Out of all the cities I have visited, Melbourne is the place that reminds of home the most. There is a very vibrant, multicultural feel with different areas of the city home to different nationalities and backgrounds. For instance, Lygon Street is Melbourne’s version of the Danforth with Greek pastry shops, restaurants and cafes lining both sides of the boulevard.
The downtown core is very beautiful and well designed. The Yarra River runs right through the middle of the city and both banks of the river have been beautified and developed with chic restaurants and cafes, high rise condos and office buildings.
Another great thing about being in Australia in January is the Tennis. The last time I was down here, I managed to score tickets to see Roger Federer play his first match in the Australian Open. I didn’t get match tickets this time around, but I got a media pass and managed to get a taste of the tournament.
I was fortunate to be here for Australia day. You can really see the national pride in the people here. Flags were flying everywhere and the fireworks displays were off the charts. I spent the afternoon at St Kilda beach, a very trendy part of town and also one of the most expensive. A bottle of wine and a small order of seafood was $110! A goal of mine this time in Australia was to photograph some of the indigenous people of Australia for my series “People of the World”. It is a shame that I still have not encountered anyone of Aboriginal decent.
Melbourne is a very walk-friendly city, but there is a very substantial metro rail system in place. It was very easy to get from the suburbs to any point in the city. I actually walked the city, camera in hand to capture some of the urban beauty. I started in the early hours of the morning at the Queen Victoria Market. It was a great place to get started, as they had plenty of food vendors to fuel me up for a day of walking with 38 pounds of glass strapped to my back. My first of many meals in the market was at a Melbourne landmark. It is a truck that is converted into a donut factory. I ate three of these delicious, jelly filled, sugar coated, greasy, hot and steaming calorie bags.
The market itself sells everything from fresh fish and meat to electronics and clothing. I could not count the number of vendors that were selling Ugg boots. I still cannot understand why women around the world are clinging to this horrendous trend. Apparently, the boots were created for Australian pilots in WW1. The airplanes were very cold and warmer footwear was required. Australia and New Zealand had an ample supply of sheep, so sheepskin was the material of choice. Voila, the ugliest footwear since Crocs were created!
From the market , I made my way around the core of the city, ending at Southern Cross train station. It was an entire day of walking, but well worth it. It was a warm up for the other major metropolitan cities I plan to document and describe on this expedition.