Living it up in Melbourne - where life unfolds


There is a cheerful rabbit on the calendar on my office desk, standing up on its hind legs and prancing around with joy, a toothy grin plastered over its face. The caption says ‘Dream’. Overleaf, there is a delightful gang of pixies, riding iridescent snails. The caption – ‘Life’.

I sighed and turned away my eyes from the calendar. An excel sheet lay open in my computer, splattered with various graphs and charts.

“Hey, wake up, sleepyhead,” my colleague looked over at me through the cubicle partition. “Why are you staring at the calendar like that?”

He peered at it closely.

“Want to go on a holiday, do you?”

“Yes,” I replied wearily. “A holiday every month, if you please.”

“In that case, you have the wrong calendar,” he said, smiling warmly.

He then carefully opened a brown envelope, took a calendar out of it and placed it on my desk.

“Here,” he said in a low conspiratorial voice. “This is a magic calendar. Now you can go on your holiday for every month of the new year.”

I looked at the calendar. ‘Melbourne – where life unfolds in the world's most liveable city’ it said. I touched it lightly and before I could say “Whoa, mate!” I found myself hurtling through space to land up in…

January


I found myself in sunny Melbourne, in the midst of glorious summer, the first leaf of the calendar in my hand. Did you know that Melbourne is the only city in the world to host an Olympic Games, a Commonwealth Games, an F1 Grand Prix and a Tennis Grand Slam? Also, that it is the birthplace of Australian Rules Football and home to the Melbourne Cup, one of the world’s richest horse races? Well, I did not, for most part. But I do know that no ordinary city can host so many major sporting events of the world. This is the best place to rekindle my love for sports, I told myself. As an audience, of course.

I decided to delve further into the city and turned over the leaf. In an instant, I was transferred to…

February


I found the sun still shining merrily in Melbourne. Suddenly, I could sense excitement ringing in the air as people discussed the upcoming events of the year. What were these events? I then learnt that in 2015, Melbourne would be hosting the Australian International Airshow, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the Melbourne International fashion Festival, soccer’s AFC Asian Cup and White Night Melbourne. All of these just in the first three months! The city was soon to be flooded with millions of visitors from all over the world to attend these events. No wonder everyone seemed to be in a tizzy!

Is there more to Melbourne? I flipped over the leaf…

March


March seemed to be pleasantly warm, though there was an unmistakable drop in temperature, particularly towards the late evenings. I realised with a start that I had not eaten anything and decided to indulge my taste buds in one of Melbourne’s much acclaimed restaurants – the Brae. I am a die-hard fan of Masterchef Australia and Brae had been featured there many times. I knew that it promoted natural and seasonal cuisine, sourcing ingredients from its own 30-acre organic garden as well as local farms. The restaurant had recently won the Best Regional Restaurant at the prestigious 2014 Gourmet Traveller Awards. I knew Melbourne’s hinterlands grew some of the freshest produce of the country and the city’s chefs respected that. It would definitely be a pleasure to dine at such a place.

But first, maybe I should take a peek at what lay ahead…

April


A strong whiff of coffee assailed my senses as I braced myself against the morning fog. Early mornings and nights were cooler than before now and I found myself wishing for a hot cuppa. Fortunately, I was in a city which recently hosted the World Barista Championships. Melbourne’s coffee menu was an eclectic mix between tradition and innovation, the offers ranging from traditional espresso to the latest cold-press varieties. 

I inhaled deeply as I sat in one of the quaint cafes and unknowingly found myself turning the page of the calendar…

May


I found myself appreciably in a cooler month. There were intermittent showers but none that stayed on for long. Despite the nip in the air, I decided to go for a walk. Melbourne seemed to be a nature lover’s paradise. Stately trees lined the boulevards while vast parks and gardens beckoned invitingly. One such garden turned out to be the exceedingly picturesque Royal Botanic Gardens. It is spread across 38 hectares of landscaped gardens consisting of a mix of native and exotic vegetation including over 10,000 individual species.

I found myself a quiet corner and lounged in the shade of a tree, my hand lightly touching the next page of the calendar…

June


The weather was decidedly cold now, often with spells of fine and calm weather. It was also the foggiest month, I realised. Yet, I was drawn out to explore Melbourne’s cityscape and observed an intriguing balance between preserving the city’s heritage buildings and creating innovative designs that employed the latest in green technology. From grand Victorian-era public buildings to ultra-modern stadiums and recital halls, the city’s streetscapes were aesthetically rich and a treat to the eyes.

As I took a breather, tired from my wanderings, a gust of sudden wind flipped over the page….

July


The weather was frequently cold and cloudy now, accentuated by hard winds. I feared how I would be able to proceed on with my explorations in Melbourne. My fears, however, turned out to be unfounded. Because, getting around Melbourne was actually quite easy and efficient as well. The city has the largest urban tram network in the world, to the tune of around 250 km of track, and is supported by an extensive metropolitan railway system and the country’s largest freeway network.

I heaved a sigh of relief at the sight of a tram and having secured a seat there, I decided to find out how the next month would fare….

Suddenly, the tram came to a sharp, unexpected halt and I woke up with a jolt.

The calendar had slipped out of my hand.

"Back from the trip?" my colleague asked me with a twinkle in his eyes.

"Yes, but not quite. There is so much to explore," I replied.

Take a look at one of the places I missed out when I had to return to terra firma unexpectedly.



Also, feast your eyes here - Tourism Victoria website 


Oh, before I forget, here is a contest for you!

"Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?"

Let me know in the comments section and win yourself a shopping voucher worth Rs.500! The contest is open till 5th Jan 2015. (I will be choosing the winner.)

So, write away, mate! And live it up in Melbourne - the world's most liveable city!


Update: Contest winner announcement *trumpet blows*

It's time to announce the winner and trust me, it wasn't that easy. I loved everyone's comments regarding Melbourne but the one that touched me most was perhaps the shortest. It said the magic words 'mountains and forests' and being an ardent hills-n-forests lover, I just had to give the voucher to you Ankita. Yes, you are the winner of my contest. Congratulations and I won't be surprised if you end up winning the actual contest as well. Best wishes!










Comments

  1. I'd say, I'd love to visit MCG, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Even though I'm not much of a cricket fanatic, I do wish to see India fight against Australia this world cup while I gulp down my maaza because when it comes to the World Cup, I’m a hard core cricket fan who takes up watching all night and making bets too (with family only :3) !

    BTW, very enthralling and illustrative post. Melbourne is no doubt the most livable city in the world.

    radhika-feelingfree.blogspot.com

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    1. Wow, great to have your comment Radhika. And lovely choice you have made, too! Thanks for dropping by :)

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  2. I'd love to visit Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges because I love the magnificence of mountains and forests and these places seem uniquely untouched. Great post and I'd love your inputs on mine as well: http://ankitashreeram.blogspot.in/2014/12/dream-borne-in-melbourne.html All the best Sangeeta. :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Ankita! Will definitely take a look at your post :)

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  3. Nice read Sangeetha. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I loved your curvy writing style. Excellent. I'd love to visit MCG, being a hard-core cricket enthusiast how would I miss a match in a jam-packed arena?

    I loved your post completely sangeetha, however I'd love to hear your say on mine as well http://creatikaa.blogspot.in/2014/12/melbourne-awe-inspiring-place-to-visit.html

    My best wishes and happy new year 2015 :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Gowthama! Wish you an amazing new year, too! Would love to read your post :)

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  4. Great post! After reading your post & watching all the videos, I'd most like to visit the Dandenong Ranges for it's scenic beauty, breathtaking view and cool breeze blowing through my hair. :P I'd give anything away for driving through the winding roads which are present throughout the ranges. I'd love to stay at one of the bed and breakfast cottages and go on frequent excursions in the forests with my camera which provides excellent views. And not to forget the famous ride in the Puffing Billy, a day reserved especially for that. To add to that, there are also several picnic spots for me and my friends to spend a fun-filled day and the ranges are a perfect spot for hiking and cycling.

    Wish you and your blog a happy new year! :D

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    1. Thanks a ton for your beautiful comment! And wish you an excitement-filled 2015 as well :)

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  5. Interesting Post
    After reading your post and watching all the videos
    I feel I have stepped into a kaleidoscope called Melbourne
    Where Vistas of experiences would unfold one after another
    The nature lover in me is enticed by the thought of watching the penguin parade.
    Traveling though the great ocean road, soaking up the freshness as the breeze ruffles my hair gets me in the mood to pack my bags for Melbourne.
    But before I can move ,Puffing Billy whistles and invites me for a ride. The kid in me jumps with joy at the thought of visiting Pannys Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
    Even before I can deside on the list of places that I would like to see in and around Melbourne.
    What’s that noise that I hear ?
    Oh its loud cheer from MCG as the cricket world cup 2015 is about to kick start.
    So many plces to see and so much to do.
    I am thetimetraveler ( http://goo.gl/wdXDzu ) and I have decided … Melbourne here I come ( http://goo.gl/RvUCQf ).

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    1. Lovely comment, Alok! Hope you get to visit Melbourne soon.

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  6. The Great barrier reef, what else? There's only one word to describe it completely, - Mesmerising. What more would one want if one gets to see the great barrier reef, the corals and the numerous creature our oceans have hidden away from us still preserving them for us. Ah, the sights make me yearn for a tour to Australia, atleast once in a lifetime.

    Ranjith
    http://www.alightheartedtalk.com

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  7. Great post! After reading your post & watching all the videos, I would definitely want to visit all those amazing places when I get to visit Melbourne :) But of all, my top pick would be a visit to Yarra valley for a beautiful sunrise balloon flight. After seeing the video, I can't stop myself from dreaming a romantic magical flight above the scenic vineyards and watching the sunrise from up above! Throw in my favorite wine, I will doubly enjoy the ride sipping my glass and taking sensational selfies all the way :) Now I can't think of a better way of spending a vacation!!

    Next of course, cruising through the great ocean road in a open-top car to enjoy the coastal scenery and the iconic 12 apostles for the nature's amazing work at play. Then a ride around the city in the vintage trams to enjoy its urban splendor and the legendary puffing billy to enjoy its natural splendor. Finally a day at the hot springs to unwind and totally rejuvenate myself :)

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    1. Thanks for dropping in your comment, Suji!

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  8. Hi!
    We know beauty never need words but without words it cannot be explained and when you get wordless after seeing it... your mouth still get open wide and WOW comes out. Dear! Your explanation about Melbourne is wonderful and picturesque description. I am a person who always attracted to nature first of any place so I would love to see the Melbourne Nature & Wildlife. The 12 Apostles rock formations is world famous rocks which changes its color in sunrise and sun set. And then I will see the Phillip Island Nature Park where I want to see the animals which I hardly see in India. I never saw Penguins, Koala and other animals.
    Driving on a smooth road with natural beauty around you, it always gives you a feeling of heaven on Earth. I would love to drive on Great Ocean Road which is also famous in world to give you a scenic experience and the pleasure of that driving is amazing.

    Bhawna

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    1. Loved to hear about your Melbourne wishes, Bhawna. Thanks!

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  9. Hey ,Superb post ,so all set to pack bags to have a thrill at Melbourne…Now being high on my wish list:)U’ve very well covered "the best of Melbourne" & for the entry in contest ,there cannot ever be a single place for me..It has to be a bouquet of places to feel calm down my zest to explore it..So naming ,first comes the Great Ocean road not just to linger or have a decent walk but to amaze myself with Jetskiing ,Scuba diving & to try swim with Dolphins & seal! Yay ! these b’ful creatures would be lucky to share a swim with me;) .Then it would be "Eureka Sky deck, to have an awe inspiring experience to be closest to sky & get the sky deck view of this liveable city & MCG to watch & cheer the players on one of the worlds best cricket ground!

    Wishing u Best of Luck & a great year ahead!!

    Visit my blog@http://jhilmilbhansali.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/a-date-for-life-timea-date-with-nature-wildlife-art-cuisine-ah-melbourne/

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    1. Thank you so much Jhilmil! Would love to visit your post, too :)

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  10. I would love to visit St. Kilda beach in Melbourne and also enjoy watching the Penguin parade there..The serene beauty of the beach coupled with watching the cute penguins in their natural surroundings is sure to make my visit a memorable one! Ofcourse I am going to carry a camera and click lots of pictures to capture all the happy moments there :)
    -Nikita @Njkinny's World of Books & Stuff

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Nikita, and I hope your wish gets fulfilled this year.

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  11. Being a person who loves to travel this place has struck my eye.
    And here, Eureka Skydeck 88 is going to be first on my list.. i can just imagine the view after reading about it and i feel its going to be awesome.
    Then the St. Kilda Beach,the long walk on the beach during the sunset will be just perfect.. And finding gold is also there.. :D
    why not get my pockets filled with some tresure hunt..Laneways and Arcades is going to be the place to explore my "Lara croft" skills.. :D :D
    Melbourne is going to be a great place to visit and enjoy a holiday..

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    1. Thanks for dropping in your comment, Vidith :)

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  12. Thanks Sangeeta for the voucher and the incredibly sweet words! You made my day :D

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