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…
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…
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 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…
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…
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…
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….
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!