What can I say, Melbourne was great. Far too populated and bigger than my poor legs could handle but great nonetheless.
I’ve discovered from my trip that I’m not as big a city girl as I thought I was. We spent a large chunk of our trip shopping, not buying much as I though I would though. We walked for hours and miles down Bridge Rd; Chapel St; Brunswick St; Lygon St; through the DFO; in Myer; down Swanston, Bourke, Flinders, Collins, Spencer, Queen, Elizabeth and all the ‘Littles’; Along the Yarra River; through the aquarium, museum and casino; on the St Kilda Beach; exploring Queen Vic Markets; and up to Chinatown.
Public transport is a dream, especially when compared to Wellington. We secured a metcard week long pass on our first day there and this gave us access to the buses, trains and most importantly trams for our whole trip. We only used the train once and all other times caught the tram. You usually don’t have to wait to long for a tram where ever you’re going especially if it’s just across town. And it’s worth jumping on even for just a couple of blocks because preservation of your legs is a must.
The Skybus is a separate operation (so no using your metcard) that will get your from the airport to the Southern Cross Station (aka Spencer St Station). Tickets are $16 one way and there is a free shuttle from the station to your hotel if needed. We couldn’t find where to catch the shuttle and after being pointed in a number of different directions decided to walk the few block to our hotel. With three bottles of duty free, two carry ons, two suitcases and two jackets between us it was a bad time to find out that the city blocks printed on the map are a lot bigger in real life. We got there in the end though.
We caught the hotel’s shuttle back to the airport direct to minimise confusion or frustration, this was $55 for up to four people all inclusive.
Dracula’s was definitely my favourite part of the trip. It is very me :D
Dancing, singing goth guys and girls waiting on and entertaining you for a few hours. What could be better? The show was very funny, the audience engagement fantastic and with S being sucked into the show by one of the female performers made for a very funny night. My only gripe would be that one of the female waiters took her role as an undead zombified blood splattered servant too far and told us to go get our own glasses when we asked for some to go with the bottle of water she delivered to our table. I thought she was joking but the glasses never came. Prices are $61 each on off peak nights, $67 peak. We found 10% discount vouchers with free cocktails at the visitors centre though :]
Eating in Melbourne tends to be very cheap. It’s worth eating out for all your meals with the increased price of supermarket shopping these days. We enjoyed Italian at a place on Lygon street where you can get a huge bowl of pasta for about $14.
Chinatown is a must for visitors looking for cheap eats, we ate in Chinatown three times during our stay. I love Asian food (especially Japanese). On our last night we ate at a busy dumpling house with people constantly being ushered in and out, upstairs and through to other rooms. You can get a plate of 10 or 20 dumplings to share on a table for between $5 and $10. They also offer noodle plates, buns, sweets and are BYO.
We were lucky enough to know someone in the hotel industry so managed to get a fantastic one bedroom apartment on the 18th floor of the Medina Grand, Queen St at a very nice mate rate. Accommodation in Melbourne is not cheap (the same as New Zealand) but if you are looking at apartment accommodation and want to spend at least a couple of hundred a night Medina is a good option. For views you can’t go past the St Kilda Medina! We got to visit a room here with the most spectacular views over Albert Park, the city and the ocean.
The strangest thing about Melbourne (and I think this applies to Australia in general) is that everyone uses cash. Coming from New Zealand where EFTPOS was trialed very early on (if not first) most people pay for most of their transactions electronically, either using an EFTPOS (debit) or credit card. EFTPOS terminals are in almost every shop including dairies and many delivery drivers now also carry portable EFTPOS machines. The fees are not high and bourne by the customer not the retailer. It is common to pay using EFTPOS for transactions as small as 50 cents and payment can be divided amongst a few different card, people or cash/credit/EFTPOS.
It was very strange to be out at a pub in Melbourne and instead of buying something on their EFTPOS or credit cards people would leave the pub, go down the road to an EFTPOS machine, withdraw money and come back to buy a drink with the cash!
Many shops have cash only signs and large numbers will not let you pay by EFTPOS for purchases under $2 or by credit card for purchases under $20. On the way home in the Melbourne airport we had exactly $20 and 5 cents (yep Aussie still has 5 cent pieces) so S bought a $20 book. The lady at the desk didn’t count the money properly and said he was a dollar short (after she had already started putting the money in the till) and when S offered to pay the extra dollar on his credit card they looked at him like he was cracked and said they couldn’t possibly because everything is linked to the computer and they could do cash or credit card, not both. Luckily the staff managed to scrounge up the extra money needed and a kind customer offered us her 40 cents change.
I’m glad I’m home now. It makes me appreciate Wellington and it’s small town feel, now we really need to do something about the transport system. The best bit…
hardly any Aussies :D