Tuesday, October 28, 2008
First day in Melbourne was Monday. Got up at 7am, had breakfast in the hotel with Kev, then wandered to the train station in Box Hill. Caught the train to Flinders Street Station downtown, which was a pretty Victorian building. Was planning to do a self-guided walking tour, but turned west instead of east accidentally, and headed off in the wrong direction, making it a little bit difficult to find my starting point at Federation Square. It started to pour rain, and I was not dressed for that at all, so I stopped into a cafe for a short black (coffee) to wait it out.
The rain was persistent, so I abandoned the walking tour idea and took a tram to the city centre where there were some under-cover sights. Window shopped at the Block Arcade and the other arcades between Flinders and Bourke streets. These were built in the 1800s and were beautifully decorated with mosaic tiles and wrought iron scroll work. The shops seemed fairly high end, and all the displays were geared towards the fashionistas attending the Melbourne Cup this upcoming weekend. Picture tea length dresses and fancy confections of hats.
The rain was still lingering (though had tapered off considerably) so I headed to the National Gallery of Victoria: International to wander amongst some art works. The admission was free, bonus! There were paintings and sculptures by Titian, Cezanne, Picasso, Rodin, Rothko, Rembrandt, Van Eyck etc etc. Most of the art was donated by a wealthy Melburnian in the 1930s, over $1B worth. The museum was massive.
By this point I needed some lunch, so I walked back to the sidewalk cafes I'd passed by in the morning, but being around 1:30pm, they were packed. Couldn't find a seat, so I shopped a bit and walked some more city streets, then tried again. No luck. Decided to take a tram to another city area, Lygon Street (the Italian district), but when several trams went by and mine was nowhere to be seen, I gave up on that idea and hit an outdoor cafe in Fed Square. Warm beef salad and a glass of NZ pinot noir. There was a visitors centre nearby, so I booked a day trip to the Great Ocean Road for Tuesday.
The sun was shining finally, so I walked to the park known as Birramara (sp?), and got views of the Yarra River, the Arts Centre, and the cricket stadium. I was walked out at this point so I trained back to Box Hill.
I'll update with photos and more days once I have laptop access again.... unlikely soon.