Drinking in (and around) Melbourne

After Sydney’s impressive harbour and beautiful beaches, it would easy to be disappointed with Melbourne which has few obvious tourist attractions. However, while Sydney is a stunning supermodel, Melbourne is a multi-layered “onion” of a city, each new exploratory trip reveals new layers: hidden gems of classy shops, chic food markets, interesting cafés, and funky bars. (In the case of the funky bars, “hidden” is literally true: back alleys lead to bars with bizarre but cool school science lab themes, and un-marked entrance ways hide bar staff who hold encyclopedic cocktail menus in their heads.)

If one does tire of the eating and drinking in the city, then a one or two-day trip down the Great Ocean Road provides beautiful coastline scenery. Alternatively, a day trip to the Yarra Valley provides a good excuse to taste some fine Australian wine while admiring the view from the shade of a converted barn or farmhouse.

It would be easy to compare Melbourne to London: for example the Queen Victoria markets are similar to Borough market, and the converted Treasury bar is a bit like the Bank of England pub, and so on. Melbourne felt a little more compact though: while Melbourne has huge sprawling suburbs, the central area where all the action is, did seem a lot smaller than London’s disparate “villages”. Either way, it’s definitely a great place for people who like cities and city-breaks.

Too busy travelling to blog

I have been in Australia 6 days now, and I really have been too busy to blog! I have taken a great number of photos though, so perhaps I will be able to provide a photo-based retrospective, instead of the running commentary of my last trip.

Anyway, the story so far is that Sydney was just how I remembered it: gorgeously beautiful vistas, excellent coffee, and full of restaurants serving tasty food that was at the same time both comfortingly familiar and slightly different from “the usual” fare. I had forgotten how huge Sydney is though, but since this was my second visit I felt much more able to take life at an easy pace and only revisit those sights I felt warranted a second visit—although there are still too many highlights to list here!

One thing that definitely made this visit more enjoyable was that the flights we took (leaving the UK in the evening and arriving first thing in the morning) were a lot more palatable than departing in the morning and arriving in the evening which left my body clock about 12 hours out of sync with reality. In theory we “lost” a whole day to flying, but it did mean we spent more time sleeping on the very boring plane journey, and were able to start enjoying our holiday as soon as we arrived!