@2:30am Tullamarine Airport, walked out to face the temperature of 9oC, And find a taxi to the hotel. It was a tiring and a long flight, but I was excited to be back in Melbourne. I lived in Melbourne from July’95 to Sep’00, and after moving from Australia, I never got the chance to visit back.
As the taxi was cruising along the freeway, I was trying to recognize the roads, street names and landmarks. The taxi driver was very friendly and started filling me with lots of information about the city, the changes which he has seen in the last few years. By the time we reached the hotel, I was looking forward to have a good nap so that I can start fresh in the morning.
It was late by the time I got up, and ended up missing the breakfast at the hotel, however, I was not worried, I knew that a wonderful coffee shop is around the corner. After a hearty breakfast at The Bakeshop, and much missed “Melbourne Cappuccino” I was on my way to pick the rented car. Walking along on La-Trobe Street, I was feeling energized and all those old memories were flowing back. The city is a wonderful blend of architectural heritage, modern skyscrapers, featuring vibrant coffee shops, cosmopolitan restaurants and beautiful gardens. “How lucky, ” I said to myself, “I have spent my student years in this city, and once I have a car, I am going to visit many places, which I have remembered, from those days”.
This is what I ended up doing for 5 days:
- St. Kilda: Seaside suburb of Melbourne, has been always on my favorite places list. The place offers wonderful sandy beaches, trendy cafe’s/restaurants, shopping and theme park for children. One can have a stroll on the beach or rent a bike/inline roller blade to have some more adventurous time.
- Brighton and Sandringham Beach: More quiter, suburban and family beaches offering in interrupted views of ocean Brighton and Sandringham are up-market suburbs of Melbourne. Houses along the coastline excite me as they showcase marvelous designs.
- Phillip Island: Home for the penguins and Australia’s largest fur seal colony, Phillip island is located only 90 minutes away from Melbourne. The major attraction is little penguins, which at the time of sunset come back to shore after a day of fishing at the sea. The other attractions on the island involve local wildlife, Animal Park, coastal scenery and great choice of cafes.
- Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex: Heartbeat of Melbourne, Crown Entertainment is largest casino complex in the southern hemisphere. The facilities include hotels, fine dinning restaurants, bars & cafes, cinemas, luxury shopping, night clubs, entertainment venues and the casino which is open 24 hours a day. The hotel lobby features musical chandelier & fountains, and along the Yarra river, it has a fireball display, which are “must be experienced” items while in Melbourne.
- Melbourne CBD: Good to walk, take a tram ride, visit Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Museum, parks and have loads of cappuccino.
- Sydney Opera House: Sydney Opera house, Australia’s most recognizable icon is one of the most visited place in Sydney. The opera house has various auditoriums, concert halls, restaurants and cafe. The opera house is a masterpiece of modern architecture and imagination. The sidewalk cafe is a perfect place to grab a glass of wine and enjoy the breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Taronga Zoo: Home of over 4000 animals, the Zoo is located in Mosman a suburb of Sydney. The zoo is spread in 42 acres of land, offering around 340 species. Apart from Zoo the suburb offers spectacular views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
- Watson Bay and Bondi Beach: Another suburb of Sydney has, beautiful beach, cafes, picnic areas, Sydney Harbour National Park, Bay, Hornby Lighthouse and Macquarie Lighthouse (First Light House in Sydney). Bondi Beach is a popular beach of Sydney, famous for surfing, recreation and vibrant cafes. The beach is busy all year around.
- Blue Mountains: About 1.5 hours drive from Sydney, Blue Mountains National Park is known for its beautiful scenery, Echo Point, Three Sisters rock formation and Katoomba Falls. The mountain range is also a world heritage area.