Eastern Australia - Melbourne PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Thursday, 23 April 2009 10:39
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 Day 84: Friday 14th December -  Melbourne

We had a lay-in untill about 9.00am and then set off into the city to do some shopping. We didn't get very far because the shop a few doors away from the hostel was an AppleMac dealer and I wanted to check the price of a laptop. I'm so pissed off with the level of internet access that I'm seriously thinking about buying one to compress my photos etc. Of course the problem is buying the software, although, I could download some thirty day trials of Office and Fireworks. Anyway the lads in the shop were very helpful and suggested I wait and buy within thirty days of leaving Oz to get 10% tax back. The prices looked good: a basic laptop with 2ghz intel, 1mb ram, 80gb hard drive costs $1580 or £660 which I think is cheaper than the UK. A 2.2ghz, 1mb ram, 120gb hard drive, black with internal camcorder was £1700.

As we reached the Yarra River the modern skyline soared above in a very friendly kind of way and not imposing and threatening like I always think NY looks. But of course Melbourne is a minnow compared to the Big Apple. The south bank consists of a large casino complex and many fine restaurants and bars. The north is the main shopping area and we headed for Elizabeth St to buy yet another SD Mini Card for the camera/ PDA. This time it was cheaper than in Alice but at £15 for a 2gb still extortion compared to the UK

I quite enjoyed the shopping spree. We went into the outdoor shop Kathmandu which had 50% sale and bought Anne some new Solomon walking boots, socks, pillow to replace the one lost and a foldable shoulder bag. The boots were to replace her trainers which have not recovered from the jungle trek to see the largest flower. We also went into a chocolate shop to satisfy John's passion for chocolate mochas and I have to say it was delicious. I also bought myself another silk shirt which is much better than the one I purchased in Varanasi. The shirt I also had made whilst there as long since been binned. It was not finished off and started to fall apart. Anne was right when she tried to dissuade me from buying. Another £4 wasted.

After the mini shopping spree we headed back to the south side of the river for a more grown up drink. The bars and restaurants were very busy with Christmas office party's etc. It's strange that all the shops have special deals and sales on for Xmas and plenty of party's but it doesn't feel like Christmas at all. It may be that it only works in the winter. I've believed for a long time that it has very little to do with religion and all to do with cheering the people up in the midst of winter when there's nothing to do on the land. It certainly doesn't work here in Oz.

Once back at the hostel I attempted again to upload more of my blog. I paid my $5 and tried to log on to four or five machines to no avail. Eventually got on after fifteen minutes of wasting my money and time. Managed to check my email but when I tried to locate my USB nothing happened. I was informed by the receptionist that they have been blocked because of hackers. Her answer made no sense to me and she wouldn't reimburse me either.

After an hour John and I made our way downstairs to the large, noisy, hostel bar. Anne came down just in time to make happy hour which lasts two hours in Melbourne. Set off once again into the centre but this time to eat by the Yarra. It was only 8.00pm when we arrived at the first restaurant but it was obvious we were going to have difficulties getting a table. The place was buzzing with people seeking tables and each establishment had a queue of people waiting. I managed to get a table at Greccos which was packed and presumably a good sign. I ordered barbecued Octopus on a bed of chick peas to start and Mussels in a tomato source to follow. I had finished my first course before the wine arrived and when it did, after complaining, it came Luke warm and served in wine glasses straight out of the dishwasher and hot. Second complaint didn't go down to well, for a moment I thought he might call us winging pommes but he did change it for an ice-cold bottle and cold glasses. I had been told the eating establishments in this city are excellent and indeed the food was good but the service suffered from the number of customers passing through. The waiter smiled when I gave him a $20 tip and he apologised for the wine. He'd been rushed off his feet poor lad.

When we came out we entered the fairytale environment of the casino world of the stupid and rich. A large ornate clock hanging from the roof marked the central area with bars, restaurants and gambling halls running off at tangents. One hall had poky machines stretching for as far as the eye could see. I have to say I was glad to find the front carport area showing off Audi's, Mercs etc because it meant we were out of the maze. Outside, the fairytale continued with the lights and reflections from the buildings on the Yarra. Melbourne is more beautiful at night than in the daylight and although we saw lots of drinking and merriment there was no sign of bad behaviour or violence. This is a great city we'll be returning soon. I can't wait for Sydney bring it on.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2009 14:20