7 Sep 2013

Travel Review: Melbourne CBD

About three weeks ago, I went to Melbourne City for five days. As I live outside the metro area and used to seeing farmland, this was an interesting experience for me. This is a journal of what I did. 

Day 1: 

I travelled into the city via train and exited at Southern Cross Station. I was with a group of other country-people who were also exploring the city. We started the day by doing an amazing race-like challenge where we given clues of what we have to photograph. 

For lunch, I ate at Your Thai restaurant. I ordered vegetable dumplings and a green tea milkshake (I had no idea that existed). Then to finish the day, we walked to the Eureka Tower (tallest tower in Melbourne and 2nd tallest residential building in Australia). This gave us a better understanding of how the city is set out. Many people in the group went on the edge, an experience where you a put in a glass box that extends out of the building, this gives you a stronger sense of how high the building is because it has a glass floor. I didn't want to do this for two reasons: I am not fond of heights and I didn't want to pay $10 for a glass floor.
Going on the terrace was scary, because it was so high up, the winds were very strong and when I was taking photos I was worried that my phone would fall out the guard. 

Victoria Arts Centre 

It's so high up that you can see the beach from the tower

Day 2:

I spent day 2 seeing the spirituality of Melbourne by visiting places of worship. The first stop was at St Paul's Cathedral which was built on the site where the first Christian service in Melbourne was taken. It was built in a Gothic style and I couldn't wrap my head around the fact they built such a tall building in the late 19th Century. The second stop was at East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, the oldest continuously active synagogue in Australia. During its construction the builders were heavily reliant on donations from the public as they weren't given government funding. This resulted in many memorials being placed around the synagogue. The third stop was at St Patrick's Cathedral. This Catholic cathedral was built on an east-west axis with the altar on the eastern end.  On the way back I happened to see St Michael's Uniting Church and the Welsh Church. 

St Paul's Cathedral

East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation

There were many memorials around the synagogue
The Altar faces Jerusalem
Each of the stained glass windows depict the symbol of the twelve tribes of Israel

Lion of Judah stained glass window

Prayer for the Royal Family

St Patrick's Cathedral
St Michael's Uniting Church
City Circle Tram
Welsh Church
Day 3:

Day 3 was an opportunity to explore the city. I started the day with a private interview with the former governor general, for an assignment. After the interview I ate at a great Japanese bakery called 'Bread Top' then took a touristy photos at Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, from there I went to Arthur Dayley's, a famous craft and hobby shop (didn't take any pictures though) and saw the Eureka Tower on the way back. 

Flinders Street Station
Federation Square
Day 4:

I started day 4 outside the State Library of Victoria, taking photos of statues nearby. Then, I went to Collin's Street Baptist Church to learn about Urban Seed, an organisation that provides free meals to anyone. They started the organisation because there were many homeless people who would sleep near the front door of the church. Instead of kicking them out, they decided to invite them into the church and created Credo, a non-profit restaurant. In the restaurant, both the homeless and business people eat side by side. After that, I went to chocolate paradise, Lindt Café and drank their signature dark hot chocolate. 

State Library
Gumnut baby on a goanna
St George and the dragon

Joan d'Arc
Collins Street Baptist Church

Day 5:

During the last day in the city, I went to Queen Victoria Markets. It was the biggest marketplace I have been to and I saw the extent of Australian souvenirs (some people were selling aboriginal-style painted bottle holders). In the evening I watched the fireworks along the Yarra River. 

Fireworks along the Yarra River
Five facts about Melbourne:

#1. The city was originally built on farmland, this resulted in all the roads in being straight grid blocks. 

#2. The EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) has ranked Melbourne as the most liveable city as well as the equal fourth most expensive city in the world.

#3. Melbourne is often referred to the 'Cultural Capital of Australia' and is home to Australian Rules Football (originally Victorian Rules football), the Melbourne shuffle and its famous legal street art lane ways. 

#4. Melbourne and Sydney have a rivalry. When Australia became a federation they both insisted on being the capital of Australia. This rivalry has lead many to compare Melbourne to Boston or Toronto and Sydney to New York City.

#5. Melbourne has a crazy climate. Locals (including myself) say it has 'four seasons in one day', this is because isolated showers form very quickly when a cold front crosses the state especially when it has had warm weather. The showers are heavy and rapidly drops in temperature within a couple of hours. During summer, Melbourne has extreme heat waves, the most recent one in 2009 brought about the Black Saturday bush fires. Despite this heat, Melbourne has the coldest winter out of the other mainland state capitals. 

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