Melburnians like to boast that everything their city has is the world’s best…
They say it is the world’s most liveable city and has the world’s best coffee, croissants, street art, tram network, sports culture, cricket stadium, Ocean drive and so on. Some of these could be factually correct – the 250 kilometres tram network is the largest in the world and MCG is the largest stadium; even though the newly built Narender Modi stadium at Ahmedabad claims to have more seating capacity!
To convince ourselves we did all the usual touristy things; had breakfast at Degraves Street and tasted the coffee, stood in line to eat the world’s best croissants at Lune, posed in front of street art on AC/DC lane, visited the MCG, travelled on the Heritage tram and even went on the Great Ocean Drive.
The street art on Lennon’s wall in Prague was better, going up and down the hills on San Francisco’s trams (they call it cable cars there) far more exciting, the atmosphere at Eden Gardens at a big match more exhilarating and the Pacific highway drive through Monterey and Carmel more scenic. And why in the world would anyone wait in line for an hour to eat a croissant even if it might be the world’s best? As for coffee – a South Indian filter is for me any day!
What I have to give the city big thumbs up is the river around which the city lives and breathes – The Yarra River; undoubtedly the life and soul of Melbourne.
My first visual of the river was very early in the morning as soon as we checked into our hotel and through the room window I saw a group of girls rowing eights. I opened the windows wide and for the next hour sat watching as groups of people rowed, kayaked, paddled and zipped by in speed boats on the river. There were also those walking and jogging along its banks. This then became a daily ritual for me – sitting with my morning coffee and watching the city come to life by the river. Early on it was always the serious, athletic types rowing furiously – a sight to behold in the early morning light; and later it was the pleasure seekers, the college students looking for a bit of fun and exercise.
On my last day in the city, I took a river cruise and experienced the full scale of how Melburnians have made the river their lifeline; there were restaurants on the river edge teeming with customers, hordes of people sun-bathing on its banks and most remarkable – groups of youngsters enjoying a private party in picnic boats. I later discovered that these were self-driven electric boats available for hire. They were fitted with a table so that you could wine and dine while soaking in the city’s sights.
Why throw a restaurant party when you can do it on the Yarra?
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the author’s own and there is no conflict with Melburnians who might disagree.
The Down Under experience continues…
Next – Queenstown, NZ
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