Melbourne – capital city of the state of Victoria – is the second most populated city in Australia, after Sydney. There is always a friendly rivalry between the two cities. The two cities are quite different in my opinion. I have lived in Sydney for 9 years before moving to Tasmania in the last 8 years. And, now about to move to Melbourne.
Someone once said to me that Sydney is more like an American city, almost Hollywood-like with glitz and glamour of the rich and famous societies. It is a very busy city with people on the move all the time in a big rush. There is no time to have a small chat, almost unfriendly and stuck-up in a way. Melbourne, on the other hand, is a bit more relax and more towards European-like city with high fashion and cultural rich cafe scenes. There are more arts and culture in Melbourne, with a great network of city trams. There are more parks and trees with boulevards along major roads. The Melbournians love their alfresco dining, and cafes and restaurants dotted throughout the city in small laneway. Melbourne has great street and graffiti arts. Sydney will argue that it has the best weather and the best harbour with Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, which is probably true to a lot of people. Melbourne has the Yarra River with great restaurants, walking and cycling tracks, and beautiful parks.
Melbourne is a great city with beautiful city skyline, street art performers, beautiful heritage buildings and architecture. The city is a hub of activities with shops in almost every streets and corners.
Flinders Street Station is the most iconic building in Melbourne, and probably one of the most photograph building in the city. It is the oldest station in Australia built in 1910, although the first station on this site was opened in 1854.
My most recent trip to Melbourne was last Sunday for an overnight stay. I arrived there at 7:30 AM. Caught the first flight out of Hobart which departed at 6:05 AM. I had to wake up at 4:45 AM. The flight was on time. I took Melbourne’s Skybus which cost $16 one way to the city. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that I can purchase a return tickets which will cost $6 cheaper than purchasing the tickets separately. But, it is still cheaper than catching the taxi, which cost $60 on my last trip one way!
I booked a room at The Alto Hotel on Bourke Street, which was a 5 minutes walk across from the Southern Cross Station. I have previously stayed at The Alto Hotel early this year. It is the best, small 4-stars hotel I have ever stayed. I cannot find any fault in this hotel. The room was great. The staff friendly and helpful. The complimentary all day tea and coffee was nice and generous. They even provide a takeaway foam cups so you can take with you while walking around touring the city. The mini library and the wonderful relaxation room with massage armchairs are a nice and added extra comfort provided to the guests (which I used a lot, especially after a long day walk and waiting for my flight). If you plan to stay at The Alto, it is best to book in advance. It is an extremely popular hotel, and best of all it is eco-friendly using wind-turbine to generate all their power.
The Skybus ride to the city took about 20 minutes. It was still early, and check-in time is 2 PM. However, I was able to leave my small hand-carry luggage with the reception. My room will be ready about 12 noon.
I went for a walk. I walked towards Spencer Street, turned left and walked towards Southbank. I was lucky the weather was superb. It was cold but sunny with clear blue sky. I walked and walked and walked for several hours – from Southbank along Yarra River to the city. Stopped for a bit of snack along the way. Then, walked again and towards Southbank, browsed at a small market near the National Gallery of Victoria. There was not much to see at the small market. I decided to check out some of the river cruise. Each time I had been to Melbourne, I had never bother to check out the river cruise. This time, the weather was so perfect in Melbourne, I was alone on my own and had so much time to kill before going back to the hotel that I decided to hop onto one of the cruise. The normal adult price was $29 for a return trip to a seaport town – Williamstown. The ticket seller offered the ticket to me for $25 which is the concession ticket. I guess the business was a bit slow and they are trying to fill the boat.
To be honest, I have been on better and more interesting boat cruise. The Yarra River was very brown. It took about 45 minutes to get to Williamstown – a very small town. Thank goodness it was a lovely day. Otherwise, I would have cursed myself for taking the cruise, and then waited 2 hours for the next boat to depart Williamstown back to Melbourne’s Southbank.
So, I have been awake from 4:45 AM and have been walking since I arrived in Melbourne at 7:30 AM. I got back to the hotel at 5:00 PM and was totally exhausted, and had an hour and a half rest before meeting my nephew, who lives in Melbourne, for a dinner.