoria Website http://www.visitmelbourne.com/India for information about Melbourne tourism
Ps: AS had really been to Melbourne and this was actually a phone conversation. I have changed the scene to make the reading experience better. Some parts have been researched and added by me for a detailed information.