Sunday, February 7, 2011
Have to start off by saying again: I LOVE Melbourne. I had an awesome day yesterday just walking around the city. There were some scattered showers in the morning but after that it cleared up nicely and ended up being a crisp, cool but sunny day. During the rains, I ducked into the many Melbourne city shops and malls to wander around and look through the different stores, doing my price comparisons (still can't get over the sticker shock for books). I noticed a lot of the same stores we have in the US and educated myself on which were international: Mrs. Fields, GNC, Borders, and a few others I can't remember. Also peeked into some clothing stores that I thought had some cute clothes, many of which my nieces would love. But I refrained from buying - I didn't want to go on a shopping spree for myself and I'm still finding the sizes confusing.
Once the sun came out, I really walked around. I went down to the Yarra River and walked along the riverfront, snapping pictures of the beautiful Melbourne skyline. They also had a Sunday market of artsy stuff so I poked around to look at their wares. Chinatown was celebrating Chinese New Year so I also watched some of the celebration ushering in the Year of the Rabbit. I filmed the most hilarious performance on my flip cam that I'll have to post later - it was a bunch of ladies doing a dance but what made it funny is their "choreographer", an older Chinese lady, was very vested in them performing all the dance steps correctly and wasn't shy about correcting them during their performance.
Tried a bread shop called Breadtop that had a fascinating number of products displayed and enjoyed a pork bun for lunch and a coconut custard bun for a snack later on. Then I walked to Lygon St which is Melbourne's Little Italy. That was fun - Lygon St is lined with restaurants and little shops. A bit like walking downtown Los Gatos at home. I checked out the posted restaurant menus and sampled some gelato. I was in Little Italy - had to have gelato. I'm getting used to the prices here but I still cringed in sympathy for a family of 4 who'd have to spend a minimum of $20AUD just to get the smallest scoop for each person. Oh and I also discovered a tiny Italian grocery store and bought a jar of "crema gianduja" - can't wait to bake with that when I get back home.
What I love about Melbourne is it seemed to combine all the best aspects of the cities I like: it had the charm and architecture, complete with river, like Boston, the mild temperate climate (at least while I was there) of San Francisco, the big city bustle of New York and the plethora of foodie shops with tasty food like Paris. The crowds increased as the day wore on but it was nothing like the bigger cities so I really enjoyed just walking around all day.
Came back to the hotel at the end of the day and did laundry. I'd packed enough for 2/3 of the trip and we're about at the halfway mark so I should be set for the rest of the trip. We're off to Sydney later this morning.