This is my submission for the ‘3 Things in the City’ I Love contest by Velvet Escape, Traveldudes and Wimdu.co.uk
I first arrived in Melbourne in March 2008 clutching my Working Holiday Visa and eager to explore the fascinating country that is Australia. In the months that followed instead of exploring the country I stayed put in Melbourne for about 5 months until I ran out of money and had to move on. In my mind Australia has always been that “grass is greener” destination and it’s somewhere that I had always wanted to visit and I still harbour the desire to emigrate eventually.
|Melbourne Southbank and the river Yarra|
The city centre is compact and designed on an easy to navigate grid. To the south of the CBD (or Central Business District) is the meandering Yarra river, along which various festivals are held throughout the year. Melbourne feels like a bustling, cosmopolitan capital yet unpretentious and friendly. I love this city because, to put it simply, it felt like home.
So the hardest part about entering this contest is that I have to choose just 3 things to tell you about. I have already written a post describing some of the reasons why I love Melbourne so if this particular post whets your appetite please check out my previous post. Ok so in no particular order…
|Photo from Wikipedia (user Jasabella) Some Rights Reserved|
Queen Victoria Market, on the border of the CBD and North Melbourne, covering an area of 7 hectares, is said to be the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. For the last 120 years this has been the place to buy fresh produce, and now much more, in Melbourne. At least half of the market is devoted to selling fresh produce, from fruit and veg to deli meats and juice. The selection of merchandise is so varied that you can even take a guided tour. A delight for gourmands is the Foodies Dream Tour, a A$40, 2 hour guided walk around the market sampling some of the produce and taking away some handy hints and tips about how to select your goods. The Queen Vic Market is a wonderful place to experience the sights and sounds. It’s fun to wander around and explore. There are several stalls selling “Ugg” boots at much cheaper than store prices so I would be dubious as to their origin. Wouldn’t want them to be destroyed by UK Customs on your return. The Market is a great place to shop for your dinner and for souvenirs. Also, if like my friends, you’re partial to some dressing up, you can buy mankinis, daft Kanye West style sunglasses and full-face balaclavas perfect for pretending to be a gangster and taking photographs of yourself smoking a cigarette through the mouth hole. Yes I am ashamed to say that these people are still my friends 4 years later!
The second place that I recommend any visitor to Melbourne to visit is the seaside suburb of St Kilda. Okay so it’s no Bondi and the sand is a bit more gravelly that most people would like but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. On a sunny day the beach is packed with tourists and locals alike all hoping to catch a bit of sun through the thin ozone layer. You can usually tell the British/Irish aside from the Aussies by judging the lobster factor. The Slip, Slap, Slop campaign is a bit more successful down under. Aside from the beach, St Kilda also offers Luna Park fairground with it’s famous smiley-faced entrance; an eclectic range of shops, bars and cafes along Acland Street; and The Esplanade Hotel, a down-to-earth pub/bar. The Espy is fab for a night of moshing or a more laid back evening, the choice is yours. The iconic Melbourne venue plays hosts to bands every night of the week and with (usually) free entry I enjoyed many a night out there. During the day, St Kilda is the place to get cake in town. There is a mouth-watering offering of bakeries lining Acland Street tempting in the passer-by. I particularly appreciated a delicious black forest slice. Nom nom nom!
Finally, on this very short list, is the Melbourne Cricket Club, also known as the MCG or just the G. In the winter months this legendary cricket oval plays host to around 45 AFL Australian football matches, including the grand final. Aussie Rules seems to me to be a cross between rugby league and football. The players can kick or punch the ball and the aim is to score goals. I’m not a big sports fan and to be honest the rules of most are pretty beyond me, however I would recommend going to see a live footie match while in Melbourne if you’re there during the season. General admission tickets can be purchased on the gate at the G for just A$21.30, approx £14. Can you imagine getting English Premier League football tickets for this bargain basement price? I saw snippets of a live match from a very different viewpoint – while serving guests in a corporate box! The corporate spectators are served a buffet dinner and then during the break after the 3rd quarter they get traditional meat pies with ketchup on top. The only way to eat a pie according to Melburnians! There are so many teams to follow in the Melbourne area alone and it’s a hotly discussed topic: best not to get involved in my opinion! Aussie Rules matches are events for all the family and a Victorian institution. Why miss out?
|Flagstaff Gardens could easily be in the UK – until darkness comes and the possums come out to play!|
As I wrote earlier, it’s very hard to choose just 3 things to recommend about my favourite city in the world. I hope that this gives readers an insight in to why I love this city and its diverse range of attractions. Melbourne offers something for everyone and this includes accommodation options. From backpackers’ hostels to world-class hotels there is something to suit all purses. If you’re considering a trip to Australia please don’t miss out Melbourne. To miss it would be to miss out.