After our great time in Sydney, we arrived in Melbourne with similar expectations, because Melbourne is almost the size of Sydney, is also located at the seaside, and has a similar climate. But our four days in Melbourne were very much different from Sydney. Even though Melbourne has a nice and clean downtown, excellent food, and nice parks, I was missing that something special about the city. Also, after just having visited Sydney a few days before, my curiosity to discover another big city was not the same anymore.
Eating in Melbourne
Food-wise we were not disappointed at all. Just like Sydney, Melbourne also is very multicultural which is reflected by the huge variety of cuisines available. In those four days we ate at Mexican, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, and Spanish restaurants, as well as in an excellent Steakhouse. And all of those restaurants delivered good to excellent food.
Unfortunately though, the atmosphere in most of the restaurants was very uncomfortable. The majority of places we have visited tried to squeeze as many people in as possible. More than once Ilinca and I had to wait for quite a while until a table for two person was available as the waitress refused to give us a table where they could eventually seat three or more persons. In addition, the tables were set up very close to each other, which is annoying because first we almost had no space for ourselves, and second because the noise level in those places was incredibly high and I basically had to yell at Ilinca in order to have a conversation, or, as it was the case, not have a conversation at all during dinner. But the restaurants were always full, so I guess not everybody is bothered by this.
The CBD (Central Business District) or Downtown of Melbourne is nice and clean with plenty of the common shops that one can find in any city’s shopping streets, modern architecture and restaurants. If I had to name some things that are special about Melbourne as compared to other large cities, it would be the street art that can be found in many of the small lanes. Some artists invest a lot of time in painting empty walls, but unfortunately it is common that someone else paints over an existing painting again. Apart from that, Melbourne’s city center really is not that much different from other cities.
Changing Temperatures in Melbourne
One of the things that fascinated me about Melbourne and also the Great Ocean Road is the sudden change of temperatures depending on the wind directions. For the first few days we had southerly winds coming from the cold ocean. Temperatures were only rising up to 20° C. One day later, the winds came from the north, blowing hot desert air from Australia’s deserts into the city. Temperatures climbed up to 34° C. That’s quite a big difference in just one day.
Wine Tasting in Yarra Valley
Australia is known for its good wines, and the area around Melbourne is one of those hotspots where good wines are produced. Ilinca therefore convinced me to go to a wine tasting in the neighboring vineyards. My only condition was, that I do not have to drive myself, but we take a tour. I know from previous trips in Napa Valley, California, and Montalcino, Italy, that it’s not fun at all to go wine tasting and be driver at the same time.
On the tour, we visited four different vineries. Some of them were perfectly set up for visitors, others still gave us a farm-like impression when tasting their wines. And one vinery only produces sparkling wine. It is basically Champagne, and the owners are the same that produce Moët & Chandon, but because it is not produced in the specific region, they are only allowed to call it sparkling wine. The label also only says “Chandon”. I am not a heavy Champagne drinker, but I liked the Australian Champagne as much as the original ones.
Off to New Zealand
Melbourne was the last stop on our tour through Australia. The next stop will be Auckland, which is a bit more than three hours away by plane. We will fly there with Emirates. It will be my first flight with the A380, the biggest passenger plane in the world. I am very much looking forward to this.