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Victoria – the place to be

Melbourne, Australia

The title of this post is the most common motto seen on Melbourne license plates. To those unfamiliar with Australian geography, the city of Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria.

Today, I toured the city of Melbourne and saw many of its highlights. I realized just why so many people love this city. I experienced the young and vibrant culture; I saw numerous centers for the arts, and a plethora of distinct architectural styles. For the first time since I arrived I perceived the beauty and atmosphere of this enormous place.

I was dropped off near Federation Square, and immediately came across an alleyway full of graffiti where a modeling shoot was taking place. So, of course, I added my camera to the mix and took a few photos before going to the tour departure zone. The tour itself began with a ferry ride along the river Yarra, which runs through the center of Melbourne. From this vantage point I saw the entire city skyline and all the different architectures; the ferry crossed under many bridges, all of different designs. I was quite impressed, and I hope my photos are able to capture the artistic variety and beauty I encountered. Melbourne is a city that values and encourages art and design.

After the ferry tour came the bus tour, and I am pretty sure we had the best possible tour guide – hilarious, informative, and attentive. I only wish I could remember all the details that he provided, and that I had the time and patience to write it all down. I generally don’t spend more than thirty minutes writing a post, because I spend my night relaxing and planning for the day ahead. Writing the blog entry is important, but it takes work. They say a photo is worth a thousand words – so look at the photos. Anyway, perhaps some more random tidbits will come out when I meet my devoted readers in person. For today, I shall point out the highlights of the trip.

The first highlight was the Shrine of Remembrance, a building that commemorates those that fought and died in the military conflicts of Australia. It is a beautiful structure that overlooks the rest of the city. There was a special event going on inside, so I did not get to explore the entirety of it. However, the view from the top is phenomenal. And, as always, the architecture! There are also galleries that were built underneath the building later on. I did not have time to see these but I hope to return in the next few days.

The second highlight of the tour was St. Kilda Road. As the tour guide put it, the St. Kilda suburb is known as a place where people live “alternative lifestyles.” The street itself is full of shops and restaurants and people from all walks of life. There are a lot of fun bits of artistic flare. The street is also known for having a variety of cake shops, which are a must-try for tourists and locals alike. I had a peach cheesecake with a flat white and can attest that it was delicious. Another bit of fun is that the St Kilda suburb has streets named after famous wordsmiths. There is a Shakespeare Grove, a Wordsworth Street, a Dickens Street, and a Chaucer Street. It is also the location of Luna Park, similar to Coney Island’s Luna Park in NYC. The entrance to the park is through the mouth of a giant, evil looking clown. Kind of creepy! As you can imagine, this is another area I wish I had more time to explore. We shall see.

Finally, we made a stop at Brighton Beach – no, not the one with all the Russian folk. This Brighton Beach is full of beautiful old Victorian houses owned by titans of industry and other millionaires. Although, there is apparently a whole other district for the billionaires of Australia. Anyway, we went to the beach where we saw the sunset, the city in the background, and a continuous row of little wooden houses all in different colors. These houses used to function as “bathing boxes” in the Victorian era, and now go for hundreds of thousands of dollars for those who want to own a little private box right on the beach.

From here we rode on, seeing more of the city, but the next stop was the end of the tour. I got off near Federation Square, roughly where I came on, and was surprised by the multitude of people enjoying nighttime in the city. Walking a few blocks felt like hustling through the crowded downtown NYC. As always, I compare any new metropolis to New York, and I have to say Melbourne holds its own. My short stay will offer only a glimpse into everything this city has to offer.


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