Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Magic of Melbourne

Come with us to visit Magical Melbourne.....

Melbourne (pronounced Melbon (one sylablle) by Aussies) was a wonderful start to our 5+ weeks in Australia. It's an active, outdoor-type city on the Yarra River (pronounced Yearra by Aussies) with top-notch soccer and cricket and tennis facilities, as well as "rowing" clubs on the river.

It's a looooong flight (some 20 hours for us), and with the time change, we showed up at our fabulous Langham hotel before check-in time, so we went wandering.  A really nice river walkway provided just the ticket.  It felt wonderful to stretch our very cramped legs and start to catch the Melbourne vibe.

That's the Langham, the cream colored building just there on the left.  We have a wonderful "corner" room on 15th floor by the river, which means we get the view both up and downstream.  Beautiful during the day, and spectacular when lit up at night.

 There are cute little alleyways to be strolled, 
with cafe's and coffee shops all along the way.

We hear that the busy Queen Victoria's Market is not-to-be missed.  We agree!  Here we found everything from green groceries to meats and sea foods and cheeses, as well as clothing & footwear & kitchen utensils & crockery ~ and even some art work & hand-made crafts.  With something like 600 vendors, it's hard not to take something home.  We bought an assortment of fresh veggies & cheeses to have a romantic dinner in our room one evening instead of going out or ordering room service.......It was lovely!

Just look at the size of those mushrooms!

Never heard of Funkfish before ~ but it seems they are licensed.  
I'm trying to order us a bit of lunch.

This is an average Aussie breakfast, which they refer to as "Brekky".  We were so impressed with the color of the egg yolks ~ did you know we have processed the color right out of the yolks in the US?   Yup, we have to add supplements back in to the chicken feed (ground Marigold flowers) to make the yolks yellow.  Here they are (naturally) bright orange.  There are always grilled mushrooms (of varying type); always grilled tomatoes, which I thought was really cool and that I would do this when I got home ~~ but I have not; and what they called "bacon",  which also varied, from ham, to bacon as we know it, to a slab of something cured.   I ordered the same thing all 6 days, and never got the same thing twice.  

Ordering coffee was also an experience.  It took me until day 3 of the trip to get it right.  This is my "Ahhhhhh moment".  Whenever I ordered a cup of coffee, they would invariably bring me an espresso.  I finally asked point-blank "If I want a cup of coffee, a big ole' mug of coffee, like back in America, what would I order?"   
Answer:  "A flat white".  I'm not makin' this up.  
And it's not a cup (or mug) of coffee (or tea).  It's a cuppa'.  

So here I am, finally, with a cuppa' flat white.  Ahhhhh.....

There is some wonderful architecture to be enjoyed in Melbourne, such as the Flinders Street Railway Sation, which has been residing on the corner of Flinders & Swanston Streets since 1854  ~ the building you see here since 1910.  Some 1,500 trains a day transport 110,000 passengers to and from their daily obligations, where 13 clocks keep them right on schedule.  All this makes it the  busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere.  

And I think it's just so pretty.

And we happened upon the Melbourne Bath House, also a beautiful old building, when we were strolling. Where, we learned, back in the day, you could have a "first water" bath for a quarter.  Or "second water" (using the same water as the last smelly guy) for just 10 cents.  Or........yeah, you got it.  "Third water" was just a nickle.  Back in the day, before there was running water in your home, this is what they did.  But usually just once a week. Now, go back and think about third water......Oh yuck!

We thought we were so smart to avoid the recommended "Arcades" ~ and then we discovered that's not at all the same as our arcades back home ~ it's their term for shopping mall.  
Some of them, like this one, were just beautiful!

We find it to be an extremely clean city.  This is a typical alleyway, they are all spotless.  We were impressed that there was no litter, no refuse, no garbage anywhere.  You could eat in this spotless alleyway with no cause for alarm. 


My Mr. C had the most beautiful flowers waiting here for me!   I have had lots of flowers and roses from this guy, but......these were really exceptional. And they were my first "International" flowers.  

But they have not been my last.....


I've never experienced this, but each rose stem was individually wrapped with it's own water source.......which made them last forever.......

Nearly a week later, they are still spectacular.  I hated to leave them behind as we head out on three day drive up the East Coast to Sydney.  But now I've gotten all mushy on you, I digress.....

We took a river tour, I thought this was a cool boat!   This experience sort of helped set our travel agenda to include this kind of excursion whenever we can.  Most major cities were set upon the river, out of necessity to be close to the available water source way back when, and we discovered from this initial experience that the water offers a unique experience and a different perspective of the city that we really enjoyed.

We also took a day trip to tour some of the Yarra Valley wineries.  It was a great day, a nice addition to our agenda.

The day included lunch at one of the wineries, which was lovely.  This was our lunchtime view.

And the wine tour concluded at the local dairy, where we were able to purchase some excellent fresh cheeses to go with our wine purchases.  Add all this to our fresh produce from the Queens Market, and we have quite a feast to look forward to.

And sure enough, here comes Bessie and the gals 
to replenish the cheese supply........

 The vineyards are beautiful, but for that dam water!

And yes, they really do say "No worries", all of them.  All the time.


But alas, it is time for us to leave Melbourne behind.  Sydney is calling, as is Cairns and Noosa and the Great Barrier Reef.  But we will never forget the magic of Melbourne ~ how could we possibly?!?


  1. Sounds like that was the perfect hotel! Sometimes having the view like those makes the trip that much more perfect! Perspectives from the river trips and then from the view from the hotel adds to entire experience. Such great tips about ordering coffee! Starting the day right with coffee the way we like it sets the mood of the day for so many of us. Those eggs!!! I did not know this about our eggs. Taste wise are they different? The bath water pricing – oh my gosh! Made me think about swimming pools a little…
    I just love the roses!! Those water tubes on each stem are such a great idea! How fun to shop the markets, the winery and cheese, and then have something to prepare back in your gorgeous room!
    Great tips and the photos are wonderful!

    1. It's certainly nice to have the view from the room, which makes room service for breakfast or a local wine & cheese & produce evening a special event. I'm fondly remembering both right now.....

      I learned about our eggs years ago, from an Aussie, actually, who sold Marigold flowers to US chicken farmers for the purpose of re-coloring the yolks. We "push" our production here by false methods to the point that our eggs yolks are super pale, which is undesirable to the consumer, and needs to be remedied. Interesting, yes?? But then to travel internationally and see the contrast between ours and theirs ~ wow! It's been an eye-opener. Taste is probably about the same, although I think maybe they are richer and fuller tasting overseas. Italy, too. Can't remember Japan, I would have to check. Of course, they mostly served us fish for breakfast there. Eggs for breakfast were more rare in Thailand, too; they often served last night's stir fry and leftover rice for breakfast. Spain had bright-colored eggs, too ~ and they serve a fried egg on top of nearly everything there ~ including french fries! Travel is so interesting........

  2. Beautiful article Sherrie...Loved the pics as well

    1. It seems to me, JR, that cities-on-the-river are particularly photogenic. I always love the reflection on the water, too, when they are lit up at night. Mr. C does a fabulous job of finding these gems ~ KS is right, the perfect hotel can add allot to the trip.

  3. If I ever get to travel internationally it will be to Australia. MiChelle

    1. I would agree with that, MiChelle. It's an easy country to visit. Nice, of course, that there's no language barrier. Some of the larger cities, like Sydney, are more expensive, of course, just like here in the US. But we chose to drive the Eastern seaboard from Melbourne to Sydney, and then from Sydney to Brisbane, and we stayed in some nice B&B's along the way that were very reasonable. That offers the opportunity to get acquainted with some Aussie families, and affords some insight into their values and lifestyles as well. We found the people to be very friendly and welcoming, and we would recommend it highly as a foreign destination. Just remember, they drive on the left-hand side of the road, though!!!


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