‘Melbourne’ – the name evoked images of cosmopolitan chic and…the lyrics from a popular Tamil song –
“TELEPHONE manipoal sirippaval ivalaa
MELBOURNE malarpoal melliya magalaa….”
As I awaited my flight to Melbourne, I was eagerly anticipating the fun I’d have there. I’d already read up a lot on the city – it was supposed to be the Cultural Capital of Australia, and reputed to be the most livable city in the world. And I was going to have seven whole days in this glorious city.
The 15-hour flight was uneventful – with a short layover in Malaysia. But towards the end of the flight, I was getting real antsy and wanted to just get up and walk about. At the airport, my friend Jay and her husband Aaron had arrived to pick me, as I was expected to be staying with them. They are a lovely couple – got married about 3 years ago and relocated to Melbourne within a month or so of the wedding. And now enjoying life to the fullest.
They had a lot of activities planned for me starting the very next day – with the Melbourne Fringe Festival to conclude my visit. More about that later 🙂
On our way home from the airport, I got a glimpse of the beautiful jugalbandi architecture of Melbourne – an aesthetically appealing mix of the old and the new.
Jay and Aaron lived in a nifty 2-BHk apartment in a very quiet neighbourhood. Apparently, the culture of the place was such that no one would be home during the weekends – they all lived for the outdoors and sports and events.
The next day was meant to take in the sights of the City and we just drove around, with Jay and Aaron pointing out the different buildings. We even saw some places filled with smashing street art, reminiscent of the New York streets.
We had dinner at the Red Spice Road restaurant that night – a concession to my spice-loving taste buds. Mmmm, the Thai food was absolutely gorgelicious – we had peanut sauce glazed chicken and oysters dipped in plum sauce. And dessert was Cherry Flambé – a flaming sweet dish of cherries.
My days in Melbourne also gave me my first taste of ballet and opera. We got tickets for the Australian Ballet Theatre and Victorian Opera. The Ballet was interesting – lots of twirling around on pointed toes and the costumes were beautiful. Though I don’t think I’d have understood the story unless Aaron hadn’t gotten me a brochure of the night’s entertainment 🙂 . But it was fun.
The Opera was a whole new sensory experience. I’d only seen it on TV and never could understand anyone being fascinated by a woman singing (if you can call it that) in high pitch. But my stint in Melbourne robbed me of all my ill-conceived notions of the Opera. It truly was a touching experience and one that I never regretted.
Another highlight of the trip was our visit to the Australian Sports Museum – mind you, I had no intention of going and gloating over helmets and balls and bats – that was purely Aaron’s doing. Jay and I were more interested in going ballooning and skiing. But on the condition that we go along with him to the Sports Museum (with no protests or gagging 🙂 ), he agreed that we could go ballooning the next day.
The museum wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be – for one thing, Australia has a great Cricket team – something I had forgotten – and I got to relive the cricketing triumphs of Australia (even if it meant our own Indian Team was beaten) and their achievements in other sports. Also, I got on the Melbourne tram – my first ride in a tram – a remnant from the original city and the largest tram network in the world.
Well, the next day was what I was really looking forward to – a hot-air balloon trip over Melbourne. It was going to start at sunrise – at 4:30am! I don’t think I’d ever seen 4:30am in my entire life! Well, for a balloon ride, I think I could make an exception for once 🙂 We got to the rendezvous point, boarded the balloon and off we went on our Air adventure. It was everything I’d imagined the slightly cool air as we ascended and the wind blowing around us. The sights were fantastic and it felt like we were on top of the world (which we literally were).
And finally for the Melbourne Fringe Festival. This was a month-long festival which included several art forms, including theatre, music, comedy, art, film, cabaret, live art and even circus performances. they had several venues where different performances would be held and we chose to attend the ones held at North Melbourne which is the birthplace of the festival. And boy was it exciting – I chanced to see shows called Opal Vapour, Arabella, Balderdash and Mindfulness. They were out-of-the-world! I don’t think India would ever have such shows, they;d all probably be banned on one pretext or the other. Mind you, these are not everybody’s cup of tea – these shows had artists exploring their inner spirit and getting the audience to do so as well.
And finally it was time to bid goodbye 😦 .
It was a swell holiday, especially with my friends Jay and Aaron with me every step of the way. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my vacation was just for a week and I think I have really LIVED to the fullest during those seven days. Maybe, I’ll plan my next vacation also for Melbourne – that’s a thought to keep me busy.
So what are you waiting for…it’s your time to visit Melbourne NOW!!