We arrived in Australia really early in the morning after spending the night on the plane from Singapore. Needless to say on our first day we were pretty tired and spaced out.
We’d both heard a lot of good things about Melbourne, so had quite high expectations. Arriving in Melbourne it definitely felt like being back in the West. The city has a very European feel, and we got there just as the temperatures dropped and autumn really got going. In a way it feels kind of natural after 3 months of ‘summer’, but it also feels very strange that it’s Easter soon, and winter is around the corner.
Our first full day in Melbourne turned out to be the last really warm day (at least so far – the weather here is famously unpredictable) and we brought a picnic to the botanical garden to meet some of Mike’s friends from back home. In the city in Melbourne it feels like being in Europe, but once you go to a park or out of town it feels strangely exotic and familiar all at once. The botanical garden is wonderful, full of exotic birds and great gum trees, and ponds and different paths. We only saw a small area of it, but if we were to live in Melbourne I’d go there as often as possible.
St Kilda is one of the most obvious destinations for tourists in Melbourne. We took the tram out on a windy day to walk along the famous promenade, and look for penguins. Mike saw a baby penguin between the rocks far out on the pier – apparently the time to spot them is around sunset, but we didn’t stick around for that. We went for a nice walk and did some window shopping – there were so many bakeries with delicious looking cakes to choose from that I became quite overwhelmed, and I ended up buying nothing. For lunch we tried Parma, apparently an Australian speciality. It’s basically a chicken schnitzel with ham and cheese – Mike was a bit underwhelmed by it. But we both thought St Kilda was a pretty cool place.
Sate Library of Victoria
I love libraries, and the State Library is a worthy tourist attraction in itself. It has a great big dome in the centre, and two levels of free exhibitions. One of them was about the history of Victoria (the Australian state), which was really interesting. The second was an exhibition of some of the antique books the library has in its collection, which is right up my street. After the exhibitions closed, we sat for a while on the steps outside the library in the evening sun, listening to street musicians.